National League East


* – indicates new to team
ERA – Earned Run Average
HR – Home Runs
RBI – Runs Batted In
SV – Saves

1. Philadelphia Phillies
The best lineup in the NL now has a true ace for their rotation.
2. Atlanta Braves
They look to win it all for Bobby Cox in his last year as manager.
3. New York Mets
A injury free season to Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran would be an improvement.
4. Florida Marlins
They seem to always contend for a playoff spot with such a small payroll.
5. Washington Nationals
The goal is to not finish the season with 100 losses.

Player to Watch: 3B Chipper Jones Atlanta Braves
As with the manager this could be Chipper’s last year playing baseball. A lot will depend on his health and whether the Braves are in contention. Now the Braves are not counting on Chipper being the guy to hit 30+ HR and drive over 100 runs, but he will need to improve on the .264 batting average from a year ago. A lot is riding on this make or break year for the Braves and Chipper is a big part of that success or failure.
Manager on the Hot Seat: Jerry Manuel New York Mets
The Mets are giving him one more chance to get them out of the cellar they’re in. With the opening of a new pitcher friendly ballpark last year the offense faltered. Injuries were at almost every position. Now with a new bat (Jason Bay) and a healthy Reyes, Beltran and David Wright, the Mets look like contenders for the Wild Card. That is until you look at the rotation after Johan Santana. Manuel is in a no win situation.
Trade Bait: 1B Adam Dunn Washington Nationals
He’s in the last year of a two year deal that was a bargain for a team that was the worst in the league. Washington was reluctant to deal Alfonso Soriano a few years ago, but they shouldn’t be with Dunn. You can cinch him in for at least 35 HR and 100 RBI every year. An American League team would love to have him in the middle of their lineup. He could be the missing piece for a National League team in need of a big bat. Washington would be wise to take advantage of the interest they will get for Dunn.

Phillies Lineup

SS Jimmy Rollins
.250 AVG 21 HR 77 RBI
3B Placido Polanco*
.285 AVG 10 HR 72 RBI
2B Chase Utley
.282 AVG 31 HR 93 RBI
1B Ryan Howard
.279 AVG 45 HR 141 RBI
RF Jayson Werth
.268 AVG 36 HR 99 RBI
LF Raul Ibanez
.272 AVG 34 HR 93 RBI
CF Shane Victorino
.292 AVG 10 HR 62 RBI
C Carlos Ruiz
.255 AVG 9 HR 43 RBI

This lineup is stacked. Arguably the best in the National League and perhaps all of baseball. Speed at the top with Rollins. A patient hitter at the all important number two spot in Polanco. Utley, Howard, Werth and Ibanez while playing most of their games at Citizens Bank Park will hit at least 30 HR. It will be interesting to see how Victorino does batting seventh. He hit below .250 in every other spot in the order other than second. Ruiz is not known for his bat, but does a great job managing the pitching staff. His bat seems to come alive when it’s playoff time.


INF Greg Dobbs
.247 AVG 5 HR 20 RBI
OF Ben Francisco
.257 AVG 15 HR 46 RBI
INF/OF Ross Gload*
.261 AVG 6 HR 30 RBI

The bench has more than this. INF Juan Castro is another good pinch hitting option. C Brian Schneider is a serviceable backup that can handle the pitching staff. Dobbs is the lead guy though. One of the best pinch hitters today. Francisco was part of the Cliff Lee deal last year and has decent pop as the fourth outfielder. Gload was signed away from the Marlins who provides depth at 1B and the corner outfield spots.


Roy Halladay*
17-10 2.79 ERA
Cole Hamels
10-11 4.32 ERA
Joe Blanton
12-8 4.05 ERA
J.A. Happ
12-4 2.93 ERA
Jamie Moyer
12-10 4.94 ERA


Ryan Madson
10 SV 3.26 ERA


Brad Lidge
31 SV 7.21 ERA

Now the rotation isn’t perfect, but when you can go every fifth day not having to worry about your starter, it sure feels good. Halladay is without a doubt the best in the game. The Phillies didn’t mortgage their future to get him either. Hamels got off to a rough start last year with injuries, but is back on track to continue his upward trend of becoming an ace. Blanton is turning out to be a great pick up from the Athletics two years ago. He won’t be a top tier starter, but is good for 6+ innings a start. Happ had a tremendous rookie year. It started out in the bullpen, but with injuries he turned out to be quite a find for the Phils. If Moyer struggles or suffers an injury (he’s 47), Kyle Kendrick or Chad Durbin could fill in the fifth spot.
Lidge after having a perfect season as the closer reverted back to his struggles. Manager Charlie Manuel did a great job handling the situation to avoid catastrophe at the end of the year. There should be no chance of that happening two seasons in a row. If it does, Madson can step in to fill the void should it arise.

Braves Lineup

CF Nate McLouth
.256 AVG 20 HR 70 RBI
2B Martin Prado
.307 AVG 11 HR 49 RBI
3B Chipper Jones
.264 AVG 18 HR 71 RBI
C Brian McCann
.281 AVG 21 HR 94 RBI
1B Troy Glaus*
.172 AVG 0 HR 2 RBI
LF Matt Diaz
.313 AVG 13 HR 58 RBI
RF Melky Cabrera
.274 AVG 13 HR 68 RBI
SS Yunel Escobar
.299 AVG 14 HR 76 RBI

There is a hole missing in the lineup and that’s no protection for McCann. Glaus was brought in to be the big bat the Braves needed to solidify the offense this year. Glaus only played 14 games last year, but is healthy now and will not be playing 3B for Atlanta. When healthy he is good for 25+ HR and 100 runs. Jones is the mainstay that has to improve the batting average to help take pressure off McCann. McLouth is not your typical lead off hitter, but can hit the ball with authority. Prado is a good contact guy in the mold of Polanco from the Phillies. Diaz and Cabrera are good hitters that can produce good power numbers in a full season. Escobar is the wild card. He has so much potential still, but must now show it on the offensive side. His glove is far ahead of his bat.


INF Omar Infante
.305 AVG 2 HR 27 RBI
C David Ross
.273 AVG 7 HR 20 RBI
INF/OF Eric Hinske*
.242 AVG 8 HR 25 RBI

Infante was hurt for most of last year, but when healthy is the first guy off the bench. He provides depth in the infield and is great in pinch hitting situations. Ross is a decent catcher that has some pop. Hinske was adequate last year playing in Pittsburgh and then in New York for the Yankees. He has appeared in the last three World Series and being on the winning side twice. Don’t overlook OF Jason Heyward who will probably start the season in the minors, but when he is called up he will provide 25 HR 90 RBI potential with a great eye (Career .391 OBP in the minors).


Derek Lowe
15-10 4.67 ERA
Tommy Hanson
11-4 2.89 ERA
Jair Jurrjens
14-10 2.60 ERA
Tim Hudson
2-1 3.61 ERA
Kenshin Kawakami
7-12 3.86 ERA


Peter Moylan
6-2 2.84 ERA


Billy Wagner
1-1 1.98 ERA

The deepest rotation last year got a little thinner with the departure of Javier Vasquez to the Yankees, but it is still formidable. The only flaw is with Lowe. The thought was that playing in a pitchers park would help keep the ERA down, not raise it. The expectations might have gotten to Lowe, but this is the year the Braves are supposed to contend and they can’t without Lowe pitching an ERA below 3.50. Hanson and Jurrjens are the future 1-2 of the Braves rotation. Jurrjens was a pleasant surprise last year and the phenom Hanson was exactly what the Braves were looking for when they called him up in May. Both should continue to produce for a rotation that needs them to stay consistent. Hudson came back late last year from Tommy John surgery and showed that he is more than capable of being a fixture for the staff. A full season of Hudson could mean 15 wins for the Braves. Kawakami got off to a great start, but finished in the bullpen last year. Atlanta hopes it won’t happen with a year in the US under his belt.
The Braves overhauled their bullpen and sought the services of Billy Wagner. Cast off from the Mets and Red Sox, Wagner looked for a team that would bring him in as the closer. He doesn’t have the 98 mph fastball he once had, but he can still throw his patented back door slider for a strike to most righthanders. Moylan will be the primary setup man. He uses deception, not stuff like most sidewinders to get hitters out. He is also very durable appearing in 87 games last year.

Mets Lineup

CF Angel Pagan
.306 AVG 6 HR 32 RBI
2B Luis Castillo
.302 AVG 1 HR 40 RBI
3B David Wright
.307 AVG 10 HR 72 RBI
LF Jason Bay*
.267 AVG 36 HR 119 RBI
1B Daniel Murphy
.266 AVG 12 HR 63 RBI
RF Jeff Francoeur
.280 AVG 15 HR 76 RBI
C Rod Barajas*
.226 AVG 19 HR 71 RBI
SS Alex Cora
.251 AVG 1 HR 18 RBI

The lineup definitely loses its muster with SS Jose Reyes and CF Carlos Beltran expected to start the season on the DL. For the Mets sake they hope Reyes and Beltran won’t be gone long. Pagan is a decent trend setter, but can’t be compared to what Reyes does. Castillo had a good year which the Mets will be looking for the same. Bay was the big acquisition for the Mets. It will be interesting if he can hit 30 or more HR playing half his games in Citi Field. If he does, then more questions will be brought to Wright and others for their struggles in the new park. Wright is primed for a bounce back year. He’s capable of 30 HR plus a .325 or higher batting average. Francoeur was in a comfort zone when he was traded to the Mets. His batting average was at .311 in 75 games. Murphy was the lone consistent force last year leading the team in HR. He has .300 AVG potential. Barajas is not the answer they were looking for at the catcher’s spot, but he does provide needed pop at the position. Cora will be relegated to the bench once Reyes returns. He does better in spurts, not as an everyday player.


INF/OF Fernando Tatis
.282 AVG 8 HR 48 RBI
OF Gary Matthews*
.250 AVG 4 HR 50 RBI
C Omir Santos
.260 AVG 7 HR 40 RBI

Cora will provide depth here when Reyes returns. Tatis was thrown into the lineup last year with all the injuries, but is now the best bat off the bench this year. He will primarily back up the corner infield and outfield spots. Matthews hasn’t lived up to the big contract he signed with the Angels and now finds himself in the same situation in New York, being the fourth outfielder. Beltran’s injury will provide playing time plus being in the National League will help in the pinch hitting department as well. His glove is a big plus in the confines of Citi Field. Santos will be in a platoon with Barajas. His glove still needs work, but he has decent power and can be counted on to pinch hit as well. Henry Blanco is also an adequate catcher mostly for defense. His glove and arm are among the best in the league.


Johan Santana
13-9 3.13 ERA
John Maine
7-6 4.43 ERA
Mike Pelfrey
10-12 5.03 ERA
Oliver Perez
3-4 6.82 ERA
Fernando Nieve
3-3 2.95 ERA


Pedro Feliciano
6-4 3.03 ERA


Francisco Rodriguez
35 SV 3.71 ERA

The one flaw with the Mets since acquiring Santana is that they haven’t found a solid number two starter to pair up with him. Not even a three, four or five either. The one thing that is sure is Santana must continue to carry the staff on his shoulders. Without him, they are doomed for last place. It’s that bad. Maine if healthy has decent stuff, but can get flustered easily. Pelfrey is too inconsistent. He has the tools, but needs to find a way to put it together. Perez was the bad, but actually got worse. The worst of it is that he got a big extension two years ago. Nieve looked good in seven starts, but can he be counted on for an entire season? The wild card is Jon Niese. The big lefty is the pride and joy of the organization, but do they want to put this kind of pressure on him now? They should ease him into the spotlight.
Rodriguez didn’t and wasn’t going to repeat his record breaking season of 2008 in New York. Fans were foolish to think that. What’s even more foolish is the way the Mets used Rodriguez. Lets just say that when your already losing a game, you don’t need to throw your closer out there for some batting practice. Rodriguez should have a better year. It can’t get worse than last years ERA of 3.71. Yikes. Feliciano is the prime setup man for the bullpen. The worry is that he was overworked last year appearing in 88 games for a bad pen. He held up nicely and with a deeper pen this year, there won’t be as much pressure to bail out the rotation for Feliciano.

Marlins Lineup

LF Chris Coghlan
.321 AVG 9 HR 47 RBI
3B Emilio Bonifacio
.252 AVG 1 HR 27 RBI
SS Hanley Ramirez
.342 AVG 24 HR 106 RBI
1B Jorge Cantu
.289 AVG 16 HR 100 RBI
2B Dan Uggla
.243 AVG 31 HR 90 RBI
RF Cody Ross
.270 AVG 24 HR 90 RBI
C John Baker
.271 AVG 9 HR 50 RBI
CF Cameron Maybin
.250 AVG 4 HR 13 RBI

Not the scariest group, but the Marlins are always in contention. No matter which half of the season, they are always hanging around with the likes of the Braves and Mets. Notice I left out the Phillies. They have a star player in Ramirez who is a consistent force in the lineup. His defense is above average, but more than makes up for it with his offensive skills. Coghlan the reigning Rookie of the Year will try to avoid the dreaded sophmore slump. He showed a knack for making contact which makes him the ideal lead off hitter. Bonifacio got off to a great start last year, but faltered fast. He must show more patience or he will be relegated to being the utility player. Cantu and Uggla are not the best choices for your power bats, but they do just enough for what the Marlins need. Cody Ross has been bouncing around the majors for quite a while. He has finally found a home in Florida and his production is paying dividends for them. Baker has some pop and is a good glove behind the plate. Maybin is getting another chance to take the CF position. He is still young enough (23) to where if he doesn’t win the job, he can find his groove in the minors.


INF Wes Helms
.271 AVG 3 HR 33 RBI
C Ronny Paulino
.272 AVG 8 HR 27 RBI
1B Gaby Sanchez
.238 AVG 2 HR 3 RBI

There isn’t much after these three. Sanchez might be the starter at 1B if Bonifacio doesn’t pan out to start the year. Paulino is a good backup catcher. Decent pop as a pinch hitter plus a great defensive replacement. Compared to Henry Blanco as far as defense goes. Helms is embracing his role as the first player off the bench. He’s great in pinch hitting situations and can play third or first giving Cantu or Bonifacio a day off. The real question will be when star prospect OF Mike Stanton gets the call up. He has tremendous power potential and is making it hard for the Marlins not to have him on the Opening Day roster.


Josh Johnson
15-5 3.23 ERA
Ricky Nolasco
13-9 5.06 ERA
Chris Volstad
9-13 5.21 ERA
Andrew Miller
3-5 4.84 ERA
Anibal Sanchez
4-8 3.87 ERA


Dan Meyer
2 SV 3.09 ERA


Leo Nunez
26 SV 4.06 ERA

As in the past with the Marlins they have always had home grown talent in the pitching department. Johnson is the latest one who was in contention for the Cy Young award for much of last year. Expect another 15+ win season with over 200 strikeouts. After that it kind of drops off. Nolasco was too inconsistent being the second starter. Sanchez and Miller were fighting injuries most of last year. Volstad was wild with his control and thus the high ERA. The keys will be with Nolasco and Volstad. If their ERAs can fall at least a run a piece, the Marlins will be in good shape for the wild card spot. Florida has options with Sean West and Rick VandenHurk should two of the starters fail.
Nunez is the closer by default. Normally you don’t want your closer with such a high ERA, but what choice do they have. Meyer could close, but hardly the experience they were hoping for. For Florida they consider anything an upgrade over Kevin Gregg who played there in 2008 (3.41 ERA 29 SV).

National Lineup

CF Nyjer Morgan
.307 AVG 3 HR 39 RBI
SS Cristian Guzman
.284 AVG 6 HR 52 RBI
3B Ryan Zimmerman
.292 AVG 33 HR 106 RBI
1B Adam Dunn
.267 AVG 38 HR 105 RBI
LF Josh Willingham
.260 AVG 24 HR 61 RBI
C Ivan Rodriguez*
.249 AVG 10 HR 47 RBI
2B Adam Kennedy*
.289 AVG 11 HR 63 RBI
RF Justin Maxwell
.247 AVG 4 HR 9 RBI

Now I figured the Nationals would have a pretty bad lineup card going into this year. Looking at it now, it’s not half bad. Morgan hit .351 for the Nationals when he was acquired from the Pirates. He’s the spark that this team needs to score runs early and often. Guzman is still a tough out. Always making contact, but no longer a threat to steal. Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham can match up with any 3, 4 and 5 hitters in the majors. Yes I said it. Zimmerman is a star with five tool talent. Dunn is the ultimate power threat that is good for at least 35 HR. Willingham has the tools to become a 30 HR hitter, but he must improve the contact before he focuses on the power. Rodriguez is strictly a contact hitter now and still possesses a gold glove behind the plate that will help the young pitching staff. Kennedy is a streaky hitter, but an improvement nonetheless. He will be counted on to help the bottom of the order, but will most likely not have a repeat of last years success. Maxwell will take over for the recently released Elijah Dukes. Maxwell needs to work on the average, but does have outstanding speed and good defense for right field.


INF/OF Mike Morse
.250 AVG 3 HR 10 RBI
OF/INF Willie Harris
.235 AVG 7 HR 27 RBI
SS Ian Desmond
.280 AVG 4 HR 12 RBI

Harris will probably platoon in right with Maxwell, but his value is in being able to play multiple positions. He can also be counted on for his speed in pinch run situations. Morse provides even more depth and will be the first one called to pinch hit. Desmond is one of the Nats top prospects. If he isn’t the starter at SS going into the season, will they keep him on the roster? All signs point to yes simple for the fact that Desmond can fill in as a defensive replacement. The Nats committed the most errors in baseball last year.


Jason Marquis*
15-13 4.04 ERA
John Lannan
9-13 3.88 ERA
Garrett Mock
3-10 5.62 ERA
Scott Olsen
2-4 6.03 ERA
Livan Hernandez
9-12 5.44 ERA


Brian Bruney*
5-0 3.92 ERA


Matt Capps*
27 SV 5.80 ERA

Now with all the praise going to the offense, this is where it gets foggy. Signing Marquis was a good move, not great, but he does bring experience. Winning experience. His last ten seasons have involved trips to the postseason. Lannan was the most consistent starter for the Nats. On a .500 team he would have 13-16 wins easily. Not big on the strikeout, but keeps the team in the ball game. Mock, Olsen and Hernandez will basically hold down the fort for the arrival of Stephen Strasburg and Chien-Ming Wang. Strasburg probably won’t be called up til June at the earliest. Wang will miss the first month recovering from a bum shoulder. Wang provides instant success coming from the Yankees. Jordan Zimmerman is another highly touted young arm, but won’t be back until August.
The bullpen is still a work in progress. Capps is the closer, but his ERA is very worrisome. That was in 57 games with the Pirates last year. Bruney doesn’t have much closer experience either, but at least the Nats have a fall back option unlike last year. The other first round pick of 2009, Drew Storen, will make it hard for Washington not to bring him up sooner to be the closer. They will have to show patience with him and Strasburg or they will regret it next year and the year after and the year after.

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