Sunday, March 26, 2006

2006 Season Preview - NL East

Finishing off the NL - the very interesting NL East.

Atlanta Braves
2005 Record: 90-72; Position 1st

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Edgar Renteria
Minus - INF Rafael Furcal, RP Kyle Farnsworth

Well here goes... Atlanta are 14 and done - they will not win the NL East in 2006. I think it is fair to expect some of the young guys that broke through in 2005 to regress slightly (though I am not thinking anything major), and I think that Atlanta may realize there really was something to that Mazzone guy. That is one of the big surprises of the off-season to me, the way that the Braves organization first let him walk, then subtly let it be known through the media that he wasn't that great anyway.

2006 Projection: 88-74; Position - 2nd
Braves blog link - Tomahawk
Philadelphia Phillies
2005 Record: 88-74; Position 2nd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - OF Aaron Rowand, RP Arthur Rhodes, RP Tom Gordon
Minus - INF Jim Thome, SP Vicente Padilla, RP Billy Wagner

In any season when your subtractions are more noteworthy than your additions, I think you have gone backwords. Given that the subtraction of Thome allows Howard every day playing time that may not be a bad thing, but the replacement of Wagner with Gordon can only hurt. I think the fact that the Phillies have been shopping Abreu in an attempt to get a true #1 starter says that the Phillies know themselves that they are not a true WS contender.

2006 Projection: 86-72; Position - 3rd
Phillies blog link - Beerleaguer
Florida Marlins
2005 Record: 83-79; Position 3rd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - RP Joe Borowski...
Minus - C Paul LoDuca, INF Carlos Delgado, INF Louis Castillo, INF Mike Lowell, INF Alex Gonzalez, OF Juan Pierre, OF Juan Encarnacion, SP Josh Beckett, SP AJ Burnett, RP Todd Jones

Just an incredible off-season for the fish, with the Marlins dumping vetrans at an alarming rate as they look to purge payroll - using the "we can't get a massive tax subsidy to help build a stadium" excuse. And let's be honest, the Marlins weren't dumping massively over-priced veterans (except Lowell) - but at least they did pick up some impressive (volume of) talent - Brinkley, Bowyer, Delgado, Garcia, Hernandez, Jacobs, Mitre, Nolasco, Petit, Pinto, Ramirez, Sanchez, Tyler and more. I really do think that the Marlins season will be determined by its start - if they start badly, we could be looking at a historically bad season, with Cabrera and Willis shopped at the July deadline. If they start ok (and ST has shown that they could), the young team that they put out may have the confidence to remain respectable.

2006 Projection: 65-97; Position - 5th
Marlins blog link - Marlins Today
New York Mets
2005 Record: 83-79; Position 4th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - C Paul LoDuca, INF Carlos Delgado, INF/OF Xavier Nady, RP Chad Bradford, RP Billy Wagner
Minus - C Mike Piazza, OF Mike Cameron, SP Kris Benson, SP Jae Seo, RP Roberto Hernandez, RP Braden Looper

The Mets have improved at C, IB and closer - but they have not done as much as you might have expected to upgrade the bullpen, and, to me anyway, they have left themselves very thin in the rotation... but... The Mets season will largely be driven off the toe and, lets not forget, right shoulder of Pedro Martinez. If Pedro doesn't break down, then you have to believe the Mets have enough offense, combined with enough average pitching, to win the East. One other thing in their favor? Minaya is clearly in 'win it now' mode, backed by the Wilpons - a trade for SP at the deadline has to be on the cards.

2006 Projection: 91-71; Position - 1st
Mets blog link -
Washington National
2005 Record: 81-81; Position 5th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Marlon Anderson, INF Alfonso Soriano, INF Royce Clayton, SP Ramon Ortiz
Minus - INF Junior Spivey, OF Preston Wilson, OF Brad Wilkerson, SP Esteban Loiza

The Nationals had a very active off-season, with 14 free agent signings of various quality. But the off-season is probably summed up in one transaction - taking on 2b Alfonso Soriano for OF Brad Wilkerson, OF Termell Sledge and a minor league pitcher, when the team already had a strong 2b, and the world seemed pretty aware that Soriano wasn't keen on moving to the OF in his FA year. That has been solved for now, but the moves that Bowden has made just make you scared that he was one of the guys that the Sox interviewed post Theo. Hopefully this season will be remembered for the fact that the Nationals were sold at last, and that a new owner was strongly committed to a new stadium and a winning team in the seasons ahead.

2006 Projection: 78-84; Position - 4th
Nationals blog link - Capitol Punishment

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