Friday, March 31, 2006

Once Around the Horn as the Boys Head North

It’s almost the baseball season. . . for real. No more of these ‘get my work in’ exhibition games. We only have two more days of pretend games before the real season starts. Let’s take a spin around the NL East and see what our enemies are up to, com’on kids.

The New York Mess

This spring has seen the Mets work their way through injuries, and that will be the paper mache dam that holds back the flood of mediocrity during the season. Odds are Pedro will be fine, despite his toe, but the real concerns should be with Billy Wagner and whether his finger can survive the entire season. Matsui is already out, replaced by Anderson Hernandez, and even when he does come back will he live up to his once raved about potential. But will the rotation hold up with an aged Tom Glavine, a hobbled Pedro, and the severe averageness of Trachsel and Zambrano. Their pitching will make or break the team this year.

The Philadelphia Phooey’s

Ryan Howard has certainly announced his presence this spring, and is not making anyone regret trading Thome. Howard though, may be the new Rob Deer, an all or nothing hitter as evidenced by his spring numbers of 10 out of 26 hits going for home runs and 21 Ks in 78 at-bats. With whiff machines Pat Burrell, Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu, and newly acquired whiff machine Aaron Roward they should hit a lot of home runs and strike out a whole lot more. Can Gavin Floyd, who has had a great spring, finally put it together during the regular season?

The Freshman Fish

The only question will be whether they will eclipse the amount of rookies the Braves used last year. One thing is certain, the results won’t be the same. There should be a lot of excitement for this young team with Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Josh Willingham. And don’t forget Miggy and D-Train.

The Washington No-Shows

Will Soriano play left field? Will he be happy there? Who really gives a crap? Soriano as a left fielder in that park will be about as good as Raul Ibanez. The good news for the Nats is that Christian Guzman, he of the .219 average a year ago, will be on the DL to start the season. The bad news, he’s being replaced by Royce Clayton (the good news about him is that he’s cut off the stupid locks he was sporting last year). After Livan Hernandez and John Patterson the rotation is a shallow wasteland.

. . . and the good guys:

The Atlanta Bravos

The Braves have a well balanced team of veterans and young players, a mix they have used successfully for a decade and a half. They will have to survive the annual bullpen trials again this season, and it seems as though they will have to either suffer or enjoy the extreme streakiness of Jeff Francoeur. A full season of Chipper getting on base in front of Andruw should make for a strong middle of the order. How much will Furcal be missed, or will his departing have the same non-effect that Drew, Sheffield, Maddux, and Glavine’s had.

If you haven’t already, call in sick on Monday and spend the day watching the full slate of games on ESPN. It’s gonna be fun.

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