Of course, the bottom teams in the division are extremely flawed.
But the top teams all have things that make you say they just aren’t good enough to make it to the postseason either.
AL East has three teams that may have “flaws” when compared to each
other. But their issues really aren’t much compared to the other
quality teams in the game. The Red Sox, Yankees and Rays all have “flaws,” however, every team in the history of the game has had at least a few as well.
Let us get on to the predictions. In order of predicted finish. My opinion of course.
New York Mets:
Because of these aforementioned “flaws,” I choose not to project anyone
to win 90 games in this division. The Mets of course have their four
great players returning: Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and
Johan Santana. And they addressed their bullpen woes with the likes
of; JJ Putz, KRod, and Sean Green, giving them what should be at worst,
an above average pen.
There are definite questions about
their rotation. John Maine needs to come around for their rotation to
be solid. They of course have their “anchor,” who also happens to be the
best pitcher in baseball, in the form of Santana. And they re-signed
Oliver Perez, who is really a number 3 starter, penciled in right now
as a number two.
Now, Perez could still potentially be better than a
3, and most likely will not be any worse. But I just can’t say he will
be any better than that until he proves us otherwise.
The back end of
the rotation has some options, none very compelling, but options
So the rotation won’t be terrible, but it probably won’t
be at the top either.
The offense has a few issues. Will
Daniel Murphy be able to field second well enough? If so, then it will
work out very well. But if he doesn’t end up being good enough on
defense, he will have to shift back to the outfield, making him less
valuable, and giving the Mets a problem at second once again.
The catcher is an albatross in the lineup, so that is
another vulnerable spot for the Mets, another “flaw.”
The recent addition of Gary Sheffield isn’t a bad chance to take. For that price, it is definitely worth it. But Sheffield may not have anything left, so adding him most likely does not solve the Mets problems at the corners.
even with a few offensive weaknesses, a perceived lack of “mental
toughness” and a questionable back end of the rotation, they do have
star players that can basically be penciled in to do great things. And
holding a lead once it is gained isn’t such a bad thing either.
The reigning champs will stay competitive throughout, and it wouldn’t
surprise me if they won the division again. But they downgraded in
left field (although that may not be too significant an issue this
season as Ibanez should still be a solid player in 2009).
has had a few issues, and it isn’t unlikely that his value is less
than it was in 2008. Jaime Moyer should come back down to Earth.
Blanton can serve a decent role, but may get hit around in Philly,
something that was less likely to happen in Oakland. At this point,
Brett Myers’ performance is difficult to project. And as Baseball
Prospectus stated, Brad Lidge will blow at least a few saves this year,
that is almost a certainty.
The offense of course consists of
Chase Utley, one of the five best players in baseball. The overrated,
but still good Ryan Howard. Jimmy Rollins. And a few other solid or
above average hitters. There are a few weak links in the lineup,
catcher and third base.
But the team will be above average offensively,
I would think anyway.
The Phillies are capable of winning this
division again. But I think they fall just short of the Mets.
However, either team could win, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
The Braves rotation is solid. Solid…but far from spectacular.
Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, and Jair Jurrjens gives them a solid 1-2-3
punch. And the somewhat unknown Kawakami may give them a solid
1-2-3-4. But we don’t know exactly how good Kenshin will be. Glavine
may not have much left, but everything points to an above average
rotation if health is on their side.
For some reason, I think
Garrett Anderson has a solid season. I don’t know if it is just the
weaker NL or what. But I think that he is at least better than he was
last season (however, that isn’t saying all that much).
Chipper should play 120 games while putting up really
good numbers, although probably not as good as last year. I am not a
fan of Casey Kotchman, but it could be worse, and at least he is just
entering his prime. And that should be a good thing.
definitely has some weaknesses. No ace. A powerless first baseman.
But they have some strength in the Minors, and have a couple quality
“innings eaters” at the top of their rotation. They eat innings, and eat those innings while pitching pretty well.
Sure, there is plenty of room for growth when there are so many young
players. But maybe the pieces don’t come together just yet. It is
difficult to project this team since they seem to surprise so often. I
heard PECOTA didn’t like them, but they seem to be at least a little
better than what PECOTA thought. Although that projection system is better at predicting than I am. And since the Marlins seem to come out of nowhere at times,
right now seems like it could be one of those times.
There are too many question
marks to put them higher, for me at least, and not enough deficiencies
to put them much lower. But how well will Cameron Maybin perform? How
will Anibel “no-hit” Sanchez come back from surgery? How good are some
of these young pitchers to begin with? They are an intriguing case, no
doubt. But I can’t project them any higher with so many unknowns.
Although, I may be a bit more optimistic on them then some of the other
Washington Nationals: This
Nationals offense, as Rob Neyer pointed out, has some potential. But
to project this team any higher would mean that I would have to have
faith in hitters such as Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, and Nick
Johnson. And also have faith in a pitching staff that right now does
not warrant any faith. A definite lack of faith in some of this teams
integral parts from this guy.
Now, I could talk myself into a few of Washington’s
pitchers doing better than we’d expect; Cabrera, Zimmerman, Olson. But
Cabrera has always had trouble with his control, so expecting him to
“get it together” isn’t logical. And Scotty Olsen has some makeup
issues as well. Zimmerman is very young, and young pitchers are, well,
see: Clay Buccholz, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Homer Bailey, etc, etc,
etc, etc, etc…etc.
The franchise is heading in a better
direction, which was really the only place that they could go unless
Matt Millen took over the daily operations. But they are still too far
away from making any real noise.