Every team starts the season tied for first place, and in baseball anything is possible. For the players and fans there are hopes, and even for some, dreams, that their team will be a top their division at the end of the season. With Opening Day less than a month away, here is how I see the National League East shaping out to be:
1st - Washington Nationals:
Last season the Nationals were the best team in baseball, and they have gotten even better with their offseason acquisitions. They have acquired Denard Span from the Twins, and he gives the Nationals an excellent leadoff hitter and center fielder that they have needed for years.
Besides improving their batting lineup and defense, the Nationals have significantly improved their pitching staff. They added Dan Haren to replace Edwin Jackson and they signed Rafael Soriano to close out the ninth inning. With many young, talented players and solid veterans, except the Nationals to be one of the top teams in the NL for a second consecutive season.
2nd - Atlanta Braves:
Chipper Jones will no longer be handling the hot corner for the Braves, but even with the lose of Jones and other solid veteran players, the Braves still have one of the more talented teams in the NL.
This offseason the Braves stole the headlines with the acquisitions of B.J. and Justin Upton. The Upton brothers, along with Jason Heyward, will give the Braves the most athletic outfield in baseball. The Braves will be able to score a huge amount of runs, but their biggest weakness, will be their starting rotation.
This offseason the Braves took a chance by trading away Tommy Hanson, Randell Delgado, and non-tendering Jair Jurrjens, but if Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Tehran can live up to their potential, the Braves will have a solid starting rotation. The Braves might not win the NL East, but they will win one of the NL Wild Cards, and make it to the World Series for the first time since 1999.
3rd - Philadelphia Phillies:
The Philadelpia Phillies struggled last season due to injuries and finished a disappointing third in the NL East with 81 wins. The Phillies continue to get older and this season, might be there last shot at making the playoff for the foreseeable future. This offseason the Phillies were able to improve their team with multiple transactions.
Michael Young was acquired from the Rangers to play third base, and provided a right handed bat in the Phillies' lineup that is left handed heavy. John Lannan, Mike Adams, and Delmon Young were all free agent signings that should make a solid impact this season, but the biggest move the Phillies made was acquiring speedy Ben Revere. This move gives the Phillies a talented center fielder for this season and for the future, as well as a solid top of the order hitter. Even though the Phillies acquired some talented players, it will not be enough to push them into the playoffs.
4th - New York Mets:
The New York Mets made two significant moves this offseason. The Mets were able to lock up the face of the franchise, David Wright, to a long term extension, and they traded reigning Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dicky to the Blue Jays for top prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergarrd.
The Mets did sign multiple veteran pitchers to help their young pitching staff, and their most notable signing was starting pitcher, Shaun Marcum, who is a number four starter at best. The Mets are obviously looking to the future with many off their talented young prospects, and this season they will have trouble being a competitive team.
5th - Miami Marlins:
Last season the Marlins were expected to be in the playoff mix after making many huge signings, but they ended up struggling the entire season finishing in last place. Instead of helping themselves become competitive this season, the Marlins decided to trade their entire team to the Blue Jays.
This offseason the Marlins traded away Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Blue Jays for prospects. They also shipped Heath Bell to Arizona and Yunel Escobar, who they acquired from the Blue Jays, to Tampa Bay for prospects. All of these moves were to dump salary and build towards the future, and this season the Marlins will be in the basement of the NL East for a third consecutive season.