February 3rd, 2012
With spring training right around the corner and all of the major free agents signed and ready to go with their respective teams, I thought it would be interesting to see which teams have positioned themselves for a playoff run in 2012.
Obviously things are going to change from now to Opening Day, but it’s never too early to look how things might shape up in the National League this season.
National League East
1. Z – Philadelphia Phillies : Despite the loss of Howard and this team getting up there in age, they still have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels and that will be enough to get them another NL East title.
2. X – Washington Nationals: I like what they have done this winter. They will need to add another bat during the season.
3. Atlanta Braves: It usually takes a team a year or two to recover from an epic collapse.
4. Miami Marlins: They aren’t too far behind the Nationals and Braves, but 89-90 wins will be needed to get the Wild Card spot and I don’t think the Marlins improved by 17 wins this offseason despite their spending spree.
5. New York Mets: This franchise is a mess. It’s going to be long year, but not a long line for Shake Shack at Citi Field in 2012.
National League Central
2. Y – Cincinnati Reds: Acquiring Mat Latos and signing Ryan Madson was huge for the Reds and big improvements over what they had in 2011. They had a dropoff in 2011, but look for them to bounce back strong 2012.
3. Milwaukee Brewers: I could have seen them surviving the loss of Prince Fielder, but to lose Fielder and then Ryan Braun for 50 games is too much for any team to handle. Look for Zack Greinke to make another run at the Cy Young in 2012.
4. Chicago Cubs: Theo Epstein and Co. have a lot of work to do in the Windy City and I believe will eventually turn things around in Chicago. However, the Cubs will be hard to watch in 2012 and will be lucky to win 75 games.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 2012 will be another losing season in Pittsburgh. They just don’t have much going on and Pedro Alvarez better step up this season. I like Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker a lot, but unfortunately for them, they don’t have much talent around them.
6. Houston Astros: The Astros lost 106 games in 2011 and it might be worse in 2012. This team is really, really bad. I was looking through their depth cart in our new fancy Depth Charts section (shameless plug) and I have no clue who half of the guys on their roster are.
National League West
1. Z – San Francisco Giants: The Giants got fleeced in the Jonathan Sanchez – Melky Cabrera swap, but I liked the Angel Pagan move. I don’t think they have more talent than the Arizona Diamondbacks, but I think they will get big years from Buster Posey and Brandon Belt and find a way to win.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks will be the Cincinnati Reds of 2011; Young team that made the postseason the year before, everyone thinks they are on the rise, but takes a step back the next year.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers: Despite the mess off the field last year, the Dodgers will managed to win 82 games in 2011. I think they could be a little bit better, but not by much. Their bullpen should be interesting. If Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen can stabilize the back-end of the bullpen, the Dodgers will be a tough out in 2012.
4. Colorado Rockies: I have no idea which direction this team is going in. They get rid of Huston Street, but then bring in Casey Blake. They trade a younger Chris Iannetta for an aging Ramon Hernandez? Very confusing. This team will finish with 79 – 80 wins in 2012.
5. San Diego Padres: The Padres will once again have a hard time scoring runs and talent they got back for Adrian Gonzalez and Mat Latos will still take a couple of years to develop. Once that crop of young talent develops, they will be very good.
On Monday, we will look at the early American League predictions.
Z = Division Winner
Y = Wild Card Winner
X = Wild Card Winner If Baseball Adds A Second Wild Card For 2012
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