NL East Preview

Welcome to the NL East preview where I have no doubts that we’ll get a healthy discussion from the Metsbhoys on the NL East. This on paper looks to be one of the weaker divisions in baseball with what looks to be one run away winner and one runaway loser.

Lets look at the runners and riders.

Atlanta Braves

What can you say about the Braves that hasn’t already been said. They look to have been on a sell-off, trying to get rid of the dead-wood and build for the future. Their roster looks very different to this time last year. Gone are Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Erwin Santana, Jason Heyward and Aaron Harang. Although there are big names gone, they still have a good squad with some experienced names left to accompany the players they brought in.

The players they brought in were Jonny Gomes, AJ Pierzynski, Eury Perez, Jim Johnson, Jason Grilli, Shelby Miller, Zoile Almonte, Alberto Callaspo and Nick Markakis which is still a decent amount of major league talent, most of it is aging and Atlanta could be the new Old Folks home for decrepit and retiring former stars.

Despite the radical roster changes, they have Mike Minor returning from injury and on paper they look better than I thought. They still have Teheran, Wood, Minor and Miller as the front four of their rotation with a battle for the 5th spot with Kimbrel as closer. They still have the bats of Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons and have added the bats of Callaspo and Markakis to the mix. If they can stay free of injury (which was a big challenge last season), they may do well.

Spiggle’s Thoughts – I think they will do better than expected and will finish in 3rd place with a record of around .500.

Julio Teheran

Julio Teheran

Miami Marlins

The Marlins big moves of the off-season was securing the long-term deals of Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. Stanton backloaded his contract to give the Marlins some payroll room to go and get a few players which they did in the off-season.

They picked up Dan Haren, who really doesn’t want to be there and Mat Latos who is coming off injury. They also picked up David Phelps as part of the Eovaldi trade.  They also revamped their infield by adding Michael Morse, Dee Gordon and Martin Prado. They also brought in Aaron Crow to bolster their pen and Icheerios (sorry Kev) Suzuki as a back up outfielder.

They do have a decent rotation but they have Jose Fernandez recovering from injury and have lost Nathan Eovaldi from that rotation.

Spiggle’s Thoughts:- Is it enough, are they good enough to make a difference or are they just another wannabe team like the 2012 Marlins under Ozzie. I don’t think this is the year for them. Mat Latos could struggle coming back from injury and you have to wonder how much of an effect a negative Dan Haren will have on the team. I predict a 4th place finish for them

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton

New York Mets

You could hear the cries of anguish from the MetsBhoys shouting “Make a move”, get a short-stop. We could do well this year if we can just make a couple of moves!”

It didn’t happen, the Mets stayed put this off-season and really only brought in Michael Cuddyer to help their bats in the outfield and to provide support to David Wright.

If you look at it, the short-stop position is probably the most difficult in baseball to fill. There are very few elite short-stops or even decent short-stops out there and what the Mets would have had to given up probably wouldn’t have been worth it. So, they held fast and believe in the talented young core that is coming through and hope that Wilmer Flores and can turn into the next big shortstop.

The biggest news for the Mets is the return of their ace Matt Harvey from injury. Harvey, in Spring Training, is starting to look like his former self and if not for the injury to Zach Wheeler, an already frightening rotation, would look scarier. Currently it looks like they are running Colon / De Grom / Harvey / Gee and Niese which is a sturdy rotation in its own right and not many teams can claim the depth that the Mets have behind them with Syndegaard, Montero and Matz all likely to start in Vegas and be ready to pitch if one of their rotation goes down.

By my reckoning, for the next 5 years or so, the Mets have a cheap and very solid rotation which should allow them to spend in free agency in the next few seasons to come.

Spiggle’s Thoughts – With Harvey back and the signing of Cuddyer, I can see the Mets finishing 2nd again this year. They may even knock on the door and steal a Wild Card away from the more competitive Central and West.

Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer

Philadelphia Phillies

Ok, the MetsBhoys are probably going to enjoy this but what a mess the Phillies are in. They actively tried to trade away Cole Hamels for prospects and couldn’t get anyone to bite. They managed to trade away Jimmy Rollins and a threadbare squad going into the Season. Their rotation as it stands is Hamels, Harang, Jerome Williams, David Buchanan and who knows for the 5th spot in the rotation with Chad Billingsley due back late April after Tommy John surgery. I was going to say that it might be Kevin Slowey who is a NRI at Spring Training, however, he has been released by them, so who knows. Rumour is that the Phillies might be looking outside their organisation for a number 5 starter.

Offense wise, they brought in Grady Sizemore and Jordan Danks. I think that sums up their offense. Sizemore who got cut by the Red Sox who were one of the worst teams in the AL last year and Danks who was cut by the White Sox who were also one of the worst teams in the AL last year. The crazy thing is that with Domonic Brown on the DL, one or both of these players may actually play for them.

Spiggle’s Prediction – Look, I’m looking at this roster and see more holes than a fishing net. It has a lot of rookies and players rehabbing. Their star pitcher is on the Trading Block and they can’t get anyone to take their star hitter in Howard. This organisation is a mess and the only saving grace that I can see is that they seem to have a decent pen. I predict last place for them by quite a margin, possibly even worst team in baseball.

Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels

Washington Nationals

It’s actually a pleasure and nice change of pace to go from possibly the worst team in baseball to possibly the best team in baseball.

The word all-in is often used in poker and in the Washington Nationals case, they would be all-in. They have went for it this off-season and brought in the biggest name free agent pitcher in Max Scherzer. They’ve also brought in Yunel Escobar to shore up short-stop and Casey Janssen to help with the pen.

Their rotation now reads Scherzer, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Fister and Gonzalez with Tanner Roark projected to be the long man in the pen.

They supplement this with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon hitting.

Spiggle’s Prediction

This looks to be the super team and for a good reason. There may be a couple of issues with their pen but overall they are as good a team on paper if not better than anyone else this season. I see them winning the NL East and with that rotation, maybe even the World Series.

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

Thanks for reading my blog and I’ll be back in a few days with the NL Central Preview and my views on Back to the Future part II

I did a poll on last blog for what Live game to watch on opening day, thanks to those who replied.

I’m going to do a similar poll on this blog.

On Wednesday 8th April, should I watch the Twins @ Tigers at 6pm or the Cards @ Cubs at 7pm. Please vote in the comments section below.

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