Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NL East Preview

LAST YEARS RECORD: 91-71; Division Champion

LAST YEARS PREVIEW: This is suddenly the most scary team in the NL East, if not the entire NL. Blanch added “The Mets may have over-performed a bit last season, but the team is really taking shape now - fewer 35 year-old, 1-year stopgaps and more guys who will be around for 10+ years. I see them winning 89 this year and making the playoffs.” I would have to agree with the veteran owner, but he is selling them short. They will do way more harm than even he thinks. Prediction: 94-68
OUT: Chris Brown, Alberto Soto, Manny Dupler, David Castro, Felix Ryan, Jesus Feliz, Mark Corey
IN:  Lou McDonald, Mariano Valentin, Sammy Hampton, Alex Gabriel, Karim Saenz
PREVIEW (courtesy of Blanch):
The little Mets took a big step forward last year, winning 91 games and taking a competitive division. Then the Phillies exposed their pop-gun offense, sweeping them in Round 1 and holding them to a measly 1 run in 3 games.

Clearly, the off-season priority was to add hitting. They have a good crop of prospects ready to come up but they're all defense and pitching: defensive whiz SS Cesar Pena, speedburner/glove man Junichi Bong, swingman D.T. Duncan, and short reliever Keith Owen.

So, Step 1 was to move Alex Walden - complete with 30-HR bat and balky glove - to 3B.

Step 2 - seeing not much offensive help in free agency - was to trade for range-challenged DH Karim Saenz and tell him to start working out with an outfielder's glove.

Step 3 - still seeing nothing in free agency - was to double down on the "DH as COF" plan and sign the even-more-range-challenged, injury-in-waiting, professional hitter Alex Gabriel to a 1 year, $2.4 MM deal.

So the Mets could trot out a lineup that includes DH Saenz in LF, DH Gabriel in RF, the mediocre-but-cheap Doug Beam at 1B, and all-or-nothing free-swinger Vicente Torres spelling all 3 spots.

With sterling defense at all the up-the-middle spots, is this a plan that will work? Who knows? But it will be interesting
Synopsis (courtesy of dg): Overall, it will be interesting to see how the trade off affects the team overall. The Mets should improve their scoring and finish with 700-730 runs, while the pitching staff/defense will go up to 620-650.

Philadelphia Phillies (NL)
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LAST YEARS PREVIEW: Dan Newson was picked up, and Felix Brandt will FINALLY get full time in the majors.While Dillon is confident, he is still a realist “The NL East should be a tough division with the emergence of the Mets, improved Nats, and always tough Pirates,” stated the miracle man “the offense will improve some, but we won’t have enough reliable pitching.”  I went against the Phillies once. Not again. PREDICTION: 89-73

OUT: Banjo Kashmir, Herb Winn, Norm Fowler, Lonny Castro, Willie Castilla, Pedro Gutierrez
IN: Jude Leslie, Sven Hammonds, Nick Helms, Tanyone Wilson, Kent Crawford, George Vaughn

The Phillies finished as expected thanks to their ability to pull a rabbit out of their hat when they needed it the most. The team was an astounding 22-14 in one run games, and 6-3 in extra innings. Their offense wasn’t potent, but consistent. Their pitching wasn’t overpowering, but a terrific defense held them together.
This year Dillon upgraded in LF and snagged slugger Jude Leslie. He could be a difference maker. Taking over at first is Nick Helms, and while time has caught up with him he is still a potent slugger that could bash as many as 40 homeruns. Added to the group left over from last year, this team is officially scary.
I’m not sold on the pitching staff, but it didn’t kill them last year thanks to their defense. The Phillies should see a big upgrade offensively and finish somewhere between 740 and 770 runs. The pitching/defense should remain about the same, but taking luck into account between 690 to 670 range.

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)
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LAST YEARS PREVIEW: There was a HUGE amount of turnover. Some of the bigger non-productive contracts came off the books (Wiki, Nix, Ortiz, Lane), and replaced with guys that will make a good wage but be more productive (Bailey, Munro, Hayes).
This team isn’t better than last season. They are about the same. And they won’t finish at or above .500.
Prediction: 71-91

OUT: Glenn Gosling, Alex Cruz, Juan Palacios
IN: Tuck Eichhorn, Brian Russell, Yusmeiro Torres, Brian Russell, Nick Terrell, Bing Whitman, Les Carter, Wiki Rincon, Howard Sweeney
I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Pirates allowing their two best pitchers, Cruz and Palacios, to walk in free agency. New owner jthornton has some good time under his belt, and a pretty good record.
He made some decent pick ups for the offensive side of the ball, but the pitching staff is now in shambles.
In the analysis I don’t see the once mighty Pirates taking a big step back. They should score somewhere between 660-680 runs, and allow 800 to 830 runs. Ouch.

Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. Nationals (NL)
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LAST YEARS PREVIEW: It looks like Charlotte stuck with the team they had, but promoted pitchers Steve Miller, and Al Santiago. They also snagged Alex Atchison in Rule V. None will help.Same team, same result.
Prediction: 70-92

OUT: Vin Batista, Harry Ugueto, Lou McDonald, Stubby Hernandez, Rube Flores
IN: Woody Rushford
For a team that finished in last, I expected the Nats to make some kind of move. They did…backwards. Unless there is a hidden plan somewhere, Rigby allowed a decent starter and two offensive contributors leave.
The offense looks to take a step back into dangerous territory, somewhere between 560 to 590 range. The pitching staff won’t take too much of a hit, but won’t improve. I have them pegged between 770 and 750

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