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MLB: NL East Preview

Atlanta Braves- Last season the Braves went 94-68 and was one of the National League’s Wild card teams. They lost the Wild Card game to the St. Louis Cardinals thanks in large part to a botched “infield fly rule” call by the umpiring crew.   The Braves have acquired B. J. Upton as a free agent to take over in center field . They just acquired  his brother Justin Upton in a trade with the
Arizona Diamondbacks. That would be the best outfield in the majors with Justin in left, B. J. in center and Jason Heyward in right.

The Braves also have perhaps the best pitching staff in the big leagues as well. It may be a bit weaker than last season though now that Tommy Hanson is an Angel. One big question mark with the Braves this year is catcher Brian McCann. His offensive production has declined in recent years. This off-season there has been talk of a trade involving McCann.

Also the Braves will have to go to Spring Training without Chipper Jones for the firs time in a long time. They will need to replace his leadership and his production. Some of that fill fall into the lap of Dan Uggla who needs to bounce back after a down year last year. Prediction- 3rd place

Miami Marlins– The Marlins owners have blown up this team and gone into rebuilding mode. They have only two high priced players on the roster in Ricky Nolasco and Placido Polanco. Giancarlo Stanton is the main star on this team. However it will be interesting to see what his attitude is going into the season. He was none too happy in the off-season being the only star that was left behind in the Marlins latest fire sale. Prediction- Last place

New York Mets- The Mets are also rebuilding. Hopefully Johan Santana will get close to his old form and anchor the pitching staff. The Mets will need him to come through, especially after trading away the N.L. Cy Young winner in R.A. Dickey. David Wright is back and he is the lone superstar on the offense. The Mets got off to a decent start least season, but faced late in the year. Look for much of the same this year.  Prediction- Fourth place

Philadelphia Phillies- The Phillies were probably the most injury riddled team in the big leagues a year ago. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were both out of the lineup more often than not. If they can stay healthy, they are not only contenders in this division. but in the entire league. They certainly have more players making over $10,000,000 than any other team in the division by far. With pitchers Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, they have the best rotation. If they can stay healthy, they can win the whole thing.

With Jimmy Rollins, they have perhaps baseball’s best lead-off hitter. They have Utley and Howard also in the infield along with Micheal Young, which if they are all healthy is likely baseball”s best infield. Prediction- First place

Washington Nationals– Washington is the defending champion of this division. They are coming off a very painful loss in the playoffs to the St. Louis Cardinals. How will they respond to the disappointing defeat? That is a big question. With Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the Nats have two of the best young players in the game. Gio Gonzalez is coming off a great year and they acquired Dan Haren. The pitching rotation is going to be very good. Also, the Nats have Rafael Soriano to handle closing duties.

The offense is anchored by Harper and Jason Werth. We like the Nats to again make the playoffs. Prediction- Second place

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