Today we continue the UCB project for March by taking a look at the National League East. The National League East is in my opinion going to be the most interesting division in baseball this season. You have the Phillies, the Braves, the Marlins, and the Nationals all of whom I believe could compete for a playoff spot.
Predicted Division order.
1. Philadelphia Phillies- The Phils are the 5 time defending NL East champions and it doesn’t look like they’ll give up that title in 2012. Although the 4 teams below them could very well give them a run for their money. The Phillies pitching staff is still the best in baseball. Rou Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels should all have great years if they stay free of injury. What might hurt the Phillies is the fact that both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are hurt right now and that will slow down their offense at least for the start of the season. All in all, the Phils should top the division in 2012.
2. Miami Marlins, The Marlins have a new logo, a new look, a new ballpark, and a new manager this year, The Marlins also have some new talent with Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and new closer Heath Bell. The Marlins should be pretty good this year and will challenge the Braves, Nationals, and a few other teams for the 2 Wild Card spots in the National League. Expect the fish to win anywhere from 70-90 games in 2012.
3. Atlanta Braves- The Braves came oh so close to making the playoffs in 2012. But an epic September collapse plus a late surge by the soon to be World Champs eliminated them on the final day of the regular season. This year the Braves will be back with a pretty solid offensive lineup led by guys like Dan Uggla, Brian McCann and the soon to be retired Chipper Jones. Pitching wise Tommy Hanson should be the one leading the rotation and they still have a closer Craig Kimbrel who for most of his rookie season, was lights out. The Braves should again contend for the Wild Card in 2012.
4. Washington Nationals- The Nationals could be a dark horse in 2012. They’re finally going to get a full year of Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman just signed a large extension, Mike Morse is back after having a breakout year of sorts last year. The new face Gio Gonzalez should do well in the rotation and should make the rotation stronger and better. Heck we may even see Bryce Harper before the year is over. The Nationals may not be a full contender yet, but they could surprise some people in 2012 and make a run at one of the 2 wild card spots. All in all, I think this will be the year the Nats finish with a winning record and should be in contention till at least mid September.
5. New York Mets- The Mets seem to be going nowhere right now. Their owner is in the middle of a lawsuit, the front office doesn’t have much of a budget to work with, the team is bad, the farm system is not that good either, and they’re stuck in a competitive division. The Mets do have some talent in David Wright and Jason Bay although Bay has not done much since coming to the big apple. Johan Santana is coming back to the rotation and hopefully he will be able to stay healthy. But this Mets team does not look like it’s going to compete now or for years to come. It’s going to be a miserable season in Queens.
That’s all for now, I’ll be back tomorrow to preview the NL Central.