MMO 2015 Season Preview: National League East

matt harvey

Philadelphia Phillies – 5th Place

Key additions: Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley and Jeff Francoeur

Key subtractions: Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, Kyle Kendrick, and A.J. Burnett

Nobody’s failure makes me smile more than this team. To see Ruin Tomorrow Jr’s efforts here really have been a thing of beauty. Their most valuable commodity, Cole Hamels is still a member of this inevitable last place team. What are they waiting for?

This team is going nowhere, and they have a young arm. The only way this can get worse for Philadelphia is if Hamels goes down with an injury before they trade him. Mark my words, if Hamels does get hurt in a Phillies uniform, Tomorrow Jr will start to pack his bags.

The mere fact that Jonathan Papelbon is still on this roster is a huge failure in my mind. The guy couldn’t have been more clear that he wanted out, teams need a closer and they couldn’t get rid of him. Likely because of unrealistic demands.

Overall, for this team it’s all about whether they can dump players like Hamels, Howard, Utley, Papelbon and a few others onto others and what they get in return.

Their window has been slammed shut and yes, I’m gloating.

Atlanta Braves – 4th Place

Key additions: Shelby Miller, Nick Markakis, Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson, A.J. Pierzynski, Alberto Callaspo, Jace Peterson, Jonny Gomes, Eric Young Jr. and Manny Banuelos

Key subtractions: Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Emilio Bonacio, Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang, Jordan Walden, David Carpenter, and David Hale, Craig Kimbrel, Melvin Upton Jr.

Atlanta’s complete overhaul is quite interesting. I do believe Heyward is a player you build around, not trade away but I also understand why they felt they had to make the move.

I think a few Braves fans are buying into Eric Young Jr a little too much. He isn’t an everyday player, so if he is penciled in as one, then you have a problem.

Let’s talk about the good for a second. They have developed an infield core that showcases Christian Bethancourt, Freddie Freeman, and Andrelton Simmons. If Bethancourt can prove to be what Atlanta fans believe he can be, then the Braves have a very young, very capable infield core built.

Julio Teheran and Mike Wood together make up a 1-2 that could develop into a Harvey-deGrom kind of 1-2. Wood needs to prove it, Teheran needs to build on a great 2014.

If Shelby Miller can put together a consistent season and Wood puts together a true #2 like year, then Atlanta could be peskier than we think.

I love the addition of Trevor Cahill. I think he can be one of those guys who just finds his way back thanks to pitching in Atlanta.

The Braves had the most dominant relief pitcher in the game right now. They gave him away on Opening Night, and I think that is a sign that this team is rebuilding, and not retooling like they said.

I did think they were a 3rd place team, but after the Kimbrel deal I am pegging them officially as the 4th place team. The deal makes this franchise appear like they have no interest in winning, so why should I predict them to do so?

Miami Marlins – 3rd Place

Key additions: Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Mat Latos, Michael Morse, Martin Prado, Aaron Crow, and David Phelps

Key subtractions: Andrew Heaney, Nathan Eovaldi, Anthony DeSclafani, Garrett Jones, and Casey McGehee

Miami is a popular pick this year, and I find it fascinating because usually the people who are in love with Miami use the fact that Jose Fernandez comes back in June to their advantage. No big deal right?

How many of those same people question whether Matt Harvey can return to his 2013-self? Probably most.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Giancarlo Stanton is drool worthy. He’s offensive talent in the NL, and if Mike Trout didn’t exist – I’d say he’s the best offensive talent in the sport.

I view Dee Gordon as Emilio Bonifacio 2.0. He’s a player with excellent speed that can’t get on base enough to utilize that speed and to top it off, strikes out a lot.

There is likely some concern from Marlins fans over the fact Mat Latos has not been able to throw as hard as he once did. I like Latos, but if his velocity is dropping, then that should scare Marlins fans.

Morse is a great bench player, the Marlins need him to be an every day 1B.

If the Marlins can hang in there until Fernandez returns then it will be a very fun summer for Marlins fans. Still, I am just not too sure they have the talent and depth right now.

I think they’ll be competitive, I just think 80 wins is their ceiling probably.

NY Mets – 2nd Place

Key additions: Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Torres, and John Mayberry Jr

Key subtractions: Zack Wheeler due to injury

I’m trying not to be a homer here, I honestly do feel like they have the 2nd best team in this division. Of course, they need to put it all together over 162 games.

I think the addition of Cuddyer is going to be a huge positive for the Mets. I think the things we won’t see (as in behind closed doors) will make a huge difference in this team’s attitude and effort on the field.

I’m also really intrigued by Kevin Long. I’ve never been one to say a hitting coach makes a huge difference, but if you watched the same Spring Training as I, then you saw something different compared to years past.

The rotation is going to give us a reason to watch every game. Yes, even on Bartolo days.

I believe they have a top 5 rotation, and yes while we will all probably hold our breath every time Harvey pitches, they will be a ton of fun to watch.

The bullpen worries me a little, but I don’t want to underestimate Mejia and Familia either. I think if the Mets can tread water, more bullpen arms will become available throughout the year.

I’m not totally sure that this is a playoff team, but I am sure it will be an enjoyable season to watch all year. We deserve that.

Washington Nationals – 1st Place

Key additions: Max Scherzer, Casey Janssen, and Yunel Escobar

Key subtractions: Adam LaRoche, Tyler Clippard, Steven Souza, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ross Detwiler, and Rafael Soriano

The two players I hated seeing the most from Washington were Adam LaRoche and Tyler Clippard. LaRoche has a .845 OPS against the Mets, and take Clippard’s 1.00 WHIP in in 51 appearances with you too.

You can’t ignore the addition of Scherzer. I think long term that will be a problem for Washington, but I think for right now it makes them nasty 1-4.

This team has such high expectations, again – and it seems like it’s World Series or bust for the Nats.

So why won’t they get there?

Easy answer is, their bullpen. Drew Storen has proven that he cannot close out the big game. Overall, I’d say their bullpen is just okay and while they have enough talent to win the division, they don’t have enough to win the pennant.

NL East MVP: Giancarlo Stanton. Best player in the division, on a team that will at least be competitive.

NL East Cy Young: I’m not positive but I think if I don’t pick Matt Harvey, I get hate mail.

NL East Sleeper: Wouldn’t it be great if this turns out to be a guy like Syndergaard?  Does Alex Wood count? If he does, take him – if he doesn’t, then take Wilmer Flores and throw a party.

bryce harper

XtreemIcon’s Picks

5th Place – Philadelphia Phillies

I had the Rays drafting first overall in 2016, but I had forgotten about the Phillies. They’ll be the only team to lose 100 games.

4th Place – Atlanta Braves

They said they were retooling and not rebuilding, and I think that’s accurate. They sold a lot of payroll, but got back good, intriguing young pieces to go along with the cost controlled pieces they kept, including Freeman, Simmons, Bethancourt, Tehran, Wood and Miller. That’s more than half of a really good infield and three top starters. Jose Peraza will fill the void at second base nicely very soon and the farm system is lousy with arms. They’ll be heard from again real soon.

3rd Place – Florida Marlins

I’m not buying into the hype. Will they be better? Maybe. They won 77 games last season, so I’d think they couldn’t get much worse because I don’t honestly think they’re terrible. Before the Padres paid $27 million for a closer, I thought the Marlins swung the worst trade of the off season, sending Andrew Heaney to the Dodgers for Gordon. He’s lightning fast and has legit game-changing speed, but he’s not a good hitter and won’t get on base nearly as much as he’d need as needed to turn that speed into a weapon. That speed also makes his defense overrated, as people often confuse speed with range. I’m also not a fan of Marcell Ozuna’s approach and feel he’s going to suffer a big time power regression now that pitchers know he’s likely to swing at anything. And since his hit tool and plate discipline suffer as it is, he’s not going to offer as much in the middle of the lineup as the Marlins need. I love Stanton and Yelich as players and think Adeiny Hechavarria is a great defensive shortstop. I also like Henderson Alvarez to take a nice step forward. But in order for the Marlins to make any noise, they have to overachieve while Fernandez is out and hope he comes back no worse than 85% of his 2013 self. There’s not one other pitcher behind Alvarez I have any faith in. I just don’t see it from the Marlins this season.

2nd Place – New York Mets

This is a Mets site, so we all know the deal. I think it says a lot about the talent and depth of this organization to lose a starter the caliber of Wheeler and a reliever as important as Edgin and still be expected (by the “experts”) to win roughly 85 games and compete for a playoff spot. Some actually have the Mets grabbing a Wild Card. I do, too. I think they’re more talented and (maybe more importantly) deeper than the Marlins, Giants, Padres and Cubs.

1st Place – Washington Nationals

They’re better than the Mets, yes, but what if I told you the Mets would finish closer to the Nationals than they will the Marlins. To be better than they were last season, the Nats need Scherzer to outpitch a 2.85/3.47/3.84 pitcher slash (ERA/FIP/xFIP) well enough to also overcome a huge bat they didn’t replace (LaRoche) and one of the best relievers in the game (Clippard). Not to mention the three of their top five hitters will be starting the season on the DL. They’ll win 92-93 games, but will fight the Mets for the division pretty closely until the end of September. But if one more guy gets hurt or the law firm of Span, Werth and Rendon don’t recover as quickly as expected, there could be serious problems, as the Nats have very little depth.

NL East MVP: Bryce Harper. The kid’s a two-time all star and we still haven’t seen what he can do.

NL East Cy Young: Harvey’s better.

NL East Sleeper: Mets fans know this division inside and out. How can someone fly under the radar? I’m going to be lazy and take Harper, because he’s criminally underrated and (jealous) people have actually called him a bust. But if it’s a Met, the Nationals are in serious trouble…


About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.