The Braves are consistent and there’s no pressure on them to win. That’s why I give them the edge over the Nationals. Even if the team struggles the Braves should be able to manage 90 wins. Last season, the Braves won 96 games despite suffering a ton of injuries and career worst seasons from B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla. The strength of team was good starting pitching and an outstanding bullpen. If Upton and Uggla bounce back the offense could be the best in MLB. That would take a lot of pressure off the pitching staff. Losing Medlen hurts, but adding Ervin Santana and Gavin Floyd to the rotation should be enough. If Julio Teheran and Mike Minor continue to improve the Braves rotation will be impressive.
Biggest Key: Staying healthy
Last season the Nationals were one of the best pitching teams in the league. The offense was never able to put it together. The injuries were a factor, but the Braves also battled injuries. If it was the pressure that bothered the team they’ll have it again this season. Pretty much, everyone expects this team to win the NL East. How will the Nationals play under a new manager? If they start slow the pressure will mount. Adding Fister should mean the Nats have the best rotation in baseball, but pitching wasn’t the problem last season. The Nats could be the best team in baseball, but they need to prove it before I’m ready to believe.
Biggest Key: Bryce Harper
The Marlins have some really good young players, but are probably a couple of years away.
The Mets are in rebuilding mode, but they have a ton of young talent. They’re not good enough to compete yet, but they’re not likely to fold in the second half.
The Phillies have some really good old players, but are probably a couple of years past their window. I expect the Phillies to play well until August at that point things should fall apart.
The rest of my picks…
AL: A’s, Red Sox, Tigers, Rays, and Yankees
NL: Braves, Cards, Dodgers, Nats, and Giants
World Series: Cards over the Tigers.
What would Major League Baseball do if they decided to expand? This is pure conjecture. Major League Baseball hasn’t really discussed expansion recently, but there are two cities that could support baseball. The first is Montreal. The Expos played in Montreal for 25 years and if wasn’t for Jeffrey Loria the Nationals probably wouldn’t exist. It’s a great town and it supported the Expos well until the end.
Identifying a second team isn’t quite so easy. There isn’t a clear choice in the United States. Two options would be Portland or San Antonio, but MLB might be wise to have a team in Mexico City. Salt Lake City is another option, but I don’t think it’s a large enough metro area to support a baseball team.
Adding two more teams would create some division problems. The current system of five team divisions would be changed. In order to keeps the same number of teams in each division each league would move to two, eight team divisions or four, four team divisions.
Here’s how I would do it.
Biggest change here is I’ve moved the Rockies into the American League. Some realignment would be necessary to make this work and I’ve chosen to move a couple of the newer franchises.
My biggest reservation about this entire realignment in the NL East. The Braves have rivalries with the Mets and Philles over the last 20 years, but it’s difficult to create a four team divisions and keep the Braves with the Phillies and Mets. The Pirates were long time members of the Eastern division so it’s fitting they’re paired again with the Expos, Mets, and Phillies.
The Rays would move to the National League were they would have a natural rivalry with the Marlins.
Major League Baseball currently sends five teams to the playoffs. Moving to four, four team divisions would make a five team playoff more complicated.
The solution to the playoff issue is to remove inter-league play and move to a single division in each league. No need to move the Rockies or Rays. Add the Expos to the National League and Mexico City to the American league. Play each team in the league an equal amount and take the top five teams for the playoffs. The 4 and 5 seeds would play a one game playoffs.
At some point MLB will expand again and it will be interesting to see how they handle the current divisional alignment.
It’s never a bad time to laugh at Phillies fans.
Last season I had the NL East 1 through 5 correct, but I picked the Braves to be the Wild Card. The NL East is difficult from top to bottom. The Mets will likely be the division’s worst team, but they still have a lot of talent. This season it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen, but here I go.
I don’t expect the Phillies to be as good in 2012, but they were plenty good in 2011. As long as they stay healthy they should be fine. The pitching is still good. The bullpen is still good. Keep an eye on Howard. If he doesn’t come back strong that could cause some headaches for the offense.
Biggest Key: Ryan Howard
Last season the Braves were every person’s “dark horse team” and for most of the season they were right. Teams don’t survive if their No. 1 and No. 2 starters going down for significant time. The Braves won’t have a chance if Jurrjens and Hanson don’t stay healthy. The Untouchables are back in the bullpen, but after Kimbrel, Venters, O’Flaherty, and Medlen the Braves don’t really have any solid options. Most teams would kill for four solid guys so it’s not that big of a deal
It will be a big deal if the team doesn’t hit. The Braves were one of the NL’s worst hitting teams last season. If the Braves pitch as well as they did last season and the team finishes 15th in the NL in hitting they’ll win 95 games without a problem. Will they? I’m not sure. A lot depends on Heyward. If he hits well, it will help everyone out. The Braves will continue to struggle against Left Handed pitching. They have too many lefties in the lineup. The organization has tried to find a solution, but no answer has been found. I think I’m being a little optimistic about the Braves, but I’m a fan.
Biggest Key: Jason Heyward
The Nats are going to be better, but they need a lot of things to go right. There’s no doubt they have an exciting young ball club and they’re moving in the right direction. The question is will this be the year? It could be, but it depends on the pitching and I don’t think it’s there yet. The Nats need Strasburg to stay healthy and the rest of the staff come together. Could it happen? Sure, but I don’t think it will be this season.
Biggest Key: Stephen Strasburg
Everyone loves the Marlins. They have a new manager, a new stadium, and some new players. They have the worst thing ever and horrible new uniforms. The Marlins had a great SS so they went out and got Jose Reyes. They also made some additional picks up for the bullpen and starting rotation. The Marlins should be better in 2012, but how much better are they? They still have an unproven starting rotation. The lineup might produce a lot of runs, but if they don’t get pitching it won’t matter.
The Marlins have a higher ceiling than the Nats. The new stadium and coach may energize the team. Or, it might not matter. We’ll know more by July.
Biggest Key: Josh Johnson
It’s easy to pick on the Mets right now. They have to survive on a payroll this season that’s around the same amount as the Braves. Alas, Babylon! Everyone is picking the Mets last, but I don’t think they’ll be that bad. Getting back a healthy Santana already makes the team better. Yes, they lost Reyes, but his health has been a major issue the last three season. If the rest of the team can stay healthy the Mets can surprise some people.
Biggest Key: Ownership
As far as the rest of the baseball is concerned.
AL: Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Angels
NL: Phillies, Cards, Giants, Braves, and Dodgers
World Series: Tigers over the Giants.
By now everyone has seen the monstrosity that is the new Marlins Home Run feature. Now we have video evidence that it is indeed the worst thing to ever happen to baseball. Someone has gone ahead and added some music options to the video to try with the feature.
Oh yeah, this thing has a full on double rainbow at the end.
MLB players are coming the the same conclusion about the Marlin’s new home run sculpture that normal people have already reached. Apparently the sculpture might be an issue for left-handed hitters because it may be in their field of vision.Marlins utility player Greg Dobbs had this to say…
If it is an issue, it can no longer be there. I won’t be the only left-handed hitter saying something. If other teams have a problem with it, they’re definitely going to voice their concern to the league.
It’s not just left-handed hitters who have an issue with this monstrosity. The Marlins’ new park looks great, but the new uniforms and sculpture are way off the mark.
I still can’t believe this is real. They’re really going through with it.
The Marlins home run structure is nearly complete. Once it is, the portal to hell will be forever opened and an endless stream of nightmarish creatures and phantasms will enter this Earth, ushering in a new age of terror and fear.
And you thought Jeffrey Loria was just an”art collector.” Fools, fools!