Last year the Philadelphia Phillies were the best on the east coast. The Mets and Braves couldn’t do anything to challenge them and this offseason the Phillies did the most to improve their team. Did they do enough to repeat as division champions?
1. Philadelphia Phillies
I think this is the strongest team in the National League. In terms of pitching they can rival any team. Cole Hamels and Roy Halliday at the top of the rotation with another young star J.A. Happ as well. A strong bullpen with the seemingly reborn Brad Lidge as their closer this team has the pitching to dominate. They are deep in terms of pitching but have an even deeper line up. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley are enough for this team to win but just for fun they keep Raul Ibanez and Shane Victornio around as well. Speed and alot of power bring great balance to this team and I think they will not only win the division but are my favorite to win the National League this year.
2. New York Mets
The boys from Queens made a few moves this offseason. None more important than adding Jason Bay. He brings consistency and power to a line up that didn’t perform well last year. Bay along with Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes is very solid. They have a decent mix of speed and power but not quite the same balance the Phillies have. Pitching is a concern. I don’t see much other than Johan Santana who has been up and down the past few years. He can’t carry the burden alone so unless guys like Mike Pelfrey and John Maine step up this team could be in trouble. However, I expect them to contend for the wild card and win as many as 85 games this year.
3. Atlanta Braves
It’s been a few seasons since the Braves have been relevant in the division. After winning 15 straight division titles they have faded away into nothingness. This is the last season that Bobby Cox will call himself skipper. This is a significant moment beyond Atlanta and beyond the division. But that is for a different post. The Braves have Chipper Jones and they added Troy Glaus but this line up is very thin. I don’t see a ton of run support coming from this team. With a lack of run support I think it will be tough for an aging Tim Hudson and youngers Jair Jurjens and Tommy Hanson to get many wins and therefore this team will finish no better than 3rd place in the division.
4. Florida Marlins
The Marlins have a bevy of young talent. Cameron Maybin, Chris Coughlan, Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez. But even with all that in the lineup, I can’t rely on the pitching staff they have. True, Ricky Noalsco is a good pitcher, but one guy isn’t enough to make you competitive in this division. Though, the Marlins always find a way to do the most with less. Could they be that team that surprises us all again? Sure, but even if they shock us I don’t think they’d get near the Phillies. This team could possibly be a dark horse for the wild card race but I’m not betting on it.
5. Washington Nationals
And finally we reach the team formerly known as the Expos but now known as the Nationals. This team has done nothing to even resemeble a competitive club since they moved from Montreal. Their best player will be in minors until Labor Day and personally I don’t think they should rush his development. Stephen Strasburg is probably ready now but the burden he will have to carry with this club has the potential to ruin his career. The line up they have has Adam Dunn, Christian Guzman and a nice young center fielder Nyger Morgan. But I just don’t see them leaving the basement of this division any time soon.