1. CINCINNATI REDS

2010 Record: 91-71 (First place, lost NLDS to Philadelphia)

Manager: Dusty Baker (fourth season, 243-243, .500; overall 1,405-1,284)

GM: Walt Jocketty

Last World Series: 1990 (def. Oakland, 4-0)

Outlook: The defending NL Central champions did very little during the winter, and they wrapped up spring training with concerns about RHP Johnny Cueto's shoulder. Nevertheless, compared to the rest of this division, they're looking pretty good.

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Keep an eye on: 1B Joey Votto. The reigning NL MVP is armed with a long-term contract. How will he respond to the extra scrutiny by media and opposing fans?

Final word: If they played in the American League, or maybe even the other two NL divisions, they might not finish over .500. It's all about location, however. Back to the playoffs they'll go.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

CF Drew Stubbs .255

2B Brandon Phillips .275

1B Joey Votto .324

3B Scott Rolen .285

RF Jay Bruce .281

LF Jonny Gomes .266

C Ramon Hernandez .297

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SS Paul Janish .260

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Bronson Arroyo 17-10

RH Johnny Cueto 12-7

RH Edinson Volquez 4-3

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LH Travis Wood 5-4

RH Mike Leake 8-4

CLOSER Saves

RH Francisco Cordero 40

2. CHICAGO CUBS

2010 Record: 75-87 (Fifth place)

Manager: Mike Quade (first full season, 24-13, .649)

GM: Jim Hendry

Last World Series: 1945 (lost to Detroit, 4-3)

Outlook: When Lou Piniella retired last August, Mike Quade took over as interim manager and performed well enough (a 24-13 record) that he earned the full-time job. The Cubs traded for RHP Matt Garza and signed 1B Carlos Pena, and they brought back RHP Kerry Wood for their bullpen.

Keep an eye on: 3B Aramis Ramirez. He enjoyed a power resurgence in the second half of 2010, and he'll try to convince the Cubs to exercise a $16 million team option for 2012.

Final word: While the lineup is spotty, the Cubs' pitching staff has the potential to be special. They'll record a surprising rebound in this winnable division.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

RF Kosuke Fukodome .263

SS Starlin Castro .300

CF Marlon Byrd .293

3B Aramis Ramirez .241

1B Carlos Pena .196

LF Alfonso Soriano .258

C Geovany Soto .280

2B Jeff Baker .272

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Ryan Dempster 15-12

RH Carlos Zambrano 11-6

RH Matt Garza 15-10

RH Randy Wells 8-14

RH Andrew Cashner 2-6

CLOSER Saves

RH Carlos Marmol 38

3. MILWAUKEE BREWERS

2010 Record: 77-85 (Third place)

Manager: Ron Roenicke (first season)

GM: Doug Melvin

Last World Series: 1982 (Lost to St. Louis, 4-3)

Outlook: With 1B Prince Fielder approaching free agency, the Brewers went for it, acquiring RHPs Zack Greinke (from Kansas City) and Shaun Marcum (from Toronto) in trades. Alas, both Greinke (cracked rib) and Marcum (right shoulder) experienced rough springs.

Keep an eye on: RHP Yovani Gallardo. Having just turned 25, if he can improve, he could help cover up for the new guys' injuries.

Final word: The Greinke and Marcum developments seem to bode poorly for this group, and a potentially shaky defense won't help, either. They're headed for disappointment.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

2B Rickie Weeks .269

RF Corey Hart .283

LF Ryan Braun .304

1B Prince Fielder .261

3B Casey McGehee .285

SS Yuniesky Betancourt .259

CF Carlos Gomez .247

C Jonathan Lucroy .253

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Zack Greinke 10-14

RH Yovani Gallardo 14-7

RH Shaun Marcum 13-8

LH Randy Wolf 13-12

LH Chris Narveson 12-9

CLOSER Saves

RH John Axford 24

4. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

2010 Record: 86-76 (Second place)

Manager: Tony La Russa (16th season, 1,318-1,110; overall 2,638-2,293)

GM: John Mozeliak

Last World Series: 2006 (def. Detroit, 4-1)

Outlook: Tony La Russa came back to manage, OF Lance Berkman and IF Ryan Theriot came aboard and 1B Albert Pujols cut off negotiations on an extension. Those all pale in comparison to RHP Adam Wainwright's season-ending right elbow injury.

Keep an eye on: RHP Chris Carpenter. If the Cardinals fall out of contention, then Carpenter becomes obvious, attractive trade bait, with the Yankees a potential suitor.

Final word: The pieces just don't seem to mix here, all the more so with Wainwright's absence. It could be an ugly farewell for the 66-year-old La Russa.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

2B Skip Schumaker .265

CF Colby Rasmus .276

1B Albert Pujols .312

LF Matt Holliday .312

RF Lance Berkman .248

3B David Freese .296

C Yadier Molina .262

SS Ryan Theriot .270

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Chris Carpenter 16-9

LH Jaime Garcia 13-8

RH Jake Westbrook 10-11

RH Kyle Lohse 4-8

RH Kyle McClellan 1-4

CLOSER Saves

RH Ryan Franklin 42

5. HOUSTON ASTROS

2010 Record: 76-86 (Fourth place)

Manager: Brad Mills (second season, 76-86, .469)

GM: Ed Wade

Last World Series: 2005 (lost to Chicago, 4-0)

Outlook: The Astros rallied from a 26-45 start, going 50-41 the rest of the way. They committed long-term to RHP Wandy Rodriguez and signed 2B Bill Hall, in other words not doing much to build on positive momentum.

Keep an eye on: LF Carlos Lee. "El Caballo" will look to rebound from his worst major-league season.

Final word: Manager Brad Mills looks like a keeper, but for now, there simply isn't a great deal of reason for hope with this group. Even in this easy division, they probably won't come very close to .500.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

CF Michael Bourn .265

C J.R. Towles .191

RF Hunter Pence .282

LF Carlos Lee .246

3B Chris Johnson .308

1B Brett Wallace .222

2B Bill Hall .247

SS Tommy Manzella .225

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Brett Myers 14-8

LH Wandy Rodriguez 11-12

LH J.A. Happ 6-4

RH Bud Norris 9-10

RH Nelson Figueroa 7-4

CLOSER Saves

RH Brandon Lyon 20

6. PITTSBURGH PIRATES

2010 Record: 57-105 (Sixth place)

Manager: Clint Hurdle (first season; overall, 534-635, .461)

GM: Neal Huntington

Last World Series: 1979 (def. Baltimore, 4-3)

Outlook: In an attempt to avoid a 19th straight sub-.500 season, Pittsburgh signed 1B Lyle Overbay and RHP Kevin Correia. What, that doesn't inspire you to go out and buy tickets at beautiful PNC Park?

Keep an eye on: OF Andrew McCutchen. Just because he's the Pirates' best player. Man, it is going to be ultra-painful for fans if he gets traded at some point.

Final word: The pitching looks to be absolutely horrendous, which means the Bucs can make their standard reservation for last place. At least they have the first overall pick in the amateur draft.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

LF Jose Tabata .299

2B Neil Walker .296

CF Andrew McCutchen .286

1B Lyle Overbay .243

3B Pedro Alvarez .256

RF Garrett Jones .247

C Chris Snyder .207

SS Ronny Cedeño .256

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH James McDonald 4-6

RH Kevin Correia 10-10

LH Paul Maholm 9-15

RH Ross Ohlendorf 1-11

RH Charlie Morton 2-12

CLOSER Saves

RH Joel Hanrahan 6