Miami

Ramble:  Dee Gordon and Mike Morse make for a better right side of the infield.

Outfield:  Giancarlo Stanton in right, Marcell Ozuna in center and Christian  Yelich in left.  Not bad.  Ichiro Suzuki offers batting tips while playing an inning or two in the outfield.

Infield:  Mike Morse and Dee Gordon join Martin Prado and Adeiny Hechavarria.  Utility guys will feature Donovan Solano, Jeff Baker and Derek Dietrich.

Catching:  Granted, anytime Jarod Saltalamacchia is your starting catcher, I’m concerned, but the veteran Jeff Mathis is ready for extended service if required, thus providing above average defense and enhancing the confidence of his pitchers.  Jarod, not so much.  J.T. Realmuto should be part of the cast.  Frankly, Jarod should be dealt.

Starting Pitching:  Not as good as the Nats, but who is?  Jose Fernandez, Mat Latos (talk less, pitch more), Jarred Cosart, Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and Henderson Alvarez individually and collectively need to hit the magic 5 1/3 to 6 inning mark on a regular basis if the Fish are to make a playoff run.  The starters have the ability to carry their teammates.

Relief:  Steve Cishek will close.  Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos form the real talent in the bullpen.  Bryan Morris, Aaron Crow and Preston Claiborne hope to join them.

AAA/AA Help:  Justin Bour (1b), Carter Capps (relief), Greg Nappo (relief) and Matt Ramsay (relief).

Prediction:  First by a scale over the Nationals.

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Washington

Ramble:  Signing Max Scherzer made a good staff better.  The mavens calling for the trade of any starter in light of the Max signing (pun intended), are out of their individual minds.  Too much pitching does not exist.  Keep all.

Outfield:  I’ve never been a Bryce Harper fan.  Nothing has changed.  Mike Trout, he ain’t.  Denard Span in center and Jayson Werth (moving to left?  Why?) form a top-notch defensive outfield.  Nate McClouth and Kevin “I’ll Play Anywhere” Frandsen take the late innings.

Infield:  Ryan Zimmerman moves to first while Anthony Rendon plays the other corner.  Yunel Escobar (running out of chances.  Traded twice during the winter is never a good sign) and Ian Desmond are up the middle.  Frandsen backs first and third when not in the outfield and Danny Espinosa backs the middle.

Catching:  Wilson Ramos and either Jose Lobaton or Sandy Leon back him.  A lackluster trio.

Starting Pitching:  As deep as the Giants, and that is high praise.  Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez form an impressive starting five, and, yet Tanner Roark deserves starts as well.

Relief:  Drew Storen hopes to build on 2014’s result.  Casey Janssen, Aaron Barrett, Matt Thornton, Jerry Blevins, Xavier Cedeno and Craig Stammen are rather pedestrian and do not equate with the Marlins bullpen.

AAA/AA Help:  The majority of their talent is entering AA this year, thus nobody of note until 2016.

Prediction:  Second in the East, but any Fish slip means first, but any Nats slip means third behind the Mets (you read those words correctly).  And the position guys need to reduce their strikeouts.

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New York

Ramble:  While I despise the EE, these guys, even in light of 1986 (yeah, I’m that old), I have grown to love.  Having exposed my favoritism towards the real NYC team, they did nothing over the winter to help themselves.

Outfield:  Curtis Grandson in right continues to shine a light on bad defensive placement.  Curtis has no arm strength, thus begging the question, why is he in right?  Using Daniel Murphy as a cutoff to enhance arm strength is, um, dodgy.  Michael Cuddyer in left and Juan Lagares in center make for a fast outfield with little arm power.  Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt van Dekker offer competition especially in case Granderson has another ’14.

Infield:  Lucas Duda receiving at bats will continue to improve.  David Wright needs to put together a year worthy of his salary.  Daniel Murphy is a top five N.L. second baseman.  Wilmer Flores must prove he is an everyday shortstop.  Ruben Tejada and Eric Campbell get the bulk of the jack-of-all-trades duty.

Catching:  The long praised Travis d’Anaud claims the starting catching spot.  Anthony Recker backs him.

Starting Pitching:  Granted, injury is a part of the game, but the injury this staff has endured is absolutely ridiculous.  Matt Harvey returns while Zack Wheeler departs.  Can’t win for trying.  Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee must pitch well if the Mets are to challenge the Marlins and Nationals.  Bartolo “Fat Man” Colon handles the fifth spot.  Anything higher will expose dwindling velocity by the end of April.

Relief:  A proposed battle between Jenrry Mejia and Bobby Parnell for the ninth inning that I don’t buy (Parnell should not be considered for the spot).  Jenrry had a horrible whip that needs to come down in ’15.  Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin and Vic Black form an above average core.  Erik Goeddel, Dario Alvarez and Sean Gilmartin need to be as good as Familia, Edgin and Black.

AAA/AA Help:  Juan Centeno (c), Dilson Herrera (2b), Matt Reynolds (ss) and Chase Bradford (relief.  May I offer Mr. Bradford as closer in waiting).

Prediction:  Most likely finishing third which gives hope for those traveling to Queens.  But, if the Mets are the healthy team (for once) and the Marlins and Nationals take a key hit, the Mets finish second.

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Atlanta

Ramble:  Lots of people leaving, lots of people arriving.  A very active winter.  Sadly, the Braves did not improve.

Outfield:  Eric Young, Jr. and Nick Markakis join Melvin “Don’t Call Me B.J.” Upton in the outfield.  Jonny Gomes brings the right attitude with suspect defensive skills.  Jonny turned many a standard fly ball into circus time in Fenway.  Zolio Almonte and Eury Perez should get some time during the late innings.

Infield:  Freddie Freeman, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons form an average infield that will hopefully hit.  Well, Freddie will hit, no doubt.  As for the utility guys, I’m guessing Kelly Johnson and Phil Gosselin pressed by Elmer Reyes.

Catching:  The more time John Buck and Christian Bethancourt spend catching the less time Aj Pierzynski spends catching.  A quality scenario.

Starting Pitching:  Julio Theran, Mike Minor and Eric Stults form an effective core.  Alex Wood and Shelby Miller most likely round out the rest of the starters.  Wandy Rodriguez hopes to find his former self.  Doing so would help the Braves immensely.

Relief:  Craig Kimbrel, while a top 5 N.L. closer, won’t receive a lot of save opportunities this year.  Jason Grilli can sub if Kimbrel is injured. Otherwise, he’s a quality eighth inning guy.  Jim Johnsson, James Russell, Josh Outman (a applicable last name given his profession) Mike Kohn and Luis Avilan will receive more appearances than the coaching staff desires.

AAA/AA Help:  Jose Peralta (2b, and the reason Tyler Pastornicky and Tommy La Stella are no longer with the organization), Cedric Hunter (of), Greg Ross (starter) and Shae Simmons (relief, though injured).

Prediction:  Second to last in the N.L. East.  Average baseball in a sweaty environment leads to plunging attendance.

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Philadelphia

Ramble:  This is a bad organization.  They do very little well.  All decisions are suspect.  Fan rebellion awaits.

Outfield:  Poor Ben Revere (a good ball player) suffers through another year with Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown on either side.  Grady Sizemore gets another resurrection shot.  Jordan Danks eventually gets most of the Sunday work.

Infield:  The declining Ryan Howard at first, ever-injured Chase Utley at second, Cody Asche at third and Freddy Galvis at short.  Something says a lack of confidence.  Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco serves as the utility men

Catching:  One of the few (only?) bright spots in Philly is Carlos Ruiz (a fine catcher).  Cameron Rupp backs him.

Starting Pitching:  Cliff Lee probably doesn’t pitch effectively given his injury.  Cole Hammels waits for the end of July to find a new home with a playoff team.  Jerome Williams (I have a soft spot for Jerome.  He is a true believer who did years in the minors before the Angels finally gave him a chance) and his pink glove will get lots of innings.  Aaron Harang hopefully pitches well.  Any team that signs Chad Billingsley and Kevin Slowey is in a world of hurt.

Relief:  Jonathan “Mean Face” Papelbon heads a bullpen that is shallow, thin and without system assistance.  Good luck to all who emerge from the shadows of the bullpen.  Let’s run with Ken Giles, Jake Diekmann, Mario Hollands, Luis Garcia, Hector Neris and Justin De Fratus.  This group will be exhausted by the end of June.

AAA/AA Help:  None.  Zip.  Zero.  The Phillies are the worst team in baseball in developing talent.  Awful.  Bad.  Pathetic.  They received a rating of 1.2 (out of a possible 4) in my minor league system ratings.

Prediction:  Hmm.  Dead last.  Worst team in baseball.  Why can’t the Yankees be this bad?

 

 

 

 

 

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