PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. NEW YORK METS
NEW YORK METS
MANAGER: JERRY MANUEL
LAST YEAR: 70-92
BIGGEST ADD: JASON BEY OF
BIGGEST LOSS: CARLOS DELGADO 1B
TOP PROSPECT: JENRRRY MEJIA RHP
The Mets are an enigma. They suffered through major injuries last year, but somehow the sum of the parts seem to add up to more than what they deliver in the win column. This year expectations are low, so don’t be surprised if the Mets are right there in September. Any team with Santana, K-Rod, Beltran, Reyes, and Wright, can’t be overlooked, and they have the money to grab a big arm in July if they need one. I think the Mets rebound and give the Phil’s a run for the division.
MANAGER: CHARLIE MANUEL
LAST YEAR: 93-69
BIGGEST ADD: ROY HALLADAY RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: CLIFF LEE LHP
TOP PROSPECT: ANTONIO BASTARDO LHP
The Phillies won the NL pennant last season, and lost in the World Series to the Yankees. The Phillies lost Cliff Lee, but added Roy Halladay, which is virtually a wash. The key for this team will be if the Phillies have the Cole Hamels of two years ago, or last year’s version? The bullpen could be their Achillies heel, but the lineup can make up for a lot of bad pitches. Chase Utley has emerged as a special player, and is slowly becoming a team leader, backed by his play on the field. There is a good chance to be there again in the end.
MANAGER: BOOBY COX
LAST SEASON: 86-76
BIGGEST ADD: BILLY WAGNER LHP
BIGGEST LOSS: JAVIER VASQUEZ RHP
TOP PROSPECT: JASON HEYWARD OF
The Braves had enough pitching where they were able to deal Javier Vasquez to the Yankees. This staff is arguably the best of all the NL East teams, with Derek Lowe penciled in at the No. 4 spot, they are pretty deep. The problem for the Braves is that their lineup isn’t very deep, and sooner or later, Jason Heyward is going to get a chance as he is labeled a can’t miss prospect. Billy Wagner, by all accounts, is healthy and could provide a top-level closer. Overall, this team looks to be about the same, with 10 games above .500 give or take once again.
MANAGER: FREDDY GONZALEZ
LAST YEAR: 87-75
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: NICK JOHNSON 1B
TOP PROSPECT: MIKE STANTONÂ OF
The Marlins probably get the most out of very little in terms of payroll than any team in baseball. They play hard and have more talent than the payroll would indicate. They have a bonafide No. 1 in Josh Johnson, and if Nolasco progresses like he did in the second half. A certifiable No. 2. Volstad is the key. He has potential, but has not reached it yet, and somehow their bullpen questions always seem to get answered. The defense is weak, and will cost them some games. I don’t see them challenging, but will make life miserable down the stretch for someone.
MANAGER: JIM RIGLEMAN
LAST YEAR: 59-103
BIGGEST ADD: JASON MARQUIS RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: LIVAN HERNANDEZ RHP
TOP PROSPECT: STEPHEN STRASBURG RHP
The biggest positive for the Nats is their middle of the lineup with Zimmerman, Dunn, and Willingham. Nyjer Morgan is a top-flight centerfielder. It goes downhill from there. The pitching, as usual, will be their demise. Jason Marquis is at the top of their rotation, when he is a middle of the rotation pitcher, that says all you need to know. Bruney and Capps should make the pen better, but by the second half, they will be worn down. This is a staff that is about one run per game worse than just average, and nothing they have done looks to change that significantly. The biggest question is can they avoid losing 100 again?