Wednesday, April 6, 2011

S1 NL East Preview

By Jefepwnzer

NL East

New York Mets -

Starting 9: Catcher Carl Porter leads an average Mets offense into Season 1. He should have no problem getting on base consistently but is where the production will come from after that is a good question. Emil Wilfredo will launch his share of bombs but doesn't figure to hit for average. Rookie Stan Dunston has a nice upside but shouldn't be expected to contribute much this season. They key to scoring runs this season for the Mets may be how often Francisco Rivera gets on base, he's a threat to steal whenever he gets a chance and could set the table for Porter or Wilfredo to drive him in. 

Pitching staff: Rookie Ray Rowand is the Mets best bet for pitching success on an otherwise below average rotation. There's not really a go-to option for the Mets and it wouldn't be a suprise if they struggled mightily on the hill this season. If the they can take a lead into the late innings, though, they should be set with Ken Allen and Miguel Valverde in the bullpen.

The future: Troy Berger and Johnny Hall should one day solve part of the problem with the rotation. In particular, Hall should prove to be a reliable piece of the rotation when he hits the bigs. Catcher Deacon Daniels and 1B Tommy Pence are bright young prospects but Daniels may be blocked for a few years by current catcher Carl Porter.

Philadelphia Phillies - 

Starting 9: Philly may have even more trouble scoring runs this season than the Mets will. After solid hitters Albert Carrasco and Jamie Cho there really aren't too many options for New York. If he can find any kind of consistency, Sandy Gragg may help out Carrasco and Cho, but even with his help this lineup will struggle.

Pitching staff: Top to bottom this is one of the worst in the league. Any lead gained by the offense will likely be unsafe as there isn't a dependable starter or reliever to shut down the opposition. 

The future: Luckily for the Mets the answer to their pitching problems already exists in their minor league system. Lonny Redondo and Galahad Farrell head a handful of promising pitching prospects, it's just a matter of time until New York has one of the more dependable staff's in the league. Luther Cairncross and Jason Karnuth are stud position prospects who will provide runs for the aforementioned Redondo and Farrell to work with.

Pittsburgh Pirates - 

Starting 9: Unlike divison counterparts New York and Philly the Pirates will not have a problem pushing runs across the plate this season. Second baseman Joey Lockwood is not only the best all around hitter on the team but is also a threat on the basepaths. Youngster Frank Hawkins may not hit for average but possesses the raw power and patience at the plate to make him one of the most feared homerun threats in the division, if not the NL. 

Pitching staff: Complementing the offense is a capable rotation and a solid bullpen which inlcudes lights out closer Maicer Granados. Alex Guaradado is one of the more exciting rookie pitchers this season and will likely be the opening day starter for the Pirates. Protecting leads shouldn't be a problem for this staff.

The future: Don Wang and Willie Ozuna will one day provide depth to the pitching staff and make it that much stronger. Ozuna in particular will make a nice setup option for current closer Granados. In the field Anthony Hogan is an exciting prospect who projects to play a number of positions while hitting for average and could develop into one of the best base-stealers in the NL.

Washington D.C. Nationals - 

Starting 9: The Nats offense will go as rookie Jesus Cairo and Randy Taylor go. This is not necessarily a bad thing as they look to be consistent producers. Jared Orr deserves a mention as well. While he may not be nearly as good as Cairo or Taylor he should find himself on base consistently and could score a lot of runs if he hits in front of them. The rest of the lineup is passable and should get the job done in D.C.
Pitching staff: Tito Ellenwood and Reggie Perry are two solid parts of a solid rotation in Washington. However, the team lacks a dependable closer and their pitching depth is lacking. This is somewhat offset by a couple of LR's who can throw a lot of innings, but they'll really need to record a lot of outs to prevent fatigue from being an issue over the course of the season. 

The future: As if they needed any more starting pitching depth the Nats system includes a trio of future SP prospects lead by twenty one year old Pedro Planco. Position prospect Jumbo Cooper is a lot like the Pirates top prospect Anthony Hogan; capable of playing many positions, a solid all around bat and a threat on the basepaths. It should be fun to watch these two super prospects compete in the same division here in a couple seasons. 

How they will finish: Top to bottom the Pirates look like the class of the East. Their offense is easily the best in the division and they appear to have enough pitching to carry them through the long campaign. The Nationals shouldn't be overlooked but their lack of pitching depth may hurt them, in addition to not quite having enough offense to win the division. The Mets and Phillies will battle to stay out of the basement and it wouldn't be surprising to see both of these teams with a top 5 pick.

Washington D.C.
New York

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