NL East preview: predictions and projections

Chase Utley hopes to lead the Phillies to a third straight NL pennant.
Chase Utley hopes to lead the Phillies to a third straight NL pennant.

The Phillies are aiming for a third consecutive NL East title and third consecutive NL pennant. Hoping to prevent that will be the Braves, who would love to return to the playoffs in manager Bobby Cox’s final season, and the Marlins, who once again will try to work their low-payroll magic. The Mets could surprise if they can get/stay healthy, and the Nationals will try to avoid a third consecutive 100-loss season as they wait patiently for Stephen Strasburg’s debut.

SN’s predicted order of finish in the NL East:
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals

BUT LOOK OUT FOR …
Sporting News contributor Todd Jones, a former major league closer, picks one team that could prove SN wrong:
Braves. The starting five gives them a chance to win every game. Atlanta is strong up the middle defensively but needs power from Chipper Jones and Troy Glaus. Closer Billy Wagner should be dominant.

THE ALL-DIVISION TEAM
By TBS analyst Ron Darling
Former Mets pitcher

Johan Santana hopes to bounce back in 2010.
Johan Santana hopes to bounce back in 2010.

LINEUP
C: Brian McCann, Braves
1B: Ryan Howard, Phillies
2B: Chase Utley, Phillies
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
OF: Raul Ibanez, Phillies
OF: Carlos Beltran, Mets
OF: Jayson Werth, Phillies

ROTATION
RHP: Roy Halladay, Phillies
LHP: Johan Santana, Mets
RHP: Josh Johnson, Marlins
RHP: Jair Jurrjens, Braves
LHP: Cole Hamels, Phillies

CLOSER
RHP: Francisco Rodriguez, Mets

MANAGER
Charlie Manuel, Phillies
— As told to Jeff D’Alessio

THREE THINGS I THINK ABOUT THE NL EAST By MLB Network analyst Sean Casey
Three-time All-Star first baseman 1. Roy Halladay will win the Cy Young. After putting up those numbers in the AL East, it’s scary to think what he’ll do in the NL.
2. Tommy Hanson will emerge as the Braves’ ace. His stuff is just too good, and he’s proved to himself he can pitch in the majors.
3. The Mets will finish fourth in the division. After Johan Santana, the rotation starts to get dicey. The top five doesn’t stack up with those in the rest of the division.
— As told to Ryan Fagan

SN SAYS
Sporting News’ Stan McNeal makes three predictions for each team in the NL East:

PHILLIES
1. Jayson Werth, a five-tool talent, will emerge as one of next offseason’s most coveted free agents.
2. Shane Victorino will displace Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot because of a superior on-base percentage.
3. Jose Contreras’ versatility (and splitter) will prove vital to the bullpen’s success.

BRAVES
1. Bolstered by a revamped delivery, Derek Lowe will lower his ERA a full run below last season’s 4.67.
2. Billy Wagner will stay healthy, save 40 games and become the all-time lefthanded saves leader.
3. Troy Glaus will handle the move to first base and emerge as one of the offseason’s best bargains.

METS
1. Citi Field won’t be kind to Jason Bay, who will finish with fewer than 30 homers after hitting a career-high 36 last season.
2. Johan Santana, healthy again, will regain the status of the NL’s best starter.
3. Another disappointing start will end Jerry Manuel’s run as manager.

MARLINS
1. Leo Nunez will force the club to buck its recent trend of switching closers and will keep the job all season.
2. After seasons of speculation, Dan Uggla finally will be traded.
3. Outfielder Mike Stanton, 20, will be Florida’s next hot prospect to make an impact with the team.

NATIONALS
1. There won’t be a third consecutive 100-loss season. Washington is too talented.
2. Jason Marquis’ streak of reaching the playoffs in every season of his major league career will come to an end.
3. Stephen Strasburg won’t be the only rookie pitcher promoted to the majors. Reliever Drew Storen will make it, too.

BESTS OF THE NL EAST
Rookie hitter: Jason Heyward, Braves
Rookie pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
Trade bait: Dan Uggla, Marlins
Double-play combination: Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, Phillies
Offseason pickup: Roy Halladay, Phillies
Bet to win 20 games: Halladay
Unit: Phillies offense
Bounce-back candidate: Johan Santana, Mets
Fifth starter: Kenshin Kawakami, Braves
Outfield arm: Jeff Francoeur, Mets
1-2 rotation punch: Halladay and Cole Hamels, Phillies
Basestealer: Utley
Executive: Larry Beinfest, Marlins
Bullpen: Braves
— Stan McNeal

GUEST BEST
Hitter
Braves C Brian McCann picks: David Wright, Mets: "He is very patient and almost never gets himself out. He can drive any pitch to any part of the field."

This content first appeared in Sporting News magazine. If you are not receiving the magazine, subscribe today, or pick up a copy, available at most Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.

Chase Utley hopes to lead the Phillies to a third straight NL pennant.
Chase Utley hopes to lead the Phillies to a third straight NL pennant.

The Phillies are aiming for a third consecutive NL East title and third consecutive NL pennant. Hoping to prevent that will be the Braves, who would love to return to the playoffs in manager Bobby Cox’s final season, and the Marlins, who once again will try to work their low-payroll magic. The Mets could surprise if they can get/stay healthy, and the Nationals will try to avoid a third consecutive 100-loss season as they wait patiently for Stephen Strasburg’s debut.

SN’s predicted order of finish in the NL East:
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals

BUT LOOK OUT FOR …
Sporting News contributor Todd Jones, a former major league closer, picks one team that could prove SN wrong:
Braves. The starting five gives them a chance to win every game. Atlanta is strong up the middle defensively but needs power from Chipper Jones and Troy Glaus. Closer Billy Wagner should be dominant.

THE ALL-DIVISION TEAM
By TBS analyst Ron Darling
Former Mets pitcher

Johan Santana hopes to bounce back in 2010.
Johan Santana hopes to bounce back in 2010.

LINEUP
C: Brian McCann, Braves
1B: Ryan Howard, Phillies
2B: Chase Utley, Phillies
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
OF: Raul Ibanez, Phillies
OF: Carlos Beltran, Mets
OF: Jayson Werth, Phillies

ROTATION
RHP: Roy Halladay, Phillies
LHP: Johan Santana, Mets
RHP: Josh Johnson, Marlins
RHP: Jair Jurrjens, Braves
LHP: Cole Hamels, Phillies

CLOSER
RHP: Francisco Rodriguez, Mets

MANAGER
Charlie Manuel, Phillies
— As told to Jeff D’Alessio

THREE THINGS I THINK ABOUT THE NL EAST By MLB Network analyst Sean Casey
Three-time All-Star first baseman 1. Roy Halladay will win the Cy Young. After putting up those numbers in the AL East, it’s scary to think what he’ll do in the NL.
2. Tommy Hanson will emerge as the Braves’ ace. His stuff is just too good, and he’s proved to himself he can pitch in the majors.
3. The Mets will finish fourth in the division. After Johan Santana, the rotation starts to get dicey. The top five doesn’t stack up with those in the rest of the division.
— As told to Ryan Fagan

SN SAYS
Sporting News’ Stan McNeal makes three predictions for each team in the NL East:

PHILLIES
1. Jayson Werth, a five-tool talent, will emerge as one of next offseason’s most coveted free agents.
2. Shane Victorino will displace Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot because of a superior on-base percentage.
3. Jose Contreras’ versatility (and splitter) will prove vital to the bullpen’s success.

BRAVES
1. Bolstered by a revamped delivery, Derek Lowe will lower his ERA a full run below last season’s 4.67.
2. Billy Wagner will stay healthy, save 40 games and become the all-time lefthanded saves leader.
3. Troy Glaus will handle the move to first base and emerge as one of the offseason’s best bargains.

METS
1. Citi Field won’t be kind to Jason Bay, who will finish with fewer than 30 homers after hitting a career-high 36 last season.
2. Johan Santana, healthy again, will regain the status of the NL’s best starter.
3. Another disappointing start will end Jerry Manuel’s run as manager.

MARLINS
1. Leo Nunez will force the club to buck its recent trend of switching closers and will keep the job all season.
2. After seasons of speculation, Dan Uggla finally will be traded.
3. Outfielder Mike Stanton, 20, will be Florida’s next hot prospect to make an impact with the team.

NATIONALS
1. There won’t be a third consecutive 100-loss season. Washington is too talented.
2. Jason Marquis’ streak of reaching the playoffs in every season of his major league career will come to an end.
3. Stephen Strasburg won’t be the only rookie pitcher promoted to the majors. Reliever Drew Storen will make it, too.

BESTS OF THE NL EAST
Rookie hitter: Jason Heyward, Braves
Rookie pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
Trade bait: Dan Uggla, Marlins
Double-play combination: Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, Phillies
Offseason pickup: Roy Halladay, Phillies
Bet to win 20 games: Halladay
Unit: Phillies offense
Bounce-back candidate: Johan Santana, Mets
Fifth starter: Kenshin Kawakami, Braves
Outfield arm: Jeff Francoeur, Mets
1-2 rotation punch: Halladay and Cole Hamels, Phillies
Basestealer: Utley
Executive: Larry Beinfest, Marlins
Bullpen: Braves
— Stan McNeal

GUEST BEST
Hitter
Braves C Brian McCann picks: David Wright, Mets: "He is very patient and almost never gets himself out. He can drive any pitch to any part of the field."

This content first appeared in Sporting News magazine. If you are not receiving the magazine, subscribe today, or pick up a copy, available at most Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.

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