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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

GBB's NL East Preview

Finally onto the National League where in the East you don't need to be a hardcore baseball fan to know the Phillies are the clear-cut favorites. However, there are some other clubs in this division who have the ability to make noise and push the injury-riddled Phillies. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for Tuesday's "Giants Notes".

1st Place - Philadelphia Phillies

SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Shane Victorino
2B Chase Utley*
1B Ryan Howard
3B Placido Polanco
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
RF Ben Francisco

RHP Roy Halladay
LHP Cliff Lee
LHP Cole Hammels
RHP Roy Oswalt
RHP Joe Blanton
CL: Brad Lidge

The Phills don't quite have the offensive firepower they've had in years past, as they lost 5th place hitter Jason Werth, and didn't add anyone to replace him. They're banking on rebound years out of Rollins, Victorino and Ibanez which if happens, will mitigate the loss of Werth. Plus, that pitching staff is so darn dominant, they only need to score a couple runs a night to be in pretty good shape. Any time Roy Oswalt is lining up as a 4th starter, you know you have something. No longer do the San Francisco Giants sport the best rotation in the NL, but Philly's arms are aged, and must endure the rigors of the long season which is certainly no given. They also will be without Chase Utley for the first few weeks of the year, possibly longer, so even though they have the best team on paper, they do have some internal issues to fix up.

2nd Place - Atlanta Braves

LF Martin Prado
CF Nate McLouth
3B Chipper Jones
2B Dan Uggla
C Brian McCann
RF Jason Heyward
SS Alex Gonzalez
1B Freddie Freeman (R)

RHP Derek Lowe
RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Tommy Hanson
RHP Jair Jurrgens
RHP Kris Medlen
CL: Craig Kimbrel

The Braves are set to play 2011 without Bobby Cox at the helm for the first time since the 80's, but he left this team in very good shape. They have that nice mix of up-and-coming youngsters (Heyward, Freeman, Hanson, Jurrgens and Prado) and productive veterans (Uggla, Chipper, AGon, Lowe and Hudson). They aren't quite up to par with Philly, but they should be right in the thick of the NL Wild Card race. I'm expecting a big sophomore year out of Heyward and a nice rookie year out of Freeman, but they'll need those vets like Jones (injury), McClouth (off-year) and even Brian McCann (drop-off from years past) to rebound from forgetful 2010 seasons. They have a nice starting rotation that could be great if healthy and Craig Kimbrel should be just fine closing out games.

3rd Place - Florida Marlins

CF Chris Coghlan
2B Omar Infante
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Gaby Sanchez
RF Mike Stanton
C Joe Buck
LF Logan Morrison
3B Wes Helms

RHP Josh Johnson
RHP Javier Vazquez
RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Chris Volstad
CL: Leo Nunez

The Marlins, like they always do, have some very nice young pieces on their roster, they just can't keep them over the course of a few years. Mike Stanton looks like the next in line as far as young stud hitters to come up through their system as the 21 year-old hit 22 homers in less than 400 at-bats in 2010. Hanley Ramirez is one of the top-5 players in the game today, just doesn't get the credit cause he plays for the Marlins. Same can be said for ace Josh Johnson, who when healthy, can pitch with anyone in baseball. I liked the addition of Vazquez for basically nothing, and the trade of Uggla brought back some nice pieces as well. In a lot of other divisions, the Marlins could have a shot at the playoffs, but not in this tough NL East.

4th Place - Washington Nationals

LF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jason Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
CF Rick Ankiel
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Jerry Hairston Jr.

RHP Livan Hernandez
LHP Jon Lannan
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LHP Tom Gozelanny
RHP Jason Marquis
CL: Drew Storen

For the first time since their arrival in Washington, the Nationals have a foundation to work with. They have some building blocks in the lineup with Ryan Zimmerman and now Jason Werth (Bryce Harper's waiting in the wings too). Pitching wise, they'll be without ace Stephen Strasburg this year as he recovers from Tommy John, but he should be back in '12 as strong as ever. In his absence, the Nats will be counting heavily on fellow youngster Jordan Zimmermann, who returned to Washington late in 2010 and finished strong. They have the ageless Livan Hernandez leading the staff, who isn't flashy, but just keeps on getting the job done, and young lefty Jon Lannan has some nice upside behind him, but there's a big drop off after their 3rd starter. I think they're just a year away from becoming at least a .500 club.

5th Place - New York Mets

CF Angel Pagan
SS Jose Reyes
3B David Wright
LF Jason Bay
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Ike Davis
C Jose Thole
2B Luis Hernandez

RHP Mike Pelfrey
LHP Jonathan Niese
RHP Chris Young
RHP R.A. Dickey
LHP Chris Capuano
CL: Francisco Rodrigeuz
DL: LHP Johan Santana (out until August)

If you want a definition of bad luck in baseball, look no further than the Mets. They have a payroll that sits in the top-5 in baseball, yet they are quite possibly the worst team in their division heading into the 2011 season. They will be without ace Johan Santana until August at the earliest, and without him their rotation is terrible. So bad that it makes the Nationals starting 5 look stable. Their lineup is getting healthy though, for now. They'll score some runs as long as Beltran and Reyes can avoid the DL and Jason Bay can find his Pittsburgh/Boston form. Still though, that starting rotation is so bad, I have a hard time seeing them win more than 75 ballgames.


Giants Notes: Well, with opening day nearly a week away, the Giants are making their final roster cuts and decisions, but there is still a few yet to be determined. Mainly the backup infield spots. New shortstop Miguel Tejada has been a disappointed in spring training so far, and it's causing some close to the team concern as to whether he's ready for another full season at shortstop. Again, the Giants failed to add a true backup shortstop this winter, so if Tejada is struggling, it would appear that the job would fall to Mike Fontenot. There is still some time left to make a deal outside of the organization to obtain another shortstop, but there really aren't any gleaming options that jump out right now. Also, the Giants already have enough of a headache on determining who will fill out their bench. Mark DeRosa and Aaron Rowand (unless dealt) will have their spots, and Eli Whiteside will fill the backup catcher role again, leaving 2 spots open. Mike Fontenot will get one of them because of his ability to play shortstop, so that leaves Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa as the two guys fighting for the last bench spot.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Looks like Giants and Phills again in the NLCS, NO?

    I think they're obviously the 2 best teams in the NL, but I think Philly's better equipped this time around.

    The Giants need either Belt to pull a Posey, or they need to go out and get someone like Michael Young and move Pablo to first and Huff to LF.

  • At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm also worried about SS, but so was I last year... Hopefully Tejada's just taking a while to get warmed up. All they need him to do is have one more season like '09-'10 and they'll be fine, but he's looked bad in Spring.. What's he hitting like .144 or something with 0 hr and 3 RBI?

  • At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Noah said…

    Tejada's hitting .220 something, IIRC. I'm honestly not too worried about him even if he's clearly in the last year or two of his career. He's always been a horse and he says he's always been a slow starter in spring training. No reason not to take him at his word. If Bochy has faith in him, so do I. If it doesn't work out, we have DeRosa and Tiny Mike to back him up. Could be a lot worse.

    DeRosa's "wrist tendonitis" is alarming however.

    I'm a more worried about Sandoval's glove. He's playing 3B like he an ex-fat kid with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. I hope he can learn to relax a bit in the hot corner.

  • At 1:06 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…


    Ha! Funny comment regarding Sandoval

    I think he'll calm down, but it may take a few weeks into the regular season. He basically is an ex-fat kid with something to prove after last year, but he just has to realize he has the talent. He couldn't do what he did in '09 and '09 by being slouch.

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