When it comes to being bold, this isn’t the division to do it in. Philadelphia deserves to be a top-heavy favorite to bring this one home for the fourth straight year and I see no reason they won’t do it. The only real question will be if the Phils’ bullpen problems allow another team to even make a race of it.
The Mets fell off the pace badly last year, and while a healthier team will make for a better one this time around, they are still well behind their neighboring archrivals. The boys from Queens are too dependent on Johan Santana in the rotation, and with Jose Reyes’ thyroid keeping him on the sideline the firepower isn’t there. They have enough to come in third, but I see Atlanta clocking in second. Having Tommy Hanson on hand from Day One this year will be a big addition and I like the signing of Billy Wagner to close. Melky Cabrera is another quality addition who should see his own numbers improve against National League pitching. The Braves will have be in the mix for the wild-card.
Florida’s got a good club and the East could easily produce four winning teams. For that matter, it’s not difficult for me to imagine the Marlins jumping the Mets for third or even the Braves for second. But I can’t see them pushing the Phillies, and I can’t even see them sneaking in as a wild-card. Second place is only viable for them if this division comes up very weak. Washington’s got more reason for optimism this year, but optimism is all relative, and the Nationals still have to be pegged for the basement.
How far the Phils will go in October and whether the Braves will get in is something we deal with on Sunday in the final post before Opening Night in Fenway.
Tomorrow's the NL Central. And The College Basketball Notebook starts the run-up to the Final Four later today.