This past Monday some of the best news happened as the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer to a two-year deal and Jacob deGrom was announced as the Rookie of the Year. Both announcements should propel confidence into the Mets as they head into 2015. But what about the rest of the NL East? Where do the other teams stand and how much of a threat are they to the Mets? Let’s take a look at where the Amazins’ stand in comparison to our their rivals.
The Atlanta Braves are in what might be the absolute worst position in the entire division: they have star players locked up but they missed out on the playoffs.
Their pitching staff at the end of last season looked deadly from the dominance of Mike Minor and Kris Medlen to the leap forward in development of Julio Teheran and Alex Wood. Brandon Beachy and David Hale also performed like potential fits to the rotation. Unfortunately for the Braves they systematically failed as Beachy and Medlen faced their second Tommy John surgery and Minor took a leap backward. Tehran was terrific for this team and there is no doubt in my mind that he will win a Cy Young award some day. Wood and Hale were, for whatever reason, kept in the bullpen for the majority of the season even though they both proved to be effective as starters. In the bullpen, the expected dominance was not there beyond Craig Kimbrel lacking a true dominant lefty. It has not gotten the job done in bridging the gap to Kimbrel. Overall, with the likely departures of the two surprising stars (Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang), they will be left with four questions on the starting staff.
On paper, this team looks as if they could demolish a pitching staff and completely tear through a team in seven games. However, the majority of the players on the team were largely unaccounted for in offensive production. In fact, only Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton produced 502+ PA and .400+ slugging seasons. If this team wants to be more recognized, Chris Johnson, Tommy La Stella and Christian Bethancourt will all have to hit much better. This team strikes out a lot and did not exactly hit a ton of homeruns- they are no longer a force to be reckoned with.
Ultimately the Braves are on the downswing and have committed tons of money to multiple players with little room for upgrades that include financial commitment. In fact, they are actually living their worst nightmare. There seems to be a recognizable name at each position and only two positions were actually valuable. This team serves no monetary threat to the Mets and would be lucky to crack 75 wins in 2015.
Threat level: None
This is a team on the rise with several players that are extremely close to becoming all-stars maximizing their potential in about 2-3 years.
This pitching staff was solid at the start of the season, but by the end they had fallen off the horse. Many expected Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi to dominate the division. This has obviously changed as Fernandez now won’t return until mid-2015 and Turner isn’t even a Marlin anymore. In fact, Alvarez turned into an ace as Eovaldi blossomed into a solid starter. Beyond that. Jarred Cosart turned out to be a nice pickup at the deadline for the Marlins. This team, while not able to reach their full potential in 2015, has a bright future in the rotation.
The Marlins had an interesting season at the plate especially considering they couldn’t buy runs in 2013. With the development of Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, in addition to Giancarlo Stanton and the leap from Adeiny Hechavarria, this team proved to be serviceable at offense. Beyond the three they got average production from veterans Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Casey McGehee, and Garrett Jones. As a fan of baseball it hurts to say Giancarlo Stanton is actually somewhat of a question mark. David Wright did not come back to true form after his concussion until 2012. The Marlins offense will take a step back due to the predicted regression that McGehee will experience (if he returns) and the lack of production surrounding Stanton.
Overall this team will be set up to compete in 2016 when all of their pieces come together. For now, the Mets have nothing to seriously fear.
Threat level: Not severe
Ah, rebuilding mode. The place that the Phillies must travel to this offseason or a certain GM will lose his job.
Once thought to have the potential to be the best rotation of all time they still hold 2/4 of the four original aces. Beyond them lies nothing but question marks. Some potential “answers” could reside in David Buchanan, Jerome Williams and highly regarded Miguel Gonzalez. Beyond this the pitching is nothing to write home about especially considering most might be gone after a potential fire sale.
The famous four still remain intact as they all performed at about league average for the year. The interesting part about potentially trying to move some of the pieces is that there might not be a willingness by other teams to accept these aging players thus preventing the rebuilding process. They seemed to have some hope in former top-prospect Dominic Brown, but he proved that he will probably never amount to much. The best player on this team is a former Met who struck out 185 times and is heading into his age 36 season (Marlon Byrd if someone didn’t know). This team is a wreck that should end the face palms and just move on to going through the Kansas City method.
Once an elite team that continuously took the hearts of Mets’ fans, it has turned into the laughing stock of not only the NL East, but the major leagues. They are not a threat to the Mets or any team for that matter and Mets’ fans should not feel bad.
Threat Level: Absolutely none
They are the team to beat in the National League not just the East as they carry an elite rotation with a more than serviceable offense.
Since 2012 this has been a ridiculous rotation that has always included one weak link- this year it was Gio Gonzalez until his final few starts. The only thing that the Mets should be somewhat hopeful about is Doug Fister’s FIP in comparison to his ERA. While not a perfect stat, he theoretically should have had a 3.93 ERA instead of a 2.41. That’s it Mets’ fans – I got nothing else. The bullpen will presumably be putting Drew Storen back into the closer role while the rest of it remains pretty nasty.
This is actually where the Mets can look up because there’s a few positives. Jason Werth supported a solid season although he isn’t getting any younger while Denard Span had a career year. But there is only going down from there. Ian Desmond had a huge OPS decline and the presumable re-signing of Asdrubal Cabrera will almost certainly be a mistake. Anthony Rendon will be taking over and Bryce Harper can only ascend from where he is. The offense is actually a pretty large question mark and if the Mets pitching can handle them, there will be some meaningful ballgames against them.
Regardless, they are still an elite team that is thirsty for a deeper run in the playoffs. This team dominated our lovable losers, but maybe a new year will spark new momentum. The Nationals are a force to be reckoned with and the Mets should take them seriously.
Threat level: Extreme