Manager: Dusty Baker (4th season).
Record: 91-71 (lost ALDS).
Key arrivals: SS Edgar Renteria, OF Fred Lewis, OF Jeremy Hermida, LHP Dontrelle Willis
Key departures: LHP Arthur Rhodes, RHP Aaron Harang, SS Orlando Cabrera, OF Laynce Nix.
Knowns: Reigning MVP Joey Votto heads a deep cast of young, hungry players who follow the example set by Scott Rolen.
Unknowns: Will the Reds get the quality work they expect from a group of young pitchers led by Cuban LHP Aroldis Chapman? Will the inconsistent Renteria hold up?
Playoffs coming if … Baker's pitching staff handles the 2010 workload better than his Cubs' staff did from 2003 to '04.
Manager: Tony La Russa (16th season).
Key arrivals: RF Lance Berkman, SS Ryan Theriot, INF Nick Punto, C Gerald Laird, CF Jim Edmonds.
Key departures: SS Brendan Ryan, C Jason LaRue, RHP Blake Hawksworth, OF Randy Winn, LHP Dennys Reyes.
Knowns: Adam Wainwright may be the NL's top starter. Albert Pujols is still the best hitter in the NL, and will get more protection from Berkman.
Unknowns: The Cardinals are rolling the dice on Berkman's ability to move from first base back to the outfield while recovering from knee surgery.
Playoffs coming if … The Cardinals get even more from a thin pitching staff that was fourth in the NL in ERA a year ago.
BrewersManager: Ron Roenicke (1st year)
Key additions: RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Shaun Marcum, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP Takashi Saito, 1B-OF Mark Kotsay.
Key departures: SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Trevor Hoffman, OF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Todd Coffey, RHP Carlos Villanueva.
Knowns: Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks make this the best lineup in the division.
Unknowns: Will Greinke and Marcum elevate the pitching staff to the level of the Reds and Cardinals.
Playoffs coming if … Greinke is an All-Star and a focused, in-shape Fielder outproduces Pujols and Votto.
Manager: Brad Mills (2nd season).
Key additions: SS Clint Barmes, U Bill Hall, LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Key departures: RHP Matt Lindstrom, U Geoff Blum, LHP Tim Byrdak.
Knowns: Mills established himself as a solid manager in his first season, getting eight more victories than the team's Pythagorean standings suggest he should have.
Unknowns: Who takes over for Lance Berkman at first base? Brett Wallace gets first crack but if he's not ready Carlos Lee will move from left field, possibly opening a spot for Brian Bogusevic.
Playoffs coming if … Baseball expands the playoffs to 24 teams between now and season's end.
Key additions: RHP Matt Garza, 1B Carlos Pena, RHP Kerry Wood, OF Reed Johnson, RHP Braden Looper.
Key departures: LHP Tom Gorzelanny, OF-1B Xavier Nady, 1B Micah Hoffpauir, RHP Bob Howry.
Knowns: Ryan Dempster has become one of the NL's most reliable starters, averaging 14 victories and 33 starts the last three seasons. Starlin Castro gives Quade the Cubs' best shortstop since Shawon Dunston.
Unknowns: Can Garza fill the No. 1 starter's role? Can the Carlos Zambrano-Quade honeymoon continue? What will Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano contribute?
Playoffs coming if … Wood and a healthy John Grabow revitalize the bullpen and the Cubs get 30-plus starts and ERAs of 3.75 or better from Dempster, Garza and Zambrano.
Manager: Clint Hurdle (1st season).
Key additions: RHP Kevin Correia, OF Matt Diaz, 1B Lyle Overbay, LHP Scott Olsen, LHP Joe Beimel.
Key departures: OF Lastings Milledge, 3B Andy LaRoche, 2B Aki Iwamura, RHP Chan Ho Park.
Knowns: Hurdle is the best manager the Pirates have had since Gene Lamont. A significant Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker give Hurdle a nucleus to build around.
Unknowns: Can a patchwork starting rotation headed by Dodgers castoff James McDonald and Correia keep the lineup and bullpen from being overly stressed?
Playoffs coming if … First things first for a franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 1992. Hurdle might get a statue like Willie Stargell's or a bridge like Roberto Clemente's if he produces a .500 record.
What's up guys, welcome back to the NL Central thread, Niketalk's premier baseball thread. Baseball is around the corner, and hope has sprung anew....unless you're a Pirates fan. Let's not tippy toe around it....trash will be talked and we gonna get things crunk in here. Ima have some surprises throughout the season. Can't wait to see all the old faces, as well as welcome the new guys. Good luck to everyone!!!