Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015 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 back next week for the National League Central Preview. 

Washington Nationals:
Who's New: 
Clint Robinson, 1B (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Ian Stewart, SS (Free Agent from Angels)
Steven LeRud, C (Free Agent from Braves)
Omir Santos, C (Free Agent from Pirates)
Mike Carp, UT  (Free Agent from Rangers)
Dan Butler, C (Trade from Red Sox)
Yunel Escobar, IF (Trade from Athletics)
Dan Uggla, 2B (Free Agent from Giants)

Eric Fonataro, SP (Waiver Claim from Cardinals)
Max Scherzer, SP (Free Agent from Tigers)
Bruce Billings, RP (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Heath Bell, RP (Free Agent from Yankees)
Evan Meek, RP (Free Agent from Orioles)
Casey Janssen, RP (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Who Left: 
Adam LaRoche, 1B (Free Agent to White Sox)
Asdrubel Cabrera, 2B (Free Agent to Rays)
Gregg Dobbs, UT (Unsigned Free Agent)
Stephen Souza, OF (Trade to Rays)
Nate Schierholtz, OF (Free Agent to Rangers)
Scott Hairston, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Aaron Laffey, SP (Free Agent to Rockies)
Ross Ohlendorf, SP (Free Agent to Nationals)
Ross Detwiler, RP (Trade to Rangers)
Tyler Clippard, RP (Trade to Athletics)
Ryan Mattheus, RP (Free Agent to Angels)
Rafael Soriano, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)

Winter Headlines:
Scherzer adds to what is now considered the best rotation in baseball.
Loss of LaRoche could mean shift in power.
What to Expect?:
Nationals fans should expect the best.  Defensively they are strong up the middle with Ramos, Desmond, Espinoza and Span.  The pitching rotation of Strasburg, Scherzer,, Zimmerman, Gonzalez and Fister is potentially as good as we have seen in a long time.  With the Braves and Phillies seemingly unloading everyone the Nats should have an easy road to October. What they do when they get there is the question.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
Baseball in the nation's capital has not seen a World Series since 1933.  Granted a large part of that time period they didn't have a team.  Still, the Nats have built this group from the ground up and have made (mostly) smart baseball decisions.  It would be nice to see it pay off and see the Fall Classic return to the land of Walter Johnson and Joe Cronin.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Nationals Fans Want?:
Getting to the playoffs is one thing, the Nats have done that.  Advancing is another.  With the amount of money spent, the team seems to be putting greater emphasis on the results.  Although the Braves and Phillies are rebuilding for the future, the Marlins and Mets are in a position to surprise a lot of people.  The Nationals need to stay healthy and keep a healthy eye on the rear view mirror.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
If we include his minor league stops, Jayson Werth is entering his 18th professional season.  That type of wear and tear can slow a player down over the long run, especially someone like Werth who plays all out all the time. You can expect Werth to be a team leader, near the top of the team roster in many important catgories and a major part of any success that the team has.  Just don't expect an MVP award.
Expect Great Things From:
I say this every year but Stephen Strasburg has the potential to be a truly great pitcher.  Strasburg had a season below his normal standards and was technically the 4th best starter on the team.  With some added protection in Scherzer, expect Strasburg to rise to the competition and have a Cy Young caliber season.
Prediction: 1st Place in NL East

Miami Marlins

Who's New:
Reid Brigniac, SS (Free Agent from Philies
Dee Gordon, SS (Trade from Dodgers)
Miguel Rojas, 1B (Trade from Dodgers)
Martin Prado, IF (Trade from Yankees)
Don Kelly, IF (Free Agent from Tigers)
Cole Gillespie, OF (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Michael Morse, OF (Free Agent from Giants)
Scott Sizemore, OF (Free Agent from Yankees)
Tyler Colvin, OF (Free Agent from Giants)
Ichiro Suzuki, OF (Free Agent from Yankees)
David Adams, OF (Free Agent from Orioles)
Dan Haren, SP (Trade from Dodgers)
Mat Latos, SP (Trade from Reds)
Andre Rienzo, SP (Trade from White Sox)
David Phelps, SP (Trade from Yankees)
Ryan Reid, RP (Free Agent from Mets)
Aaron Crow, RP (Trade from Royals)
Preston Claiborne, RP (Waiver Claim from Yankees)
Nick Masset, RP (Free Agent from Rockies)
Vin Mazarro, RP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Who Left:
Kyle Skipworth, C (Free Agent to Reds)
Juan Diaz, SS (Free Agent to White Sox)
Enrique Hernandez, IF (Trade to Dodgers)
Garrett Jones, 1B (Trade to Yankees)
Casey McGehee, 3B (Free Agent to Giants)
Rafael Furcal, SS (Unsigned Free Agent)
Brian Bogusevic, OF (Free Agent to Phillies)
Joe Benson, OF (Free Agent to Braves)
Reed Johnson, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Brian Flynn, SP (Trade to Royals)
Andrew Heaney, SP (Trade to Angels)
Anthony DeSclafani, SP (Trade to Reds)
Kevin Slowey, SP (Free Agent to Phillies)
Nathan Eovaldi, SP (Trade to Yankees)
Brad Penny, SP (Free Agent to White Sox)
Alex Sanabia, RP (Free Agent to Angels)
Chris Hatcher, RP (Trade to Dodgers)
Dan Jennings, RP (Trade to White Sox)
Arquimedes Caminero, RP (Trade to Pirates)
Kevin Gregg, RP (Free Agent to Reds)

Winter Headlines:
Marlins spear some key players, look to swim up stream.
What to Expect?:
I am a little shocked at myself for thinking this, and I will probably look back at this and laugh at myself, but this could be a competitive team.  At the end of last year the Marlins actually had a playoff chance heading into the last few weeks.  And that was without reigning Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez.  The Marlins have added some major pieces this off sesaon, key among them Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and Mat Latos.  If things go right the Marlins could play into October.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
This could be an exciting time for the Marlins.  This time last year the Marlins were generally considered the bottom of the barrel but these young players have shown that they can surprise some people, despite the perceived lack of support from ownership.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Marlins Fans Want?:
There are two big pieces to this team: Stanton and Fernandez.  Unfortunatley both are big questions.  Stanton was injured in a frightening at bat near the end of the year and Fernandez missed most of last season.  Stanton is one of the best players in the game but it is yet to be seen how he will come back and Fernandez is still recovering from last years injury.  The team hopes to have him back by the beginning of June.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Dee Gordon had an All Star season last year and appeared to finally be fulfilling his potential in Los Angeles.  That was with a lineup stacked from top to bottom to help get him in to score.  The Marlins have a good young team but they do not have the same bats that the Dodgers had last year to help.  Expect Gordon to have a high on base percentage and be near the top of the league in steals but he may not be the same Dee Gordon from last year's Dodgers.
Expect Great Things From:
Ichiro Suzuki signed late this offseason with the Marlins after having extensive talks with the Orioles and Mariners.  Suzuki will likely be a bench player and will have to fight for playing time in a crowded young outfield.  Still, Ichiro is one of the best players this game has seen in a very very long time,
Is This His Last Chance?:
Dan Haren has been a good pitcher in the league for a long time and until 2012 he was relatively injury free. But a back injury in 2012 has led to a decline in production for Haren that saw him bounce from Anaheim to Washington to Los Angeles with little consistency.  The Dodgers traded Haren to the Marlins in the offseason and he has made it clear he prefers to pitch on the west coast.  There have been few teams jumping at the opportunity and if he doesn't pitch well in his time in Miami, he may not get a second chance.
Prediction: 2d Place in NL East

New York Mets

Who's New:  
Johnny Monell, C (Free Agent from Dodgers)

Michael Cuddyer, OF (Free Agent from Rockies)
Alex Castellanos (Free Agent from Padres)
John Mayberry, Jr (Free Agent from Blue Jays)

Duane Below, RP (Free Agent from Tigers)
Who Left:  
Josh Satin, 1B (Free Agent to Reds)
Miguel Socolovich, RP (Free Agent to Cardinals)
Taylor Teagarden, C (Free Agent to Cubs)
Omar Quintanilla, SS (Free Agent to Rockies)
Andrew Brown, OF (Waiver Claim by A's)
Eric Young, Jr, OF (Free Agent to Braves)
Bobby Abreu, OF (Unsigned Free Agent)
John Lannan, SP (Free Agent to Marlins)
Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Miguel Socolovich, RP (Free Agent to Cardinals)
Ryan Reid, RP (Free Agent to Marlins)
Jose Valverde, RP (Free Agent to Padres)
Germen Gonzalez, RP (Trade to Yankees)
Dana Eveland, RP (Free  Agent to Red Sox)

Winter Headlines: 
Turning the Mess around?  With young group Mets could be moving in the right direction.
What to Expect?:
This team is probably a few pieces and a few years away from competing but they certainly appear to be heading in the right direction.  The key seems to be health.  David Wright, Travis D'Arnaud and Matt Harvey were all hit by the injury bug last year.  They will need to stay healthy to get a real idea of what they are capable of for the future.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
The Mets are potentially building something special.  They have a lot of strong young players on the roster and a lot of young talent in the system.  With the Braves and Phillies trading everyone away the Mets may be the new dominant force in the East.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Mets Fans Want?:
There are still a lot of missing pieces here.  Shortstop is not settled.  The bullpen is a huge question mark.  The health of Matt Harvey and David Wright are a concern.  This season is an in between season for the Mets.  A playoff run would be nice but is more realistically a year or two in the future.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Fans in Minnesota knew for a long time that Michael Cuddyer had talent and he finally showed it in his last two years in Colorado.  Cuddyer could be a strong influence on the team and help them reach the post season over the next few years but don't expect him to be an MVP.
Expect Great Things From:
The starting rotation is potentially a nice mix of young arms.  Between Jacob deGrom, Dylan Gee, Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey there is a world of potential on this staff.  Waiting in the wings is Noah Syndergaard who will start the season in Las Vegas.  If the Mets somehow manage to stay in the race (which is not unthinkable) Syndergaard could see action at the big league level.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Bartolo Colon won 15 games last year and threw 200 innings for the Mets.  He also lost 13 and had an ERA over 4.00  Colon is now in his 40's and although he is clearly the veteran leadership on this pitching staff, how long will his aging body hold out?
Prediction: 3rd Place in NL East.


Atlanta Braves
Who's New?: 
Eli Whiteside, C (Free Agent from Cubs)
Pedro Ciraico, IF (Free Agent from Royals)
Alberto Calaspo, 3B (Free Agent from Athletics)
Jace Peterson, IF (Trade from Padres)
A.J. Pierzynski, C(Free Agent from Cardinals)
Emilio Bonifacio, SS (Free Agent from White Sox)
Kelly Johnson, IF (Free Agent from Orioles)
John Buck, C (Free Agent from Angels)
Zoilo Almonte, OF (Free Agent from Yankees)
Nick Markakis,OF (Free Agent from Orioles)
Joe Benson, OF (Free Agent from Marlins)
Eury Perez, OF (Waiver Claim from Mets)
Jonny Gomes, OF (Free Agent from Athletics)
Eric Young, Jr, OF (Free Agent from Mets)
Shelby Miller, SP (Trade from Cardinals)
Chieng Ming Wang, SP (Free Agent from White Sox)
Greg Smith, SP (Free Agent from Phillies)
Wandy Rodriguez, SP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Eric Stults, SP (Free Agent from Padres)
Arodys Vizcaino, RP (Trade from Cubs)
Donnie Veal, RP (Free agent from White Sox)
Jim Johnson, RP (Free agent from Tigers)
Michael Kohn, RP (Free Agent from Rays)
Michael Fotynewicz, RP (Trade from Houston)
Josh Outman, RP (Free Agent from Yankees)
Jason Grilli, RP (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Josh Outman, RP (Free Agen from Yankees)
Ryan Butcher, RP (Free Agent from Dodgers)
David Carpenter, RP (Free Agent from Angels)
Jose Veras, RP (Free Agent from Astros)
Who Left?:  
Tommy LaStella, 2B (Trade to Cubs)
Emilio Bonifacio, IF (Free Agent to White Sox)
Evan Gattis, C (Trade to Astros)
Steven LeRud, C (Free Agent to Nationals)
Ramiro Pena, IF (Free Agent to Padres)
Ryan Doumit, C (Unsigned Free Agent)
Gerald Laird, C (Free Agent to Diamondbacks)
Donnie Murphy, IF (Unsigned Free Agent)
Justin Upton, OF (Trade to Padres)
Jason Heyward, OF (Trade to Cardinals)
Ervin Santana, SP (Free Agent from Twins)
Gavin Floyd, SP (Free Agent to Indians)
Kris Medlen, SP (Free Agent to Royals)
Aaron Harang, SP (Free Agent to Phillies)
Mitch Atkins, SP (Free Agent to Rangers)
David Hale, SP (Trade to Rockies)
Zach Stewart, SP (Free Agent to Angels)
Brandon Beachy, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Atahualpo Severino, RP (Free Agent to Angels)
Anthony Varvaro, RP (Trade to Red Sox)
Shreve Chasen, RP (Trade to Yankees)
David Carpenter, RP (Trade to Yankees)
Mitch Atkins, RP (Free Agent to Rangers)
Ryan Butcher, RP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Pedro Beato, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Luis Perez, RP (Free Agent to Blue Jays)
Gus Schlosser, RP (Trade to Rockies)
Winter Headlines: 
Braves unload in offseason, get little back in return,
Outfield experiment is abandoned but is this a better alternative?
What to Expect?:
If you're a Braves fan have low expectations.  The Braves were a competitive team over the last 5 years, even putting some scares in the Phillies, Nationals, Giants and Dodgers.  That run seems to be coming to an end.  The experiment of the Hayward-Upton-Upton outfield has been marked down as a failure and the plethora of young arms have now been abandoned.  What is left is an outfield with one Upton, a lifetime Oriole with health questions and a prospect.  The infield is strong at the corners, average at Shortstop and an aging journeyman at second.  Their closer is one of the best in the game but he may have few opportunities to show it.  Expect the next few years to be a down turn.  But on the positive side:  they're in the same division as the Phillies.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
The Braves are almost certainly headed into a rebuilding phase.  Most of the young talent they counted on to spark a rebirth of the 1990s glory days have been shipped away.  The talent that is left could turn out to be in for a long, painful stretch/
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Braves Fans Want?:
It almost certainly won't turn out in favor of Braves fans.  The team is clearly in rebuilding mode and will have to hope for help from the minor league system.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Nick Markakis was a fan favorite in Baltimore for years and many Orioles fans were saddened by the fact that the team's rise to playoff contender coincided with injury filled years for Nick.  Markakis' best years are behind him (although, as an Orioles fan and fan of Markakis, I hope he proves me wrong).  You can expect Markakis to give 100% effort all the time and to be a positive influence in the clubhouse but don't expect him to lead the Braves into contention or to replace Heyward.
Expect Great Things From:
I probably said the same thing last year but Chris Johnson is a very under rated player at third base.  He has a hard job in replacing Chipper Jones but he quietly is a key piece in this team.  With few big names left expect Johnson to represent the Braves in the All Star Game
Is This His Last Chance?:
A.J. Pierszynski has a reputation for causing clubhouse problems.  It helps to explain why someone with that much talent has moved from the Twins to the Giants to the White Sox to the Rangers to the Red Sox to the Cardinals to the Braves.  To be fair though, he did contribute greatly to the success of the Giants and White Sox in his stays there so the reputation may be a bit exaggerated.  It isn't the first time that a guy's negative clubhouse presence has been overblown in Boston.  Regardless, that reputation has followed A.J. and if he does not correct it in Atlanta there may be little demand left for an aging grumpy Catcher.
Prediction: 4th place in NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

Who's New: 
Chase D'Arnaud, SS (Free agent from Pirates)
Chris Nelson, 3B (Free Agent from Padres)
John Hester, C (Free Agent from Angels)
Cord Phelps, 2B (Free Agent from Orioles)
Chris McGuinness, 1B (Free Agent from Pirates)
Tyler Greene, IF (Free Agent from Padres)
Xavier Paul, OF (Free Agent from Diamondbacks)
Jeff Francoeur, OF (Free Agent from Padres)
Darren Mastroianni, OF (Free Agent from Blue Jays)
Brian Bogusevic, OF (Free Agent from Marlins)
Jordan Danks, OF (Waiver Claim from White Sox)
Kevin Slowey, SP (Free Agent form Marlins)
Jeanmar Gomez, SP (Free Agent from Pirates)
Aaron Harang, SP (Free Agent from Braves)
Chad Billingsley, SP (Free Agent from Dodgers)
Anthony Vasquez, SP (Free Agent from Orioles)
Paul Clemens, RP (Free Agent from Houston)
Who Left: 
Reid Brigniac, SS (Free Agent to Marlins)
Jimmy Rollins, SS (Trade to Dodgers)
Wil Nieves, C (Free Agent to Padres)
Marlon Byrd, OF (Trade to Reds)
Tony Gwynn, Jr (Unsigned Free Agent)
A.J. Burnett, SP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Kyle Kendrick, SP (Free Agent to Rockies)
Greg Smith, SP (Free Agent to Braves)
Brad Lincoln, RP (Free Agent to Pirates)
Antonio Bastardo, RP (Trade to Pirates)
Jeff Manship, RP (Free Agent to Indians)
B.J. Rosenberg, RP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Jeremy Horst, RP (Free Agent to Dodgers)
Mike Adams, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Shawn Camp, RP (Unsigned Free Agent)
Winter Headlines:  
The end of an era.  Rollins gone. Howard, Papelbon, Hamels and Lee to follow?
What to Expect?:
Expect the worst.  This team still has talent but they are in full rebuilding mode.  It seems that Utley is the only untouchable.  For the last 15 years the Phillies have given their fans some great moments but for the next few years it could be a return to the days of Steve Jeltz, Von Hayes and Shane Rawley.
Why Should You Root for These Guys?:
The Phillies have never had a period of success this sustained before.  There was the nice run from 1976 through 1983 but this is something different.  This was special.  After an era of poor play this gave birth to a whole new generation of Phillies fans.  While I grew up with stories of the exploits of Schmidt, Carlton, Rose, Luzinski and Bowa, today's generation has grown up with the exploits of Rollins, Howard, Hamels, Utley and Ruiz.  Here's hoping that they can give the young generation one last run at something special.
Why Might This Season Not Turn Out the Way Phillies Fans Want?:
To be fair, who's left?  From the championship teams of 2008 and 2009 only Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Hamels and Lee remain.  Of those 5 three have been mentioned in serious trade talks.  Phillies fans can only hope that the trades being made can bring positive results in return.
Don't Expect Too Much From Him:
Chad Billingsley is a tremendously talented pitcher.  When he first arrived in the big leagues, knowing that Kershaw was coming right behind him,the Dodogers thought they had a new Koufax and Drysdale combination.  Unfortunately Billingsley's arm gave out and he has not had a full season since 2011. Billingsley is a classy guy and a good clubhouse presence, something this team could use with the loss of Rollins.  His effectiveness will be defined by the health of his arm.
Expect Great Things From:
Chase Utley is a Hall of Fame player.  Period.  He has shown over the years that he deserves to be mentioned with the greats of this organization like Klein, Ashburn and Schmidt.  Injuries have kept his amazing numbers lower than they could be but when all is said and done he is one of the most entertaining players to watch.
Is This His Last Chance?:
Ruben Amaro, Jr took over the Phillies at the end of the 2008 season and has benefitted from the team that Pat Gillick put together.  That is not to say that Amaro has not done a good job.  He certainly orchestrated the deals that brought Halladay, Polanco, Lee and Ibanez to town.  Each of those deals helped to extend the Phillies' run of success.  However, as the Phillies head into a clear rebuilding mode, will Amaro be able to see the results of his dealings over the last two years.
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 NL Central Preview and continue following to see my final predictions at the start of the season.

Giancarlo Stanton led the National League in Home Runs last year with 37.  Who was the last player from the NL East to lead the league in Home Runs?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
Ozzie Guillen spent a short time in a Tampa Bay Devil Ray uniform, as did everyone in last week's article.  Of those featured in last week's article only Manny Ramirez played for Ozzie.  Ramirez played in 24 games for the White Sox in 2010.  

1 comment:

  1. Phillies dead last huh? It will be interesting to see how they do this year.


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