Posts Tagged ‘National League’

2009 MLB Baseball Divisional Betting Odds

April 15th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in MLB Baseball   Comments Off on 2009 MLB Baseball Divisional Betting Odds

The official start of the 2009 Major League Baseball Season is well underway two weeks into the season. There are many teams who have got off to solid quick starts while other favored teams have gotten off to slow starts. We take a brief look at the Division breakdowns and current betting odds along with what to expect this season. Be sure to jump on these betting tips and current division odds located at the bottom of the page in time to get the most profit out of picking a division winner in 2009.

American League East
Talk about a stacked division the American League East is loaded with talent. In this division alone you could pick the majority of the AL All-Star team. Tampa Bay had the breakout season last year winning the division and making it to the World Series. The Devil Rays will have the dominant pitching rotation back again this season.. However, for them to win the division again this season they will have to hold off New York and Boston. The Red Sox have gotten off to a terribly slow 3-6 start, but expect them to get things rolling soon. The Red Sox signed the popular John Smoltz along with 5 other free agents in the off season that could give help. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester should make it tough for opposing teams. The Red Sox went 7 games with Tampa Bay last season barely missing out on World Series dreams. New York spent enough money in the off-season to pay off most teams’ entire rosters. The big signing with C.C Sabathia should be huge. The most talented team in baseball keeps throwing more money out every year, but still has not had the results Yankees fans have been expecting. Will this year be any different?

Pick – New York money finally pays off and they come on strong after the midway point of the season

American League Central
Welcome to the most wide open division in Major League Baseball. The AL Central could be up for grabs with every team in the division. The Central may not be the overpowering division considering after the first 9 games there is a first place tie with a .556 winning percentage. Chicago won the division last season, but there will be a lot of question surrounding how well they will swing the sticks in 2009. Minnesota has a lot of talent on the roster, but how the young lineup will perform is still a mystery. Cleveland was predicted to be a slight favorite by some entering the season. However, after a 2-7 start it looks like the tribe is headed back down another letdown type road. In Detroit, this will be the make or break season for manager Jim Leyland as the Tigers are feeling the pressure that they must put together some success after some big moves financially before last season. Sadly the AL Central could be taken down by a team that does not even reach the 100 wins barrier.

Pick – No Play Here

American League West
The Los Angeles Angels are the biggest favorites for any team in their respected division in the league. The Angels will have a load of weapons to swing the bats especially with the addition of Bobby Abreu. The Angels are off to a rather slow 3-4 start, but expect them to pick it up. Seattle jumped out to the early 6-2 record to lead the division. The Mariners defense should be strong, but how the pitching staff will hold up will be the biggest concern especially towards the end of the season. Oakland is expected to be solid in the West. However, the A’s were ranked in the bottom of nearly every offensive category last year and that much change if there is to be room for success. Texas should be a very strong team with the bats led by Josh Hamilton who had a big year in 2008. However, they are another team with pitching concerns that will determine how much success they achieve in 2009.

Pick – Angels

National League East
Usually when you have the defending World Champions in your division the following year you are considered a rather big underdog. However Florida, New York and Atlanta will make legitimate claims to the best team in the NL East this season in the toughest division in the National League. Amazingly 4 teams have a shot to win this division though surely we will see that narrow down as the season progresses. Atlanta signed Derrick Lowe and some other solid names to get the pitching rotation back to dominant form. Philadelphia’s chances of repeating likely may rely on the health of Cole Hamels. Philadelphia should be strong again, but it has been nearly 25 years since a NL team repeated as World Champions. New York brought in closer Francisco Rodriguez to help the bullpen who looked simply bad at the end of last season. The Mets should be solid with the bats as well. However, while not much is said about Florida they have jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead in the division. The Marlins are pretty similar to last year when they closed out the season winning 15 of their last 20 games and can definitely contend.

Pick – Take a gamble with Florida, they definitely can win in bunches.

National League Central
The National League Central may turn out to be a closer battle than many are predicting. The Chicago Cubs hold the advantage heading into the early part of the season with a strong offense and possibly the best rotation top to bottom. However, St. Louis was an upset pick to watch heading in and they are off to a quick 7-3 start. The Cardinals undoubtedly have the best defense in the division. St. Louis has some concerns surrounding the bullpen, but if Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter can remain healthy the Cardinals should be fine. Still the Cubs will be the team to beat, but expect St. Louis to be the surprise this year in the NL Central.

Pick – Surely Chicago can’t mess this one up

National League West
San Diego has jumped out to a quick lead in the National League West with a 6-2 record and winners of 5 straight games. However, they split their first series with the Dodgers who have the most balanced line-up in the division. The Dodgers have Rafael Furcal returning to the lineup after missing most of last season that should give them a good boost not to mention the renegotiating deal with Manny Ramirez that should keep the Dodgers as favorites. Arizona will have a super bullpen that should give them the ability to play with most. San Diego has a big star emerging in first baseman Adrian Gonzalez that should help the offense quite a bit. Still once the season gets into full swing it will be hard to bet against the Dodgers who could be the best in the National League.

Pick – Dodgers easily

Current MLB Divisional Odds as of 4/15/09 From BetUS Sportsbook & Casino:
Get a 100% signup bonus at BetUS using this link & mentioning Bankroll Sports when joining!

Baltimore +5000
Boston +140
New York EV
Toronto +400
Tampa Bay +2500

Chicago +400
Cleveland +250
Detroit +275
Kansas City +450
Minnesota +300

Los Angeles -125
Oakland +275
Seattle +900
Texas +500

Atlanta +350
Florida +600
New York +110
Philadelphia +200
Washington +3000

Chicago -225
Cincinnatti +1700
Houston +1800
Milwaukee +800
Pittsburgh +3500
St. Louis +350

Arizona +175
Colorado +800
Los Angeles EV
San Diego +1500
San Francisco +500

2009 National League West Preview

March 14th, 2009 by Rodney James (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in MLB Baseball   1 Comment »

The National League West could be the toughest of the six divisions to predict. Is it parity or is it mediocrity? It appears the division is up for grabs in 2009, but with the Dodgers recently re-signing Manny Ramirez, it appears it is the Dodgers division to lose. Last season the Dodgers won just 84 games, but came up with the title, and also a first round playoff sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Los Angeles, Arizona and San Francisco appear to have solid pitching, while the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have the offense that has proved the most. San Francisco looks to have made the best improvements over the off-season, so it should be very interesting out West.

As the Arizona Diamondbacks workout in their home state – Tucson Arizona, they look to figure out what went wrong in the final month, falling just two games short of winning the division. Arizona finished with an 82-80 record in 2008. Despite losing Randy Johnson to the Giants, the addition of Jon Garland to join Brandon Webb and Dan Haren should make the rotation even more lethal. Max Scherzer should get a shot in the rotation this season at #5. Scherzer has been noted to have electric stuff, but his 0-4 2008 season, along with a shoulder injury, left Arizona with some question marks regarding their youngster. Arizona also picked up second basemen Felipe Lopez to replace Orlando Hudson. The Diamondbacks lost Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz out of the bullpen, but hope to get productive pitching from veterans Tom Gordon and Scott Schoeneweis. Offensively, it looks like a logjam in the outfield with four guys vying for three positions. Eric Byrnes may be the odd man out with guys like Connor Jackson, Chris Young and Justin Upton getting the nod. Byrnes has put up productive numbers in an Arizona uniform, but was hampered in 2008 by injuries, just playing in 52 games. Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew should take care of the offense from the infield positions as guys like Tony Clark and Chad Tracy wait in the wings.

The Colorado Rockies come into the 2009 season losing their top hitter and their best reliever out of the bullpen. As the Rockies start the season in their training facility in Tucson Arizona, they look for ways to improve upon their 74-88 2008 record. Jeff Francis is likely to miss the entire 2009 season, as he will have shoulder surgery. Jason Marquis was signed by Colorado to shore up the back end of the rotation, and Huston Street was added to replace former closer Brian Fuentes. Who is going to replace Matt Holliday’s numbers is still a major concern. The Rockies rotation appears to be relatively deep despite losing Francis. Aaron Cook, and Ubaldo Jimenez will anchor the rotation in a division that sees Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. Jorge De La Rosa will also vie for a position in the rotation. Offensively, youngsters Carols Gonzalez, Seth Smith, and Jeff Baker will look to replace Holliday Smith hit .323 in Colorado Springs last season, and played in centerfield late in the season for Colorado. Gonzalez played last season in Oakland, hitting just .242 in 85 games. He was traded over in part in the Matt Holliday trade. The Rockies hope Coors Field helps boost Gonzalez’ offensive numbers. Garrett Atkins, Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki will need to put up superior numbers for the young Colorado lineup. Chris Iannetta and Yorvit Torrealba should split time behind the plate for Colorado.

The defending National League West Champion, Los Angeles Dodgers made their move just recently finally reaching an agreement with outfielder Manny Ramirez. With Ramirez last season the Dodgers won the NL West and also won a first round playoff series. Ramirez shows up to Glendale Arizona seeing several of his 2008 teammates gone. Gone are veterans Jeff Kent, Andruw Jones, Derek Low and Brad Penny. The Dodgers helped Ramirez in the lineup with the re-signing Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal. Russell Martin continues to improve and may be the best catcher in baseball both offensively and defensively. Los Angeles added protection for Martin, but signing Brad Ausmus to be his back up. On the mound Randy Wolf was signed to eat up innings from the left-handed side. A prospect that may make a huge impact for the Dodgers this season is James McDonald. At 6’5, McDonald played first base in high school, and in the outfield in minor leagues, he throws mid 90’s, and could be thrown into the rotation, or used out of the bullpen. The starting rotation appears to be Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw and Jason Schmidt 1-4. Schmidt has not pitched in the major leagues since 2007, but after having shoulder surgery Schmidt may finally be able to produce again. The fifth starter looks to be a toss-up between Randy Wolf, Claudio Vargas, Shawn Estes, Eric Stults and James McDonald. Johnathan Broxton should lead the bullpen, which appears to have some unknowns under manager Joe Torre. Guys like Hong-Chih Kuo, Cory Wade and Ramon Troncoso will take their turns looking to throw in the middle innings.

As the San Diego Padres continue to work in Peoria Arizona, they will look to find any way they can to forget their dismal 2008 season. The Padres finished with a league worst 63-99 record, for last place in the NL West. The Padres are now under new ownership led by Jeff Moorad, replacing former owner John Moores. While Moores was leading the organization, their payroll lowered to nearly $40 million. During the off-season, San Diego traded Khalil Green to St. Louis and elected to not re-sign Trevor Hoffman. The Padres added a spark plug at the top of their offense in shortstop David Eckstein. Despite all the off-season talk about Jake Peavy moving to a new location, he still remains in San Diego. Will Peavy finish the season in San Diego? That is a question that will be asked throughout the entire season. With Peavy and Chris Young in the rotation, should be unknowns such as Cha Seug Baek, Kevin Correla and Josh Geer. Youngsters such as Chad Reineke, Wade LeBlanc and Will Inman will wait in the wings for when needed. Heath Bell and Cla Meredith should anchor a bullpen with some ability to be solid. Mike Adams, Mark Worrell and Chris Britton will look to put up quality numbers as well. San Diego may be looking to youngster Mark Antonelli to fill in at second base. Antonelli was the Padres first round draft choice in 2006, but hit just .215 in AAA last season. Jody Gerut, Brian Giles and Chase Headley should fill the outfield with Cliff Floyd and Scott Hairston coming off the bench. Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff should fill the corner infield positions and bat in the middle of the lineup.

The fifth and final team in the National League West is the San Francisco Giants. The Giants finished 72-90 last season, placing 4th place in the division. The Giants had the best off-season adding Edgar Renteria to play shortstop and veteran Randy Johnson to help Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain out in the rotation. Johnson should benefit from a pitcher friendly AT+T Par. If Barry Zito could regain any of his former production, the Giants rotation has the potential to match anyone in the National League. At the bottom of the rotation is Johnathan Sanchez, who is just 26 years old. San Francisco also added Jeremy Affeldt and Bobby Howry to help set up closer Brian Wilson. Wilson saved 41 of 47 games for the Giants in 2008. The weakness for the Giants will be their offense. Can the Giants find an offense that can keep them competitive in the National League? Pablo Sandoval, Bengie Molina and Fred Lewis appear to be the meat of the order, with veterans like Randy Winn, Edgar Renteria and Aaron Roward sandwiched in between. To be successful, it appears the Giants will need to win a lot of 2-1, 3-2 ball games.

Who will win the National League West in 2009?

  • San Francisco Giants (42%, 36 Votes)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (30%, 26 Votes)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (10%, 9 Votes)
  • San Diego Padres (9%, 8 Votes)
  • Colorado Rockies (8%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 86

2009 National League Central Preview

March 10th, 2009 by Rodney James (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in MLB Baseball   Comments Off on 2009 National League Central Preview

Within the National League Central, no team made a single impact move that will catapult a team into the World Series. But, the Cubs continue to have the best team in the division on paper, but as we have seen in past years, on paper means very little.

Chicago CubsIn Mesa Arizona, the Chicago Cubs are trying to figure out what went wrong in October of 2008. The Cubs flamed out in three straight games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chicago did not make any major additions to improve the team, but they did not have to in order to win the NL Central. The Cubs were close on acquiring Jake Peavy from San Diego, but were not able to pull the trigger. The Cubs did pick-up Milton Bradley to help in the outfield, and they also re-signed Ryan Dempster to assist in the starting rotation. Chicago’s bullpen took a hit when they elected not to re-sign Kerry Wood, instead picking up Kevin Gregg, who appears to be the set-up man for new closer Carlos Marmol. Chicago also let Mark DeRosa go to a trade, which may hinder the Cubs versatility. The starting rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly Chicago should have a rotation that can match anyone in baseball. Harden appears to be the starting pitcher every seven days to give his arm a rest. The question for Chicago is who can fill in as the fifth pitcher, and also the health of Harden, who has had arm problems year after year. With the addition of Kevin Gregg, along with Chad Gaudin, the Cubs bullpen should be solid in the back end, but will Marmol be ready to fill the role as the closer for the Cubs? Offensively, Bradley should help an already powerful lineup with Alfonso Soriano, Derrick Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the mix. Centerfield will be a rotation of Kosuke Fukudome and Reed Johnson. Fukudome sort of lost some love with the Chicago fans after a dismal second half of the season.

Cincinnati RedsIn Sarasota Florida the Cincinnati Reds have high hopes for a 2009 season. A year after finishing 74-88 for fifth place in the NL Central the Reds have gotten younger and healthier. General Manager Walt Jocketty elected not to re-sign Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr., instead adding Willy Tavaras and Ramon Hernandez to the mix. Cincinnati will definitely be counting on young talent, as opposed to aging veterans. The left field position is the most challenging position in Sarasota, as it appears to be a battle between Jerry Hairston Jr., Chris Dickerson, Jonny Gomes and newcomer Jacque Jones. Hairston spent his 2008 season playing in 80 games, hitting a career high .326. Dickerson played in just 31 games as a rookie, hitting .304 with 6 homeruns, and Gomes comes over from Tampa Bay with good talent, but questionable defense. Jones has been around, and is spending another season in a different uniform. Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips should anchor the offensive load, but pitching is where the major question marks lie. Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto, along with Homer Bailey have an abundance of talent, but consistency has yet to be seen. Bailey spent last season up and down, and while with the big club, he went 0-6 with a 7.93 era. Volquez came up with a CY Young type season in 2008 starting 32 games and picking up a 17-6 record and a 3.21 era. Cueto struggling during 2008 starting 31 games, winning 9 and losing 14. Cueto’s era ballooned up to 5+ at one point in the season, finally settling at 4.81 on the season. Aaron Harang had a horrid 2008 season going 6-17 with a 4.78 era. His season snapped a string of four straight year of winning 10+ games. One guy to look out for is youngster Yonder Alonso. Alonso was the 7th pick in the 2008 draft. He has big time power, but with Joey Votto manning first base, Cincinnati may have to do some creative thinking.

Houston AstrosWhen your top free agent signing is a 36-year-old pitcher that has made just 13 starts in three seasons, things are not promising. Mike Hampton will join the Houston Astros pitching staff that will once again be anchored by Roy Oswalt. The rest of the staff is very questionable, with Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Backe and Brian Moehler looking to find consistency. If one falters, look for Bud Norris to get a look with the big team. Norris has a fastball upwards of 97mph and had scouts drooling in the Arizona Fall League The Astros come into the season after finishing in third place in 2008 with an 86-75 record, due in large part to Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Berkman will once again man first base for the Astros. In 2008 Berkman hit .312 with 29 homeruns and 106 knocked in. Brad Ausmus has left the team after several years, and the spring training battle is at the catchers’ position. Houston has Jason Castro waiting in the wings, but until then guys like Humberto Quintero, J.R. Towles and Toby Hall all will fight for playing time.

Milwaukee BrewersA year after the Milwaukee Brewers reached the playoffs, they come into their spring training home in Phoenix Arizona with a bevy of questions for the 2009 season. After losing both CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets to free agency, the Brewers are going to search hard for quality starting pitching. The Brewers signed Braden Looper to go along with Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra and Chris Capuano. Looper looks to be an innings eater for a young staff. Gallardo hopes this is the year he turns his electric stuff into a staff ace. Gallardo missed most of the 2008 season with an injury, as did left-hander Chris Capuano. The Brewers recently released set-up man Eric Gagne to go rehab a shoulder that has been bothering him for sometime. Milwaukee will need some help from the bullpen in order to compete at the level they did in 2008. To close games for Milwaukee will be 41-year-old Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman posted his worst ERA since 1995 in 2008 with a 3.77. Offensively, the Brewers should have enough to compete. With Ryan Braun turning himself into a mega star, along with big man Prince Fielder manager Ken Macha will have an enjoyable time putting the pieces together in the lineup. Bill Hall struggled at the plate last year, but will seemingly improve upon his .225 average. If he is not able to get the job done, veteran Mike Lamb and youngsters Matt Gamel and Casey McGehee will get a definite look. At shortstop J.J Hardy should be the every day starter, but if he is not able to produce look for Alcides Escobar to his shot. Regarded as a top defensive player in the minor league, Escobar also hit .328 in Double A last season.

Pittsburgh PiratesIn Bradenton Florida, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to end a 16-year streak in which the team finished below .500. This season looks to continue that streak unless some of the young talent they have attempted to stockpile can come through. After trading Jason Bay away in 2008 Pittsburgh finished the season 17-37 to finish 67-95. The Pirates did very little in the way of free agency in 2009, as they signed Ramon Vazquez and Eric Hinske. Hinske is coming off his best season in the major leagues since he won Rookie of the Year in 2002. Adam and Andy LaRoche will anchor the offense along with Nate McLouth. The question with the LaRoche brothers is, can they put two halves together? Adam LaRoche hit .304 in the second half of the season after putting up horrid numbers in the first half in 2008. His brother Andy, who will man third base, has not quite lived up to the hype that made him the Dodgers top prospect a few years ago. Pittsburgh relies heavily on the LaRoche brothers, so the sooner they can provide solid offense, the better. Gold Glover Nate McLouth may be on his way to moving to left field to make room for a power hitting prospect in Andrew McCutchen. The 22 year old spent last season in AAA Indianapolis and appears to have all the tools for a major league outfielder. It will be tough to remove McLouth from the lineup anytime soon, as his 2008 season was solid hitting .276 and banging 26 homeruns. He also hit for 46 doubles, leading the team. Manager John Russell is scratching his head with the starting rotation in place, but hopefully for Pittsburgh new pitching coach Joe Kerrigan can calm some of the youngsters on the staff down, and turn them into winners.

St Louis CardinalsFor the St. Louis Cardinals, three years removed from their tenth World Series Championship, the team appears to be stuck in a period of transition. With general manager John Mozeliak in his second year on the job, he has done a nice job of developing the farm system, but has yet to produce a championship caliber team at the professional level. The Cardinals drew over 3.4 million fans and they have the NL MVP, but as a whole, fall just short of playoff contention. At 86-76 last season, the Cardinals may have upgraded at shortstop, signing Khalil Greene, and letting Adam Kennedy go. Greene hit just .213 last season, but appears to be a better hit than that, and has more pop than Kennedy. Troy Glaus is going to miss the first two months of the season, so who will fill in at third base, and support Albert Pujols in the lineup is the big question. As the Cardinals train in Jupiter Florida they are keeping a keen eye on the 2005 CY Young award winner Chris Carpenter. He claims he is feeling great, and others are saying he is pitching well. Dave Duncan the Cardinals pitching coach has done miracle work with aging players before; he will be looked heavily upon to work Carpenter back into form. With Carpenter healthy, and adding in Adam Wainwright the Cardinals could have a 1-2 punch that very few could match in the national league. After those two the Cardinals rotation could get choppy, with Kyle Lohse seemingly grabbing the #3 position. Colby Rasmus, a five-tool stud appears to be heading to the big leagues this season. Rasmus has been the “can’t miss prospect” for St. Louis the past couple of years, but was sidelined by a knee injury last June. Many call him the National League’s version of Grady Sizemore. Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick should man the outfield for St. Louis. Ludwick had a dream season in 2008, one that made him an All Star, and Ankiel found his power stroke. Skip Schumacher appears to be heading to second base, a position he grew up playing but has not played professionally. Out of the bullpen young fireballers Chris Perez and Jason Motte will be added with guys like free agent signees Dennys Reyes and Trever Miller, along with Ryan Franklin and Josh Kinney. The closer position appears to be a closer-by-committee role, but if Perez can prove consistency, he looks to be the best option.

2009 National League East Preview

March 1st, 2009 by Rodney James (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in MLB Baseball   1 Comment »

The National League East Division looks to once again be set for a competitive race from start to finish. Last season, the divisional race came down to the last few games, only to see the Philadelphia Phillies win the division, and go on to not only win the National League crown, but also World Series Champions. The National League East is the only division in Baseball to see four of its teams in the World Series since the Wild Card came into play. Year after year the NL East continues to be put a rank below due to being part of the Junior Circuit, but in 2009 with some teams revamping their rosters, the NL East looks to put a group of teams together that could rival any other division in Baseball.

atlanta bravesThe Atlanta Braves from their Orlando Florida facility are still trying to figure out what happened to them in the free agent period, in which they were linked with numerous big names. Despite losing some of the names they were targeting(A.J. Burnett, Rafael Furcal), they were able to ink some quality players to fill the gaps. The Braves signed Derek Lowe and picked up Javier Vazquez in a trade from Chicago. Those two pitchers will look to anchor the Atlanta pitching staff, which lost John Smoltz to Boston in free agency. Tim Hudson will continue to be the staff ace, and with Atlanta continuing as suitors for the services of Jake Peavy, Atlanta’s rotation could be a force to reckon with. Youngster Tommy Hanson may get an opportunity to slide into Bobby Cox’s rotation. Hanson dominated the Arizona Fall League going 5-0 with a 0.63 era. Hanson is just 22 years old and has a mid 90’s fastball, along with a solid change-up. Offensively, the Braves will look to Jeff Francoeur to pick up his numbers from 2008. Francoeur appears to be the every day starting right fielder with Matt Diaz and Brandon Jones battling it out this spring for left field. Neither Diaz or Jones had a spectacular 2008 season, so Atlanta hopes for breakout seasons from both of these youngsters. Kelly Johnson will be the starting second basemen, and while he has a solid bat in the line-up, his defensive presence at second base is just marginal. Chipper Jones had an excellent 2008 season winning the batting title by hitting .364 with 22 homeruns and 75rbi’s. The 36 year old Jones will start his 16th full season in the major leagues as the starting third basemen once again for Atlanta.

florida marlinsThe Florida Marlins will look to improve upon their 84-77 record of 2008. The Marlins, as they train in Jupiter Florida appeared to have gotten younger over the off-season. Being one of the youngest teams in baseball in 2008, it would seem difficult to become even younger, but Florida did just that. Florida dealt away Scott Olsen, Josh Willingham, and Mike Jacobs. They picked up youngsters such as Emilio Bonifacio, but he may have to play a new position to get quality time as a starter in 2009. Dan Uggla mans second base(same position as Bonifacio) for the Marlins. Of course the offense begins and ends with star shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Florida locked Ramirez up for six years and $70 million. The Marlins do not plan to add to their payroll, which will mean cutting ties with Dan Uggla, when that time comes. Cameron Maybin will look to get his opportunity to become a starting outfielder in the major leagues. Maybin is 22 years old. He will most likely be the lead-off batter for the Marlins, but that seems to be a lot of pressure put on a kid that has played in just 32 games in the big leagues. In the pitching department, Josh Johnson has turned into a staff ace, and will fight for 20 wins in 2009, with Ricky Nolasco coming in at #2. The rest of the staff is very young and inexperienced. The bullpen lost Kevin Gregg to Chicago, and will  now turn to Matt Lindstrom to close out games. Scott Proctor, Leo Nunez and Logan Kensing also appear to be fighting for late inning roles out of the bullpen. 

New York MetsThe New York Mets appeared to have the best off-season in the division. A year after winning 89 games, but coming up short in both the division and the wildcard, New York made quite the splash in the free agent department. The Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez to nail down games, and also J.J. Putz, who appears to be thrown into the set-up man roll for New York. The Mets training facility in Port St. Lucie sure got a new look Mets bullpen, as during the off season they dumped seven members of that pen. Joe Smith, Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis were among the crew not re-signed by New York. The Mets picked up Freddie  Garcia and Tim Redding to go along with a rotation with Johan Santana and John Maine at the top and Oliver Perez as a solid lefty. Santana’s health may be an issue early in the season as he is dealing with coming off knee surgery on his left knee. Rookie Fernando Martinez may get an opportunity to be in the starting lineup, as an outfielder, as New York was not able to pick up Manny Ramirez or Bobby Abreu in the off-season. The Mets will have to go with Martinez, or they could settle with anyone of the following: Fernando Tatis, Nick Evans or Daniel Murphy. The question for New York is, can guys such as Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran, along with Jose Reyes and David Wright stay healthy enough, and be productive enough for an entire 162 game slate?

philadelphia philliesThings are a little more upbeat in 2009 at the Phillies complex in Clearwater Florida. But the jubilation will quickly turn to business as the Philadelphia Phillies under Charlie Manual will look to repeat their 2008 World Championship. Philadelphia did not make a huge splash in the free agent market, but two moves they did make may prove to be very keen, as they locked up both Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels to long term deals. With Howard in the line-up and Hamels at the front of the rotation, Philadelphia should continue to stay, at the least, very competitive. Now add in Chase Utley,  the age-less Jamie Moyer and Brad Lidge and you are once again looking at a championship caliber ball club. The Phillies did not re-sign Pat Burrell, and instead signed Raul Ibanez to a three year deal. Chan Ho Park was added to help Hamels and Moyer out in the rotation. Joe Blanton and Brett Myers will hold the three-four positions within the rotation, with youngsters such as J.A. Happ and Kyle Kendrick battling with Park for the final spot. The Phillies have three major league ready catchers in Carlos Ruiz, Chris Coste and Ronny Paulino, but they all may take a back seat to youngster Lou Marson. Marson is a 22 year old that hit .308 for Team USA during the 2008 Olympics. Utley may miss a portion of the start of the season, after having off season hip surgery. Marcus Giles was signed to a minor league contract and may see time at second base to keep Utley’s position warm. J.C Romero will serve a 50 game suspension to start the season, which will inevitably hurt the back end of the bullpen. Finding a serviceable left hander may not be an easy task for the defending champs.

washington nationalsThe Washington Nationals open up their spring training slate in Viera Florida coming off a 59-102 season in 2008. The Nationals signed Adam Dunn to a two year $20 million contract. Dunn will look to be the Nationals most dangerous hitter in their lineup. Dunn has hit 40+ homeruns in five straight seasons. Washington also picked up Daniel Cabrera and Scott Olsen. Both of these pitchers have loads of talent, but also are unproven. They also both have a shot at being the staff ace, after last seasons ace Tim Redding left the team. Redding won 10 games for Washington in 2008. Jordan Zimmerman, a 22 year old starting pitcher may get an opportunity to get some starts for the Nationals. The Washington front office would like to see Zimmerman remain at AAA for one more season, but injuries and lack of production may force their hand earlier than desired. The outfield is a bit of a log jam for Washington. Five guys appear to be battling for three positions. Willie Harris, Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns got the majority of time last season, but if Willingham is healthy, he will see a great deal of time. Elijah Dukes has talent, but it has yet to convert to quality numbers at the professional level. Willie Harris has the advantage of being very versatile, and could possibly move to another position, such as second, short or third.

Who will win the National League East in 2009?

  • Atlanta Braves (36%, 39 Votes)
  • New York Mets (29%, 31 Votes)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (22%, 24 Votes)
  • Florida Marlins (10%, 11 Votes)
  • Washington Nationals (3%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 108