FanIQ NL East Preview

The Nationals Reign is Only Just Beginning [FanIQ NL East Preview]

3/21/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Philadelphia PhilliesBlog Photo - FanIQ NL East Preview
 
Projected Lineup
 
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
3B Michael Young
1B Ryan Howard
LF Laynce Nix
RF Domonic Brown
CF Ben Revere
C Erik Kratz
 
Projected Rotation
 
LHP Cole Hamels
RHP Roy Halladay
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Kyle Kendrick
LHP John Lannan
 
Closer: RHP Jonathan Papelbon
 
Key Losses: 3B Placido Polanco, OF Nate Schierholtz, UT Ty Wigginton, SP Vance Worley, OF Juan Pierre
 
Was last year an aberration, or was it a sign that the Phillies recent run of success is over? Those first three in the rotation in theory mean you can’t count the Phillies out. However, Roy Halladay struggled last year (bad), has gotten lit up in spring training (doesn’t matter), and is apparently only topping 85 mph with his fastball (matters a lot). Doc has gone from the best pitcher in baseball to a question mark. Cliff Lee, meanwhile, was better than his 6-9 record last year, but his homer rate ticked up and his strike out ticked down, which could be nothing, but could be the start of a decline. Kendrick and Lannan are innings eaters, which suits the club well if the Big Three are truly the Big Three.
 
The top three will need to be, because there are still concerns with the lineup. Once Carlos Ruiz returns from a 50 game stimulant suspension, the newly acquired Revere will be the only regular under 30. The three stars of old are still here, but Rollins has been average at best with the bat for a few years now, and injuries have sapped Utley of his former superstar ways. As for Ryan Howard? He’s likely to be better now that’s he fully recovered from his Achilles injury, but his patience and ability to hit lefties isn’t getting better, and at 33, his contract is looking more and more like an albatross. It’s not that great an outlook elsewhere either. Michael Young gets plenty of hosannas for his personality and how he plays the game, which ignores his sub-replacement level .682 OPS last year. The crazy thing is that’s not even the worst pick-up by Philadelphia. That would be Delmon Young. While he’s not ready to play yet, the plan is to start him in right field. His complete inability to play the field, as he showed in Detroit? Not a concern apparently. Neither is his awful pitch recognition and consequent terrible OBP, nor his awful make-up, which includes a hate crime arrest.
 
I made such a big deal out of the Young signings to show that for a team that ended up exactly average in 2012 (81-81), the moves made to help the team were more than likely counterproductive. That’s not even counting the signing of the wretched Yuni Betancourt to a minor league deal. The Phillies stars have to slow down their aging curves for this team to get back in it. I still believe in Hamels and Lee, and hope as a baseball fan Halladay turns it around, and thus I don’t predict a total collapse, but don’t kid yourself, it’s in play.
 
Projected Record: 84-78
 
Down on the Farm: Two lefthanded pitchers, Adam Morgan and Jesse Biddle, top what is a pretty thin system, which happens after years of trying to win now. Morgan is a college lefty who hit AA, and pitched well, in his first year of pro ball. He has a lower ceiling, but higher floor than Biddle, although Biddle also has a good chance to at least make the majors.
 
New York MetsBlog Photo - FanIQ NL East Preview
 
Projected Lineup
 
2B Jordany Valdespin
CF Collin Cowgill
RF Marlon Byrd
1B Ike Davis
LF Lucas Duda
3B Justin Turner
C John Buck
SS Ruben Tejada
 
Projected Rotation
 
LHP Jon Niese
RHP Shaun Marcum
RHP Matt Harvey
RHP Dillon Gee
RHP Jeremy Hefner
 
Closer: RHP Bobby Parnell
 
Key Losses: SP RA Dickey, OF Scott Hairston, C Josh Thole, OF Andres Torres, SS Ronny Cedeno, SP Chris Young, RP Manny Acosta
 
Before you ask, this is assuming that neither 2B Daniel Murphy and 3B David Wright will be ready for the start of the season. Looking at the rest of the lineup, it’s obvious that they’ll need Wright ready to go as soon as possible, as the rest of the lineup shows. The outfield is a straight up mess, probably the worst in baseball. Duda is the only one with any potential, and he wasn’t great last season. Byrd is close to done, and Cowgill is 27 and has yet to establish himself as starter material. Letting their best outfielder last year, Hairston, is yet another sign the Mets financial woes are still there. With the exception of Wright, this is mostly a young, cheap lineup of guys that won’t be terrible, but don’t have a great ceiling. The only word I can come up with is “meh.”
 
Being unable to sign RA Dickey to a reasonable extension, and then trading him, tells you all to need to know about the state of Mets. While they will undoubtedly miss the reigning NL Cy Young winner, this actually isn’t a bad rotation, even accounting for the fact that no one knows exactly what Johan Santana can contribute. Niese quietly sported a 3.40 ERA with solid peripherals.  Marcum is a similarly solid pitcher, only he’s done it longer for both Toronto and Milwaukee. Gee, meanwhile, had a middling 4.10 ERA last year, but his strike out rate spiked to a career 8.0 per nine, and his walk rate dropped to 2.4 per nine. If that holds, he’s a sleeper. The real prize though is Matt Harvey. A top prospect going into the season, Harvey reached the bigs and dazzled in 10 starts, posting an ERA under 3 and striking out more than 10 per nine. He probably won’t be that good his first full year in the majors, but there’s a lot to like.
 
This year an Amway store opened on the grounds of Citi Field. This symbolizes the state of the Mets. The team is still hampered by the Wilpons and their lack of resources which they lost in an Amway-like scheme. Until then, the team will mostly run in place, and at best cultivate some young talent. They’ll need to, because while they extended Wright (to prevent fan revolt at least), it’s clear the checkbook will remain put away for the foreseeable future.
 
Projected Record: 73-89
 
Down on the Farm: As the centerpiece of the Dickey trade, C Travis d’Arnaud will have a lot of expectations placed on him. He has the ability to hit for power, get on base, and play good defense behind the plate. The issue is he suffers at least one injury every year. He’ll likely get some AAA bats to finish his development. The Mets’ best pitching prospect also came via trade, SP Zach Wheeler in the 2011 Carlos Beltran deal. Wheeler was excellent in AA last season, and could be on a similar track to Harvey last year, spending most of the year in AAA before a late season cameo.
 
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3/27/13   |   Scott   |   54583 respect

I'm already on record in predicting that the Braves offense is going to lead the major leagues in strikeouts.  I like what they have done in trying to close the gap between themselves and the Nationals but I think when your pitching staff can send out 3, possibly 4 really good strikeout pitchers, you have a big advantage over the Braves

3/21/13   |   mcleodglen   |   32 respect

Nationals are slightly better, that's true.