NL East Roundup

An article by posted on March 3, 2009


We begin this week’s look at
the NL East with the team that has had the most tumultuous week, the Washington
Nationals.

Jim Bowden, GM of the
Nationals resigned amid allegations of skimming money from signing bonuses from
Dominican player signings. Stan Kasten, team president will take over on an
interim basis, while the team looks for a permanent replacement. Kasten has prior
GM experience with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks during the 80′s, and has executive
experience with the Atlanta Braves and the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. Kasten has
already talked trades with other teams, and is discussing an extension with
franchise-face Ryan Zimmerman.

Many Nationals fans expect
that assistant GM Mike Rizzo could eventually become the full-time GM. Bowden’s
term as GM will be remembered for everything that went wrong. He locked up $20
million in 2-year deals to Ronnie Bellieard, and Dimitri Young. He failed to
sign last year’s 9th overall pick, pitcher Aaron Crow. He does not
have a good reputation among other GM’s around the league, for example, Kevin
Towers, GM of the San Diego Padres, refused to trade with him. Under
Kasten/Rizzo, the Nats could be expected to improve, but don’t hold your breath
for the the next two years.

The Florida Marlins will be waiting
until Friday for a vote on their proposed new stadium in Miami’s Little Havana
district. The reason for delay is that all of the city commissioners must agree
on the terms of the parking, the regulations, and the naming rights. The city
of Miami would pledge $380 million of the $580 million, 37,000 seat stadium set
to open in 2012. The terms of the stadium agreement, should it pass, include
the team name changing to the Miami Marlins and them residing in the stadium
for 40 years.

In Braves camp, prospects
Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman are tearing it up. Heyward is the 5th
ranked prospect by Baseball America, and Freeman is ranked fifth in the Braves
Organization. Both are gaining acclaim for their hitting ability, especially
Freeman. Freeman is a line-drive hitting 1B, who chokes up on the bat, and has
a compact swing, like Barry Bonds. Expect Heyward to make it to the majors
first, and Freeman to reside in AAA, as the Braves already have a line-drive
hitting 1B in Casey Kotchman. Other top prospects performing well in camp
include SP Tommy Hanson and CF Jordan Schafer.

Phillies ace Cole Hamels is
expected to make his spring debut tomorrow, in an exhibition against Team
Canada. The 5th spot in the rotation is up for grabs between JA Happ
and Carlos Carrasco. Both gave up runs and made mistakes in a spring game
against Toronto yesterday, but Happ appears to be the leader for now. Throughout
the winter, the Phillies have been looking for a right-handed bat with power
off the bench. Names thrown around included Moises Alou and Nomar Garciaparra.
They may have found one internally in OF John Mayberry Jr. Mayberry is the son
of a former Major League player, and is the 63rd ranked prospect by
Scouts.com; he was acquired in a trade from the Texas Rangers in 2007. The
Phillies would prefer to keep him in AAA, but if he continues to hit and they
really need a bat, he could be called up. The first meeting between the
Phillies and the Mets comes on May 1, and if the projected rotations hold, it
would be Hamels vs. Santana/Pelfrey.

Interesting, but useless,
stat: The Mets were the third best road-draw in 2008, trailing only the Boston
Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. What that means is that the home teams that faced
the Mets averaged the third highest attendance, meaning that the only teams
that opposing fans wanted to see more than the Mets were the Cubs and Sox. The
Padres (???) were 4th, and the Yankees 5th.

Till Next Time.

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