The NL East is definitely the division of parity. Four different division winners in the last four years. The breakdown:
14: Mets win division; 2nd Nats; 3rd Pirates; Phillies 4th
15: Phillies win division; 2nd Nats; 3rd Mets; Pirates 4th
16: Pirates win division; 2nd Phillies; 3rd Nats; Mets 4th
17: Nats win division; 2nd Phillies; 3rd Pirates; Mets 4th
Which team will pull away this year???
Key Players Returning: Harold Jordan , Jolbert Lopez , Jolbert Ortiz , Vic Villafuerte , Jolbert Gomez , Midre Hernandez , Mike Gonzales , Julio Gutierrez
Key Players Leaving: Jerry Kaline (FA), Jacob Clyburn (FA), Les Walker (PIT)
New Additions: Benjamin Valdes (Chisox), Ivan Mota (BAL), Miguel Maduro (SD), Gerardo Matos , Phil Hukata (KC), Luis Aquino (rule5-mets)
Prediction: Offensively, the Nats are a juggernaut. But imagine how much better they would be if they limited steals...152 steals to 79 caught stealing. This is a team that could have scored an extra 30-40 runs in my opinion. This year they are even better. The team is improved over last year and might be the first team to repeat as division champs in quite awhile.
Key Players Returning: Nigel Montague , Norm Fowler , Elrod Riggs , John Patel
Key Players Leaving: Tony Rivera (NYY), Juan Miro (BOS), Ned Reed (POR), Warren Justice (FA), Luis Almanza (TEX)
New Additions: Buck Brown(cubs), Houston Webb(SF), Alex Almanzar(MON), Albert Ramirez(mets), Jesus Figureoa(Min)
Prediction: The most curious signing in the off-season is that of Buck Brown. Awarded a $10 mil signing bonus but only $867k per year for 3 years. Head scratcher. The other free agent pick ups were mostly to fill in the holes left by others. Nothing can make up for losing Luis Almanza. I just don't see the Phillies going in the right direction this year and are in danger of visiting the basement once again.
Key Players Returning: Glenn Gosling , Sammy Balboa , Bruce Richard , David Yang , Alex Cruz , Julio Martin , Edgardo Bocachica , Derek Bannister , Jae-Kuk Brea
Key Players Leaving: Ivan Prince (cubs), Turner Wohlers (mets), Ozzie Jordan (AZ), Marv Carson (FA)
New Additions: Derrick Watkins (CIN), Les Walker (WAS), Russell Bulger (cubs), Chase Flores (chisox), Theo Bailey , Edinson Martinez .
Prediction: A team that struggled to put up runs (4.46/game) didn't really get that much better. A couple of the younger players moved incrementally but not enough to really impact their WAR. The pitching staff was solid, but you have to wonder how much the loss of Jordan to Arizona will impact the staff. Walker and Watkins should fill in alright. They still have, arguably, the best bullpen in the NL. Bailey and Martinez are pretty good prospects so it could rest on how much they contribute. I like this team. The youth, and the bullpen have huge upside. They might contend for a playoff spot this time.
Key Players Returning: Rafael Pineda , Mark Kim , Mark Maxwell , Drew Montgomery , Chul Aoki , Thurman Benjamin , Albert Nunez , Yamid Medrano
Key Players Leaving: Albert Ramirez (PHI), Jose Lopez (MTL), Ralph Lowell (CIN), Clint Brocail (min), Jeremie Morgan (mtl)
New Additions: Luis Franco (AZ), Willie Waters (LAD), Turner Wohlers (PIT), Frank Greene , Lonnie Poole , Edgar Castillo (HOU), Javier Lorenzo (rule5-mtl), Joaquin Diaz (rule5-char)
Prediction: Losing Montgomery in Spring Training is the realization of every GM's fears. For a team that made quite a few moves, that one was a killer. The team itself didn't really move forward with their acquisitions. They still have some decent players that can contribute, but the team won't move forward.