The NL East is clearly one of the strongest divisions in Kinsella, having sent 5 teams to the postseason in the first 2 seasons.
(1) Philadelphia Phillies
The Fightin Phils should once again score a ton of runs at the bank. The Phils bring back more or less the same team as season 2. The only thing that could derail this juggernaut is if they get off to a slow start and their belligerent Philly fan base turns on them. Last year this ridiculous offense led the majors in runs, with second place Boston over 100 runs behind. Stud Jake Clapp has been compared to A-Rod by team owner and GM lomac because of his ineptitude in the playoffs. Now this comparison goes a step further as he moves from SS to 3b. Del Wilhelm and Pedro Garrido support Clapp in this fearsome lineup. Hot prospect Jimmy Reed has been called up to the show to replace the departed Del Eckstein. The scary part about this offense is that they are young; 5 of the 8 starters are age 27 and below. The Phils’ pitching staff is slightly above average, but takes a hit because of the bandbox they play in. Perry Harvey is the ace, and he would be a Cy Young contender if not for the cheap HR’s. The staff is certainly good enough to hold down lineups in the regular season. If they can out-pitch the opposition in the playoffs, look for the Phils to get their 2nd WS title.
(2) Pittsburgh Pirates
The Buccos made the playoffs as a wild card in season 1 and took a step back. I expect them to rebound this year with about 90 wins and another trip to the postseason. Uber-prospect Clyde Redmond struggled a bit in his ½ season of ML service, but he should rebound and be a legitimate force. The top free agent acquisition in this division was the Pirates’ signing of Shep McNeil, a legitimate offensive force. This should give the lineup a boost, as he’s an upgrade over the departed Albert Santana. Ivan Izquierdo and James Sherman will provide the power in this lineup, which will give the pitching staff more runs to work with this year.The Pirates’ starting pitching looks very good. Steely veteran Tris Breen anchors the staff. He’s been solid but he probably only has a couple of good years left. Robert Knotts and Eddie Ford eat up innings, and Rafael Cortes was brought in as a FA to stabilize the back end of the rotation. Fernando James anchors the back end of the bullpen.
(3) Washington Nationals
The Nats have made the playoffs in both of the first 2 seasons, and I expect them to be right in the mix for another berth. Instead of a preview, let’s review the fury of trades that were made by this franchise in the recent weeks:
Position Had Now Has Result
C Alan Lidge Oswaldo Rodriguez +
C B.C. Tarasco Adrian Berry -
2b/3b Cliff Harris Antonio Uchida -
SS Melvin Wang Anthony Hunter -
LF Bing Miles Jose Roque +
LF Lonnie Clapp Aaron Benson -
CF (None) Sandy Presley +
SP Freddy McCartin Martin Kielty Even
SP Bill Quinn (None) -
RP Luis Gonzales (None) -
RP Brian Clemens Ralph Mays +
There has been much sports-talk regarding this series of trades, but it seems that Washington traded quantity for some big quality bats, especially in Roque and Rodriguez. The team has a “win now” attitude and will be right there in the fight for NL playoff spots.
(4) New York Mets
The Mets are in rebuilding mode, but are in good hands with the highly regarded dherz_263. Being in such a tough division will increase the challenge for the veteran GM, but he should be up to the task. Look for the Metsies to win about 70-75 games this season, and be back in contention in season 4. On offense, the Mets lost Patrick Cone to free agency, but at this point the draft picks (4 in the top 80) are the more important commodity. Wolf Douglas is a rising star with the bat, but beyond the Wolfman, the team is mostly old. It appears that dherz’s strategy is to keep most of the young talent in the minors and bring ‘em up to compete in a future season. Wade Baker was a nice signing and should set the table. If the veterans on the Mets stay healthy, this team could surprise a lot of people this season. The rotation is anchored by young guns Tony Stankiewicz. Veterans Boomer Paige and Red Trammel should show him the way. The rotation is above average, but the bullpen is thin and could cost this team some games. On the farm, Walt Hernandez is the best pitching prospect in Kinsella, bar none.