NL East Update: Expectations For 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: Without question the favorites not just in the NL East, but maybe all of baseball. The Phillies have the best starting rotation we have seen since the Braves of the nineties. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, how can you beat that? The stars have aligned in Philadelphia and barring anything catastrophic they have extended their dynasty for at least another three to four years. History is being made before our eyes.

Atlanta Braves: For the first time since 1989, Bobby Cox will not be in a Braves uniform for Opening Day. They got their man in Freddi Gonzalez and even picked up Dan Uggla to take over at second base. Atlanta will be one of the favorites for the Wild Card and could make some noise in the post-season, just like last season. Much of their success will hinge of the play of rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman, but if history is any indication for Braves rookies, he will be fine.

New York Mets: The Mets have gone through a lot since 2006, but with new management and philosophy they’re ready to turn the page. Don’t expect to see the same old Mets in 2011. This bunch won’t be breaking anyone’s heart because for the first time in a while, no one expects them to do anything. If you think about it, all of the good Mets teams are successful when they have no expectations going into the season, but when they are expected to do well the unexpected happens (1988, 2006-2008).

Florida Marlins: What an unusual year it was for the Marlins, but for them that is the norm. The team showed some improvement with Edwin Rodriquez taking over as manager mid-season, but anytime you lose a bat like Dan Uggla’s, you’re going to run into some trouble. Even with Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, its hard not to imagine the Marlins in the cellar this season, that is a position the Nationals would be glad to hand over.

Washington Nationals: As for those Nationals, GM Mike Rizzo finally broke the bank open this off-season by acquiring Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, both veteran players who will bring a new attitude to a franchise looking to take the next step. The big blow is that Stephen Strasburg will be sidelined all season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but don’t be surprised if the Nationals finish ahead of the Marlins and Mets for third place. This will heavily depend on the performance of their starting rotation. After missing out on Lee and Zack Greinke, does Washington have good enough starters to keep up with the Phillies and Braves?