The accusation is this is a weak division. Maybe it is. But Nats and Braves both are balanced and powerful squads. They’ll be battling for playoffs in most proper and entertaining fashion, Blog will wager.
Atlanta Braves - Julio Teheran isn’t hurt. Ervin Santana isn’t hurt. Alex Wood isn’t hurt. Evan Gattis is a baby giant. The baby giant isn’t hurt. The Upton Boys aren’t hurt. Freddie Freeman isn’t hurt. Can they get just a skootch of consistency from rotation back-ender “Sweaty” Freddy Garcia? Playoffs would be no surprise despite some well-publicized injuries and, though Blog thinks Nats are better, division repeat wouldn’t be shocking.
Miami Marlins - So the Fish are excited about additions to their pitching depth including Jacob Turner. Rotation looks maybe passable, Blog supposes, but additions of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Garrett Jones don’t really suggest a fearsome offense that will depart upward from a putrid 2013 attack. They’ll be better. Will they be better enough to stay out of last place? Either way it would be fun to go to park and watch Giancarlo Stanton’s moonshots and Jose Fernandez’s heaters.
New York Mets - Manager Terry Collins says there’s no reason why his team can’t be in mix for a playoff spot. But NYC media has all-but written off 2014 Amazins, citing loss of Matt Harvey. Feels like THE MEDIA might be right. But they might be able to crack the .500 mark and, from there, you never know. Blog likes the Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Chris Young outfield. Can they find a guy to play first base? Lucas Duda is probably a better ballplayer than Ike Davis.
Philadelphia Phillies - They’re going to get award for most spring drama as new skipper Ryne Sandberg tries to put fear of Jesus into clubhouse full of big-butted millionaires. With Cole Hamels hurt (for now) rotation looks middling. Recent addition of A.J. Burnett doesn’t really move the needle. The question that terrifies Phillie fans is: Does Ryan Howard suck? It’s not the hardest thing to envision them cellar-dwelling — and that vision gets clearer if they start making trades to get younger.
Washington Nationals - Matt Williams has ‘em running. And he has legacy third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (a right-handed bat) amenable to starts at first base along with Adam LaRoche (a left-handed bat). Everyone said Nats fleeced Detroit by trading some dudes for Doug Fister but Fister’s health – if it does not improve – may reveal lamb’s rear end pointing the other way. Fister or no Fister, however, Nats looks like second-best team in NL. They’re poised to bounce back from a chokey 2013. Blog’s question, like so many Beltway topics, is fairly academic: Is Danny Espinosa still a Major Leaguer?
Predicted order of finish:
* wild card hunt