Season 37 Recap
The Pirates started slow but eventually came on to win the division for the 3rd time in 4 years, only to lose in the playoffs to the Mets for the 3rd straight year. New York also started slowly, but got hot at the right time and rode Ruben Ozuna (4th Cy Young, 5-1, 2.56 in the playoffs) and Cecil Bonilla (MVP) all the way to the World Championship. Washington D.C. looked unbeatable early, help on for a Wild Card, and lost to Cincy in the play-in round. Philadelphia fell 17 games off its Season 36 win total for 4th place.
Season 38 Preview
With the Pittsburgh franchise officially "up for sale," gm blanch13 mortgaged the future for a 1-or-2 year window by trading 3 top-tier prospects for J.B. Hunter, Chris Petkovsek, Adalberto Cervantes, and Enerio Amaro, and then later dealing for Tony Moya. Yes, they'll be good, but is it enough to get past the younger Mets and the ever-tough Nats?
New York responded by dramatically upgrading CF with Dean Whitfield and bolstering the league's best pitching staff with Garrett Ward and Rodrigo Cortes. This is a remarkably talented team - they have 5 potential Sliver Sluggers in the lineup plus the odds-on favorite for the NL Cy Young. Their only potential flaw is a thin bench, made moreso by the injury to IF Arodys James.
Washington D.C. got younger by moving Petkovsek and Cervantes to the Pirates, and only downgraded a little by getting Leonardo Grimm and Alan Carpenter back. The Otto Little deal vaulted them into the rare "3-aces-in-the-rotation club, which usually makes you a playoff favorite. The problem here is the other 2 members of the club are also in the NL East.
Philadelphia had a very good offseason, adding Shigetoshi Shinjo, Felipe Jose, Miguel Valdez, and Yamil Mercado in free agency; and new regulars Davey Ontiveros and Nestor Bautista in the Whitfield trade. The Phillies will be much-improved this year but are still dealing with the "3-juggernauts-in-the-division" problem.
It's a tough call, but I think the Mets are overall a little more talented than the Pirates. Mets win the division, Pirates get Wild Card 1, Nats get Wild Card 2 in a squeaker over the Cardinals.