Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mass Hysteria's Super Spectacular Baseball Preview - NL East

Baseball season is almost upon us. As the weather (hopefully) gets warmer, we at Mass Hysteria will be previewing all of MLB's divisions to prepare you for what will inevitably take over your life over the next seven months. The format is eerily similar to what HZMLS did with our NFL Previews, so I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery. This is Part 3 of 6: The NL East.

In case you missed it, Part 1 & Part 2.

We have a very special treat for you today here at MH. Deadspin commenter, vagrant, and all-around class act Matt T (he also writes here when he's not fingerbanging rich girls from Buckhead) has offered to write the preview for us. And since he's a Braves fan, I'm sure it will be 100% non-biased. Take it away, Matt.

Atlanta Braves

Why The Braves Will Win The NL East

By going back to what won them division from ’91-05. Pitching. After losing 4/5ths of their rotation last year to injury, Frank Wren upgraded by adding Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami and Javier Vasquez. Vasquez should see an improvement by moving to the NL and a pitcher friendly park. The bullpen is also bolstered by the return of Peter Moylan and Mike Gonzalez.

Why The Braves Won't Win The NL East

The outfield. Atlanta had a glaring lack of production from their outfield last year. Jeff ‘never met a pitch he wouldn’t swing at’ Francoeur led the parade of suck with the worst VORP for an every day player. The team is going with Jordan Schafer, a rookie in CF, Frenchy in LF and a platoon of Matt Diaz and old man Garrett Anderson in RF.

Florida Marlins

Why The Marlins Will Win The NL East

Its been six years. The Marlins won in 1997 and then again in 2003. They are due to win it again in 2009. The team’s strength is in its youngsters. Cameron Maybin is the latest greatest youngster who will be fantastic for 3 years before savvy evil owner Loria trades him for three high schoolers. With Maybin leading off Hanley Ramirez will be moved down to the three spot, and he should thrive in that role.

Why The Marlins Won't Win The NL East

Their defense and their bullpen. Ramirez and Uggla can hit, but they field about as well as your fat 10 year old cousin. And the Marlins can’t hide Ramirez or Uggla in left. Florida pitchers will have to work around these errors and that will put added pressure on the bullpen which is already full of question marks.

New York Mets

Why The Mets Will Win The NL East

A team can’t choke three Septembers in a row. Omar Minaya addressed the biggest weakness on the team and added JJ Putz and Frankie Rodriguez to the bullpen. That makes Johan Santana a very happy man. The returning players from last year should see an uptick in numbers as they no longer have to play in the cesspool of Shea Stadium.

Why The Mets Won't Win The NL East

Because they are the Mets. Come on. Does anyone really think the Mets have what it takes? John Maine had a horrible spring and was still working on his mechanics as camp ended, and Oliver Perez has struggled as well. After a very strong 1-5 in the lineup the offense falls off a cliff with Ryan “concussion” Church, Bryan Schneider and Luis Castillo.

Philadelphia Phillies

Why The Phillies Will Win The NL East

Oh no questions asked, The best offense in the league. The Phillies led the league last year in runs per game. Now that Utley’s hip no longer feels like an arthritic grandma’s the offense will be rocking and Rollinsing again. Raul Ibanez should be able to replace Pat’s bat just fine.

Why The Phillies Won't Win The NL East

Pitching. Cole Hamels is an ace, but he has an elbow ouchie and is going to miss opening day. Country Joe Blanton is the type of pitcher who shouldn’t pitch in CBP, Jamie Moyer is older than your great grandfather and Brett Myers is a lunatic. There are too many questions about the rotation. Lidge was perfect in 2008, and he can only go downhill from there. Raul Ibanez is likely to cost this team a few runs with his ‘fielding’ in left.

Washington Nationals

Why The Nationals Will Win The NL East

Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge live up to their potential. The Nats added tater-tottin’ Adam Dunn, but it won’t do much good unless Dukes and Milledge can get on base ahead of him.

Why The Nationals Won't Win The NL East

Pitching. Their ‘ace’ is John Lannan. Who? Exactly. The team is also counting on Daniel Cabrera, and as we’ve seen the past few season any time a team counts on Daniel Cabrera, they’re headed for disaster.

Matt T's pick to win the NL East: The East will be the division to watch this year. PECOTA and CHONE both predict the Mets, Braves, and Phillies all to finish within 3 games of each other. The wildcard winner will likely come out of this division as well. I think the Phillies pitching has too many question marks to keep up with New York and Atlanta. The Mets will manage not to choke this year, but the Braves will sneak back into the postseason with the wild card berth.

Smarty Barrett's pick to win the NL East: As a Sox fan, I can attest: it's hard to repeat. As World Champions, as Division Champions, hell, anything. That's why I'm going to stick with the Ny Mets, my favorite baseball squadron! They can't blow it THREE years in a row...right?

GHABB,Y's pick to win the NL East: Just to piss off Matt T, I'm gonna go with the Mets. They shored up their Hindenberg-esque bullpen, they have David Wright, and they lead the league in Dominicans, who are awesome at baseball unless they're playing the Dutch. Though I wish that the Chinese guy from South Park was an official greeter at Citi Field.

What say you, readers?