Yesterday, we finished the American League and now move onto the National League. The NL East to be exact. The Marlins have a new name, new stadium, and a new team, but will that be enough? Can the Phils repeat? How will the Braves respond to their epic collapse?
So let's do this thing!
1st- Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are the five time defending NL East champions and there's no reason they can't make it six.
The Phillies have a great pitching rotation even though Roy Oswalt is gone. Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee might have the best top three arms in the game. They made a risky signing in Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason. Papelbon is one of the best closers in the games, but he was signed to a contract much to long for a closer of his age.
Ryan Howard is coming off an Achilles injury from the playoffs, so we shall see how he recovers from that. Chase Utley is looking to rebound from an off year and has been going downhill the past three seasons. They did sign Ty Wigginton and he could replace Placido Polanco at third.
2nd- Miami Marlins
New name, new uniforms, new stadium, new players it's all coming together for the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins somehow found some money and went on a spending tear equivalent to a teenage girl with a new credit card. The Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell to fill holes on this Marlins team. Buehrle and Josh Johnson will make a formidable one-two punch down in South Beach.
Jose Reyes will unseat Hanley Ramirez at shortstop as Hanley moves to third. Ramirez is upset at the move to third and could prove to be a distraction to this team. John Buck and Gaby Sanchez are solid players that will contribute to this suddenly good Marlin offense.
The outfield looks pretty good, too. Giancarlo Stanton is a star and Logan Morrison is a solid starter, although his batting average dipped a bit last year. Chris Coghlan and Emilio Bonifacio will platoon in center field.
Ozzie Guillen will provide the fire and intensity that the Marlins need. Unfortunately, the Marlins are in the NL East and have to get past the Phillies and Braves. It's a good start, but still need some help.
3rd- Atlanta Braves
After the Braves collapse, the Braves pretty much stayed pat this offseason. When the Marlins upgraded and the Phillies still have the great pitching that they do, it's going to be hard to win the East.
Tim Hudson is getting older, but is still the clear ace of this Braves staff. Tommy Hanson had a so-so ERA last year (3.60 ERA) and Jair Jurrjens is back, despite the Braves wanting to unload him. Brandon Beachy led the Braves in strikeouts last season and will be the fourth starter for the Braves.
Chipper Jones is 40 years old and will most likely make a trip or two to the DL. Dan Uggla needs to get off to a good start, the Braves can't afford another slow start from Uggla. Jason Heyward needs a good year to prove he isn't a one hit wonder.
They still have a young and talented closer and set up man in Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters, respectively. So there is still hope for the Braves, but the Marlins made major strides and the Phillies are still the Phillies.
4th- Washington Nationals
Strasburg is back!
The Nationals are improving every year, but are stuck in the deep NL East. The Nats added Edwin Jackson to be the number three behind Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Jackson is an iffy pitcher with flashes of greatness, but he will be inconsistent this season. Gonzalez will be the workhouse of this Nats staff with Strasburg most likely on a pitch count.
Jayson Werth needs a bounce back season to shut up the naysayers, but I just don't see it happening. Other than Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse, the Nationals lineup seems pretty pedestrian, so it is imperative that Werth needs a great season.
Bryce Harper could see some playing time this season in the outfield while moving Morse to first.
5th- New York Mets
The Mets are in a tough division and have a team that slashed payroll and lost their best player to a division rival.
Hunker down, Mets fans, it's going to be a long season.
Other than David Wright, the Mets have no one to help him. Jason Bay has been a monumental bust for the Mets (So glad the Sox didn't sign him now). Ike Davis is a good player, but needs to be consistent in order for the Mets to be respectable this season. Andres Torres is a weak starting center fielder and Ruben Tejada will replace Reyes at shortstop, but he is no Jose Reyes.
Johan Santana hasn't pitched well in years and Mets fans shouldn't expect much from him this year. The rest of the rotation is below average and in a division that has deep pitching, it's going to hurt the Mets badly this year.