Tuesday, March 24, 2009

NL East Preview

Alright BLBB fans. Time for the NL East Preview. This is a very tough call on which team can win the division...there are 3 teams that can legitimately win the division title. Plus, the 2nd place finisher has a chance to get in via the wild card...but these teams are going to beat each other up during the dog days of summer.

Best Pitcher for 2009 in the NL East - Johan Santana, but not by too much. Cole Hamels looks like the injury scare in spring training is just that, a scare. He is healthy and threw without pain today. With that said, if Hamels is healthy, the 2008 World Series MVP may surpass Mr. Santana as Best Pitcher in the NL East, or heck, the whole National League.

Best Hitter for 2009 in the NL East/MVP - I am supposed to have one of each, but I can't seperate the two...so the best hitter is the MVP of the division. Many people would say Ryan Howard is the best hitter in the NL East, but all he does is launch bombs or strikeout. Sorry a .250 hitter is not the best hitter. There is also Chase Utley, Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Chipper Jones in the division, but hands down the best hitter and the Most VALUABLE Player in the NL East is Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins. The kid just rakes and he won't be 26 until late December...so Hanley isn't even in his prime yet. Ramirez led off 99% of the time last year - hit .301 with 33 homeruns, 67 RBI's and 35 steals. The thing is - Ramirez does this with no protection in the lineup...none. Beltran and Wright are together, Howard and Utley support each other, but Hanley just continues to hit without any help whatsoever.

Now, on to the team-by-team preview of the NL East.

Division Preview

1. New York Mets - This kills me picking this organization to win the NL East. I grew up in St. Louis and absolutely detested Strawberry, HoJo, Dykstra, Mookie, Doc (I snort after every game with Darryl)Gooden, Sid (I'm a fat elephant)Fernandez - I hate them and the list goes on and on. How much did I love Wainwright (a rookie) buckling Beltran's knees in game 6 of the 2006 NLCS...well - let's just say I am still excited about Adam doing that to Cardinal killer Beltran. But '09 is the dawn of a new era. The Mets only made two significant moves in the off season...but oh man were they huge. They added single season save record holder Francisco Rodriguez and stud closer, and someone who now becomes one of the best setup men in baseball, JJ Putz. That is all this team needed to add with a lineup that includes Jose Reyes, Beltran, Wright and Carlos Delgado. This team has Santana as the ace of the staff and Maine, Pelfrey & Perez as serviceable 2-4's. This team has to win their division or it will be a huge disappointment from the top down.
2009 record 96-66

2. Florida Marlins - Oh yeah, that's right Philly fans - you're finishing 3rd. The Marlins have the best all around player in the NL East in Hanley Ramirez, but the big thing the Marlins have that other teams in this division don't have - depth of quality starting pitchers. The Marlins have Josh Johnson (3.61 ERA), Ricky Nolasco (3.52 ERA) and Chris Volstad (2.88 ERA). That is a tough 1-2-3 to face for any team in any 3 game series. Yeah - Hamels and Santana might take game 1's in series versus the Marlins - but I'll take Florida in games 2 & 3. The one thing holding this organization back - offensive punch. After Hanley, there is top rookie prospect Cameron Maybin. If Maybin can win the starting CF job, they will bat him in the leadoff spot, which can drop Ramirez to 3rd, which makes this lineup a bit tougher. The Marlins have Jeremy Hermida, but he is never healthy. Dan Uggla is a power hitting 2nd baseman, but doesn't hit for average. Heck, Uggla has not recovered from a 3 error performance in the All-Star game last year, so who knows where this kids head is at. Anyway, starting pitching will keep the Marlins in the wild card hunt all season.
2009 record 90-72

3. Philadelphia Philles - This team will finish 3rd. Yes, I know they have Jimmy Rollins, Utley, Howard on the infield. Victorino and free agent signing Raul Ibanez are also in the lineup patrolling the outfield. They have Cole Hamels as the ace of the staff and Brad Lidge to close. But this team's starting pitching behind Hamels is dreadful. Jamie Moyer will turn 104 years old in June - and he is your #2 starter? Moyer really struggles after the 5th. Brett Myers is your #3? Myers ERA was over 5 the last 2 months of the season. Joe Blanton is your 4? The guy has never fulfilled the hype he had when he came up. Blanton's ERA was over 4 and a half in 08. Now this organization does have a kid named Carlos Carrasco down in the minors - and he is the real deal...I get a feeling they are going to give this kid a chance after a month or two into the season. This team will fight for a playoff spot, but pitching will be its achilles heel all season.
2009 record 87-75

4. Atlanta Braves - Wow, How the mighty have fallen...and I love it. Everyone always says Bobby Cox is one of the best managers ever. Why? Because he won 1 World Series title? The guy had 3 of the best 5 starting pitchers in the game for a decade and won 1 title. In my opinion, that's embarrassing. Now, Cox has a staff that consists of old man Derek Lowe, average starter Javier Vasquez and overhyped Jair Jurrjens. Tim Hudson is on the DL until at least August. That's not a good outlook. Well, their offense must be great if their starting staff is this bad. Um, no. In fact, the Braves outfielders combined to smash 18 homeruns last year...oh yeah, that's right 18. Jeff Francouer, originally known as the Natural when first called up to the majors a few years ago, continues to mysteriously struggle. All-Star Catcher Brian McCann and Chipper Jones will have to carry this team just to finish above the .500 mark. But Chipper is getting a bit old - and is on the DL at least once or twice a year now. This team is in deep trouble in 09.
2009 record 81-81

5. Washington Nationals - Holy Crap...this organization is as embarrassing as Bobby Cox is as a manager. This team has a lot of quality character guys within this organization. General Manager Jim Bowden and scout Jose Rijo were both recently relieved of their positions because of a scandal in the Dominican. The Nationals also have former Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes, most known for beating the crap out of his wife. Former Met Lastings Milledge embarrassed his former organization and was traded for 14 batting practice balls and a Filet-o-Fish from McD's. How do you embarrass an organization that has had Darryl Strawberry & Doc Gooden as a part of it. Outfielder Wily Mo Pena, all he does is complain about not getting enough playing time, but once he does, can't produce. Like I said - many quality character guys in this organization. The sad thing is - this might be a worse franchise than the Pittsburgh Pirates, and that's saying something. They have no pitching. But they did sign free agent Adam Dunn to a contract in the off season - and at least this gives them a bat in the middle of the order, but unfortunately, it is the only one. Plus Dunn strikes out a ton too - not good. Pitching - well they have none. Starters or relievers. Hell - I might call and be their ace by opening day. Well, at least this organization is stocked with numerous big time prospects are their way up to help the big club. Ummmm - Don't think so. They have one prospect ranked in the Top 100 of Baseball America's Prospects. So - with that said - I do have one thing to say. If I could take over any organization in baseball - this would be it. You can only go up as a GM - you c an only make them better, because they can't go down any further. Good Luck Nationals - can a team lose 1000 games in a season when they only play in 162?? That's right - 1000.
2009 record 56-106 (Oh man, that is not good at all).
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