Sunday, April 01, 2007

Part 4 of 8, NL East

1st Place -- New York Mets
The Mets lineup is the class of the National League. They have a very AL-like lineup. They have a huge middle of the order with Beltran, Delgado, and Wright. Jose Reyes turns 24 this season, which is probably the amount of home runs he’ll hit as he continues to develop. Jose Valentin, Moises Alou, and Shawn Green are the type of veteran hitters that you want to round out your roster to make a playoff run, and that’s the biggest way that the Mets separate themselves from a team like the Braves who are using young and very unproven players to fill out their lineup. LoDuca is one of the better hitting catchers, but he turns 35 in April, so we’ll see if he has the catcher drop-off yet or not.

The Mets are going to be a very streaky team due to their rotation. The team's bats are going to have to pick up a lot of the slack. The Mets have only one starting pitcher (Tom Glavine), who finished last season more than 1 win over .500. Tom Glavine will have to pitch well for the Mets to win the division. They could also use Mike Pelfrey to live up the phenom-hype as well.

The bullpen is okay, but probably won’t be nearly as good as last season. The Mets will also need Pedro to come back strong. While I think the Mets will win the division, I also think it won’t be until late in the season that they take over 1st place.

2nd Place -- Atlanta Braves
Starting the year with Scott Thorman, Kelly Johnson, and Ryan Langerhans is dangerous. However, the other 5 spots of the Atlanta order are formidable, especially since they have one of the top hitting catchers in the game.

I think Tim Hudson is going to bounce back this year and have a much better season. He’ll need to considering the Braves have a very weak back-end of the rotation with Redman and Cormier.

The Braves bullpen is strong though, so while the Braves’ streak of division titles and playoff appearances ended last season, they did not have enough of a drop-off to where they are “rebuilding”, they should be able to stay in the race all year.

3rd Place -- Philadelphia Phillies
Sorry, Jimmy Rollins. As good as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are, the Phillies lineup doesn’t compare to the Mets lineup. They have 4 positions without much power, and Jimmy Rollins isn’t exactly the greatest table setter in baseball.

The Phillies starting rotation is uninspiring, but may be solid. It should be good enough at the beginning of the season to stay ahead of the Mets for a while. The Phillies bullpen should be okay but not spectacular. The Phillies are a lot like NL teams that will be in contention, okay in a lot of places, but no part of the team is spectacular.

4th Place --Florida Marlins
The Marlins have what’s developing into a nice lineup, with one of baseball’s great stars in the middle of it. For the Marlins to compete they are going to need big season from their top 3 starters in both ERA and innings pitched (which is where they’ll probably come up short). Willis will be the rock of the rotation, but they need big years from Olsen and Sanchez.

The bullpen is what’s going to have them fall apart in the end. I would expect them to spend the first couple of months in contention, but have a steep dropoff in the second half of the season, finishing well out of contention.

5th Place -- Washington Nationals
The Nationals are going to be terrible. Their lineup is the worst in the NL East, and their starting pitching is almost ugly to look at. Their entire rotation combined for 2 ML wins last season. John Patterson is the staff ace, and he’s never won more than 9 games in a season. Of course nobody in their rotation has ever won more than 10.

They’re right up there with the Royals in a guaranteed last place finish.

No comments: