Thursday, August 16, 2007

NL East, The Power of the NL [David Stefanini]

The NL East is the only formidable opponent for the AL. The Mets, Braves, and Phillies all have lineups that can compete against the AL. No other team in the NL can come close to these three lineups.
The Philadelphia Phillies have a great lineup, but no pitching. I do not expect them to win the East, but I do expect them to be in it until the very end. This division is very competitive and these top three teams are going to hurt each other equally as much. This will allow the Phillies to hang around, but never catch the Braves or the Mets for the top spot.
The Atlanta Braves have a great team. If they can not catch the Mets for the NL East title, they will be in the Wild Card. At the trade deadline they acquired Mark Teixeira who has been a great pickup for them. Putting him alongside Kelly Johnson and the Jones' gives them all the power they need. Also, their pitching staff has two very good pitchers. They don't have a great pitching staff, but John Smoltz and Tim Hudson can more than hold down their own. Their bullpen is what hurts them. Their closer, Bob Wickman, isn't reliable and getting the ball to him in the 9th isn't easy. Octavio Dotel throws hard, but he has been getting hit hard this season. It also doesn't help that is is on the 15-day DL List. Look for the Braves to win the Wild Card, but fall a game or two behind the Mets.
The New York Mets, my favorite team, will win this division. Now that Moises Alou is back and healthy, this lineup is as good if not better than the Atlanta Braves. I loved the addition of Luis Castillo at the trading deadline. The only move left to make is to take Shawn Green out of right field and put in Lastings Milledge. Once that is done, there team will be complete. The only thing that concerns me is the pitching. Not the starters, because they have been much better than anyone thought at the beginning of the year. If/When Pedro comes back they will have a decent starting pitching staff. Their bullpen is what scares me. Right now Billy Wagner is having an amazing season. He blew only his second save of the year early this month against the Marlins. Other than that he has been nearly flawless all season long. But in the innings between the time where the starter comes out and Wagner gets the ball, there is no one that Willie Randolph can bring in and make me feel comfortable. They are going to have to address this issue somehow before the playoffs start.
If the playoffs started today the Mets would be the #1 seed in the NL. So, though they have a tougher schedule than the Braves and the Phillies, they are going to be the favorite in all of those games. Look for the Mets to win this division.

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