|A Look at the National League East||| Print |||Send|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 13, 2007
For years, the eventual division champion in the National League East stopped playing serious baseball in mid-September. Last season was more of the same, with the exception of the cast. The New York Mets dethroned the Atlanta Braves atop the NL East and cruised to an easy postseason berth. Winning the division promises to be a little more difficult this year. Jimmy Rollins, a shortstop with the Philadelphia Phillies, proclaimed his team was the one to beat a few weeks ago. A shrewd trade for Freddy Garcia this offseason makes his words seem true. The Florida Marlins’ rebuilding program is way ahead of schedule, while the Braves are looking strong with a pair of new arms at the end of games.
The Cause for Concern: There are a lot of questions revolving around the pitching staff. Tim Hudson spent the offseason following his old offseason program, which might help him re-gain the velocity and stamina he lost over the previous two years. Mike Hampton is coming back from Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched in 18 months. Both Kyle Davies and Chuck James are young pitchers, and those types of players are extremely unpredictable.
Prediction: First place, with 94 wins
The Cause for Concern: While there’s a lot to admire on the Phillies’ pitching staff, it’s difficult to find much to like about their bullpen. Tom Gordon, 39 this upcoming season, got hit by injuries late last year, missing a month with a shoulder strain. If that happens again, there really isn’t anyone else to go to.
Prediction: Second place, with 91 wins
New York Mets
The Cause for Concern: When constructing his team, General Manager Omar Minaya must have not remembered the phrase about pitching winning champions. Going into next season, Minaya’s rotation consists of the venerable Tom Glavine, the ancient Orlando Hernandez, and reclamation projects named Aaron Sele, Chan Ho Park, Oliver Perez, Dave Williams, and Jorge Sosa.
Prediction: Third place, with 90 wins
The Cause for Concern: Youth, however, has its drawbacks. A percentage of players experience a decline in their second seasons, whether caused by a backing off of offseason workouts or opposing players making the proper adjustments. Dan Uggla, in particular, is someone to keep an eye on. The second baseman somehow set a career high (including minor league statistics) in home runs and struck out 2.56 times for every walk.
Prediction: Fourth place, with 80 wins
The Cause for Concern: General Manager Jim Bowden assembled a pitching staff that would make a Triple A team cringe. John Patterson is the ace, but he’s never won more than 10 games in one year. From there, it gets worse. The remaining candidates for the starting rotation are journeymen who couldn’t hold down even the lowliest job with their former teams: Tim Redding (Astros), Colby Lewis (Rangers), Jason Simontacchi (Cardinals), Mike Bacsik (Mets), and Brandon Claussen (Reds).Prediction: Fifth place, with 65 wins