http://l.yimg.com/pb/webplayer/0.9.18/flash/swfproxy.swf2012 NL East Preview
With 2011 now behind us, it’s time to look forward to the 2012 MLB season. Some teams have been busy this winter, but others have been rather quiet. Here is a list of what teams in the NL East need in order to contend in 2012.
Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies had the best record in all of baseball during 2011 as they went 102-60 before getting knocked out by the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs. Whatever you do, don’t blame their pitching for their early exit. Philadelphia posted a league best 3.02 team ERA, which is beyond ridiculous. Their pitching was decent enough to beat St. Louis, but their offense couldn’t come up with the clutch hits. The team hit .226 in the playoffs where players like Ryan Howard (.105 playoff average), Placido Polanco (.105), and normally clutch Carlos Ruiz (.059) came up short in October. Philadelphia did pick up closer Jonathan Papelbon, but I’m not sure how good of a move that was. If they can get a good outfield bat and figure out how to manufacture runs, they should be back in the World Series.
Atlanta Braves – The Braves had a historic late season collapse and missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. Overall though, they had a good season and have a very promising future. The main question for Atlanta, as it has been in the past, well forever, is will they get that big bat for the middle of the lineup. Freddie Freeman had a great rookie year, Dan Uggla had a killer second half, and Brian McCann had a good year while Tim Hudson held down the starting rotation (and still remains to be one of the most underrated players in the game), but they still need another bat to produce offense.
Washington Nationals – The Nationals had a good season as they finished in third with a respectable 80-81 record. I fully expect Washington to contend for the wildcard in 2012 thanks to their pitching. After acquiring Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics, they have a formidable rotation with a healthy Stephen Strasburg, John Lannan, and Jordan Zimmermann. Their bullpen is set with Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen on the back end. With a healthy Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, they should put up runs, and aren’t you interested to see how Bryce Harper will do this year?
New York Mets – Surprisingly they will actually field a team this year. Unfortunately for them, David Wright can’t play all nine positions. If this team even sniffs .500, I will be majorly surprised. Jason Bay has been a joke since coming over as a free agent and it would be a treat for New York if he can even earn half of his salary.
Miami Marlins – What an offseason for the Marlins. New name, new stadium, new uniforms, new manager, new starting pitcher, new shortstop, and new closer. Did I miss anything? Oh yea, they are still the Marlins. If Jose Reyes AND Hanley Ramirez can stay healthy, this team can be scary, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on that. Mike Stanton is a monster at the plate. As for their rotation, they will need Josh Johnson to stay off the DL, but besides him and Buehrle, no one scares me on their staff.