The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset. If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.
National League East:
Miami Marlins, 5th place
Jeffrey Loria has a lot in common with Danny Ocean, he is a thief. He got a new stadium from the tax payers in Miami, and in return, promised higher payrolls and more competitiveness. The Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Beurhle and Heath Bell a winter ago, and appeared to be the darling of the NL East. Then the plan started backfiring, and they traded Hanley Ramirez before the trade deadline. Then, the fire sale really started when they traded Reyes, Beurhle, and ace pitcher Josh Johnson to Toronto weeks after the season, completing his evil scheme, returning to an embarrassingly low payroll in a beautiful new ball park. Because Loria is a disgrace to Major League Baseball, I will not waste any more time writing about his team, and will pick them to finish dead last in the National League East when the season ends.
New York Mets, 4th place
They’re heading in the right direction. Out of all the current rebuild jobs going on in the league right now, the Mets should see the fruit first. They dealt Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto but got a massive haul of prospects in return. The big league team looks bare, lead by David Wright and only David Wright, but if the prospects pan out, they should be back and running in a few short years. The number one catching prospect in all of baseball, Travis D’Arnaud, who they got in the Dickey deal, should get his first chance at being an everyday catcher at some point in the season, and the hope in the Big Apple is that he is the first arrival of the rest of the cavalry. The rotation will be led by Jonathan Niese and Shawn Marcum, but the Mets don’t have enough to compete in what is arguably the best division in baseball.
Atlanta Braves, 3rd pace
The top three spots in this division could fall in any order. The addition of the Upton brothers, B.J. by free agency and Justin by trade, along with Jason Heyward in the outfield will make the Braves a formidable force at the plate. The rotation could have some more star power, but Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor should provide the Braves a chance to win every five days. In another division, this team may be the one to beat.
Philadelphia Phillies, 2nd place
After a dismal 81-81 season in 2012, the Phillies finally look like they might be healthy enough to regain their throne atop the NL East. A healthy Roy Halladay would go a long way in making that happen, as well as a full season of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, along with Halladay still represent one of the best rotations in all of baseball, but the name of the game for the Phills is health. If they can stay healthy and get a big year from left fielder Dominic Brown, no one will want to see these guys down the stretch.
Washington Nationals, 1st place
And with the blink of an eye, the Nationals went from the first pick overall to division winners and nearly National League champions. The Houston Astros are wondering why there isn’t a Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper in the consecutive years they have had the number one overall pick. The Nats are a power house, lead by Strasburg and Gio Gonzalz on the mound while NL rookie of the year Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Laroche lead the way offensively. They won 98 games in 2012 on their way to their first NL East title as the Nationals, and figure to only be better in 2013 when they don’t have an innings limit on super ace Stephen Strasburg.