So we’ve looked team by team at the NL East. You may agree or disagree with what we’ve said so far, but this is where we break down the analysis into power rankings. Of course we have our five categories – Offense, Defense, Starting Pitching, Relief Pitching, and Coaching. You may disagree, so feel free to comment and let me know what your thoughts are. And Mets fans, no whining.
#5 – Washington Nationals – The worst offense in the NL East isn’t looking much better this year.
#4 – Florida Marlins – These guys have a long way to go, but they’re not as bad offensively as the Nationals.
#3 – New York Mets – Weak spots in Ryan Church and Bryan Schneider (former Nationals players don’t help this) as well as old blood leave the Mets at #3.
#2 – Atlanta Braves – These guys only have a couple unknowns – everyone else is a proven raker.
#1 – Philadelphia Phillies – Without a doubt, the best offense in the NL East. These guys are #1.
#5 – Florida Marlins – Youth and inexperience leaves these guys down here.
#4 – Washington Nationals – They’re decent, but not great.
#3 – Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies have Gold Glove winner Jimmy Rollins at short stop, but lost Aaron Rowand and haven’t added
#2 – Atlanta Braves – Even with the loss of Andruw Jones, the Braves remain a great defensive team. Francoeur won a Gold Glove and Kotsay is among the best center fielders in the game – Wren says he has a better arm than Jones did.
#1 – New York Mets – Beltran and Wright are Gold Glove winners, and if they make the trade for Santana, he’ll just add to the mix.
#5 – Florida Marlins – these guys are going to be young and struggle a bit. Batting practice, anyone?
#4 – Washington Nationals – they’re not great but they’re not horrible either.
#3 – Philadelphia Phillies – Hamels is the ace of this rotation, and Myers adds some veteran experience, but they aren’t proven all around.
#2 – New York Mets – They can’t rely on the oft-injured Pedro and John Maine to carry this rotation, and Perez is hit and miss. The Braves proved last year that you can’t contend legitimately with just two solid starters.
#1 – Atlanta Braves – Smoltz, Glavine, and Hudson provide a strong three that’s as strong as anyone in the majors. You Glavine haters need to chill out now, he’s got gas left in the tank. With Chuck James benefiting from Glavine’s experience as a left-hander, and the potential return of Mike Hampton (he’s running again after his hamstring injury), this rotation could be a very, very dangerous group.
#5 – Florida Marlins – the fish at #5? Shocking.
#4 – Washington Nationals – not super surprising – these guys aren’t great.
#3 – New York Mets – Billy Wagner is a great closer, but the Met’s bullpen only assisted in the collapse last year – going 2-9 with a 5.50 ERA and 7 blown saves in 16 chances in the final 36 games of the year. Only big move this off-season is getting rid of Mota. One closer does not a bullpen make.
#2 – Philadelphia Phillies – Brad Lidge will close and they have decent setup men, so we’ll see these guys compete for the #1 bullpen spot in the division.
#1 – Atlanta Braves – The edge goes to the Braves, who with Rafael Soriano as closer and Peter Moylan as main setup man, have a solid setup. Solid left-hander Will Ohman (Braves scouts are really high on this guy) and the return of Mike Gonzalez and Blaine Boyer from injury will solidify the ‘pen on the front end. If that isn’t enough, expect to see the leftovers from the rotation fill out the bullpen roster – there’s depth here for sure.
#5 – Washington Nationals – Manny Acta is a young unproven manager, but we’ll see how he develops.
#4 – Florida Marlins – Fredi Gonzalez is a good coach but is not proven as a manager. I think we’ll see him develop over the years if the Marlins spend a little bit more.
#3 – New York Mets – Willie Randolph would be competing for #2 had the collapse not been ridiculous down the stretch. He has some clean-up work to do to return the Mets to a team that can compete.
#2 – Philadelphia Phillies – Charlie Manuel is a good coach, but he needs some long-term success to take him to the next level.
#1 – Atlanta Braves – Bobby Cox has a clear advantage in experience and record over the other managers in the NL East. And he gets thrown out more often, too.
Pre-Season Overall Power Rankings
#5 – Florida Marlins
#4 – Washington Nationals
#3 – New York Mets
#2 – Atlanta Braves
#1 – Philadelphia Phillies
Despite the Mets fans who feel that they’re part of the race this year, the Mets just don’t have the personnel to compete with the Braves and Phillies – and that’s not just my opinion, it seems to be a bit of a consensus if you read around. The Phillies are the team to beat as they’re the reigning champion, but the Braves should give them a run for their money. That said, if the Mets acquire an ace (Santana? Doesn’t seem likely), they’ll have a completely different rotation and be right in the mix.
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