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National League East Preview

Sam Valentin
Sports Writer

One team from the National League East has won a crown in the past ten years. That was the Phillies back in 2008 when they brought back the crown to the city of brotherly love. That number looks like its about to change.

The East underwent a huge renovation this year seeing the arrival of Ichiro, Max Scherzer and Dee Gordon. The East also better prepare for young arms of Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey who are ready to fire back.

Lets start by looking at the front running Nationals. At the start of the 2013 season everyone was saying, “World Series or bust” for the Nationals. They turned in a winning record that year but ultimately fell short of their postseason dreams. Although the same buzz is surrounding this year’s squad.

The Nat’s managed to land the biggest fish this offseason. (No that is not a Trout, the fish or a Mike Trout reference. ) They brought in 2013 Cy Young award winner, Max Scherzer and also brought in Yunel Escobar to sure up the middle. They inked Scherzer, the 30-year-old pitcher, to a ludicrous seven-year, $210 million deal. That is not even the most ridiculous contract in the division though.

The Nationals made a splash by signing Max Scherzer this offseason. (Photo courtesy FoxSports.com)
The Nationals made a splash by signing Max Scherzer this offseason.
(Photo courtesy FoxSports.com)

The Nationals still have the core of last year’s division winning team in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, the phenom, Bryce Harper, and Anthony Rendon, who is posed to have a breakout year this year.

Now this year after the offseason moves the statement of World Series or bust could not be truer but only time will tell if they are destined to win the fall classic. I know it will not be a walk in the park for this talented club.

Next up the Miami Marlins.

The huge offseason news with these fish is the extension given to slugger, Giancarlo Stanton. The 25-year-old superstar signed a 13-year deal worth $325 million. The guy is just coming off getting a heater in the face who knows if he is even psychologically ready to step foot into the batters box? The Marlins took a gamble but ultimately I believe it will work out.

I can not forget about the fish brining in future hall of famer, Ichiro and speedster, Dee Gordon which are both big additions to the team. Also the Marlin’s finally added some protection in the lineup for Stanton by bringing in Mike Morse via free agency. Even though Stanton has blasted 20 plus homers his entire career without much help around him. Well this year he has help and plenty of it because Jose Fernandez is also coming back off Tommy John surgery and they added pitchers Mat Latos, and Dan Haren to strengthen the rotation.

Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is coming off multiple plastic surgeries after being hit in the face by a pitch late last season. (Photo courtesy Blacksportsonline.com)
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is coming off multiple plastic surgeries after being hit in the face by a pitch late last season.
(Photo courtesy Blacksportsonline.com)

The Marlins do not look star studded like the Nationals but could pose a threat to them this year. Well they catch them? Probably not but the gap will be respectable and they should be able to pull out a wild card.

Now a look at the New York Mets who hope to just have a winning season.

The Mets are bolstered by their young guns but one of their cannons has already fallen in Zack Wheeler, who will be out the whole year with Tommy John Surgery. The dark knight, Matt Harvey, returns this year, which could be some silver lining to there season already. The rotation includes Bartotolo Colon, Jacob Degrom, and Dillion Gee. Even without Wheeler this rotation is promising but do they have the bats to get it done?

Flamethrowing phenom Matt Harvey enters the season after Tommy John  surgery.
Flamethrowing phenom Matt Harvey enters the season after Tommy John surgery. (Photo courtesy HuffingtonPost.com)

 

David Wright is coming off an ugly year. They need their captain and the aging stars of Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson to have huge seasons to even be able to contend in this division. The only thing the Met’s have to look forward to in there future is not the postseason but there fantastic prospects like Dilson Herrera, Brandon Niemmo, Noah Syndergaard, Dominic Smith, and Kevin Plawecki to just name a few. These guys are the real deals and some of them should be making the debut this year with the Mets.

Now lets look at the Braves.

They lost more than they gained this offseason and spring training. They lost Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gaettis via trades and lost Alex Wood for the season due to Tommy John surgery. So they are now stuck with the wrong Upton brother and might as well rename Tommy John surgery to the Braves surgery. They have lost three pitchers in the past couple years to arm injuries.

The Braves lost both Justin Upon and Jayson Heyward this offseason. (Photo courtesy onlineathens.com)
The Braves lost both Justin Upon and Jayson Heyward this offseason.
(Photo courtesy onlineathens.com)

They did bring in Nick Markakis to fill the void left by trading away Heyward to the Cardinals due to the tragic death of youngster, Oscar Tavares. Shelby Miller was on the other end of Heyward trade, which is a fair trade. I would take a solid, young starter over an outfielder who is just now living up to expectations.

The Braves will be able to put together another solid campaign but it just will not be enough. I think they will fall short in the wild card standing but will be in the mix until mid September.

The best for last, now on to the Philadelphia Phillies who look poised to not do much this year.

I do not want to bag on the home team but wow this year’s roster is full of aged stars such as Cliff Lee, and young no namers such as Nefi Ogando. (Seriously who is that?) The Phil’s should have had a fire deal at the deadline last year. They should have dumped salary and tried to get top prospects in return for guys like Lee, and Jonathon Papelbon. They are already two or three years away so why keep the old players who are taking up salary and space for younger players?

They do have some promising prospects coming up in J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola, who they are rushing through the system but these guys ideally at least a year away from being prominent and truly ready for the bigs. Philly fans should be happy to get back some MLB ready prospects in a trade for Cole Hamels at some point this year. He even came out and said he does not want to be in philly anymore so what is the point?

I just think there are a lot of question marks surrounding this team this year. I do not see them doing much of anything this year but watch out two or three years down the road and they should be able to get back to their winning ways.

The East will be very interesting to watch this year as always. It could even be a tight race up top until after the all-star break but ultimately I believe the Nationals pull it out and even go on to represent the National League in the World Series. The rest of the East can have a first hand seat to their show this year.

It remains to be seen whether Phillies GM Ruben Amaro will deal Phillies ace Cole Hamels this season.
It remains to be seen whether Phillies GM Ruben Amaro will deal Phillies ace Cole Hamels this season.