Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Breakdown Of The National League 2008 Baseball Season

What I plan to do here, so long as my power doesn't blow out which has been happening a lot in this area lately, is to go through each team in order of how I think they'll finish in their division and highlight some of their key players. Now onto the National League.......

NL East

1. New York Mets - It was very tough deciding between whether I should put the Mets or Phillies in first place, especially after what happened last season. Though I think the Phillies squad is more reliable than the Mets' batters, I have to give it to the Mets because of that unbelivable piutching rotation of Santana, Martinez (if healthy), Maine, Perez, and Hernandez. Also, Wagner is still an excellent closer. However, though I pick the Mets to go to the World Series this year against the Tigers, they have the same problem as the Tigers. That is, their roster is filled with old players who either get hurt (Alou, Beltran, Martinez) or forget how to bat by the end of the season (Delgado).

2. Philadelphia Phillies - Again, it was tough to list the Mets as first and the Phillies as second and I admit you can make an argument to flip this around. Hamels, Myers, and Moyer are OK pitchers, but don't equal up to the Mets' pitchers. The acquisition of Lidge was a bad move because he isn't a great closer anymore. However, where the Phillies shine is in their big, scary bats of Howard, Burrell, Utley, Jenkins, and Victorino.

3. Atlanta Braves - My favorite team, the Braves, are now just a team of their past. I thought they were bad last year, well, they'll be worse this year with the loss of Andruw Jones and the acquisition of Tom Glavine, who is old, terrible, and led the Mets to their final defeat of the year last year. Again, like the Phillies, the Braves pitching rotation of Smoltz, Hudson, Glavine, and James are very good in their own right, in fact they are better than the Phillies' starting pitchers, but can't equal the Mets. However, the Braves' bullpen is just atrocious and a major reason why they lose. Their batting is still very good though, highlighted by Jones, Teixeira, McCann, Francoeur, and Johnson.

4. Florida Marlins - Like deciding whether I wanted to put the Mets or Phillies at first, I'm having a hard time deciding whether I want to put the Marlins or Nationals in last. The Marlins starting rotation isn't worth mentioning nor is their bullpen spectacular. However, I like their hitting better than the Nationals, with Uggla, McPherson, Hermida, and Jacobs as highlights.

5. Washington Nationals - Their starting pitching isn't memorable and their bullpen is even worse, except for Chad Cordero. They have some decent hitting (Mo Pena, Milledge, and Kearns), but nothing amazing to speak of. The Marlins and Nationals are solely meant for teams like the Mets, Phillies, and even Braves to beat up on.

NL Central (Probably the toughest division)

1. St. Louis Cardinals - Their staring pitching (Wainwright, Looper, Mulder, Reyes) are mediocore, but Isringhausen is still a reliable closer. Their hitting is very powerful in the big bats of Pujols, Duncan, Glaus, and Ankiel. I believe the Cards will be back in first this year.

2. Chicago Cubs - Zambrano, Hill, Lilly, and Marquis make for a solid rotation, though their bullpen isn't all that great. Still they have the best leadoff hitter in baseball (Soriano) and the scary bats of Ramirez and Lee.

3. Houston Astros - The addition of Tejada is lovely, but still won't save this team. Oswalt and Backe are very good starting pitchers and Villarreal and Valverde are excellent in their bullpen, but their hitting is still poor, only highlighted by Tejada and Berkman.

4. Milwaukee Brewers - Eh. Sheets and Suppan are good starters, but that's about it. Gagne and Turnbow aren't reliable in the bullpen anymore and once you pitch around Fielder all the other batters are just so-so.

5. Cincinnati Reds - This team is very unpredictable, but I predict they'll do bad. Harang is their only good starter, but Cordero can save them in the bullpen. Their hitting is either old or inconsistent, but I would still highlight Griffey Jr., Dunn, Phillips, and Encarnacion has reliable hitters.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates - This team may surprise people, but I can't see it happening. I mean, Snell and Duke are young starting pitchers just waiting to break out, but they consistently are bad. Their bullpen is a bunch of bull. However, their hitting is at least mediocre, highlighted by LaRoche, Bay, Nady, and McLouth.

NL West (Another Tough Division)

1. Los Angeles Dodgers - All the work the Dodgers have put into this team should pay off. If the Mets don't go to the World Series, this team would be my next choice to represent the National League. Penny, Lowe, and Schmidt are still excellent starters, as is Saito in their bullpen. Their hitting is an excellent mix of pesky speed (Furcal, Pierre) and very good hitting (Kent, Garciaparra, Martin, Jones). Oh, and they got one of the best managers in baseball, Joe Torre. Man, the Yankees and their fans are harsh. Do they forget what how much good Torre did for the Yankees?

2. San Diego Padres - If any team in this division is going to give the Dodgers trouble, it would be the Padres. Peavy, Maddux, and Wolf can put up a fight with the Dodgers' pitching and Hoffman is still one of the best closers in baseball. Barrett, Greene, Giles, and Edmonds are their standout hitters, but their other batters are decent as well.

3. Colorado Rockies - Was last season a fluke? It had to be. Looking at this team I don't see what the big deal is. Francis is a great starter, but that's about it. Their bullpen (Fuentes, Vizcaino, Corpas) is actually pretty good and their batters (Holliday, Atkins, Helton, Torrealba, Hawpe) I'm sure are better known now after last season. Still, we won't see a repeat performance.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks - Again, the starting pitching (Webb, Haren, Owings) is very good and can face other pitching rotations. However, I can not say the same for the Diamondbacks' bullpen or hitting, with honorable mention to Drew and Byrnes.

5. San Fransisco Giants - The Barry Bonds controversy should be the least of this team's worries. Their starters are terrible with the exception of Lowry. Their bullpen is...well there isn't one. As far as hitting, Molina, Rowand, and Winn make this team look like an MLB team.

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