We’re almost done with these, I swear. Opening Day is only two weeks away. I already smell the hotdogs. I can practically taste the overpriced beer and soft pretzels. It’s a wonderful time of year, and I can’t wait to be
done writing these watching baseball again. With only two divisions left, it made sense to tackle the only one I’d consider watching this year, the National League East. Two really good teams at the top and a bunch of crap at the bottom, but the one in the middle could either win the World Series or have the worst record on the league. Not sure if I even need to say it anymore, but all win totals are from Atlantis Casino Resort.
Like most Washington, D.C. based pro sports teams, the Nationals spend most of their time building, then failing to meet, expectations, and this year is no different. It’s tough to think a team with 95 wins could significantly improve, but Bryce Harper spent most of last season searching for consistent form. According to him, he figured it out and made the necessary adjustments. Considering that he’s been tearing the cover off the ball in spring training, he may be on to something. With a full season of future megastar Trea Turner, if Harper has another MVP-caliber season the Nats could suddenly have the best position-player duo in the NL, and maybe the majors. The rest of the lineup is pretty solid, too. I’ve always been a fan of new catcher Matt Wieters and Anthony Rendon, too. But I just can’t wrap my mind around this Adam Eaton trade. Is Adam Eaton, he of the mighty .790 OPS and 14 home runs, really worth giving up a future top end starter and more? Last year, he had a WAR of 6.2. Pretty good. But the majority of that value came from his defense is right field, where he was the best in the majors by a considerable margin. But right now, he’s going to play centerfield. What happened in 2015 when he played center? He was one of the five worst in the league defensively at the position. So why are you giving up the future for someone who isn’t going to keep you team from choking in the playoffs again? I don’t get it.
It obviously goes without saying their pitching is top notch. They were second in the league in strikeout percentage and second in ERA+. Just looking at the names, the bullpen might be a bit of a question mark for me, but if all the starters stay healthy (never a given with these guys) it shouldn’t really matter. They’re going to win a ton of games this year, and if the Cubs don’t feel like going all out all year they might finish with the most wins in the NL. It’s just everything after September they’ll have trouble with.
Over/Under 90.5 Wins: Over
Key Offseason Move: Trading every asset they have besides Harper and Turner for Adam Eaton
Burning Question: Will they retire Bryce’s number when he leaves for the Yankees in a couple years?
Bold Prediction: Here’s something you’ve never seen before- a Washington team collapses in the playoffs!
New York Mets–
Ahh, the Mets. No team gets more extreme reactions from their fans. Win two straight games and they’re the greatest team ever put together, and every fan tries as hard as they possibly can to be the face of the Tortured Mets Fanbase that everyone should feel happy for. Lose two straight and it’s blow up the team, same old Mets, worst team in the league, and every fan tries as hard as they possibly can to be the face of the Tortured Mets Fanbase that everyone should feel bad for. It’s annoying and exhausting from a neutral point of view, so I don’t really know how actual Met fans do it (quick side tangent: ever since I left the club in 2004, I absolutely hate long suffering fan bases. They’re all so pitiful. Every loss is made out to be this huge tragedy and everything just winds up being a woe-is-me pity party. Like, we get it. The Bills always lose. That doesn’t make me care about you, the team, or the city of Buffalo. Just get out of my face, already) (cc: Northwestern).
It’s all about health with this team. I think it’s safe to call their starting rotation the most talented in the league, but Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Matt Harvey all lost time due to injury last year, as did Yoenis Cespedes. With closer Jeurys Familia likely to start the season suspended, availability is truly the best ability for the Mets this season.
They also need to get better on offense. It wasn’t quite the pre-Cespedes 2015 Mets, but being 25th in the league in runs isn’t good enough for a team with championship aspirations and pitchers with injury histories. This lineup isn’t bad. Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda (who also missed a majority of the season), and Asdrubal Cabrera (a quiet 23 homers last year) have good power. It’s impossible to count on him playing more than 45 games, but David Wright can still swing it. They all need to produce more than they did last year. If everything comes together for them, we’ve already seen the results: the majority of the team that made the World Series two years ago is still here.
Over/Under 89.5 Wins: Under
Key Offseason Move: Resigning Yo
Burning Question: How many “which team owns New York” debates will the American people be subjected to this year?
Bold Prediction: They find some new way to miss the playoffs in excruciating, Metsian fashion.
I really don’t even know how to write about this team. I don’t think there’s ever been a situation like this in my lifetime. I don’t know if it’ll last the rest of my life, but I still remember the moment I found out that Jose Fernandez died. I had just woken up when I saw about ten notifications on my phone. I think I stared at Twitter for about an hour, not wanting to believe it. Not totally sure if I said anything the entire day. And I have as little connection to the Miami Marlins as humanly possible. I can’t imagine what the actual team is going through.
Looking at the numbers doesn’t really serve a purpose here. The way I see it, this year can go one of two ways. The first is that the emotion is just too much for them and everything spirals out of control, leading to another lost season. Or, they rally together. They become the tightest team in the league. Put together a good first few months and get the feel good vibes going. Then they keep winning when they shouldn’t. Get every lucky break. Win every close game. Defy all logic and somehow wind up in the playoffs. If that happens, I’m not picking against them. Would you?
Over/Under 77.5 Wins: Over
Key Offseason Move: Signing Edinson Volquez
Burning Question: Will Jeff Loria actually sell the team and allow them to be a legitimate organization?
Bold Prediction: Giancarlo Stanton stays healthy and hits 55+ homers
I actually kind of want the Phillies to be Back sometime soon. They’ve got great jerseys, a great stadium, and it’s always fun when Philly fans have something to cheer for, because it usually leads to heartbreak of the best kind (someone else’s). The Phillies have been trash for a few years now, and are only showing brief flashes of improvement. They’ve found some good players (Odubel Herrera is really good) and have some more in the minors (shortstop J.P. Crawford should make his debut this year) but for the most part, all of their wave of young guys have been somewhere between okay and good, not great, and I’m not seeing any giant leaps forward in my crystal ball. It’s been a very blah rebuilding process. They should have taken notes from the Sixers.
Over/Under 72.5 Wins: Over
Key Offseason Move: Eagles signing Alshon Jeffrey
Burning Question: If a city’s four major sports teams combine to win under 100 games in a calendar year is there any kind of punishment?
Bold Prediction: They will wear red hats in the majority of their games
They’re pretty much a southern version of the Phillies, but I don’t think they know it yet. Do you think they think they might be good this year? How else do you explain signing Bartolo Colon (I guess you don’t need any reasoning for this), signing R.A. Dickey, trading for Brandon Phillips, and, going back to last year, trading for Matt Kemp? Actually, I think they are trying to lose on second thought. I mean, there’s no getting around it, this team is garbage. But they have a bunch of really good prospects, starting with Dansby Swanson, who they stole from the Diamondbacks. And they’ve got a new ballpark (again), so I’m sure the people of Atlanta will come out and fill SunTrust Park just like they fill all their other stadiums! Just kidding, no one will come. Just like no one came to Turner Field. But, whatever, one day they might win 80 games again.
Over/Under 71.5 Wins: Under
Key Offseason Move: Singing living legend Bartolo Colon
Burning Question: Did the Pats Super Bowl Comeback only kill the Falcons or did it kill the entire city of Atlanta?
Bold Prediction: Freddie Freeman will win this year’s National League Mike Trout Memorial Get This Guy On A Good Team Award