Saturday, March 1, 2008

'08 RAPs: Final NL East Rundowns and Predictions

After covering the Mets, Phillies, Braves, Nationals, and Marlins this past week, it is finally time to make my final predictions. But first, let's break down the division by pitching and offense. By the way, I'm doing my best to not be biased against the Phillies in this post.

5. Marlins:
With Josh Johnson still injured, Dontrelle Willis now gone, and no real help brought in, the Marlins are in horrible shape. Unless Scott Olsen finally reaches his potential, their rotaiton will be centered around Sergio Mitre and former first round pick, Andrew Miller.
The bullpen is decent, even with the fact that Kevin Gregg is the closer. Then again, Gregg is the highest paid player on the Marlins at a hefty $2 million. I'm personally a big fan of former Mets prospect, Henry Owens, if he can stay healthy. Look for the pen to be about 12th or 13th in the NL.
4. Nationals:
Jim Bowden made tremendous strides with this franchise in the off-season. This rotation could be league average if John Patterson and/or Odalis Perez pitch to close to their full potential. I've liked Tyler Clippard ever since he beat John Maine in the Subway Series last year. He could, in my mind, win 10 games if he wins the fifth starter job in spring this year.
Then there's the Nationals bullpen. The Nationals have two of the best NL relievers in Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero. Behind them they should have a returning Luis Ayala. Also they have above average relievers in Ryan Wagner and Saul Rivera to round out the pen.
3. Phillies:
The Phillies have a somewhat decent rotation. They have Cole Hamels and Brett Myers fronting the rotation, giving them an above average one-two punch. Then they have Takeru Kobayashi...err, I mean Kyle Kendrick (who was 'traded' for Kobayashi), who had a good year last season, but is anything but proven. In the fourth spot, there's 45 year-old Jaime Moyer,who at any time during the season could turn to dust and become part of the Citizen's Bank Park mound. The fifth spot belongs to Adam Eaton who could be the difference maker in whether the Phillies will have a top-ten rotation in the NL.
The pen is the definition of questionable. The only two relievers who could be counted on are Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero (I'm being generous with Romero). With Lidge hurt and Gordon really old, the closer and set-up spot is taking a huge hit. The Phillies would've been better off keeping Myers in the pen and signing Kyle Lohse.
2. Braves:
The Braves have a solid rotation, headed by Tim Hudson and John Smoltz. Glavine will add some depth to this rotation. Remember, Glavine was considered by many to be the best pitcher in the Mets rotation last year. The real thing that could establish this as a great rotation would be the return of Mike Hampton to old form. If Hampton pitches well, the Braves could win the Wild Card.
The Braves pen is, in my mind, not to be counted on. With Mike Gonzalez out, Rafeal Soriano will be the closer. Remember, the Mariners believed that Soriano was bad enough to trade him for Horacio Ramirez, so he could very well be horrible this year. Peter Moylan had a great year last year, but hard-throwers with a funky motion (i.e. Dontrelle Willis) usually get figured out by their division, and thus struggle.
1. Mets:
The Mets rotation is headed by two Cy-Young winners; one is the best pitcher in baseball, and the other is, apparently, in the best shape of his life. Those two are followed up by two of the most promising young pitchers in John Maine and Oliver Perez, who each won 15 games last year. While El Duque can't be counted on in the fifth spot, Mike Pelfrey showed us that he could be pretty good, at the end pf last year.
The Mets pen is all-around solid and well rounded. However, if Duaner Sanchez returns to his 2006 form, the Mets will, without a doubt have the best bullpen in baseball.
5. Nationals:
The Nats have a very young team filled with a promising young outfield. However, unless Nick Johnson returns to his Yankee form, the Nats offense will probably be below average.
4. Marlins:
The Marlins offense is weak depth wise. However, with Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla at the top, it was hard to rank them worse than Washington. Plus, I believe Mike Jacobs could be a good hitter, possibly a 30-homer-a-year guy.
3. Mets:
The Mets offense is not as good as most think. Yes they have, in my mind, two of the top five players in baseball (Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran), plus Silver Slugger winner, David Wright; however, with Delgado not the Carlos Delgado of old, there is no real stabilizing force at the bottom of the lineup.
2. Phillies:
The only reason the Phillies are ahead of the Mets is the fact that Pat Burrell is, right now, a better hitter than Carlos Delgado. I would never take Rollins/Howard/Utley over Reyes/Beltran/Wright even though I'd give Utley the edge over Wright.
1. Braves
This is a pick that I can see a lot of people disagreeing with. Even with Andruw Jones gone, the Braves lineup is very strong. Chipper and Teixeira give the Braves the strongest middle of the lineup, outside of Boston and Detroit. Also they're protected by Brian McCann. Jeff Francoer is a future star in my eyes; however, I don't see the same potential in Kelly Johnson or Yunel Escobar. Still, I like the depth in the Braves' lineup the most.

Final Predictions:
1. New York Mets (101-61)
2. Philadelphia Phillies (88-74)
3. Atlanta Braves (86-76)
4. Washington Nationals (70-92)
5. Florida Marlins (67-95)

Division MVP: Carlos Beltran- Unlike Jimmy Rollins last year, Carlos Beltran will actually deserve to win the NL MVP this year. The more aggressive attitude Beltran has shown, if it transfers to the field, will lead to the best offensive season in Mets history. I was getting sick of Beltran's passive approach at the plate (remember the Wainright thing), I can't wait to see Beltran crushing homers on 3-0 counts.
Runner Up: Duaner Sanchez

Divisional CY-Young: Johan Santana- Who else? I still cannot wait for Santana to come over to the NL and dominate. While I believe that John Maine will also win 20 games, Santana winning 20 games is pretty much a lock.
Runner Up: John Maine

Tomorrow I will start the AL East RAPs.


Anonymous said...

Looks like your theory has been "crashed" to pieces. Mets have more injured players than regulars. Not their year.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. You ranked the Braves 1st in Offense and second in pitching but have them finishing third? What's up with that?

Chris Goudoras said...

I have the Braves finishing in third due to two major factors. One is the fact that Chipper Jones, although he is a great hitter, gets injured every year. More importantly, I do not like the Braves' pen at all. In fact, I believe they could repeat two years ago and blow 20 out of 40 saves; if not, possibly more!

Anonymous said...

At the person who posted the first comment:
You don't know what you're talking about. The only players injured are Ryan Church (Chavez is a more than capable replacement), who will only be out for a week or two, Carlos Delgado (who Chris clearly said he wasn't counting on this year), Marlon Anderson (one of many left handed bats on the Mets [Gotay, Chavez, Valentin, ect.]), and El Duque, who Pelfrey could easily replace. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't mind seeing Jon Niese (who looked like a stud yesterday) make the jump to the majors for a few weeks until Duque's foot heals.

- Billy the kid

Anonymous said...

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Justin said...

His Chris,

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Justin (JuTMSY4)

Chris Goudoras said...

Thanks Justin. It feels great to have somebody appreciate your writing. I'll definately look into that!