Nationals Baseball: NL East notes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

NL East notes.

Around NL East :

Atlanta Braves

Beachy down! Beachy down!

Beachy is less important than Medlen, who was expected to be one of the Braves Top 2 guys, but it kills the Braves depth wise. They can likely cobble together a starting rotation that's passable, if not better, but they have absolutely no room for another injury. They are a liner off the hand, a sore shoulder, or a bad hip away from Yunesky Maya level characters filling in the back of the rotation.Given that one of those 5 they are counting on is a rookie who has never pitched a full major league season (Wood) and another is coming off of an injury (Floyd), things are looking pretty grim rotation-wise.

If they can avoid any more injuries though, they should still be a good team. Offensively the team was good last year, seems healthy, and has potential to do better. They only thing I look at in spring stats is power numbers and both Heyward and Uggla are doing well. Fans of other NL East teams have all feared that break-out from Heyward. 

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have spent the Spring worrying about two things. One, for some reason, is the attitude of Jimmy Rollins. (Honestly, I think "Don't call me Ryan" Sandberg is setting up scapegoats for what's going to be a rough couple years.) The other is the fact the offense looks terrible in the Spring. True, I'll be the first to tell you spring stats don't matter. But when you think you might be terrible, then all signs in the spring suggest your thinking is right, at the very least it keeps you on edge.

If you're worried Ryan Howard might be striking out too much... it can't be good he's 2nd in Ks in Spring.
If you're worried about Dominic Brown "slugging" .390 in the 2nd half of 2103... it can't be good he's hitting .171 with 1 XBH.
If you're worried Rollins has finally hit the age where he won't bounce back... it can't be good he's hitting .138.
If you feel you need Chase Utley to help carry these other guys... it can't be good he has 1 XBH.

Let's not forget, Papelbon's speed is down, and Cole Hamels will, best case scenario, be out until May. At least Chooch looks good, right?

NY Mets

The worst thing for the Mets was the lack of action in the offseason. They needed 3-4 pieces and they brought in 2, Colon and Granderson. Mets fans clamored for more, but with Harvey out this year, realistically the team is looking at 2015 for the real push. Not sure it's the best plan, but that's what they're doing.

So the roster is being filled with has-beens and never-wases at the margins. Starting roles finalized this spring include ones for Chris Young, Ruben Tejada, and probably Dice-K* and that's not even the bench or pen. Then there's Ike Davis, who the Mets are committed to giving every last chance to fail. It's like my worst Tyler Moore nightmare. There has been good news though, with Jon Niese avoiding surgery. The rest of their injury concerns are more minor leg injuries with Murphy, Duda, and Tejada. These could be problematic for a team with little depth but for now they don't seem serious.

Basically the season is coming together as expected for the Mets. More wins possible, Maybe even above .500, but really this is a team waiting for 2015. 

Miami Marlins

Nothing really interesting has gone on with the Marlins this spring. They have a few injuries but all on guys that aren't really that good (Furcal, Dobbs, Ed Lucas). They highlight the fact the Marlins IF is in shambles, but it doesn't really affect this season. The battle for 5th starter went so well, and the Marlins have enough prospects in the wings, that they are now thinking of dealing completely adequate with potential for mild improvement SP Jacob Turner for help. This would probably be someone to play 2nd as they like Hechavarria ok, have a prospect at 3B, and could use 1B as a landing spot for someone if their young OFs all work out.

It's possible that the formerly hyped Marcell Ozuna may not start in CF... but he probably will. Jeff Baker and Garrett Jones may not platoon... but probably will.

Out of all the teams in the East the Marlins are the most fascinating. A lot of room for improvement (Stanton could blow up again), a Baker/Jones situation at first that should work very well in platoon, great young starting pitching. I could see them winning 15 more games easily.

*even though Lannan makes more sense and that's not even a biased look at it. Better stats, younger, better health, handedness makes more sense. And if you are like "But Lannan isn't healthy or good!" I'm not going to disagree with you. But Dice-K has a worse injury history and has been terrible for years


cass said...

FanGraphs has the Nats with a 10% chance to win the World Series and the Braves with a 2% chance. Which is just unfathomable to me, even with their injuries. But perhaps I'm wary cause of last year.

I also noticed Detwiler's quote about how although it's not good to be a starter, it'd be even worse to not win it all. So it seems they've got the World Series trophy in their eyes again.

Thanks for the write-up, though. That generally matches my impressions. I am the least confident knowing whether Miami will be worst in baseball or just mediocre. I'd be more worried about the Mets if they had Harvey.

Chaz R said...

I think you have pretty well summarized the NL East, Harper. Looks pretty weak aside from the Nats.

Have you been following's Top 10 players at each position this week? So far, they have someone from the Nats in each report, except 2B. But, Keith Law predicts Rendon to be one of the break-out players in 2014.

Everything is really lining up well for the 2014 Nats. They have largely looked good in ST. I just don't think I can live through another disappointing year like 2013...

Wally said...

You left out the Nats in your summary, though. I think it goes: wonderfully boring, uneventful spring leaves them in good shape. Pitching looks good, hitting looks adequate. Defense meh. But that distant rumble of thunder? Ryan Zimmerman's barking shoulder. No wonder they are continuing to pump up Danny boy, they may need him.

Let's go Nats. Time to head north and get the season going.

Harper said...

cass - I kind of doubt Miami will be the worst, but when you're dealing with all those young players the variance on performance is all over the map.

I still can't fear the Mets just yet. Offense is likely too impotent. They were 11th last year with Wright having his best season and Byrd coming out of nowhere to be an All-Star. Now if Wheeler has a strong 2014 and Syndergaard maxes out, then they'd be worth talking about.

Chaz R - I doubt Span will make CF list and know LaRoche won't make 1B (nor Soriano Top 5 closers) but Ramos could make C. Harper will make LF. Really very little weakness.

If the Nats fail and it's not injury related I'll be shocked.

Wally - Mild scare for Fister who should miss his first start but nothing more as he gets back strength. 5th spot in the rotation surprisingly not Detwiler but other options appear to be at least as good as he would have been. 2nd base technically open but an Espinosa start would surprise.

Looking forward Pitching which was good in 2013, should get even better. Hitting which was very mediocre for most of 2013 should be good, if the last 2 months of 2013 are any indication of how the team will perform when healthy. However given ups and downs of performances I still can't say very good yet. Still it should be enough to be the target in the NL East

Wally said...

Btw, I didn't follow ESPN, but Fangraphs has the Nats pretty high on all of their power ratings, except ALR (LF and RF still to come).
C - 7
1B - 22
2B - 11
3B - 8
SS - 5
CF - 9

The analysts love them Nats, for sure. I guess that I'd feel better if we had one true stud hitter, rather than a bunch of pretty good ones. Maybe Bryce becomes that.