With the extensive previews pertaining to both the Phillies and Yankees coming in the next few days (Phillies hitting dropped earlier today) we here at 90on95 want to give those fans a sense of how the other teams are going to be doing in their respective divisions. With that, we bring you, the NL East.
This wouldn’t be a Philly/NY blog if we didn’t think that the Phillies or Yankees would be first in each other their divisions. Here’s how we think the rest of the NL East will round out.
2. Florida Marlins
I’m sure a lot of Braves fans just threw up their arms, but this is my post, and I’m picking the teams. That being said, the Marlins are a curious bunch. When things go right, they go right. When they go bad, well this team looks like an AA team. Like most NL Clubs, the Marlins chances for the postseason rely on their pitching. Lead by my pick for Cy Young, Josh Johnson (more on that later in the week), there are not many questions about the Fish starting 5. With JJ leading the way, he is followed closely by Ricky “No-No” Nolasco and Anibal “the cannibal” Sanchez, and who could forget Chris “Strikeout-or-Homerun” Volstad, in the 2-3-4 spot. Apparently Javier Vazquez plays for the Fish now, so I’d pencil him in as the 5th starter. (I’ll be honest I’m a hockey, soccer, and then baseball fan. If it wasn’t for this post I wouldn’t have known about Vazquez.) It’s when you take a look at the bullpen that things become, well, a bit fishy. Burke Badenhop is without a doubt the best reliever of the bunch, but look for him in the long relief role, or to clean up any mess the Fish starters happen to make. Brian Sanches and Clay Hensley provided fine numbers last year (3.99 and 2.16 ERA’s, respectively) and should continue to put up the same in what should be the set up role for either of them. Good old Leo Nunez is back to close, so unless it’s a 5 run Fish lead, things are going to get interesting in the 9th. He finished last year 4-3, with 30/38 for saves.
Arguably the most appropriate photo of him
As for the defense/hitting of this team, it’s loaded with potential but with the chance of good comes the almost guarantee of failure. Hanley is going to put up his numbers like he does every year (30+ steals, 20+ HR’s, 70+ RBI’s) but that’s a given. It going to be interesting to see how guys getting their first full year in the majors are going to react. Guys like RF Mike Stanton (22 Hr’s, 59 RBI’s in 100 games last year), LF Logan Morrison (2 HR’s, 18 RBI’s in 62 games) and 3b Donnie Murphy (3 Hr’s, 16 RBI’s). Those guys have yet to prove themselves as full time big league players, and this will be the perfect opportunity for them to do so. Newcomers like C John Buck and 2b Omar Infante should bring some much needed veteran leadership, as long as HanRam doesn’t get in their way.
3. Atlanta Braves
Sorry, I’m just not impressed with the Braves this year. No, it has nothing to do with them naming former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez to replace Bobby “I need more” Cox. Why would you say that? Dan Uggla playing second for them? No, no, it has nothing to do with that either. I didn’t even know that happened. OK, well, I forgot that happened. No it just seems like every year the Braves bring the same boring ball team to play come spring time. Larry Jones manning third will be, what, interesting? Dragging? Uneventful? Pick one, cause that’s how it’s been for the past 4 years and will be until Grandpa Larry gets the message and moves to the Braves front office. I hear they need a new secretary. Alex Gonzalez (another former Marlin, I’m starting to see a theme here) should do nice to offset the defense liability that is Dan Struggla, and vice versa when it comes to plate presence. If Jason Heyward can improve upon his production from last year (18 Hr’s, 72 RBI’s) he has a chance to become the new face of this franchise.
Uhm, Mr. Heyward, about your new swing...
As always, the Braves pitching isn’t too flashy, and isn’t too droll. Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens (my spell check just OD’d) and Derek Lowe will bring the predictable, solid 10+ wins each. It will be interesting to see how the team transitions from hick Billy Wagner to someone I assume is a hick, George Sherrill. I say it goes smoothly. It’s not that I think the Braves will be especially bad this year, I just don’t seem them being all that good. (Cannot wait for the rip job I get for this.)
4. New York Mets
Any other division and they’d be picked last. What can you say about this team. It seems like only yesterday I would turn on a Mets game, and by the end of the first they’d be up a run or two. Alas, Jose Reyes just isn’t the same player he used to be. David Wright, yeah he’s going to give you numbers (29 HR’s, 103 RBI’s) but one man doesn’t make a team. With the forever enigmatic Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran in the outfield, things should be interesting for each fly ball. The one bright spot on this offense should be the continued growth of Ike Davis, the first basemen who put up gaudy numbers (19 HR’s, 71 RBI’s) in his first season in the Show, and managed to make my girlfriend wet every time he came to bat.
He's like a Jewish Leo DiCaprio
Pitching will of course be a craps shoot once again. Yes Johan Santana is Johan Santana but he isn’t Johan Santana anymore, you know what I mean? Thank God they got rid of Oliver Perez (it only took a Bernie Madoff scandal) in favor of Jason Isringhausen, but with awesome blossoms like Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese
and John Maine backing him up, it should be interesting to see how putrid this starting staff can become. If they play above their average, look for the Mets to surprise a lot of people. I don’t see it happening though. Look for Francisco Rodriguez to continue to celebrate every save over the Cubs like he just saved the president (of Venezuela.)
5. Washington Nationals
sweet soul patch, brah