Wolf Tracks

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Trevor Lint, Reporter

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Opening day is on the horizon, and over the course of spring training Wolf Tracks will be doing a division by division breakdown of all 30 MLB teams, continuing with the National League Central.

1.Chicago Cubs

For the first time since 1908 the Cubs won the World Series, and they enter the new season ready to repeat. The young core led by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo is still intact, but the Cubs lost centerfielder Dexter Fowler and closer Aroldis Chapman. All-star Wade Davis was signed to replace Chapman as the closer. Kyle Schwarber is healthy once again. The catcher turned outfielder played only two regular season games last year but returned during the World Series. Overall Chicago is a favorite to win it all again.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 last season. This season for St. Louis got off to a rough start as top prospect Alex Reyes, who was expected to be a member of the rotation, is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery. The team signed Dexter Fowler to add to an already solid lineup that includes Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina. The Cardinals have the best shot to challenge Chicago for the division title, but will most likely be competing for a wild card spot.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates run of three consecutive playoff appearances came to an end last year when they finished below .500. Pittsburgh didn’t make any big moves this offseason, but the Pirates did decide to reconfigure their outfield. Starling Marte is moving from left field to center, Andrew McCutchen moves from center field to right, and Gregory Polanco moves from right to left. Prospect Josh Bell looks to be the starting first baseman after a solid stint with the team at the end of last season.

4. Milwaukee Brewers

This year will be another rough one in Milwaukee as the Brewers are continuing their rebuilding process. Shortstop Orlando Arcia was the first of many exciting prospects to be called up, giving Brewers fans something to looked forward to while they watch the struggles set to occur in 2017. The Brewers will have an interesting decision that will likely be a hot topic of discussion until the trade deadline, regarding whether or not they will trade former MVP Ryan Braun.

5. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds prepare to endure another tough season as a part of their prolonged rebuild. The team has missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons and continued tearing down by trading away long- time Red Brandon Philips to the Atlanta Braves. The Reds’ rebuild is looking to be a long one, as the team still maintains a lineup that includes many veterans due to most of their top hitting prospects being two or more years away from being called up.

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