Sunday, March 31, 2013

NL East Preview

Nats Park

I have succumbed to baseball fever and I'm looking forward to the season.  I'll do a review of each division on this blog, hopefully finishing up by opening day or at least that week.  Let's not get greedy.  I'm not doing haikus this year because apparently ESPN is doing that now and screw them.  Let's try something else.  I'll also list the projected o/u for wins and give you my take.

The NL East is has two great teams, one very good team and two clunkers and I project the finish to be as follows:

1. Braves
2. Nationals
3. Phillies
4. Mets
5. Marlins

Team by Team Preview:

Atlanta Braves o/u 88 wins --- TRE says: Over

The Braves got two brothers named Upton
Together in the outfield they'll be sumpin'
They'll be soul patrollin' the yard
With sweet swinging Heyward
And an old guy on the hill named Hudson

The Braves load up with both Upton brothers and have Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward coming into their own as legit stars.  The bullpen is among the best in the game with Craig Kimbrel coming off perhaps the best season for a relief pitcher in baseball history.  Veteran Tim Hudson leads the staff, but Kris Medlen had a fantastic 12 starts at  the end of 2012.  Mike Minor had a capable first full year and is the lone lefty on the staff.

Player to watch -- Julio Teheran:  Julio was once considered among the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.  He sucked the big one in AAA last year with a 5+ ERA, but came into spring firing bullets.  In 26 innings, he had a 1.04 ERA and struck out 35.  He had a 0.62 WHIP, giving up just 7 hist and 9 walks.  He has a big fastball but now seems to have a handle on the sinker and the curveball as well.

Washington Nationals o/u 92 wins --- TRE says: Under

Bryce Harper's a cock and you know it.
Paints his face and cries and throws shit.
Not too many complain,
Even though he's pain
Since the scoreboard might break from homeruns hit.

Most have the Nationals winning the division and I don't blame them.  They may have the best starting rotation in baseball with Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Haren and Detwiler.  They've added Rafael Soriano to an already strong bullpen that features Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.  Twins fans are aware the Denard Span is now patrolling center field and phenom Bryce Harper has moved to left field to accommodate him.  The infield is filled with vets that have had success, including third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.  However, Zimmerman and LaRoche both have injury histories and the Nationals will need a full season from them both.

Player to Watch: Ian Desmond - The shortstop had a breakthrough 2012 where he had a 17 homer increase over the prior year (25).  Just as importantly, his average and OBP also jumped 40+ points.  He still doesn't walk a ton, but if the power and average remains he can be a difference maker at short. He enters the "golden" 27 year old season this year, which many consider the peak season for a MLBer.

Philadelphia Phillies o/u 85 wins --- TRE says: Over

The Phils are old and disgusting
Howard and Utley have swings that are rusting.
Roy Halladay's arm
Is causing alarm
And in left-field Delmon be hustling!

The Phillies still boast a solid starting rotation with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.  However, Halladay appears to be struggling this spring.  He's been beat like a pinata and has had some velocity issues.  His last outing he was up to 89-90 mph though, so this could be much ado about nothing.  If you think the pitching staff is old, get a load of the infield.  Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are the core of the team and each have the ability to drop like flies during the year.  They  added Michael Young so the average age of the infield would go down.  Ben Revere and Dominic Brown are the youth movement and could provide a needed punch.

Player to Watch:  Dominic Brown - Brown has been hyped as a top Phillies prospect for years now.  He'll finally have a job all to himself after a massive spring.  In 90 at bats he posted a 1.047 OPS and hit 7 homers.  In 2011 he was the top prospect in baseball, it's amazing how players can be forgotten in 2 years.

Duda Cowboy
New York Mets o/u 74.5  --- TRE says: Under

Amway out front of the gate
The Mets need some cash - Donate!
The Citi Field is nice
Just take my advice
To see decent baseball just wait

The Mets are in the midst of a rebuild that's been going on for oh, 7 years?  They do have some young pitchers that look ready to step forward.  Jon Niese is 26 and is coming off of a 15 season.  Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey both will be experiencing their first full season in the majors.  Harvey is a 2010 first round pick and has big time stuff.  Shaun Marcum and Johan Santana were supposed to fill out the rotation, but Santana is already gone for the year again and Marcum is banged up as well.  The offense is led by David Wright and the power of Ike Davis.  The outfield is a mess with Collin Cowgill, Marlon Bird and Lucas Duda out there.  Duda is the only one with potential to have a big year as he has loads of power.

Player to Watch: Travis D'Arnaud:  D'Arnaud was the main piece the Mets received in the R.A. Dickey trade.  He's a catcher that's shown big time power, albeit in the PCL.  The Mets are saving another year of control by sending him to AAA for the start of the season, but he's likely to be up this year.


Miami Marlins o/u 64 --- TRE says: Over

Marlins trade all in a sale of fire
With just Stanton left things are dire
7 months after a new park
Is a bit early to jump the shark
Jeffrey Loria once again in the mire

What to say about the Marlins?  They traded most of their players of note in the off-season after opening a brand new stadium in 2012.  Do you remember the hype of 2012 with Ozzie Guillen, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle all coming over?  I do, and it fell on it's face.  They're all gone now as is long time Marlin Josh Johnson.  While the Marlins are going to be pretty bad this year, Jeffrey Loria's method of breaking it all down and starting anew has worked for him the past.  They kept masher Giancarlo Stanton to build around, but there really isn't much else.  Rob Brantly is a nice catching prospect that will have his first full season in the majors.  He came from Detroit in the Anibal Sanchez deal.  Top prospect Christian Yelich will likely be fast tracked to the majors.  Top pitching prospect Jose Fernandez has already made the rotation.

Player to watch:  C'mon, you're not watching the Marlins are you?

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