Sunday, February 7, 2016

Season 33 NL East Preview

Nationals: WS or bust...Mets, Pirates on the way up...Phillies' new GM plots a long-term course

Washington D.C. Nationals
Season 32:  105-57
GM:  chase39

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses: Led the NL in runs, hits, doubles, HR's and walks behind great campaigns from C Willie Samuel (.316/35/96), 1B Tony Diaz (.283/29/104), 3B Pat Lincoln (.296/22/71), and the best player nobody ever heard of, LF Chris Petkovsek (.313/27/100).  Pitching was not as dominant but very good - team ERA of 3.32 was 5th in NL but only 2/10ths off league-leading Atlanta.  Setup man Adalberto Cervantes probably would've been the closer on any other team...instead he quietly had one of the best seasons by a reliever in recent years:  1.75 ERA in 92 IP, .82 Whip, 5.03 OPS-against.  No weaknesses here.

Addressed In Offseason:  Didn't really have to address anything.  Just sat back and said "Come and get me if you can" to the rest of the division.

New York Mets
Season 32: 91-71
GM: overeasy

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses:  The Mets are back after 6 long years in rebuild-ville.  The superstar core is in place:  SP Ruben Ozuna won his first (of undoubtedly many) CY's; rookies Ricardo Pena (.897) and Cecil Bonilla (.869 OPS) probably had slightly disappointing years but will be fixtures on the MVP ballot for the next decade.  There are needs - a catcher with oomph, a defensive whiz SS to anchor the defense, and a bullpen star come to mind - but the skimpy $30MM ML salary will allow lots of additions.

Addressed In Offseason:  Opted for a defensive C (Albert Gongorra) who can go deep on occasion but not much else and bringing back SS Pedro Ayala.  Will get an early-season boost from the farm system in the form of Dante Day (Sea 30 #2) and possibly 3B/RF Ramiro Arias (Sea 29 IFA).

Pittsburgh Pirates
Season 32:  82-80
GM:  blanch13

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses:  Best farm system in Major Leagues started paying off with 1-2 ROY finish by RP Ernesto Johnson and C Benito Torres, while 6 ML prospects matured in AAA.  SP Milton Watson finally put together a full season, and SS Julio Rojas took home his 2nd straight GG.  Need power, lefty bats and a much deeper staff behind Watson and Johnson.

Addressed In Offseason:  Signed A lefty bat to play 1B (Eddie Hamels), but the bulk of the help will come from 6 rookie promotions on Opening Day (Brinson, Martin) or 20 games in (Esposito, Hollins, Baerga, Grichuk).

Philadelphia Phillies
Season 32:  77-85
GM: tk21775

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses:  Struggled to score runs (612) behind very good pitching (3.58 ERA).  The Esposito/Fister catching duo launched 45 longballs, and 1B Yang (.297/32/86) had his 2nd straight solid year.  SP Alvin Phillips (10-10, 3.16) did his usual thing and got a lot of help all the way down the staff. With $51MM committed at the ML level, there's certainly cap room to add some hitting.  Or will new GM tk21775, looking up at the dominant Nats and resurgent Mets and Pirates, invest in the farm for a year or 2?

Addressed In Offseason:

Traded SP Doug Mateo to MIL for 2 career minor leaguers.  Signed P's Eddie Michaels, Steve Davenport, Fritz Miles and Benito Acosta; shortstops Otis Simmons and Allen Lincoln; and OF Yuuta Abe.  Season 30's #6 pick, Karl Floyd, could also get an early call if the offense sputters.

from tk21775: Not much to say on my team, added some decent pitching (all offers in free agency have a mutual option for last season of contract) and will switch a few players around position wise to shore up the defense a little. Tried to make a splash in free agency but hitters were going for more than I wanted to shell out first season. Looking forward to the blog, like the free agency updates

Division Outlook

The Nats are about as complete a team as you'll ever see; they'll win the division again but not without a fight.  The Mets and Pirates are on the way up but not to D.C.'s level yet.  I see the Mets being one of the leaders in a brutal fight for the wild card berths (3 from the East, 2 from the South and 1 from the West).   Pittsburgh should have a pretty decent shot at one of those wild cards and Philly an outside shot.

Awards Watch:

There's loads of talent here and many potential award-winners.  By team...

D.C.:  Samuel could win an MVP if C's ever got nominated, but he'll probably have to hit .350 to get a nomination.  Benevente, Velazquez and Spruill could all contend for the CY.

New York:  Last year's rookies, Bonilla and Pena, are legit MVP talents.  Ruben Ozuna, last year's CY winner, will probably be on the ballot for the next 15 years. And Dante Day could well figure into the ROY race.

Pittsburgh: Milton Watson, fully recovered from the Season 30 injury, could be a Cy Young factor.  Look for Robert Esposito and Tony Baerga in the ROY race.

Philadelphia:  With good run support, Alvin Phillips might get just enough innings to get CY consideration.

No comments: