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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 NL East Preview

Here is my prediction for how the NL East will wind up come October:

1st Place, Philadelphia Phillies

Lineup:
SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Shane Victorino
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Jayson Werth
3B Placido Polanco
C Carlos Ruiz

Pitching:
RHP Roy Halladay
LHP Cole Hammels
RHP Joe Blanton
LHP Jamey Moyer
RHP J.A. Happ
SU: Ryan Madson
CL: Brad Lidge

The Phillies are really the most stocked team in the NL, but they do have a slight weakness, and that is in their bullpen. Brad Lidge is coming of a monumentally horrible season in which he went 0-8 with a 7.21 era, finishing with 21 saves in 67 games. If he continues to struggle to start 2010, look for Madson to take the 9th inning reigns with Dannys Baez getting consideration too. Other than that though, their lineup is ridiculously strong from 1-7, as all guys can hit 12+ home runs, and all but Ryan Howard can steal you a base if needed. Their rotation is also a huge strength, especially after they added Roy Halladay this winter. J.A. Happ really stuck out after being moved to the rotation last year as well (6-4 with a 2.96 era in 13 starts after the break). Defensively, they are about as good as it gets with reigning gold glovers, or potential gold glovers scattered all over the diamond.

2nd Place, Atlanta Braves *NL Wild Card Winner*

Lineup:
CF Nate McClouth
LF Melky Cabrera
3B Chipper Jones
1B Troy Glaus
C Brian McCann
RF Jason Heyward
SS Yunel Escobar
2B Martin Prado

Pitching:
RHP Derek Lowe
RHP Jair Jurrjens
RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Tommy Hanson
RHP Kenshin Kawakami
SU: Takashi Saito
CL: Billy Wagner

The Braves have quietly constructed a very good ballclub, health impending of course. I like the mix of vets and youngsters they have in their rotation with Lowe and Hudson matched with Hanson and Jurrjens. Their bullpen is veteran heavy, but should be very effective if everyone still has another year in thier arms, which is likely the case. Their lineup will rely on the health of Jones and Glaus, but both have looked healthy this spring. They also have a few youngsters in there to help pick up the slack with Jason Heyward (ROY candidate), Escobar and McCann. McClouth needs to hit more like he did in '08, otherwise I'd try Cabrera or Escobar at the top.

3rd Place, Florida Marlins

Lineup:
LF Chris Coghlan
CF Cameron Maybin
SS Hanley Ramirez
3B Jorge Cantu
2B Dan Uggla
RF Cody Ross
1B Gaby Sanchez
C John Baker

Pitching:
RHP Josh Johnson
RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Annabel Sanchez
RHP Chris Volstad
LHP Nate Robertson
SU: Brian Sanches
CL: Leo Nunez

The Marlins have one of youngest teams in baseball, but they should be very competitive. They have the reigning NL Rookie of the Year at the top of the lineup, followed by another guy with tremendous upside in Cameron Maybin. Hanley Ramierz is a top-5 player in all of baseball right now, and he's a guy who can single handily carry a lineup when he's on. Their young rotation is another bright spot, led by 26 year-old all-star Josh Johnson. I also really like Sanchez and Nolasco, and Volstad. The bullpen is the one area where they have some question marks, but Leo Nunez looks like a bright young closer, and there are a couple other nice young arms who will be getting him the ball. The Fish also have a decent defense where only Cantu and Uggla are below league average, but they more than make up for that with their offensive output.

4th Place, New York Mets

Lineup:
SS Jose Reyes
2B Luis Castillo
CF Carlos Beltran*
LF Jason Bay
3B David Wright
1B Daniel Murphy
RF Jeff Franceur
C Rod Barajas

Pitching:
LHP Johan Santana
RHP John Maine
RHP Mike Pelfrey
LHP Oliver Perez
RHP Jonathan Niese
SU: Jerry Mejia
CL: Francisco Rodriguez

*Beltran will miss at least first month of season, Angel Pagan will be in his place

The Mets were recently a powerhouse in the NL East, but they have fallen off mightily in the last few seasons. Most of that is due to injury and inconsistency in their starting rotation. Carlos Beltran will be out until sometime in May, so they're already having to overcome the loss of their best all-around player. The rotation is not only thin, but they have had health issues themselves. Mike Pelfrey led the team in innings last year at 184, and the next closest was Santana at 166. If that happens again, the Mets will once again finish below .500. However, if they get full years out of their starters, and Beltran returns strong and early, they could at least find themselves in the hunt for the wild card.

5th Place, Washington Nationals

Lineup:
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Willie Harris
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
SS Ian Desmond

Pitching:
LHP John Lannan
RHP Jason Marquis
RHP Livan Hernandez
LHP Scott Olson
RHP Craig Stammen
SU: Brian Brunney
CL: Matt Capps

The Nats are at least on the right path now. They have a couple of youngsters, including phenom right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg, knocking on the door. They also will get former Yankee ace Chien-Ming Wang back around June, so John Lannan and Jason Marquis will get some help in the rotation. Their bullpen is still a major work in progress though, but I think Matt Capps will rebound and have a nice year. The lineup relies a lot on power with Dunn, Zimmerman and Willingham, but the addition of Nyjer Morgan for the hole year will help the top of their order. Still at least a year away from being relevant in the NL East again though.
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2 Comments:

  • At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Philly Phanatic! said…

    The Phills are going to be scary good this year.. Look out National league. Halladay for Cy Young, Utley for MVP... You heard it from Me first!!!

    -Philly Phnantic aka Ray Price

     
  • At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I like the Braves this year. Like you said Trevor, they have good young arms and this Jason Heyward guy is supposed to be the next Ryan Howard or something.

     

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