Thursday, March 27, 2008
The NL East was certainly a lot more interesting in late September than it looked all season long. The Mets with the addition of Johan have once again risen to the favorite of the division.
1. New York Mets
Trading for Johan Santana give the Mets the piece they have been missing the past two seasons. An absolute stud at the top of their rotation. But was it a year too late? Will the age and injuries to the Carlos's, Alou, etc. hinder what should be the National League favorite.
Key Player: Pedro Martinez, The key player for the Mets this season is definitely Pedro. If Pedro can stay healthy for the entire season than the Mets have 4 dynamic starters with the potential of 5 if El Duque can ever be healthy. If Pedro comes down with an injury than are they really head and shoulders better than they were last season? Maybe not.
Player to Eye: John Maine, I've never been a big believer of John Maine but maybe I'm worng. Last season Maine had a solid season and this spring he's been terrific. If Maine continues to pitch like he has this spring he will once again reach the 15 win mark and likely pass it with ease.
Record Prediction: 94 - 68
2. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies made a tremendous come back last season and then fell to the bible thumping streaking Rockies. Once again this year the Phillies come with a severely loaded offense and a very shallow starting rotation.
Key Player: Brett Myers, Last year it didn't make much sense to me when the Phillies thrust Brett Myers into the closer role. Well it worked out. He pitched well and the Phillies won the division and Myers liked the job. So naturally the Phillies threw him back in the rotation. Now we shall see if Myers blows up in his first month like he did last year, or reemerges as a front line starter.
Player to Eye: Brad Lidge, Brad Lidge will open the season on the 15 Day DL which isn't very surprising. If this trend continues than the Phillies will have to once again rely on grandpa Tom Gordon and that won't exactly be good news for their roster. Now that they've moved Myers back into the rotation, they need someone, preferably Lidge to solidify the closer role.
Record Prediction:89 - 73, WildCard
3. Atlanta Braves
Apparently the Braves are now the sheik pick to win the NL East. I'm just not seeing it. Their rotation has 3 ancient pitcher with injury risks. Smoltz is already on the DL, Hampton is bound to go on the DL, and Glavine got rocked at the end of the year last year. Their lineup will be really good, but is the offense better than last year?
Key Player: John Smoltz, An ace starting the season on the DL is never a good thing. Now when your ace is a 40 year old pitcher you're going to have to worry a lot. If Smoltz breaks down this season the Braves are left with no one that scary at the top of their rotation.
Player to Eye: Mike Hampton, Hey Mike Hampton is back (for now). Remember him? He used to be really good before he decided he didn't like the education system in the New York area so he moved his family out to Colorado. They didn't quite workout for him. But hey right now he's actually healthy and pitching well. How are those Georgia school systems by the way, cause the ones in Connecticut sure do suck?
Record Prediction: 87 -75
4. Florida Marlins
The Marlins went the rout of fire sale in the off season and for good reason. A team that has an attendence of a high school team shouldn't shell out 150 million dollars on one play. In the deal they did get rid of their two biggest faces but received talent that could once again lead them to the promise land in the future. For 2008 however these Marlins will be bad.
Key Player: Hanley Ramirez, Considering he is the lone star left on the Marlins it's obvious that Hanley Ramirez is the Marlins key player. One could argue that he is the best shortstop in major league baseball right now and if he was in a major market many more would probably make the case. It will be interesting to track what effect if any the absence of Miguel Cabrera will have on Hanley.
Player to Eye: Andrew Miller, The big lefty was one of the two jewels received in the Cabrera trade. Now Miller should get a full seasons worth of work and we shall see if he truly is an elite MLB pitcher.
Record Prediction: 75-87
5. Washington Nationals
The Nationals apparently have modeled themselves in the mold of the Texas Rangers. Minus the really good hitting. They have no pitcher to write home about. Their best pitcher two seasons ago, John Patterson, was cut this past week. So who is their opening day starter? Odalis Perez. Woo. This team just like last years team will rock out in the basement.
Key Player: Ryan Zimmerman, Zimmerman is now entering his 3rd full season with the Nationals and I bet he's pumped up that he no longer has to play in RFK. Will his numbers balloon a lot this year? Probably not. But maybe he'll challenge to be the lone Nationals representative in the all star game.
Player to Eye: Lastings Milledge, What they gave up for Lastings Milledge was a complete steal. As in they give up absolutely nothing for a player who could turn into Mike Cameron. Aka low batting average but 20+ HR/SB.
Record Prediction: 66 - 96