After finishing the American League it’s now time for me to make my way to the lesser known (at least to me) National League. And what better way to start than the NL East. The Phillies have dominated the division for the last couple seasons and honestly I don’t see much of a difference this year. The Braves seem to be the only team who can compete with Florida, New York and Washington as also rans. So, lets break it down.
1. Philadelphia Phillies– I hate to go chalk here but really, on paper the Phillies are the early season favorite to win the World Sereies so the East should come easily. Their ridiculous pitching staff has Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, every one of those guys are number 1 starters and they are on one staff, insane. Their lineup is pretty good too with Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco. They are getting up there in age but they all have good years left. The Phillies have high aspirations and anything less than a deep run in October would be a huge letdown.
2. Atlanta Braves– The Braves emerged as one of the youngest and most exciting teams of 2010. Jason Heyward had maybe the greatest debut ever with his first swing traveling over the wall for a home run. They traded for Dan Uggla who in my opinion is a top 5 second baseman when it comes to hitting. Brian McCann should be mentioned more as one of the top catchers but for some reason does not. The Braves pitching is strong with a good mixture of veteran leadership and young talent. Not sure if the Braves can overtake the Phillies but a second straight playoff appearance is not a stretch.
3. New York Mets– The Mets might be the most head scratching team in major league baseball. There is no reason why a team with all this star power should be as disappointing as they are. Johan Santana was once considered a top 5 starter but his last two seasons have resulted in a 13-9 and 11-9 records. Their lineup consists of guys like Jason Bay, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and rookie sensation Ike Davis and yet they still only won 79 games last season. The Mets wont do much this year but i still feel they have enough talent to top both Florida and Washington, i think.
4. Florida Marlins– The Marlins have a very exciting youthful team. However it’s that youth and inexperience that in my opinion will keep the Marlins from achieving great success. The two stars on the team are Hanley Ramirez and ace starter Josh Johnson. Hanley is capable of putting up MVP type numbers but his character is in question when he decided to lightly jog after a ball, and with Johnson should be in the Cy Young conversation all season. They lost Dan Uggla which was huge in this young lineup. The Marlins should be exciting, too bad not many people in Florida care. The Marlins only averaged 18,000 fans per game last year, 28th out of 30 teams.
5. Washington Nationals– The only thing of note for the Nationals is the insane amount of money they paid Jayson Werth. Dont get me wrong Werth is a nice player but $126 million is way too much. Unfortunately Stephen Strasburg probably wont be pitching for the Nats this season after having Tommy John surgery, which is a shame because he looked to be the real deal. Other than Werth the only name that sticks out in the Washington lineup is Ryan Zimmerman and with no Adam Dunn for protection it should be interesting to see what Zimmerman produces. I’m not going even go through their rotation just take my word for it, its bad.
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Andy Snakovsky – 105.7 The Fan Staff Writer
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