Friday, April 3, 2009

Preview/Prediction: N.L. East


That's all I've got to say about that.

I picked the Mets to win 98 games and the division last year...I couldn't do it again, could I?


1) New York Mets (96-66)
The only thing stopping me from giving the Mets 98 wins is the perpetual question mark in the back of the rotation...and by back of the rotation, I mean everything beyond Johan Santana.

Mike Pelfrey is listed as the No. 2, but pitched well-beyond his career-high in innings last season. There is pessimism from critics as to how he will rebound this season from his breakout performance last year.

Oliver Perez at No. 3 has the talent to be a No. 1, but has yet to harness his potential and turn it into stellar results on a consistent basis. Inability to control his emotions and concentrate on the task at hand will be a thorn in his side throughout the rest of his career. Anything in the 12-15 win range with a 4.00ish earned run average is perfectly acceptable for Ollie.

John Maine just needs to stay healthy. When he does, he's a solid No. 2 option. The pressure of being in the No. 4 slot will hopefully help him take things easy this season.

As for the No. 5 slot, I see it as being a platoon all year. If the Mets get 10 wins out of that slot, chalk it up in the win column.

The offense will be productive as usual, with Reyes, Wright, and Beltran all poised to lead the attack. Carlos Delgado is an X-factor, and his production will have a major impact on the team's success. Anything out of the catcher or second base position are an added bonus.

If Ryan Church is healthy and Daniel Murphy continues to look as sharp as he was at the plate last year, the Mets will be in very good shape.

Finally, the most important changes for the Mets came in the bullpen. The signing of Francisco Rodriguez and trade for J.J. Putz will have an immediate and lasting impact. Bullpen woes were the difference in winning the division and pulling another "C" word last year and the year before. With a new-look 'pen, the Mets can make some serious noise in October.

2) Philadelphia Phillies (89-73)
Though many experts consider the Marlins and Braves as legitimate contenders, it's still just a two-team race, as it should be.

The Phils' only major change comes in right field, where they brough in Raul Ibanez to replace the departed Pat Burrell. The core of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley is still intact, which will provide fans with some high-scoring affairs, but does Philadelphia have the pitching to back up the offense?

Yes and no.

Cole Hamels is a bona fide ace. He's legit, but had trouble with several teams last year. Behind him are Brett Myers (devastating when healthy, but otherwise unpredictable), Jamie Moyer (46), Joe Blanton (overachieved in Philly last year, leading to unrealistic expectations this year), and Chan Ho Park (don't waste your time laughing - he'll be out of the rotation very quick).

The Phillies have great role players and a great bench, but won't achieve success unless it's handed to them on a silver platter for a third year in a row. They should be able to snag the Wild Card, however.

3) Florida Marlins (84-78)
The Marlins are young and hungry, but again, won't be able to patch it together for a full season. Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, and Andrew Miller all have a lot of hype, but questions arise challenging how far they can go into games. The Marlins have a very weak bullpen which may be an Achilles' heel.

Jorge Cantu had a career-year last year, and it's tough to expect him to have a repeat performance this time around. Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez anchor the offense, but without solid production from the other power positions, may not be able to provide enough offense to give pitchers consistent run support.

They'll be contenders into late-summer, but will fade towards the end.

4) Atlanta Braves (82-80)
Another Florida-like team, the Braves are still trying to rebuild back to the team which owned the division for over a dozen years. They have one of the best managers in the game, but without the right personnel, it's tough to convert what you have into wins.

Atlanta is holding itself back by re-signing Tom Glavine, who is done. He no longer has the stuff or the health to even win 10 games. Derek Lowe was a great signing, but not as an ace pitcher. Against the other top aces in the league, he's going to be in serious trouble.

Larry Wayne Jones, Jr. and Brian McCann are still two of the best players in the division, and have a nice variety of talent around them to piece together a .500 ball club, but like the Marlins, a weak bullpen will doom them in the end.

5) Washington Nationals (68-94)
Give it up to the Nats - they at least showed some effort this offseason, spending money on Adam Dunn, and trying to bring Mark Teixeira aboard. Jesus Flores is one of the great young catchers in the game, and if Nick Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman can stay on the field, Washington will catch some teams by surprise.

Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, and Josh Willingham are also some big bats capable of hurting opponents.

The problem in Washington won't be the offense as much as it is the pitching. Unless these young guys they've brough in have flown under everyone's radar, it will be another long year in the nation's capital.

Go Expos!


N.L. East - Mets
N.L. Central - Cubs
N.L. West - Dodgers
N.L. Wild Card - Phils

A.L. East - BoSox
A.L. Central - Twins
A.L. West - Halos
A.L. Wild Card - Yanks


Eric said...

Oliver Perez has the talent to be a number 1?! What are you smoking? Give me some

Travis Miller said...

You've obviously never seen him pitch on his best of days when he's concentrating and making rational decisions on the mound.

Check his numbers in big games against the Braves and Yankees. Or even when he started Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006.

He's just never been able to fully harness his emotions and I've given up on the chance of that happening, but I'm willing to deal with what he currently offers and deal with the downside.

Eric said...

Well alright, you got me. Although, I don't think I'd want him on my team.

On a totally different note: I went to check my fantasy teams on Yahoo and the main fantasy page has Andruw Jones' fatass smiling in a Rangers' uni. Under the picture reads this: "Give the fat jokes a rest, Andruw Jones is a legit streaming option as the Rangers' cleanup hitter against left-handed pitching." Fat or not, he's finished in this game. Last season was considered, by many, to be the worst season by any player ever! I don't care how good he was, he's a soft, fat worthless player right now who needs to retire and give the Dodgers back their money. I'd rather double Luis Castillo's contract than to have paid Jones what LA paid for him with that horrid "production" we saw..

Travis Miller said...

Wow. You'd rather have Luis Castillo than Andruw Jones? I wish we could have done that deal!

You sound pretty solid on your stance on Andruw.

Eric said...

Well he begged to get out of LA cuz he couldn't handle the fans booing him and his .158 batting average. He's soft and soft athletes have no purpose in professional sports.