MLB Stretch Run: The NL

Those of you who have read my American League breakdown, are probably thinking – why move on to the National League when the latest Yankees-Pirates trade has rendered your A.L. material outdated? All I have to say about the Yankees acquiring Nady and Marte is that it reeks of everything I hated about baseball in the late nineties. Right now, most other GMs are saying they would have given the Pirates a similar package for one of those players, let alone both. It seemed like this was the story around every single trade deadline of the Yankees’ dynasty. They would acquire the top notch player for a prospect who never turned into anything. I fully expect they’ll acquire Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners for nothing other than taking over his contract . . . and these are the exact pieces they’ll need to sneak into the playoffs for the fourteenth season in a row, ugh.

But, we will forget about that for now, and focus on the N.L. We’ll start in the West, the easiest division, since the wild card will definitely not come from there. None of the N.L. divisions are that easy, since every division will feature a race that comes down to the wire. It’s hard to remember that just last year, the West featured four teams with a winning record, and three headed to the playoffs (granted, for the Padres this was only a one game playoff). Out of pure stubbornness, I’m sticking to my preseason choice for the Colorado Rockies to win this division. None of these teams will run away from the pack, although Arizona is guaranteed to hang around because of their pitching, the Dodgers have had a few too many injuries and under performing free agents to best the others. The Rockies, however, have the return of Troy Tulowitzki, and the memory of their improbably playoff push from last year. So who knows? None of these teams are going to dominate outside the division, so it’s going to come down to who beats each other, and the Rockies just took two of three from the Dodgers.

Let’s move to the Central, the best division the National League has to offer. I have a feeling, come October, the big story will be what a difference CC Sabathia has made. Not only has he made a huge difference on the Brewers, but his trade started a rash of national league contenders trading for american league starters. The Cubs made the rash decision to add Harden, and the Phillies went out and got Blanton. I think both the Cubs and Brewers are heading to the playoffs, in which order I don’t know, and I expect to see them meet in the NLCS. The Cardinals have out performed expectations for far too long. I, like the rest of the baseball world, expect this team to fade.

The National League East is probably the toughed decision to cap right now. The Mets are playing incredibly right now, but I hate to see them succeed this season – we’ll have to hear about how canning Willie Randolph was a brilliant move by the front office. I still think the Phillies can come out of this division. They’re lineup is amazing, and they’ve got a great bullpen. Yeah, they’re starters suck, but you can win a World Series on timely hitting and great bullpen work, (cf. Anaheim Angels 2002). It worries me that they’ve lost the last two head-to-head series against New York, but we’ll see what happens in the final 5 games between them. As for Florida – I have no idea. This team is never on national television, and I’m in an A.L. market so it’s hard to say what they’ve got going there. I do know that they’ve got the best player in the league in Hanley Ramirez, but I have no idea what to expect from this team moving forward.

So there you have it, except that I just read that the Dodgers have acquired 3B Casey Blake, so this blog is already outdated before I even post it . . . great.


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