NL East Preview
When the dust had settled and the regular season had commensed, the NL East had seen a variety of scenarios played out during season 1. The Pittsburgh Pirates had set the pace with one of the best records in all of baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies had fought through a management change mid-season and clawed their way to the final Wild Card spot. The New York Mets had a management team that walked out on them mid-season, and the Washington Nationals were tied with the worst record in Baseball. It was a season full of ups and downs. With Season 1 now in the rear view mirror, we shift our attention towards the horizon. This is our Season 2 preview of the MLB's NL EAST!
1. Pittsburgh Pirates (110-52)
Key Additions: Eugene Beckham FA (34 SV, 4.04 ERA), Andy Donnelly (3-5, 4.39 ERA)
Key Losses: Barry Yearwood (.297 BA, 25 HR, 98 RBI)
Dont expect much fall off from a team that won 110 games last season. They return All Star pitcher and Cy Young candidate Hugh Downs (20-4, 2.73 ERA) to a starting core that went 58-23 last season. Their team 3.37 ERA was third best as was their 1.27 WHIP total.
Offensively, there will be some big shoes to fill in the absence of Barry Yearwood. At this point, the Pirates have elected to go with Julio Gimenez in that spot but dont be surprised if they elect to make a change at some point this season. Gimenez isnt capable of Yearwoods offensive production and with the team losing 20+ HR's and 98 RBI's, they will possibly be looking to address that shortfall.
Outlook: Expect to see this team finish in the neighborhood of 90-100 Wins. They shouldnt have a problem contending for the division crown!
2. Philadelphia Phillies (89-73, Wildcard)
Key Additions: Mat Jurjenns (17 HR, 67 RBI, .273 AVG)
Key Losses: Edgar Castillo (41 HR, 114 RBI, .333 AVG)
The Phillies went through a considerable amount of ups and downs last season ranging from a management change midway through the season to fighting their tails off to snag that 6th and final playoff spot. New GM FWkekionga really brought in a stable front office attitude and the team responded well playing dynamite baseball down the stretch and snagging the final wild card spot. Although a sweep would follow in the first round of the playoffs by the Brewers, the early foundations were laid for this team to be succesful for the next couple of seasons and possibly longer.
Offensively, the Phils took a considerable gamble parting ways with Edgar Castillo. Castillo (NL All-Star & Silver Slugger) heads to division rival Washington. In return, the Phils bring in prospect & starter Willie Shuey. Shuey pitched 23 games last season for the Nats compiling a 2-13 record. Although the record is attrocious, he showed great promise. Shuey will start the year at AAA and with some solid coaching, shouldbe a great pitcher for years to come.
Outlook: These guys are primed for a run at the division. If they can somehow find the offense they lost with Castillos departure, they could be a lock for the playoffs again this season.
3. Washington Nationals (47-115)
Key Additions: John Jung (15 HR, 75 RBI) Edgar Castillo (41 HR, 114 RBI, .333 AVG) Pepper Hayes (5-11, 4.43 ERA)
Key Losses: Fritz Gray (4-6, 6.40 ERA) Willie Shuey (2-13, 4.31 ERA)
The Nationals tried there very best over the winter to put the pains of last season behind them. In a flurry of offseason moves, the Nats saw 8 players head out the door and 9 players come in. Gone are prospects Fritz Gray (Seattle) and Willie Shuey (Philly). However, some imressive prospects (John Jung, Hiram Sierra, Juan Morales) have joined the club as well as some verteran pitchers that should see this team drastically improve upon their league leading 115 losses from Season 1.
Offensively, this team has taken two giant steps forward. The Nats were dead last in runs scored (580) and home runs (101) last season. Those numbers are immediately improved on by Castillo and Jung. The pitching should also be consdierably better from last season with the addition of Pepper Hayes as well as Matt Mitchell and Steve McConnell. The rotation last season was essentially a major league rotation made up of minor leaguers.
The Outlook: The improved pitching staff should be good enough to add another 15 wins and with the improvments to the offense, id expect another 15 wins. At the end of the season, I would not be surprised to see this team standing at .500 although 5-7 games below .500 would be more likely. Overall, its a vast improvement from the team we saw at this time last season.
4. New York Mets (80-82)
Key Additions: Bo Barrett (2-13, 6.81 ERA) Dan Cummings (6-0, 4.71 ERA)
Key Losses: Louis Roosevelt (5 HR, 36 RBI)
As the division rival Phillies did, the Mets had their own adversity to fight through last season. With a manager that essentially quit on them half way through the season, there was quite a bit of a mess to cleanup for new GM Foxspor54. When he took his spot in the front office this winter, he didnt rest on his laurels. Although they didnt make any trades, they did acquire some fresh faces via the Rule 5 Draft and Free Agency.
The Mets bolstered their pitching staff with the additions of Bo Barrett and Dan Cummings through free agency. Neither are world beaters but they should provide the club with some much needed depth out of the pen. They also added Trot Mattingly through the Rule 5 draft. Mattingly is a young pitcher with some solid upside. He was a great pickup for Foxspor54 and should be a big help this season.
The Outlook: The table certainly isnt set for any type of playoff run. With the additions that their Divisional counterparts made, the Mets could easily become the punching bag of the east. They should be good enough, when all is said and done, to equal their 80-82 output from last season but with a couple of injuries or just downright poor play, things could get bad fast.