Washington D.C. 76-86
New York Mets 68-94
-- I predicted last season that captains Pirates would top the East and jonbonky would bring up the rear. I literally couldn't have been more wrong as the two teams finished exactly opposite to what I predicted. The division as a whole was weak and Philly won the division with a .500 record. This is a fun division to call because the Pittsburgh squad has much more to offer than last seasons finish and they got slightly better by promoting some prospects. However, Philadelphia has called up a number of prospects who will only add to the quality of the squad. It feels like the division is theirs to lose but I wouldn't be surprised if the Pirates push them until late in the season. I would also expect both teams to make the playoffs regardless of who takes the division title.
New York Mets
I basically trashed the Phillies in lasts seasons prediction and even though they had the lowest winning percentage of any of the division winners they performed way above expectations. The pitching staff that I dubbed "one of the worst in the league" not only stayed out of the statistical basement but were slightly above average in most categories. SP's Jarrett Hermann and midseason call up Erubiel Fernandez were the best on the rotation although both ended with a bunch of no decisions. A number of departures has opened up a handful of roster spots in Season 2 and jonbonky has tapped his minor leagues to add some quality to the staff. Of these SP Turner Reese represents maybe the biggest upgrade.
A number of rookies will take the stage for the Phillies and together the four of them could take this offense from below average to above average. First baseman Jason Karnuth and SS/3B Luther Ciarncross could be the new faces of this franchise after the season and both could make a push for NL ROY. Either way I'm sure RF Alberto Carrasco will appreciate any contribution to the offense coming off of a season where he hit .320 with 43 homers and 125 RBI. This offense is easily the most improved in the NL East and should back the improved pitching.
Last season the Phils had major success in the scouting department scoring two big time prospects. The first, SP Horacio Vincente out of the Dominican, has the potential to be one of the more dominant starters in the NL and possibly a Cy Young candidate if they can get enough innings out of him. With the 12th overall pick the Phils chose SP Ernest Mantei, who should be a nice back end starter. Even after promoting a bunch of pitchers Philly still has depth in the system with blue chippers Lonny Redondo and Gallahad Farrell. This system remains well stocked even after a raid by the parent club.
RF Alberto Carrasco
RF Alberto Carrasco
Washington D.C. Nationals
Randy Taylor had a great season at second base for the Nationals, winning the Silver Slugger for the position after hitting .294 with 35 bombs and 98 RBI. Benny Romero had a very solid season as well and was one of the only guys to support Taylor at the plate. Somewhat hyped rookie catcher Jesus Cairo disappointed to an extent. While his power output was as to be expected at 15 but his average was severely lacking at .245. He will need to pick it up and contribute more to the offense if the Nats want to compete for the division, especially since there are no additions being made to the offense this season.
Tito Ellenwood and Reggie Perry had solid seasons as starters and probably deserved to win more games than they did (16 and 13, respectively). Randall McGuire is a promising SP prospect who had a decent rookie season, 3.98 ERA /1.42 WHIP in 126.2 IP's, but only has two pro seasons under his belt and should continue to grow into a nice third starter. New owner nesman added starter Ubaldo Valdes to add depth to the rotation, although he won't provide the kind of shot in the arm needed to take them to the top of the division.
The Nats scored two decent prospects last season in SP Yorman Gabriel out of the Dominican and Neifi Flores with the 27th overall pick. Even without Gabriel and Flores the Nats still have a very strong minor league system with blue chip SP's Pedro Polanco and Jimmie Sanchez. Both of these guys are top of the rotation starters and should join the big league club full time within the next two seasons.
P Tito Ellenwood
2B Randy Taylor
New York Mets
The Mets pitching in S1 was nothing to write home about but was the best facet of the team as they ranked just about average in most statistical categories. Unfortunately the offense wasn't there to back the starters and the win totals for the rotation from S1 will reflect that. In particular, rookie SP Ray Rowand only finished 6-13 despite a not so bad 4.09 ERA and and respectable 1.30 WHIP. The Mets added some pieces in the offseason in Miguel and Petey Valentin (no relation), but the jury is out on how much they will help the rotation. If the offense can pick it up they may be able to back the starters for some more wins in S2 and claw their way up the NL East.
Francisco Lee, Carl Porter and Emil Wilfredo led the Mets offense in S1 with Wilfredo and Porter posting .313 and .328 averages, respectively. However, Lee was let go as an FA and signed in Montreal. The three combined for 95 homers and 258 RBI . After them, though, good offensive performances were scant. The Mets didn't really add any major pieces during the offseason so unless the supporting cast can really step up it will probably be another losing season in Queens.
The Mets have some nice looking prospects down on the farm with guys like 1B Tommy Pence and C Deacon Daniels. Daniels is on track to be a full time ML'er by S4 while Pence looks for a S5 debut with a permanent S6 promotion. Both guys victimize pitchers at the ML level and Pence can straight up tear the cover off the ball and already has an elite level plate discipline while still at HiA ball. SP prospect Johnny Hall could help the ML team now but squeezing out one more season of development from the 23 year old may benefit the team more over the long haul.
C Carl Porter
3B Emil Wilfredo
2B Francisco Rivera
The Pirates were one of those teams who suffered from below par performances both at the plate and on the hill. This team is capable of a much better record than 65-97 and I fully expect them to vastly improve on that mark this season. To help out the offense marble26 has called up big bopping 1B Derek Champion, a switch hitter with a ton of power and plate discipline. He'll join the already dangerous second baseman Joey Lockwood who hit .303 last season with 27 homers and 105 RBI, nice production from that position. Pirates fans should put last seasons performance at the dish out of their minds and expect an exciting year from the Bucs bats this season.
Alex Guardado was simply electric as a 22 year old rookie last season, posting 13 wins with a 2.09 ERA and 1.12 WHIP and was rewarded for his first half performance with an All Star nod. Veteran closer Maicer Granados was a disappointment last season with a bloated 4.52 ERA.Starter Mike Rupe proved undependable and allowed the opposition to nearly hit .300 (.294). Rookie RP Malcolm Towers makes his way to the big leagues this season and although he didn't develop as the Bucs would have liked he will add a solid arm to the bullpen. The Pirates added nothing else in the offseason and have no real reason to, like their offensive counterparts I'd expect their staff to step up this season and compete for a division title.
RP Willie Ozuna and SP Don Wang are at most a season and a half away from needing to look for living space in Pittsburgh and will provide nice depth to the pitching staff. Anthony Hogan, a legit shortstop prospect with a bat to go with it also remains only a year, year and a half away from the big league squad. Going into his 5th season in the minors you would wonder how much more development the AAA coaching staff can squeeze out of him but even if he stopped progressing right now he would be a great option at second base with his combination of hitting ability and speed. The Bucs suffered from a large embarrassment by outgoing brass, captain10a, when they drafted sure-gloved CF prospect Farmer Wagner and then never sent him bus tickets to rookie ball despite giving him a $1.75M bonus. In response Wagner took his talents South Beach... or somewhere other than Pittsburgh.
P Alex Guardado