The NL East was once the home of a division champ that didn’t have a winning record. The Pirates have changed that perception, and the Phillies are close on their heels. The Mets and Nationals both seem to be improving, so keep your eyes on this division in the future.
The predicted standings for this season are:
Pittsburgh Pirates 93-69 (Division Champ)
Philadelphia Phillies 84-78
New York Mets 73-89
Washington Nationals 72-90
New York Mets (blanch13, 2nd w/Mets, 11 w/Rays)
Last Year: 68-94
Runs Scored/Allowed: 615/754
Players Added: sp – Greg Witt (aaa), 3b – Steven Curtis (ruleV, min), sp – Joe Vaughn (Tex), c – Ernie Upshaw (SEA), sp – Al Declaremen (cin)
Players Lost: sp – Kyle Carlyle (fa), sp – Sherman Coleman (fa), sp – Erik Houston (AZ)
Preview: Blanch built a famous Kinsella team while he was in Tampa Bay, and is now in the Big Apple trying to accomplish the same feat. 3/5th of the starting rotation has been replaced, and in a few instances it should be an upgrade. Greg Witt starting the year with the big club shows faith that he can take over the innings given to Kyle Carlyle and improve. It won’t be substantial, but they probably won’t give up 750 runs again.
Alex Gabriel, (.292/.345/.571, 5.0 War) was allowed to walk away to San Francisco. For a team that only scored 615 runs letting someone like Gabriel get away usually means something better is taking his place. It appears that Vicente Torres should produce much better than last year (projection: .264/.340/.515, 4.6 war, 94 runs created) and fill the hole left by Gabriel. So, just to reach the same run total, the collection of bench players needs to exceed the production by Torres. It appears that the ruleV helped out a little in the form of Steven Curtis.
Overall: Another long year in Flushing, but it’s getting better.
Philadelphia Phillies (dillontt, 6th season)
Last Year: 83-79
Runs Scored/Allowed: 718/701
Players Added: lf – Danny Waters (SD), 3b – Felix Brandt (aaa)
Players Lost: none
Preview: The Phillies snuck into the playoffs for the second time in three years. Dillon has their pitching staff and had just enough hitting to lead them in to October. This season he is sticking with the exact same team, but with one major upgrade. Danny Waters moves back east with his .276/.334/.494 slash line, his 91 runs created, and 3.8 WAR. It will cost Dillon $10.8 million this season.
One burning question is, when will Felix Brandt return to the majors? The youngster only posted a .261/.335/.360 line in 179 ab (for 19 rc). Bryan Mordecai is trying to recover from a long stint on the dl last year. Bono Upshaw should be better this season after leading the Phils’ offense (.260/.329/.500, 4.5 war, 98 rc).
The pitching staff remains largely unchanged, as does the defense.
Overall: This is last years’ team with some moderate player improvement. If Bono Upshaw improves the offense this team could be a force to reckon with.
Pittsburgh Pirates (rookie30000, 4th season, 3 w/Padres*founding member)
Last Year: 88-74
Runs Scored/Allowed: 703/638
Players Added: ss – Benito Velasquez (t-Fla), sp – Jonathan Plesac (Cha)
Players Lost: sp – Donatello Bollea (CWS), c – Chili Neal (fa), of – Edinson Martinez (MIL), of – Darren Barrett (t-Fla)
Preview: The Pirates have flourished under owner rookie and pulled off an improbable upset over the heavily favored Expos in the playoffs. Their run ended in the NLCS to the Marlins, but this team has confidence going into the new season.
There was some turnover, but also some key additions. Bollea for Plesac is the most visible and is a minor downgrade for the Bucs. Bollea sported a 3.85 fip/1.42 whip in 196 innings, and Plesac brings a 4.64 fip/1.38 whip in 185 innings. Velasquez was a replacement level hitter at shortstop but a well above average fielder. Which will help a pitching staff full of players with great FIPs. The better the fielding, the less runs they will allow.
Overall: Another one of the premier teams in the NL. The Pirates seemed to come out of nowhere to make a playoff run and then to knock off the Expos. They should make some noise again this season, and everyone will see them coming.
Washington Nationals (rigbystarr, 9th season)
Last Year: 62-100
Runs Scored/Allowed: 641/829
Players Added: c – Jose Ortiz (aaa), lf – Raul Brogna (aaa), 3b – Edgar Lee (aaa),
Players Lost: c – Juan Tejera (fa), of – Jolbert Lopez (fa)
Preview: The Nationals and rigby had a good run in a very weak division. They even snuck into the playoffs with only 70 wins a few seasons ago. The bottom dropped out and it’s back to the drawing board in the nation’s capital.
Rookie catcher Jose Ortiz will try to fill the shoes of Juan Tejera (.275/.338/.387, 1.2 War). Jolbert Lopez is also gone with his .277/.340/.400, 1.3 War). Vic Villafuerte didn’t really improve in the offseason, but is still the most deadly hitter on the team (119 RC, 5.7 War).
Tessmer was solid in his 76 innings last year. He converted 28 of 31 saves, but did LOSE 8 games. Apparently, it was time for a change in the back end of the bullpen.
Overall: This team has an offense that will score more than 641 runs. Unfortunately, their pitching will be their downfall. They will still be improved and won’t lose 100 games.