Tuesday, March 23

2010 MLB Preview: The National League

The 2010 MLB season is about to commence, and as the spring season winds down I want to give you a little preview of what to expect from each League and then what to expect come playoff time and hand out some awards. I will break this up into two or possibly three posts.
Today I am starting with the National League. I have always been an AL guy, as I root for the Red Sox, but since moving to Los Angeles and the decision to play fantasy baseball I have come to know and love the NL too. The NL is represented by the Phillies, who have made it to the World Series the past two seasons, winning once. They also have the Cardinals and the Dodgers, both of which are solid all around teams. So without further ado the preview.
National League East:
1: Phillies (98-64) Like I mentioned earlier the Phillies are coming off a second consecutive World Series appearance and they seem like they should be headed to a third. They are stacked on offense with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of the order. They also have solid pitching in Roy Halladay, which was a huge acquisition in the offseason, and Cole Hamels. They close out games with a nice set-up man and closer tandem in Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Lidge will start the season on the DL and Madson should fill in as closer. If the Phillies were able to withstand the horrible year from Lidge last season and still make the World Series they should be okay.
2: New York Mets (85–77) The Mets were bitten hard and often by the injury bug last season. They suffered through a power outage from David Wright and didn’t live up to expectations for their season. This year they come in with little to no expectations and I expect them to exceed them. The addition of Jason Bay will add some power to the lineup and I think Wright rediscovers his power stroke. They still need some help in the rotation and if Jerry Mejia pitches like a seasoned veteran, and not like a rookie, the Mets will surprise some people.
3: Florida Marlins (82-80) The Marlins have a solid young team. With Hanley Ramirez anchoring their offense and guys like Jorge Cantu, and Dan Uggla, and guys like Rickey Nolasco, and Josh Johnson in the rotation it looks like they have a solid foundation. The only thing is they are still too young. They will try to contend for a second place finish but will ultimately come up short.
4: Atlanta Braves (80-82) The Braves are also a young team in the field. They are not as dominant in the pitching department as they have been in the past, but with guys like Tommy Hanson their fans have something to look forward to. The loss of Javier Vasquez is big as he was the ace of their staff last season and it will be tough to replace him. The addition of Billy Wagner to close out games is huge as he has the ability to be a top 3 closer in baseball and with their rookie stud, Jayson Heyward, they are a year or two away from truly competing for a World Series title.
5: Washington Nationals (70-92) What can you say about the Nationals other than they are a very mediocre team. They have young guns in Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, but they don’t have much else. They aren’t a flashy team and don’t expect them to do anything this season.
National League Central:
1: St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) They have Albert Pujols and Matt Hilliday. They have Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. They have a solid foundation on offense and pitching. They have a solid closer in Ryan Franklin. This is a weak division, maybe the weakest in baseball, and they should have no issue with winning it as long as they stay healthy. There is already talk of Pujols having a bad back.
2: Chicago Cubs (86-76) The Cubs got rid of a basket case in Milton Bradley and replaced him with Marlon Byrd. It was a good addition, but they didn’t do much else. They have a weak rotation with Ted Lilly already being injured. It will be tough to beat out the Cardinals, but they do have a chance.
3: Cincinnati Reds (81-81) I think they have a respectable .500 season. Aroldis Chapman looks like a stud who can win 15 games. They have solid offense in Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Bruce, while he does strikeout a ton, has a ton of power and can hit the ball hard to all fields. Votto, who is coming off a season in which he put up great numbers while spending time on the DL for an inner ear infection and then depression looks like he can have an even better season than last. Look for them to make a hard push towards the top of the division but the ultimately fall short of a crown.
4: Milwaukee Brewers (78-84) They have a power guy in Prince Fielder, but nothing much beyond that. They lost JJ Hardy, who I think it going to have a tremendous bounce back year, and replaced him with Alcides Escobar who will have a good shot at rookie of the year. But that won’t be enough to make a dent in the standings.
5: Houston Astros (70-92) The Astros lost their closer, and replaced him with two guys who the manager is trying to decide on. They are hoping for bounce back years from Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee, and Lance Berkman. However, I don’t think they will all click and lead them to a division title.
6: Pittsburgh Pirates (68-94) They might be the worst team in baseball. They don’t have anyone on their pitching staff who can make a difference and the only guy on offense now is really Andrew McCutchen. They will limp to the finish line of the season and their fans will have to endure another terrible season of baseball. At least the city has all the Ben Roethlisberger issues to read about.
National League West
1: Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68) The Dodgers still have the best team in the West. They have Matt Kemp, Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, and Russell Martin and Furcal should have bounce back years. In the rotation they have Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw who should anchor a staff that will lead the Dodgers into the playoffs. In the bullpen they have Broxton and Sherill, who are both solid relievers. Look for the Dodgers to have no issues when it comes to scoring runs and preserving leads thus enabling them to win the West.
2: Colorado Rockies (89-73) The Rockies had a spectacular year last season. Their pitching was the best it has been in years. They had rookies in Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzales emerge as guys to watch for the future. They also benefited from a bounce back year from Troy Tulowitzki. They have a solid bullpen and they should be able to have a similar year as they did last year.
3: San Diego Padres (79-83) The Padres lead the rest of the West in terms of talent. They have a solid bullpen and good lineup with Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera leading the way. They should be able to improve on their last season.
4: San Francisco Giants (77-85) We all know what the Giants have in their rotation. They have three solid starters that can all win 15 plus games and strikeout a ton of batters. However, it is the rest of the pitching that is worrisome. They also do not have the hitters that other teams in the NL West have. They will struggle to score runs and they will have a hard time outpitching everyone in every game.
5: Arizona Diamondbacks (77-85) They can have a surprisingly good season. They just need everyting to fall into place at the right time. If Webb can come back smoothly and give them a season that he had two years ago that will go a long way towards helping them have an excellent season. They also need Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds to build upon their stellar campaigns last season. Edwin Jackson is a newcomer that can also help tremendously. He had a breakout season in Detroit last year and if he can carry that over to the NL West they DBacks have a good chance at sneaking up on people.

So there you have it. The NL breakdown for the 2010 season. Coming later this week I will breakdown the AL and the playoff race and awards.


Yosef said...

DBacks last place? Come on man!

AZ said...

I am gonna agree with Yosef. Webb is gonna be back, I think that gets them out of last place.