Last year’s record/place: 93-69, 1st
Key acquisitions: C Brian Schneider, 3B Placido Polanco, IF Juan Castro, OF Ross Gload, SP Roy Halladay, RP Danys Baez, RP Jose Contreras.
Key losses: 3B Pedro Feliz, OF Matt Stairs, IF Eric Bruntlett, SP Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, SP Brett Myers.
Player to watch: Roy Halladay – When you trade top-tier prospects and let a pitcher like Lee go, all eyes will be on this prize of a pitcher the Phillies acquired. Halladay has dominated the NL his entire career while pitching in the AL. Imagine what a year will do for him in the weak NL East.
Season outlook: It’s very simple for the Phillies: defend their division and NL pennant. The reigning three-time East and two-time NL champions are poised to do so after a lucrative offseason in which they got Halladay, Polanco, and Baez to lead the way of a ton of moves that improved the rotation, already stellar line up, and struggling bull pen and bench. The Phillies should improve upon their excellent 2009 season and find themselves as the heavy favorites to win the World Series.
Last year’s record/place: 86-76, 3rd
Key acquisitions: 1B Troy Glaus, IF Eric Hinske, RP Billy Wagner, RP Takashi Saito.
Key losses: 1B Adam LaRoche, SP Javier Vazquez, RP Rafael Soriano, RP Mike Gonzalez.
Player to watch: Chipper Jones – He’s been the Braves best position player for the past 15 years. He had a down year last year, finally showing signs of aging. But Jones wants to prove there is still plenty left in the tank and will look to bounce back this year. The Braves still rely on him and will need a good year from him to contend for a playoff spot.
Season outlook: The Braves want to send Bobby Cox off with a bang. Winning the division and making a playoff push would certainly do that. They can compete with the Phillies but a Wild Card berth seems to be more plausible. They do have a secret weapon that has frustrated the Phillies in the past: Derek Lowe. Offensively they have some legit weapons in Jones and Brian McCann. One of the players I’m excited to see is rookie Jason Heyward. He’ll start in RF and should give the Braves a new player to be excited about since Jones in 1995.
Last year’s record/place: 87-75, 2nd
Key acquisitions: none.
Key losses: 1B Nick Johnson, OF Ross Gload, P Scott Proctor.
Player to watch: Hanley Ramirez – Ramirez is one of the most exciting young players in the game and it’s shocking Fish fans don’t come out to the park to see him play. He can field, hit for average and with a little power, and can swipe bases with the best of them. If you had to start a franchise with a short stop, it would be Ramirez.
Season outlook: They are that team who always seems to surprise. Like mosquitos, they never go away and are always hungry to win. With a very solid young corps of Ramirez, Cody Ross, and Dan Uggla, the Fish have the ability to give the Phils and Braves some problems. But their inability to make any big moves is what dropped them to third. They were also able to resign Josh Johnson, the team’s ace and one of the best pitchers in the NL. If they can surround him with more pitching talent, the Marlins will be even more dangerous in a couple years.
Last year’s record/place: 70-92, 4th
Key acquisitions: C Rod Barajas, C Chris Coster, LF Jason Bay, , CF Gary Matthews, Jr., RP Josh Fogg, RP Kelvim Escobar.
Key losses: C Brian Schneider, 1B Carlos Delgado, OF Gary Sheffield, SP Oliver Hernandez, RP J.J. Putz.
Player to watch: Jose Reyes – After being injured for over half a season last year, Reyes will look to be healthy and take his spot back among the best short stops in baseball. With an early set-back with a thyroid problem this spring, Mets fans are praying for Reyes to be fine and their team to not be as humiliating as last year’s team.
Season outlook: When healthy the Mets have good players but they aren’t healthy. Reyes is already battling injuries and Carlos Beltran will need to have a bounce-back year. Adding Bay was great offensively for the Mets if he’s healthy. He’s aging, has knee problems, and not that great of a fielder. Johan Santana is still one of the greatest pitchers of our time.
Last year’s record/place: 59-103, 5th
Key acquisitions: C Ivan Rodriguez, IF Eric Bruntlett, SP Chien-Ming Wang, SP Jason Marquis, RP Matt Capps, RP Scott Olsen, RP Tyler Walker.
Key losses: C Josh Bard, IF Dimitri Young, OF Austin Kearns, SP Livan Hernandez.
Player to watch: Stephen Strasburg – Not often you see a pitching prospect as good as Strasburg. Though starting in the minors is a much wiser choice, the last-place Nationals may put him on the opening day roster to put fans in the seats… or will that be because they open the season against the Phillies?
Season outlook: They don’t have much to really look forward to. We know the Nats are a bad team and there’s no need to rub that in. They did that for us by signing Bruntlett. But all kidding aside. Strasburg gives them something to look forward to and build off of in the future. Hopefully he pans out for their sake.