Baseball 2015: NL East outlook

NL East: With the rest of the NL East in transition, the Washington Nationals may have the easiest path of anyone to a division title this year. The focus in D.C. is on the postseason.

By Greg DePalma, PSN Executive Producer

 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

PREDICTION: 1st. FUTURES: 6-1.

MANAGEMENT: GM Mike Rizzo, manager Matt Williams.

2014 RECORD: 96-66 (1st).

NEW FACES: SP Max Scherzer, RP Casey Janssen, 2B Yunel Escobar, 2B Dan Uggla.

KEY INJURIES: OF Denard Span (pelvis/May).

FANTASY SLEEPERS: OF Michael Taylor.

ANALYSIS: It’s all about the postseason for the Nats. They have the easiest path to a division title now that Atlanta and Philadelphia have disappeared. The main goals are to stay healthy and find the right chemistry with players who can perform when it counts. Keep an eye on Taylor in center field. If he plays well by the time Span is healthy, don’t be surprised if the Nats deal Span for some pitching depth.

FUTURE INVESTMENT: No way at 6-1.

 

NEW YORK METS

PREDICTION: 2nd. FUTURES: 33-1.

MANAGEMENT: GM Sandy Alderson, manager Terry Collins.

2014 RECORD: 79-83 (2nd).

NEW FACES: RP Jerry Blevins, OF John Mayberry Jr., OF Michael Cuddyer.

KEY INJURIES: RP Josh Edgin (elbow/season), RP Bobby Parnell (elbow/May), SP Zach Wheeler (elbow/season).

FANTASY SLEEPERS: OF Curtis Granderson, SS Matt Reynolds, SP Rafael Montero.

ANALYSIS: The Mets and the Marlins are in similar situations heading into the season. Both teams are 33-1 and both have their staff ace returning from Tommy John surgery. The big difference is that the Mets will have ace Matt Harvey available from the start and that’s the main reason they should finish ahead of Miami.

FUTURE INVESTMENT: The Mets will finish over .500 for the first time in six seasons, but unless they add some more talent by the deadline, they’ll have a hard time making the playoffs for the first time since 2006. We’ll pass for now.

 

MIAMI MARLINS

PREDICTION: 3rd. FUTURES: 33-1.

MANAGEMENT: GM Dan Jennings, manager Mike Redmond.

2014 RECORD: 77-85 (4th).

NEW FACES: OF Ichiro Suzuki, 3B Martin Prado, SP David Phelps, 1B Michael Morse, SP Mat Latos, 2B Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren, RP Aaron Crow.

KEY INJURIES: SP Jose Fernandez (elbow/June), RP Aaron Crow (elbow/season).

FANTASY SLEEPERS: SP Jared Cosart, 1B Michael Morse.

ANALYSIS: The plan is simple. Remain in the race until ace Jose Fernandez returns by midseason. Without Fernandez the Marlins are a below average team, but with him they are a true playoff contender. The offense is going to be dangerous with the addition of Morse and Gordon to along with a top-notch outfield led by $300 million man Giancarlo Stanton. The bullpen has one of the game’s most underrated closers in Steve Cishek.

FUTURE INVESTMENT: I see no reason to take them until Fernandez returns because by then, it could be too late. The Marlins might be a year away, but unlike past regimes they are here to stay.

 

ATLANTA BRAVES

PREDICTION: 4th. FUTURES: 66-1.

MANAGEMENT: GM John Hart, manager Fredi Gonzalez.

2014 RECORD: 79-83 (2nd).

NEW FACES: SP Trevor Cahill, OF Eric Young Jr., SP Eric Stults, OF Jonny Gomes, RP Jason Grilli, INF Alberto Callaspo,; OF Nick Markakis, 2B Jace Peterson, 2B Pedro Ciriaco, RP Jim Johnson, RP Arodys Vizcaino, OF Carlos Quentin, OF Cameron Maybin.

KEY INJURIES: SP Mike Minor (shoulder/May).

FANTASY SLEEPERS: 2B Jace Peterson, 3B Chris Johnson.

ANALYSIS: How the mighty have fallen. New president of baseball operations John Hart has decided to begin a major rebuild job after trading away Justin Upton, Melvin Upton, Evan Gattis and Jason Heyward from a struggling offense, elite closer Craig Kimbrel and passing on re-signing SP Ervin Santana. The next move for Hart is to find a good manager.

FUTURE INVESTMENT: No.

 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

PREDICTION: 5th. FUTURES: 150-1.

MANAGEMENT: GM Ruben Amaro Jr., manager Ryne Sandberg.

2014 RECORD: 73-89 (5th).

NEW FACES: SP Aaron Harang.

KEY INJURIES: SP Cliff Lee (elbow/season).

FANTASY SLEEPERS: SP David Buchanon.

ANALYSIS: Can someone explain to me how Ruben Amaro Jr. has kept his job? This will be the worst team in baseball after they trade Cole Hamels away. They could be the worst team with him, too. There just isn’t a thing interesting or exciting about this team and that’s on Amaro.

FUTURE INVESTMENT: No.

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