We had some great entries for this contest. I really appreciate the time that everyone took to write about where the Mets will finish in the NL East this season and why they believe that. First, I want to tell you that every entry had the Mets finishing first in the NL East. I guess since this is a Mets fan site I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I thought that the last two seasons would have left a bitter taste for some fans and they would’ve picked the Phillies to finish first. That didn’t happen.
Here are the winning entries:
(From MetsStatHead)– Projection for Season
National League East W L GB Winning %
New York Mets 95 67 – 0.599
Philadelphia Phillies 92 70 3 0.568
Florida Marlins 83 79 12 0.512
Atlanta Braves 81 81 14 0.500
Washington Nationals 74 88 21 0.457
This will not be a smooth ride for the Mets. The winners of last year’s World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies return with another very strong team. The loss of Pat Burrell is minimal after the signing of Raul Ibanez. Cole Hamels now has confidence only a World Series ring can give a pitcher. Chase Utley is one of the best hitters in the game as he showed last year. The Atlanta Braves have improved by adding Derek Lowe to their pitching staff, and the growth of one of the up and coming stars, Kelly Johnson. As always they still have Chipper Jones who is a nightmare for the Mets. The Florida Marlins might have one of the best young teams in all of baseball. Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, and Cameron Maybin are all under the age of 29 and all but Uggla are under the age of 26. The Washington Nationals are beginning to stake their claim as a team to watch with the signing of slugger Adam Dunn. Dunn joins some young and very talented hitters; Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, and Austin Kearns. Already the Mets players are calling themselves “The Team to Beat,” and we all know how well that turned out the past two years.
I believe the Mets (97-65) will finish first in the NL East division. The schedule the Mets will have this year lacks strong competition outside of the NL East regulars,Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, and Tampa Bay being the strongest teams on the schedule. Unless you consider St. Louis a team of force, which seems like we play almost as much this year as any other team in the NL East (9), three out of the four strongest teams are in the American League and the cubs only come around 6x late in the schedule when the Mets bats should be in their prime. The NL East competitors all boosted their rosters in the off-season, but the Mets have given away the division the last 2 years and seem poised to not let a third one slip away. With the back end of the bullpen solidified and 4 potential All-Star caliber position players they should finish what they start this year. Though the Phillies offensive strength might have increased a bit, the pick up of Ibanez only offset the production of Pat Burrell and made their team considerably one-sided. The pitching staff is not strong, in my opinion, and lack bullpen stability. (Don’t expect another Lidge performance equal to last year). The Braves, good or not, always have the Mets number. If i would guess which team we would lose to the most this year in the NL East my guess would most likely be the Braves. The addition of Lowe did bolster their rotation along side Vazquez and Jurrjens but they still lack bullpen depth and we all saw what happened to the Mets inability to close out games. There are still a few holes in the offense that lack the power to get them to the top, but expect the Braves to start showing flashes of their previous dominance of the NL East as their prospects begin to develop. The Marlins, looking like this years “Netherlands” squad of the NL East have potential to make an early run at the top of the division but lack the experience and probably “gas” to finish strong in this division. They are getting better and better ‘fishing’ from within not spending big time money on big time players although breeding big time players for small time money. Great trade bait for prospects but lack the “Bait” to catch the Biggest Fish (Division Title). This is my take on how the NL East division will ride out and in the end i hope,excuse me, expect the Mets to be on top of the division once and for all !
Congratulations to MetsStatHead and Smoov1 for winning a copy of the Maple Street Press Mets 2009 Annual season preview magazine. And thanks again to everyone that entered the contest.