Ahh the NL East, home to my favorite baseball team, the Washington Nationals. Home to a few teams EVERYONE loves! Yes, there is nothing quite like finding that sexy young thing at the bar while having a few brewski’s with your friends. It is all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows everywhere. Here in lies the question, there are 5 teams in the NL East… So, what is the best thing that can happen for each one??? And here… We… GO! Lets do alphabetic order shall we?
The Atlanta Braves had something of, well, a pathetic September in 2011 and you can sure bet that all the guys who don the Tomahawk gear have already let those terrible memories fade into nothing. Just the other day, Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson was involved in a car accident and suffered a mild concussion. The word mild is a good thing, ideally this means he will be back to getting strikeouts and giving his team a chance to win. Considering the Braves have always had such strong pitching, we can expect that the Braves will have another solid year with all their good healthy pitchers tearing apart not only the NL East, but anyone that crosses their paths. Jason Heyward is healthy, and considering he is going into his 3rd year, we should see the end of the dreaded sophomore slump and more baseballs exploding off his bat. Craig Kimbrel is poised to have another high caliber season as the Braves’ young closer. With everything clicking for Atlanta, it is not hard to imagine the Braves in the playoffs yet again.
I still have to get used to saying they are the MIAMI Marlins, and not the Florida Marlins. The Marlins were gifted with the majesty of a new ball park for the 2012 season and this means that the fans will flock in like flies on turd. With a new ball park in hand, the Marlins quickly made a splash in the off season market with the acquistion of Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and, Mark Buehrle. Now that the Marlins have gotten some good free agents, the fish hope to be contenders in 2012 and have a blast in their new ball park. With Ozzie Guillen at the helm, there is a solid man in the dugout managing each and every game. Hanley Ramirez even gracefully decided to let Reyes have the short stop position and volunteered to play 3rd. Yes, it is clear that with Zambrano thrown into the mix the concern for a stable clubhouse is overblown. I am of the opinion, that if Big Z is back to his dominant ways, Josh Johnson stays healthy and dominates the way EVERYONE knows he can, the Marlins are not too much of a stretch to at least grab a breath of baseball in October. Over a marathon 162 games, anything is possible.
New York, New York. It’s a hell of a town and boy have the Mets had some difficulty to face this last off season. Financial trouble has made the Mets the talk of the town, then losing Reyes to boot. The Mets do however, get Johan Santana back after a long hiatus. With Johan back for a full season, its like the Mets get a sort of ace pitcher stimulus package. Also, keep in mind the walls in the outfield of Citi Field have been modified. The modification should help to yield better home run chances for David Wright, Jason Bay, and other sluggers who have seen their number suffer due to the quirky nature of Citi Field. The Mets may not have the best chance of seeing the playoff in 2012, but at the same time who says they will even have a losing record? Perhaps some of the inexperienced rookies put it together and have some good seasons. Who knows, they are the amazin’ Mets so let not write them off just yet.
Ahh, Philly. The modern day rock of the NL East. For the past several years Philadelphia has won the division and gotten better and better. With club record of 102 wins in 2011, the Phillies trounced the regular season. Imagine if some key players had not been hurt, too. 2012 will yield a healthy Utley, a huge portion of the Phillies offense. Ryan Howard may be injured, but you have to believe that things will come back for the big guy after he is fully healed. Dingers for everyone! Cliff Lee, Cole Hammels, and Roy Halladay, will be back and as amazing as ever, enough said on that topic. With a little luck, the Phillies have also found a sort of diamond in the rough in Dontrell Willis. If Dominic Brown can put it together at the plate, the Phillies will have another young buck roaring out of the gates to shag fly balls and swat doubles. Laynce Nix had a great season in 2011, with a new 2 year contract who says he can’t do it again? Don’t forget about Hunter Pence either. With reliable offense, the Phillies are poised to hit the playoffs once again.
Well here we are, home. The Washington Nationals have seemingly caught the eye of Major League Baseball in the off season. For 2012, the Nationals have something unfamiliar to contend with: Expectations. Stephen Strasburg (Strasburf?) is going to have a full year back from Tommy John Surgery, then Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Edwin Jackson will follow up the fireballer with more fireballs of doom. Fan favorite Ryan Zimmerman is back babay, and he is healthy. A good season out of Zim will give the Nationals an improved offense, throw in a regular Jayson Werth style season and forget about it. Ian Desmond is ready to hit the ground running on his 3rd year in the Majors, so keep an eye on the not-so-rookie-anymore short stop. Big years from Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos and boom, we could very well see David Huzzard in a dress and a Tattoo on my left shoulder.
For the NL East, there is a lot to look forward to in 2012 and I know that everyone is looking forward to the baseball season starting as much as I am.