BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016, PART II

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Updated: February 25, 2016

 

 

 

BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016, PART II

By Tony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus

 

 

NEW HAVEN, CT (BASN) — Now that the Super Bowl is done and all the collective All-Star weekends have come to a close, it’s time to focus on the one thing that makes us think warmer thoughts — spring training. By the time you read this pitchers and catchers for all 30 MLB squads will have started their preparations for the 2016 campaign. The rest of the players aren’t too far away as well. Over the next few days, we’ll take a brief peek at all six divisional races heading into camp. Not really making predictions, but moreso taking an educated look at what to watch for during the upcoming season.

 

 

In our opening salvo, we took a look at the AL Central. Today, we’ll explore the NL East. Teams are listed in order of 2015 finish.

 

 

1. NEW YORK METS

 

 

Last year’s run to the World Series along with subsequent moves (i.e., 2B Neil Walker, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, re-signing OF Yoenis Cespedes) during the off-season has left an air of giddy optimism surrounding the Flushing faithful. While there are still concerns including David Wright’s health as well as the front end of the bullpen, Terry Collins still has a formidable starting rotation to fall back on. The biggest question: Will the Metsies thrive or crumble under the higher expectations?

 

 

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2. WASHINGTON NATIONALS

 

 

Dusty’s back and D.C.’s got him. The author of over 1,600 MLB victories is back on the sidelines attempting to put some oomph in one of the game’s most underachieving teams from 2015. Many folks felt that the Nats had a World Series run in them (guilty as charged including this writer). But Washington never seemed to right the ship and it cost Matt Williams his job. A nasty incident involving longtime knucklehead P Jonathan Papelbon and MVP Bryce Harper was fairly or unfairly the lasting image of Washington from last year. The pair have made up and the club looks to move on. Watching Mr. Baker put this mix together for a playoff run will be an interesting scenario to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. MIAMI MARLINS

 

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Another season and another new manager in Miami. But maybe with a difference this time. They’re still in the honeymoon stage, but so far Don Mattingly and the Marlins appear to be on the same page. Keeping OF Giancarlo Stanton, 2B Dee Gordon, and P Jose Fernandez healthy all season will say a lot about Donnie Baseball’s initial campaign. Adding veterans Edwin Jackson and Wei-Yin Chen will take some pressure off Fernandez as well. The most interesting story could be the presence and influence of new batting coach Barry Bonds. The home run king will be working with a lineup of young veterans and experienced players that could be better than most think.

 

 

 

 

4. ATLANTA BRAVES

 

 

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The final season at Turner Field for the Bravos will look more like an extended baseball combine for most Atlanta fans. Yes, guys like 1B Freddy Freeman and P Julio Teheran are among the recognizable returnees from 2015. However, new baseball operations head John Hart has openly said this is a team in transition (i.e., rebuilding mode) heading into Cobb County in 2017. Do they have a surprise run in them? Not likely. But watching the development of youngsters like SS Dansby Swanson and others will set the table for the franchise down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

 

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It will almost be impossible for the Phils to avoid a fourth straight losing season. Much like the aforementioned Braves, Philly is in the throes of a major facelift. However, Pete Mackanin’s bunch may be a bit closer to turning it around. But the growing pains are still there, especially on the defensive level. Their 117 errors were only exceeded by the Pirates’ 122 in the NL. The biggest question is will the faithful be willing to keep waiting for the turnaround. Attendance dropped 40 percent from 2014, the lowest since moving to Citizens Bank Park.

 

 

 

NEXT: The AL West.

 

 

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