|Mid-Season Thoughts: National League East||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on July 24, 2003
What we expected:
1)Philadelphia Phillies: Well, all of the improvements that we thought the Phillies had made have basically been solid with the one exception of David Bell, who we were very dubious about. However, some of the veteran Phillies, most notably Pat Burrell, have just fallen flat and Bobby Abreu who is the team’s best overall hitter is just a stride behind where he was last year. This was supposed to be the Phillies year or at least a preview of what we expected to see with the new stadium next year, and there is still time. If Atlanta’s offense begins to stutter the Phillies should be able to take advantage of it. They are at least serious wildcard contenders.
2) New York Mets: Our consensus going into the season was that there was no way the Mets could be as bad as they were last season. We were wrong. However the firing of Steve Phillips and the Mets acquisitions of top minor league prospects is a very encouraging sign for the future. Perhaps this time they can build a team with a long term potential like the teams of the 80s. It could happen in 2-3 seasons with some smart front office moves. Another bright spot is that it became evident that Bobby Valentine was really not the culprit in the team’s disfunctional play.
3) Atlanta Braves: The Braves have been winning again, but this time they are doing it with smoke, mirrors and John Smoltz. I said that the Braves pitching was considerably worse than last season and the worst they had fielded in the last 10 years and I’ll stand by that - the Braves ERA is 9th in the NL and their WHIP is 10th in the NL. However the offense which has been slumbering the last two seasons has finally awoken and they have been monstrous - tearing apart opposing pitchers lead by Gary Sheffield and Andruw Jones (who finally seems to be realizing the potential we always thought he had.) If the offense can keep it up they can overcome the signing of Mike Hampton and Paul Byrd both of which so far have been major disappointments.
4) Montreal Expos: The wandering minstrels of the baseball world still have a huge amount of potential, but may have had the plug pulled when Vladimir Guerrero went down for the largest portion of the season. Brad Wilkerson has been trying to shoulder the load, but Vlad was the centerpiece of this team. Without him the team just is missing its heart and soul. Even if he comes back tomorrow there just may not be enough time for them to turn it around.
5) Florida Marlins: Coming into this season they were a real dark horse built for this year, but with a lot of question marks and nothing that looked like a serious commitment to winning. They obviously have made the commitment by deciding to keep Mike Lowell and the acquisition of Uggie Urbina. Still many critics are shaking their heads and wondering just what the Marlins really are thinking. Are they serious in believing that they can contend for a wildcard this season? Without another big trade I still think the answer is no.