Well, it was another normal offseason for the
Florida Miami Marlins. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars on proven MLB talent, didn’t get rid of any key players, filled holes in our starting and relief rotation, and built a new baseball-sized ballpark. Wait, did I just write that?
Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a normal offseason. But with all this new talent and a new cool, calm, collected manager at the helm, the Marlins should definitely win the NL East, right?
Let’s break down the division and we’ll see how the Fish drop:
1. Miami Marlins: Led by pitching ace Josh Johnson (who last year had one of the greatest duels in recent memory with Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay) and former shortstop-now-third-baseman Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins will be significantly more competitive this year. And with an expanded 10 team playoff system, the signing of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle couldn’t have come at a better time. A new stadium and skipper will hopefully bring out the fans for the first few years, but is ballpark’s modern/artistic design enough to sustain Miami’s interest over the long haul? That’s the subject of another post altogether.
2. Washington Nationals: The main issue for the Nats is to stay healthy. This is particularly true for former all-star Ryan Zimmerman and first baseman Adam LaRoche. Despite LaRoche’s slow and short start last season, expect him to come out with bats blazing. We also saw the emergence of Mike Morse, who ended up being one of the MLB’s best hitters last year. During the offseason, the Nats acquired MLB veteran pitcher Edwin Jackson and former Oakland A’s up-and-comer Gio Gonzalez (SP). Oh, there’s also a guy by the name of Stephen Strasburg who is supposedly a pretty good pitcher, too (although he’s got to work on his pop-ups). Expect the Nats to give the NL East an even harder time they did last year (they finished 3rd…oh, you didn’t know that? yeah, they no longer suck).
3. Atlanta Braves: Youngster Jason Heyward and former all-star catcher Brian McCann lead this Braves team who are looking for redemption after a complete meltdown last September, culminating in the most insane Closing Day of all time. Dan Uggla clearly found his rhythm last year with his 33-game hit streak last year and now that Martín Prado has gotten used to LF, he should provide solid defense in the outfield (not to mention he’s a pretty good hitter too). And you can bet your ass that Chipper Jones is gonna end his hall-of-fame-bound career with a bang. Don’t forget about last year’s NL rookie of the year and Atlanta’s star closer, Craig Kimbrel.
4. Philadelphia Phillies: It’s the Phillies. Need I say more? Actually, yeah. They may have the best pitching rotation in baseball (and that is statistically inarguable) and may have added Jonathan Papelbon to their bullpen, but early injuries to stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley could affect how they start the season and may hamper their lineup efficiency for the first few games. Ok, seriously…let’s talk reality. The Phillies have the best team in the NL East hands down. In fact they may be the best team in the NL (St. Louis, I’m looking at you, now). Expect these guys to finish at the top.
5. New York Mets: Going into the offseason, the Mets knew that they had to improve their bullpen. So what did they do? They signed three relievers, pretty much all at once. Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana is back and healthy, but we have yet to see what effect his shoulder surgery complications will have on that wicked change-up. And although Jose Reyes has taken his talents and dread-less look to SoBe, Mets fans can still breathe easy with sluggers David Wright and Jason Bay in the lineup.
So how will these offseason changes affect the standings at the end of this year? Here are my predictions for how the NL east will finish:
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Washington Nationals (Wild Card)
- Miami Marlins
- Atlanta Braves
- New York Mets