NL East Update: Marlins will finish dead last?

Over at the Real Dirty Mets Blog, the expectations for the upcoming 2010 season are set. The past week has been up and down for New York as the injury bug from last year still haunts the Mets clubhouse.

Having been a lifelong Mets fan and being convinced that they were the favorites to win the World Series from 2006 to 2009, I have only seen my hopes and dreams crushed by the most traumatic, shocking, unusual, and quite literally most painful ways to lose. Right when you think you have seen it all, they pull something else out of their bag of tricks. I think all Mets fans owe it to themselves this year to go in with absolutely no expectations, because let’s be honest, the Mets may not even be one of the top two teams in their own division. But with names like Wright, Reyes, Santana, K-Rod, and now Bay all on the same roster, what are they waiting for? Of their first 23 games of the season, 16 of them will be a Citi Field, which depending on the team’s success, could turn out as a positive or negative. Somehow, someway, New York will have to find a way to put it together because if they stumble early out of the gate, heads will roll, jobs will be lost, and all hope will be gone.

Interesting link from FishStripes on how a simulation done by ESPN the Magazine predicts the Marlins to finish dead last in the division. That’s right Nationals fans, if the prediction is correct you may have some company down there after all.

All kidding aside, I take about as much away from pre-season predictions/simulations as I do from Spring Training statistics. Sure the Phillies are probably going to win the division for the 4th straight year and the Braves are a team on the rise, but Florida finished 2009 in second place with a 87-75 record and a majority of their key players coming back. Hanley, Uggla, Cantu, and even Cody Ross all have the ability to drive in 100 runs and they also have last year’s NL Rookie of the Year in Chris Coghlan. Hitting is not an issue with the Marlins, it is the pitching that is surrounded by question marks, most notably the bullpen, and unfortunately for them how the relievers perform is going to make or break the season.

Following the announcement of having lost pitcher Joe Blanton until May, Beer Leaguer offers his perspective on where the Phillies go from here.

Kyle Kendrick will likely fill in as Blanton’s replacement, leaving a spot open in the bullpen which already has two other relievers on the DL. There is no clear-cut favorite to take the job and that is the Phillies glaring weakness. You always hear about teams trying to “survive” or “stay afloat” with replacements until their starter comes back and that is exactly what Philadelphia will have to do. Losing Blanton is not the end of the world for a rotation that already has Halladay, Hamels, and Happ, as well as one of the most productive lineups in baseball. The Phillies will find a way out of this issue and be full steam ahead come the All-Star Break.

Braves Blast provides some Q&A regarding what we should expect from the team’s pitching staff. Including questions surrounding both the starting rotation and bullpen.

I honestly do think that this year the stars will align for Atlanta’s pitching, meaning that we will see Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner, and Derek Lowe all have great bounce back years. Hudson and Wagner are ready to go after having successfully come back from Tommy John surgery, and Lowe being the veteran he is, has earned the title as one of the most consistent and reliable starters in the game. Jair Jurrjens did have some shoulder problems but the doctors have said that he will be 100% come Opening Day. Naturally, there will be injuries, discomforts, etc. with not only the pitchers mentioned but everyone else on the roster, but that should not stop Atlanta from having several worthwhile comeback player of the year candidates on their staff.