This is the preview that we all have been waiting for on this site, the NL East. Just to start out, this will be a light preview for the Mets, because they will get their own preview entirely (makes sense, this is a Mets site). Anyway. The stories are known in this division. In 2007 the Mets collapsed. I still feel the Mets didn't collapse in 2008, without a closer in the pen for two months, plus the Phillies had a huge lead at one point, it would have been more of a “disappointment” if the Phils didn't make it in. Anyway, things in the division are really heating up because a lot of key players have entered the division this year. For the Mets that means Krod and Putz, for the Phils it means Ibanez (and now possibly Sheffield), the Braves brought in Lowe after losing out on Burnett, and the Nationals brought in Dunn. This division will be the closest in the NL East with so much talent (The three best Short stops are in this division for example). Anyway, here are my predictions:
1) Even without my bias, you have to like the Mets this year. The reason being is that each part of the team is now complete. The rotation is complete (would not have been without Perez), the bullpen now has defined roles, something we have not seen since 2006, and the lineup looks really good, and has youth in it, something that has been missing from this team since Wright and Reyes came in (I'm not saying Wright and Reyes are old, but they are Veterans, sometimes a team needs some youth to keep everything going). The Mets are the most balanced team in this division, and that is why they are going to get the division crown.
2) The Phillies are very close to being balanced, which means they are very close to being number 1. They are missing Romero from the pen for at least 50 games, which makes the staff that much weaker because even how good Lidge was for them, he will really need to be on without Romero. The rotation has a similar issue, it can be very good, but it runs a lot of risks. Moyer is old and could wear out and Myers really struggled at the start of last year before he turned it on. So they can have the best pitching staff in the division if they want, but it can also fade in mediocrity. Today they released Genkins, possibly to get Sheffieild, whcih might be a big mistake because of the boost that Genkins gave this team.
3) The Marlins get third but are easily the dark horse team in this division. They have so much talent coming through the system, and with batting Hanley third, they can have a good year. This is also surprising because they took out a huge bat in Jacobs and their closer but it will pay off for them. Jacobs striked out a lot, and now they will have a more contact oriented lineup, which is what they need because of their speed. The pitching staff is young, but it is also talented. Their main concern will be the closer situation. Lindstrom has it for now but that might flip with injuries and if he doesn't perform.
4) The Braves fixed their biggest problem in the offseason and that was their rotation with Lowe. The problem for the Braves is that their lineup can also be engmatic at points, with people straight up forgetting how to hit. The key for them, if the rotation holds through, will be Chippers health and if Escobar and Kelly can have big years. Escobar in my opinion is a highly underated player, and it feels like Kelly is very clutch. Their pen is alright with everyone projecting to have pretty good years. They can just as easily as the Marlins take a playoff spot from the top two (basically what I'm saying is that it is almsot certain that the Wild Card champion will come from this team).
5) The Nationals have some big talent coming their way, but right now things are two congested. For example, Nick Johnson and Dunn? Dunn is better than Johnson, but was he a necessary pick up with the crowded behavior of the team? I am most interested in seeing Dukes and Milledge, because if they can mature as people, they will mature as hitters. Also, Zimmerman will need to return to rookie form at the plate (do you remember before 2006 people were projecting him better at the plate than Wright?) Anway, best of look to the Nationals in this tough decision.
Best Rotation: Mets, Phillies 2nd
Best Lineup: Mets, Phillies 2nd
Best Pen: Mets, Phillies 2nd
(Ok, so that part was probably really biased)