A quick reminder: We’re suspending our usual schedule this week in order to participate in the annual UCB Predictions Project. We’ll be back on track next week with our Tuesday edition of Bird Watching (the podcast may or may not go up considering the Easter holiday). Enjoy!
Today is the day we take a look at the National League East. Below are a few hasty predictions cobbled together by a lowly UCB’er. Let’s get started.
1. Washington Nationals: The Nats are another year older and wiser – in terms of “age as a contender” (3AC…yeah…we made it up) – and last year’s defeat at the hands of that dashing, good-lookin’ team from St. Louis injected a dose of hard-earned October experience into a young, well-rounded group of players eager to show they can win it all. In a word, this team is dangerous with a capital D. I see no reason whatsoever to stick them lower than first in the NL East.
2. Atlanta Braves: Again, the list of teams with a grudge against the Cardinals for handing them an early exit in the postseason continues with the chop-happy team from Georgia. McCann will likely miss most if not all of April, but a potent offense and an excellent pitching staff – including the “Best Reliever in the Majors” in Kimbrel – will march this team to contention yet again. Sure, the loss of Chipper in the clubhouse could create some growing pains for a shifting team, but the Upton brothers, Jason Heyward, and a staff led by Tim Hudson will prevail more often than not.
3. Philadelphia Phillies: This team could be the X factor in the NL East. The expected rebound seasons from Utley and Howard will make the entire offense better, but the concerns with Halladay appear to be real and…uh…concerning. If a lot of things go right for a Phillies team playing with a chip on their shoulder, they could make some noise and push the Braves. But honestly…the phrase “a lot of things go right” tends to mean a mediocre season more often than not.
4. New York Mets: The Mets seem to be plagued by injuries to start the season. For a team not expected to contend even with everyone healthy, that’s a bad sign. Combine that with the fact that the Mets have to contend with the Nats, the Braves, and the Phillies in their own division…well…I guess their’s always the Marlins to make everyone else feel better about themselves, eh?
5. Miami Marlins: Ugh. This team has become a laughing stock across Major League Baseball. Loria’s ridiculous approach has alienated more fans than even I thought possible, especially in so short a time. A last place finish in the East is the last thing I would be worried about if I was the Marlins’ front office. At this point, Loria and company should be more concerned about MLB gettin’ involved and giving them the LA Dodgers treatment.
That’ll do it for the East. Check back later for the ever-popular NL Central. And, to read the predictions of the rest of the UCB, CLICK HERE.