Flaherty for a bat? Boyer for the Hall? Rick Hummel examines all the scenarios

Q: Everyone seems to be down on the NL Central, but the Reds’ lineup is still powerful, as is the Cubs. Plus I expect Christian Yelich to return to form. It’s ridiculous to think the Cards are the favorites.

Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich tosses his bat as he walks back to the dugout after striking out. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A: You mean that Reds’ lineup which didn’t score a run in 22 innings in the playoffs and had the lowest batting average, at .212, in the National League? Or the Cubs, who hit a franchise-low .220, which was 14 points lower than the Cardinals, who had the division’s highest average at .234? Yes, Yelich will bounce back, but the Cardinals aren’t likely to have all nine of their 10 prime hitters finish under their career numbers again. The Cardinals are as good as or better than anybody in the division, albeit a weak one.

Q: If Matt Carpenter cannot produce this year, who would take over at third? Tommy Edman appears to be the regular second baseman, and Nolan Gorman and Elehuris Montero are still a year away.

A: That would be an issue. I would expect the Cardinals would sign a veteran infielder to be a backup who could play third and maybe shortstop. Until further notice, the Cardinals are in the position of needing Carpenter to produce.

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