Saturday, March 8, 2014

2014 National League East Preview

***The Division Preview that follows is not betting advice in any way shape or form.  Please do not bet any money based in any part on these predictions.***

Don't forget to check out the American League East, American League Central, and American League West Previews and check back next week for the National League Central Preview. 

Washington Nationals:
Who's New: 
Brock Peterson (1B) free agent from Cardinals
Jamey Carroll (IF) free agent from Royals
Chris Snyder (C) free agent from Orioles
Koyie Hill (C) free agent from Cubs
Jamey Carroll (3B) free agent from Royals
Jose Lobaton (C) trade from Rays
Nate McLouth (OF) free agent from Orioles,
Doug Fister (SP) trade from Tigers
Daniel Stanage (RP) free agent from Angels,
Jerry Blevins (RP) trade from Athletics,
Luis Ayala (RP) free agent from Braves
Who Left: 
Ferando Abad (IF) free agent to A's,
Ian Krol (C) trade to Tigers,
Steve Lombardozi (2B) trade to Tigers,
Chris Marrero (1B) free agent to Orioles
Chad Tracy (1B) free agent to Angels
Dan Haren (SP) free agent to Dodgers,
Nathan Karns (SP) trade to Rays
Mark Lowe (RP) free agent to Rays,
Yunesky Maya (RP) free agent to Braves
Winter Headlines:
Regrets from last year. Slow start led to insurmountable deficit
Davey Johnson's out, Matt Williams is in as manager
What to Expect?:
This team is the clear class of this division.  They have certainly improved with the addition of Doug Fister to the rotation, which was already potentially the best in the league.  With Strasburg, Gonzales, Zimmerman, Detwiler and now Fister the Nationals are set to make a deep run in the playoffs. Their offense could be a bit of an issue but their defense is solid.  They even made some quiet, great additions late in the offseasn by adding Jamey Carroll and Jose Lobaton.  Carroll will quietly, professionally go about his business and will quietly help this team in ways the casual fan won't notice.  Now if they can avoid the slow start from last season they may do what was expected of them in 2013.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
The Nationals have had a tough history full of under achievement, poor teams and unfulfilled expectations.  For players like Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Stephen Strasburg who have struggled through the worst of times with the Nats, it would be nice to see them fulfill their potential.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Nationals Fans Want?:
Matt Williams may be a great manager but only time will tell.  The Nationals seem to have a great rotation but some how this team always seems to underachieve.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Ryan Zimmerman has had a great career.  Not a Hall of Fame career but a solid, respectable career which puts him on the Nationals Mount Rushmore.  Injuries and age have started to take their toll and it would be nice to see someone who has put so much effort into creating something special in DC get something back but his best days appear to be behind him.
Expect Great Things From:
Stephen Strasburg has improved every year since joining the Majors and you can expect him to continue to improve. His 8-9 record last year was deceptive as he certainly pitched well enough to win more games.  If the Nationals offense rebounds this year you can expect Strasburg to chase 20 wins for the first time in his career.
Prediction: 1st Place in NL East


Atlanta Braves
Who's New?: 
Steven LeRud (C) free agent from Phillies,
Gavin Floyd (SP) free gent from White Sox,
Yunesky Maya (RP) free agent from Nationals
Who Left?:  
Brian McCann (C) free agent to Yankees,
Blake DeWitt (3B) released
Paul Janish (SS) free agent to Rockies
Eliot Johnson (IF) free agent to Indians
Reed Johnson (OF) free agent to Marlins
Tim Hudson (SP) free agent to Giants,
Paul Maholm (SP) free agent to Dodgers
Scott Downs (RP) free agent to White Sox
Kameron Lowe (RP) free agent to Giants
Eric O'Flaherty (RP) free agent to Athletics
Christian Martinez (RP) released
Luis Ayala (RP) free agent to Nationals
Winter Headlines: 
The Roads out of town are crowded but few people are taking the road in. (The Braves lost several key players but don't make any major additions).
Freeman is anything but free for the Braves. (Freddie Freeman signs long term deal with team record amount)
What to Expect?:
The Braves had a great start to last season, sprinting out of the gate to a 15-5 record.  They slowed down towards the middle of the season but picked up again towards the end, running away with the Eastern Division.  They struggled in the playoffs against a strong Dodgers team ending a disappointing season.    The Braves return a largely changed team and hope to get more out of the moves they made last off season.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
The Braves organization has been one of the most consistently competitive teams over the last 20+ years but have only one World Series title to show for it.  The team became an overnight success in 1991 and hard luck losers in the 1991 and 1992 World Series.  The team made 13 straight post season appearances and won only one World Series.  The team has built a new core group of young players and are set to make another long term run.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Braves Fans Want?:
The Braves have lost several players.  The two major losses are Tim Hudson, the veteran leader of the pitching staff, and Brian McCann, the veteran All Star Catcher.  The Braves still have a hole at second base (Dan Uggla has struggled since signing a big contract) and face questions of effectiveness with Gattis behind the plate and B.J. Upton in center.  The biggest question is the rotation.  Losing Hudson and Maholm, the two veteran leaders, could lead to a big drop off in the win column.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Justin Upton got off to an amazing start last year and was a big reason for the quick start of the team.  He was not able to keep that pace (no one could ever be expected to keep that pace for a whole season) and fell back to an average season.  You can expect Upton to be a big contributor to any success the Braves might have but don't expect him to win an MVP.
Expect Great Things From:
Jason Heyward has only been in the league for a few short years but they have been some truly great years.  Heyward has improved continuously and even continued to hit after his frightful injury last year.  Heyward is one of the best hitters in the game and Braves fans will hopefully enjoy watching him play for years to come.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Dan Uggla has struggled since joining the Braves, although he has had a few shining moments.  His numbers and production dropped enough last year that he was left off the post season roster.  Uggla has two years left on his contract but how long can the Braves keep him if his numbers don't improve?
Prediction: 2nd place in NL East

Philadelphia Phillies
Who's New: 
Reid Brignac (SS) free agent from Yankees,
Wil Nieves (C) free agent from Diamondbacks, 
Lou Marson (C) free agent from Indians, 
Marlon Byrd (OF)free agent from Pirates,
Clete Thomas (OF) free agent from Twins,
Jeff Manship (OF) free agent from Rockies,
Dave Sappelt (OF) free agent from Cubs
Roberto Hernandez (SP) free agent from Rays,
Chad Gaudin (SP) free agent from Giants
A.J. Burnett (SP) Free agent from Pirates
Shawn Camp (RP) free agent from Cubs,
Brad Lincoln (RP) trade from Blue Jays,
Sean O'Sullivan (P) free agent from Padres,
Chris Bootcheck (RP) free agent from Yankees,
Who Left: 
Steve LeRud (C) free agent to Braves
Erik Kratz (C) trade to Blue Jays
Michael Martinez (IF) free agent to Pirates,
Roger Bernadina (IF) free agent to Reds
Pete Orr (IF) free agent to Brewers
Casper Wells (OF) free agent to Cubs,
Laynce Nix (OF) released
Roy Halladay (SP) retired, 
John Lannan (SP) free agent to Mets
Zach Miner (SP) free agent to Mariners
J.C. Ramirez (RP) free agent to Indians,
Chad Durbin (RP) released
Winter Headlines:  
Is the window closed?
No Halladay. No Chance?
What to Expect?:
What was once a team on the verge of a dynasty is now on the verge of becoming a collection of relics.  Although Utley had another strong season, 2013 was a disaster for this team.  Halladay, Ruiz and Howard all missed time and the Phils never were really in the race.  Phillies fans may get one last push out of this aging group but don't count on it.  Utley and Hamels have already missed time this spring.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Phillies fans are heading into the tail end of the Golden Age of Phillies baseball.  For a team that has been around since the birth of the National League it seems odd to say it but the last ten years have clearly been the best period of the franchise's history.  As Utley, Rollins, Howard, Hamels, Ruiz and Lee age it would be nice to see some of them go out with a bang.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Phillies Fans Want?:
This team is clearly on the decline and the farm system does not appear to have enough to replenish or replace the aging stars.  Hamels will not be ready for opening day and Utley is still having injury issues. If the Phillies are not in contention for a playoff spot by the trading deadline some of the veteran pieces may be moved.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Marlon Byrd did a lot to help the Pirates reach the playoffs but Byrd has struggled for several seasons leading up to last year.  Byrd certainly may have an impact in Philadelphia but don't expect him to lead the Phillies to the World Series.
Expect Great Things From:
Chase Utley is clearly one of the greatest Phillies to ever play the game.  Utley may not be able to lead the Phillies to the World Series but Phillies fans can expect to see Utley perform like a future Hall of Famer for as long as his body holds out.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Jimmy Rollins has been the leader of the Phillies team since he entered the league in 2000.  Rollins has given Phillies fans memories that will be talked about for generations but as he gets older the chances for him to make more memories of that level decreases. How much longer can Rollins play?
Prediction:3rd place in NL East

New York Mets
Who's New:  
Tyler Teagarden (C) free agent from Orioles
Chris Young (OF) free agent from A's,
Curtis Granderson (OF) free agent from Yankees,
Bartolo Colon (SP) free agent from Athletics,
John Lannan (SP) free agent from Phillies
Kyle Farnsworth (RP) free agent from Pirates
Jose Valverde (RP) free agent from Tigers
Who Left:  
Justin Turner (IF) free agent to Dodgers
Jordany Valdespino (OF) free agent to Marlins
Rick Ankiel (OF) retired
 LaTroy Hawkins (SP) free agent to Rockies
Shaun Marcum (SP) free agent to Indians
Aaron Harang (SP) free agent to Indians
Greg Burke (RP) free agent to Rockies
David Aardsma (RP) free agent to Indians
Scott Atchison (RP) free agent to Indians
Tim Byrdak (RP) unsigned free agent.
Pedro Feliciano (RP) unsigned free agent
Frank Francisco (RP) unsigned free agent
Winter Headlines: 
With singing of Colon and Granderson which direction is this team headed?
What to Expect?:
Mets fans can be happy that the team seems to be improving and building a strong foundation on young players like Matt Harvey and Travis d'Arnaud but don't expect the playoffs this year.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Mets fans have seen this team struggle in recent years.  The ownership group has been stuck with money problems that hampered the rebuilding process. The team seems to have turned a corner and are heading towards building a strong foundation.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Mets Fans Want?:
Adding Granderson and Colon will definitely help the team improve but there are still a lot of holes (specifically at Catcher until d'Arnaud fully develops and the middle infield).  The Mets are moving in the right direction but they may still be a few years away.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Curtis Granderson has been an American League superstar for nearly a decade but as we saw with B.J. Upton in Atlanta last year there can still sometimes be an adjustment period when switching leagues.  Granderson should still be productive in the NL but don't expect him to spark a playoff run, especially with the lack of support in the lineup.
Expect Great Things From:
David Wright is truly a great player.  He has suffered with the Mets organization for his entire career. Wright will continue to be a great player, and may even benefit from the presence of Granderson.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Ike Davis has shown flashes of great play but his inconsistency has landed him in the dog house with the Mets front office.  He has been the subject of several trade rumors over the last few months and if he is unable to fulfill his potential he may be playing somewhere else soon.
Prediction: 4th Place in NL East.

Miami Marlins
Who's New:
Jarod Saltalamachia (C) free agent from Red Sox,
Garrett Jones (1B) free agent from Pirates,
Jordany Valdespino (IF) free agent from Mets
Ty Wigginton (IF) free agent from Cardinals
Jeff Baker (IF) free agent from Rangers
 Brian Bogosevich (OF) trade from Cubs,
Reed Johnson (OF) free agent from Braves
Carter Capps (RP) trade from Mariners
Rodriguez Henry Alberto (RP) free agent from Cubs
Carlos Marmol (RP) free agent from Dodgers
Chaz Roe (RP) free agent from Rangers
Who Left:
Chris Valaika (IF)free agent to Cubs,
 Logan Morrison (1B) trade to Mariners,
Miguel Oliva (C) free agent to Dodgers
Koyie Hill (C) free agent to Marlins
Casey Kotchman (1B) released
Justin Ruggiano (OF) trade to Cubs,
Chris Coughlan (OF) free agent to Cubs
Matt Diaz (OF) retired
Austin Kearns (OF) unsigned free agent
Zach Phillips (RP) free agent to Japan,
Chad Qualls (RP) free agent to Astros,
Ryan Webb (RP) free agent to Orioles,
Duane Below (RP) free agent to Tigers
John Maine (RP) unsigned free agent
What to Expect?:
With the exception of Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez there is little talent on this team.  Last year was said to be Stanton's audition for the trade deadline but injuries and a slow first half kept Stanton in Miami.  There is little chance that this year will turn out better and more likely could be worse than last year.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
While the ownership group has appeared to have betrayed the fan base the players are still giving a full effort.  For players stuck in Miami it is a sad season knowing that there is little chance of winning and little support from the front office.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Marlins Fans Want?:
There is little talent on this team and little support from the front office.  Suffice it to say there is very little chance of competing this year or in the near future.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Jose Fernandez won the rookie of the year award last year and should be able to continue his success but don't expect him to lead this team out of the cellar. There is little talent behind him in the rotation and the bullpen is shaky enough that he may often lose games that he should win.
Expect Great Things From:
Giancarlo Stanton, if healthy, has the chance to be a special player.  It would be helpful if he had some bigger bats in the lineup but regardless he should impress the Miami fans.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Rafael Furcal has been one of the best Shortstops in the league for nearly a decade, though he rarely gets credit.  For years with the Dodgers and later a few years in St.Louis, Furcal was the spark that ignited the offense on multiple playoff teams.  Unfortunately, Furcal does not have the talent around him in Miami that it would take to ignite a playoff run in Miami.
Prediction: 5th Place in NL East

*-Please be aware that these predictions are based on the rosters as set in the middle of February.  There are still several key free agents unsigned which could alter these previews.  Also, injuries during spring training could alter my outlook.  Check back next week for the AL Central Preview and continue following to see my final predictions at the start of the season.

Jose Fernandez of the Marlins won the 2013 Rookie of the Year.  Since the creation of the National League East in 1969, how many times has the Rookie of the Year winner come from the National League East (include Jose Fernandez)?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
The American League West has produced a large number of Cy Young Winners starting with Jim Perry of the Twins in 1970 and Vida Blue of the A's in 1971. Here are the rest:
Catfish Hunter (A's) 1974
LaMar Hoyt (White Sox)1983
Bret Saberhagen (Royals) 1985
Frank Viola (Twins) 1988
Bret Saberhagen (Royals) 1989
Bob Welch (A's) 1990
Dennis Eckersley (A's) 1992
Jack McDowell (White Sox) 1993
Randy Johnson (Mariners) 1995
Barry Zito (A's) 2002
Bartolo Colon (Angels) 2005
Felix Hernandez (Mariners) 2010


  1. As usual, a great comprehensive review. I will make my predictions in about 2 weeks.

    The Phils are really hurting. It is a shame that the window has closed. It was a joyful and fun time while it lasted.

    I have no clue on the trivia question.


    1. The Phils are really hurting and it seems like it has only gotten worse since last week when I published my predictions. They needed everything to go perfect if they had a chance at making the playoffs and it is quickly going the opposite way for them.

  2. I have no comment on your predictions. I just wanted to say that I like the old school logos. I've never seen that Phillies one.

    1. I also love the vintage logos. The two colonials on the classic Philadelphia logos are Phil and Phyllis. They debuted in 1971 when the Phillies opened the vet, obviously paying homage to Philadelphia's rich history. During the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration Phil and Phyllis were very prominent for obvious reasons. They were replaced in 1978 with the best mascot in history (my opinion) thePhlly Phanatic.


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