We’re hours away from the start of another season of Phillies baseball and to conclude the view’s prelude to the 2010 season, I’ll try to break down the NL East. To be quite honest, I’m currently more worried about the state of the Philadelphia Eagles…
In 2009, The Phillies were able to lock up a third consecutive division championship with 93-69 record. Although it came down to the final week of the season, the Phillies controlled the division for the majority of the summer and there was never a doubt by any of us that the fightins would retain their title. Ok, there was a lot of doubt and worry and paranoia towards the end there, but that comes with the Philadelphia sports scene. Their regular season included a 44-28 record within their division and also a league leading 48-33 on the road. Their 820 runs scored throughout the season were the best in the NL and helped propel them to repeat as League Champions.
As we look forward to 2010, here’s a rundown of the teams trying to thwart the Phils attempt at a 4-peat:
Florida Marlins: 2nd place, 87-75, finished 6 games back
The Marlins have all the potential to give the Phillies a run for the NL east crown in 2010. They have a plethora of young players walking around the clubhouse and are always poised to surprise people with their homegrown talent. During the offseason, they did something very unmarlinlike: they actually paid one of their better players. They agreed to a 4 year, $39 million contract with their stud RHP Josh Johnson. This commitment shows that the front office has a lot of faith in the lineup that they are going to put out for opening day. With players like Ramirez, Cantu, Uggla, and Maybin, I think the Marlins will be the Phillies biggest threat as the season plays out and will be top contenders for the wild card. Biggest Concerns: Depth in outfield and Bullpen. Oh, and the fact that they still have Wes Helms on their active roster.
Atlanta Braves: 3rd Place, 86-76, finished 7 games back
If you have been listening to any of the baseball analysts this Spring, you would know that they all think Atlanta will be the toughest team for the Phillies in 2010. This of course, in my opinion, hangs on a couple ifs. They will be the Phillies’ toughest test, IF Billy Wagner is able to be a dominant closer, IF Troy Glaus is able to bounce back from his shoulder surgery and remain healthy this season, and IF rookie RF Jason Heyward can live up the hype he has been receiving this Spring. However they fair, this will be Bobby Cox’s 29th and final year as the Braves’ skipper, a run that includes a World Series Championship and a 14 consecutive division championship streak. All and all, Phillies should circle when they are playing the Braves this season. Biggest Concern: Bench. If the Braves get hit with the injury bug, their lack of depth may hurt them in the dog days of July and August.
New York Metropolitans: 4th Place, 70-92, 23 games back
Ok, so it’s safe to say that all of the Mets’ fans that were so abundant 2 or 3 years ago have gone back into hiding after last year’s debacle. The Mets right now are like the ginger kid in school who didn’t bathe, talked to himself on the school bus, probably had lice, and his name may or may not have been Kyle Moyer. They were everyone’s favorite team to pick on, whether it was for their laundry list of starters on the DL or their litany of fielding errors (36 last season; only topped by the Colorado Rockies who botched 41 balls). Again, it seems injury will hold back the Mets as they start out the gate. Both Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes will start the season on the 15 day DL without a real timetable for getting back onto the field. On the positive side, the Mets were extremely busy this offseason signing free agents and setting their roster in order to get their franchise back to the postseason. With an opening day payroll of $115.5 million, Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel better hope this is the case. Biggest Concerns: Bottom half of the rotation and lineup. After the 5 spot, none of the names on the Mets lineup card are that impressive and could cause the offense to strand runners.
Washington Nationals: Last Place, 59-103, 34 freaking games back
So what can you say about the Nationals? Their bad, they’ve been bad, they’ll probably be pretty bad again this year. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, they are trying to right the ship. But when it rain, it pours. They go out this offseason and get RHP Chien-Ming Wang from the free agent market, but he’ll the start of the season on the DL. RHP Stephen Strasburg, the only ray of light at the moment, will start in AA and will probably make an appearance half way through the season. So until then, the Nationals look like the same bunch of MLB misfits who seem to get passed between the league’s shittiest teams. The Pirates’, Reds’, and Nationals’ rosters seem to just move to different markets every 3 to 4 years and 2010 already looks like a long season for the Natinals. Biggest Concern: Pitching. Don’t get me wrong, the Nats can hit, but their pitching is horrific. The Phillies’ lineup should have no problem putting up double digits.
So that’s it, Baseball’s back. 1:05 today, Doc Halladay v. John Lannan in Washington. I think the Phillies will miss the 100 game plateau by 1 game and go 99-63, winning the NL East for the fourth consecutive year.
And maybe some of this: