December 16, 2019

NL East Preview

March 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Who can beat the Phillies?  The Braves have some of the best young talent in the game, but no one will catch them.  The arrival in 2010 of young phenoms Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward will be highlights in the NL East.  The ultimate story will be Roy Halladay as he carries the Phillies back to the NL championship.

Philadelphia Phillies, Predicted Finish: 1st Place (98-64)  Halladay will supplant Johan Santana as the best AL pitcher in the NL and with Hamels will be the best one-two punch in the NL, enough to carry the Phillies back to the World Series along with Ryan Howard, Jimmie Rollins and company.

Pitching and Defense: Halladay will make Cole Hamels better.  Joe Blanton and JA Happ provide great depth to the best pitching rotation in the NL.  The weakness is the bullpen.  Player to Watch: Brad Lidge.  He was horrible again last season but is still penciled in as closer.  Ryan Madson may well be the closer all year, but that would stretch a relatively thin pen. Danys Baez, JC Romero and Chad Durbin need to be effective after the team lost Clay Condrey–their best bullpen arm after Madson.  Polanco cannot replace Pedro Feliz at third for defense making them weak at the corner infield spots.

Offense: Polanco will put more punch in the NL’s best offense.  They scored more than 5 runs per game and only the Rockies, they of the light air, were even close.  Ibanez and Werth cannot match their production from last year–neither will top 30 homers in 2010– so Polanco’s bat will be a welcome addition.  Jimmy Rollins can play up a notch with the bat, so they should be about the same when all is said and done in the playoffs.

Atlanta Braves. Predicted Finish, Second (89-73). It could be close between the Mets and Braves, but because pitching beats hitting the way paper beats rock, Atlanta’s young talent will out perform a healthier Mets lineup.

Pitching and Defense:  Derek Lowe has been money for years, maybe too many, as his ERA ballooned to 4.67 last year.  The 36-year old is just one of the many senior citizens on the team, but the most important will be 38- year old Billy Wagner.  He replaces Raphael Soriano and Takashi Saito replaces Mike Gonzalez and it seems a risky business.  Young pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hansen are the real strength of the staff.  Their up-the-middle defense is a plus, but elsewhere old and slow.

Offense: Last year I was skeptical that Chipper Jones could carry an anemic offense.  Player to Watch: Jason Heyward. He is needed to pump some life into all of the “senior” leadership that surrounds Bobby Cox.  He is going to do it, but how much and when is all that is left to wager on.  The Bobby Cox era will not end on a notable high note, but not on a sour one either.

New York Mets.  Predicted Finish: Third (84-78) Reyes is back, but how healthy is he and how well does David Wright bounce back.  Jason Bay will help the Mets more than Polanco will help the Phillies, but the Mets have a lot of questions to answer.  The pitching is weak after Santana and injuries could send this team back into contention with Florida and Washington.

Player To Watch: Jon Neise, the 23-year old left-hander is the only thing resembling a pitching “prospect” the Mets have to step in behind Santana. His sinking fastball, a nice curve and plus change could add to the thin pitching depth.

Offense: Beltran is no longer young and Jason Bay may be more important to the lineup.  Gary Mathews provides insurance if they don’t trade him for much needed pitching.  The Mets offense will be better in 2010, but by not by that much.

Falling into Fourth: Florida Marlins. (78-84) Josh Johnson set himself apart from the other Florida starters last year, which is better for Johnson than for the Marlins who were counting on Volstad, Nolasco and Sanchez to achieve similar results.  The Fish are in trouble if the young pitchers continue to baffle only themselves.  The bullpen is thin and the real question in South Florida is when do they pull the plug.

Player to Watch:  Dan Uggla. How long does he have or will they trade Hanley Ramirez first?  Any team run by Jeffrey Loria is in trouble and this year will be a rough one for the Marlins.

Hot at the Bottom: The Nationals.  (77-85) If Florida implodes, Washington could squeak by them.  Pecota has the Nats, Fish, and Mets tied at the bottom.

Player to Watch: Stephen Strasburg.  He will not start the season in DC, but a lot depends on what he does when he comes up.  The fantasy blogs rate him worth a draft day pick even starting in the minors.  He looked very good in three spring starts.  Washington could finish strong behind his arm.

Pitching and Defense:  John Lannan and Jason Marquis are the only sure things.  Garrett Mock, Craig Stammen and JD Martin are pitching well in Florida.  They will fill in until Chien-Ming Wang, Stephen Strasburg, and Ross Detwiler are ready.  Matt Capps hopes to have a bounce back year to close, but if not Brian Bruney and Tyler Clippard will move up a notch and Drew Storen will set up.  Pudge Rodriguez will be a big help defensively.

Offense:  Zimmerman and Willingham have been on fire in Florida, Dunn has a bad back–not good.  Zimmerman needs his protection in the lineup.  If Adam Kennedy plays anything like he did in 2009 and Pudge stays healty, the Nationals will score enough runs to push the Marlins by the end of the season.

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