Why They'll Win: Strong lineup anchored by MVP candidate Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo and Lord of Twitter Brandon Phillips. Sneaky-good rotation, and a bullpen anchored by Aroldis Chapman unencumbered by questions about his role. Lots of the old, not-so-good veterans retired or got hurt, meaning Dusty Baker has to play the young, talented guys pretty much by default.
Why They Won't: Dusty will blow the arms off every single one of his pitchers in sequence. An entire outfield of guys playing out of position will play like an entire outfield of guys playing out of position. Too many guys have long injury histories. Dusty will have no idea what to do with "kids" like Zach Cozart and pressure management into trading for known, aging mediocrities.
Moment They're Dreading: "And Dusty Baker is sending Chapman back out there for a nineteenth inning of work..."
Why They'll Win: Because one of these years, they have to, right? McCutcheon is a monster, and Marte is just starting to realize his potential. Pedro Alvarez can hit a ball very, very far. Hordes of young pitching talent is getting close to arrival. Russell Martin's amazing pitch-framing ability will help a fragile pitching staff immensely.
Why They'll Lose: Because they're the Pirates. No thump at first base, no depth, and no answer for their annual post-ASB meltdowns.
Moment They're Dreading: The second half of the season. All of it.
St. Louis Cardinals
Why They'll Win: Still the most talent in the division. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are immortal. Yadier Molina is the best catcher (neck tat division) in the NL. Still a strong pitching staff with an army of young fireballers knocking on the door. Loaded farm system full of guys like Oscar Taveras, just waiting for their chance.
Why They Won't: Sooner or later, the "we're going to mix and match 27 year old utility guys" strategy has to stop working. David Freese is on the DL more than Mark Prior. Managed by Mike Matheny, not Jose Oquendo, which angers my wife the Missouri native immensely. One of these days, those outfielders are going to get old all at once.
Moment They're Dreading: The seventh inning. That's when they stop selling beer.
Why They'll Win: Ryan Braun. Also, Ryan Braun. And then there's Ryan Braun. Plus some other guys. Oh, and they signed Kyle Lohse.
Why They Won't: First base is a deathtrap, as they're apparently down to the backup from AA at this point because of injuries. There's always the chance Braun will be linked to a new steroid scandal. The back end of the bullpen is made of duct tape, dreams and mustache wax.
Moment They're Dreading: News reports break linking Braun to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, where he apparently was partaking of an illegal training regimen involving snozzberry extract.
Why They'll Win: Theo Epstein and his magical pixie dust fix everything. Starlin Castro is a player to build around. They're finally getting out from under the last of the horrible contracts from the bad old days. Anthony Rizzo has monster potential. Jeff Samardjiza seems to have turned the corner.
Why They Won't: Beyond Rizzo and Castro, there's basically no offense. There's basically no defense, period. They've still got Carlos Marmol. And Old Style kind of sucks.
Moment They're Dreading: Cubs ownership and the city of Chicago announce a $599M deal for the renovation of Wrigley Field; shortly thereafter people realize this doesn't include the on-field product.