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Which NL East Team Had The Best Winter?

       With only 23 days remaining until Marlins pitchers and catchers report to spring training, now is a good time to look back on the winter offseason and assess how things are shaping up in the NL East -- at least in terms of each team's key roster moves. Like everything else in the East, it all starts with the Phillies, who have won the division title each of the past four seasons.

       The Phillies lost free agent outfielder Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals. But that loss was more than offset by their signing of Cliff Lee, who gives the Phils arguably the best rotation in the majors, as well as potentially one of the greatest ever. Add Lee to a rotation that also includes Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, and the Phillies have far and away the best rotation. Nothing in the NL East compares, that's for sure.

        Let's take a look at the other East clubs:

        -- The Marlins gave up Dan Uggla in their trade with the Braves, obtaining Omar Infante and Mike Dunn in return. They traded Cameron Maybin to the Padres for relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. They dealt Andrew Miller to the Red Sox for reliever Dustin Richardson. And they signed catcher John Buck, veteran pitcher Javier Vazquez and lefty reliever Randy Choate. They didn't make any tidal wave signings, but shored up the bullpen with a series of smaller moves.

        -- The Braves, in addition to Uggla, added relievers Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill. They lost Dunn, Infante, outfielder Melky Cabrera and relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito from last year's team.

        -- The Nationals signed Werth to a questionable 7-year deal and signed Adam LaRoche to replace departing first baseman Adam Dunn. Also joining the Nats were reliever Henry Rodriguez, starter Tom Gorzelanny and outfielder Rick Ankiel. Outfielder Josh Willingham left to join the A's.

        -- The Mets maintained a low profile under new GM Sandy Alderson. Newcomers include pitchers Taylor Buchholz, Chris Young and Chris Capuano, reliever D.J. Carrasco, catcher Ronny Paulino, outfielder Scott Hairston and infielder Chin-lung Hu. Gone are catcher Henry Blanco, relievers Pedro Feliciano and Hisanori Takahaski and pitcherJohn Maine.

        Based on all that, has any club done enough to knock the Phillies off their perch? And have the Marlins done enough to improve on their 80-82 record and become a viable postseason candidate? Let's hear your opinion.

Comments

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davec

Bull pen was huge issue last yr.. shored that up.. defense was a lil shakey addressed that.. solidified our rotation addressed that..
defense - check
bullpen help - check
starting pitching - check

oh yeah Mike Stanton.. Gaby Sanchez.. Hanley Ramirez... power still there - check..

looking GOOD I SAY.

David

Well done by the Marlins. Should be a good season for the fish.

spitballer

I say we have a shot...the Phillis rotation is will have injuries during the season. The fab 4 are not spring chickens anymore.

Siefer Kutherland

I'd be surprised if the Phillies lost a game

Glags

Phillies still have the best team in the division. Barring any key injuries to their rotation it's more likely for the fish to contend in the wild card race. That said, some wild card teams have been greatly improved such as the brewers' addition of Greinke and you always have to count the Rockies, Giants and the Reds or Cardinals as the top wild card teams. I do like our chances though against any of those teams on paper but as always it comes down to execution on the field. April can't come soon enough.

Glags

...and to answer the question without a doubt the Phillies had the best off season just by adding one impact player. With Lee and Halladay pitching you don't need a top notch bullpen and they can score runs a million ways.

The digg

Good offseason............
And then the Phillies got Cliff Lee

Mr. B

As much as I dislike them, don't sleep on the Mets. The Phillies are world class. The Braves are the same pain in the butt Braves, but we can count on a few more managerial gaffes with Bobby Cox gone. After the Phillies, however, the division is a toss-up. Marlins could be anywhere from 2-4. Hopefully Stanton improves on his strike out rate, Gaby keeps up his solid production, Hanley gets his head out of his rear, and Coghlan holds down center and gets on base at a .380 clip. We'll be ok then.

Brent Caulder

Totally unrelated but doesn't Mike Stanton look like a young powerful "Rock"..yeah redneck WWE reference. Though I love the Big Worm nickname, I think it would be cool to chant Rocky when he's at bat. Part of the fun of the Texas Rangers ride to the AL championship was and will now forever be the Claw and Antlers signs that the players and now the fans perform. It would be cool to have the entire stadium yelling Rocky if only to excite the fans some.

observer

ONly injuries and getting long in the tooth will hinder the phils but the MArlins are right behind them, they have a young proven team which is scary, they should get the wildcard. I think they will be way better on infield defense, center is the only question mark.

Stan M

My main complaint was the fish signing Buck. Both the money and the years are obscene. Below is an evaluation by a blogger on Roto:

...Buck hit 20 homers, a career best. So he should hit at least 20 homers again, right? WRONG.
You need to look deeper than the surface numbers.

(a) Buck received more at-bats than ever before which partly explains the 20 homers. In fact, his HR/AB mark of one every 20.5 really isn't drastically different from his 25.8 career mark.

(b) For the third time in four years his fly ball ratio was over 44 percent. However, it was actually a career-high of 44.7 percent, which when matched with a 14.7 percent HR/F ratio, the second best mark of his career, allowed him to reach his career best in homers. That's a lot of factors coming together to help aid that homer total.

(c) In 2010 his home stadium in Toronto was the 2nd best park in the AL to deep in for right-handed batters according to Park Indicies. Buck will be playing in Florida in 2011, and last year Sun Life Stadium was just 13th in the NL in homers allowed to right-handed batters. That's a massive change he will have to deal with. Buck will also be counted on to be one of the main power bats in Florida, whereas in Toronto he was just a depth guy at the end of the lineup (last year the Jays hit 257 home runs while the Marlins had more than 100 less at 152).

In the case of Buck, there are plenty of reasons to think his career best .281 mark last season was a fluke.

(a) Buck is a career .243 hitter.

(b) In seven seasons he has only hit .250 once.

(c) Buck led baseball with a .409 average against left-handed pitching (min. 50 at-bats). That mark is .142 above his career level.

That's the history which says he has no chance to repeat. As for an in depth look beneath the .281 mark, all the indicators also say to be very afraid of a repeat.

(a) He had the worst walk rate of his career at 3.7 percent (career 6.5). A lack of patience does not bode well for continued batting average success.

(b) He struck out in more than a quarter of his at-bats. Moreover, his 27.1 percent K-rate was actually worse than his career 26.3 percent mark. If you strikeout that much it's very difficult to consistently be a productive batting average option.

(c) Despite the career best average, Buck had a line drive rate of 16.1 percent, a mark that was 0.7 worse than his career level. How was he able to better his career batting average by almost .040 points while hitting fewer line drives than normal? How about this - he was lucky. Buck's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) mark was .335. Only once in his previous six seasons had that mark been over .300, and his career rate is just .289. It makes no sense that his line drive rate dropped while his BABIP sky rocketed.

Bottom line: Buck will hit home runs, he has a lot of power, but a run to another 20 homers seems improbable. As for his batting average, he has about a three percent chance of once again hitting .280. In fact, I'd lay better than 50/50 odds that his average will once again be below .250

There was also a quote by a Royal official that said that they obtained Kendall in order to help bring order to their pitching staff. What does that say about their 6 year veteran catcher...Buck?

Personally, I liked all of their other moves

Aggie 67

Don't dismiss the Braves. If Chipper is healthy, admittedly a big if, their lineup will make the Marlins look anemic. Washington also cannot be overlooked. They improved their team and have a nice mix of youth and experience.I see the Marlins and the Mutts fighing for last place.

CoachG

The phillies as much as I hate them will win 100 if their current pitching staff stays healthy.. By far the best in the league.. People forget that a season ago uggla had a somewhat down year in which the marlins couldn't trade him for squat.. Then toward the second half of this past season he got hot and finished real strong.. Hey who doesn't trade when the value is high.. Uggla will give you 25 homeruns a year but he's not going to give you 285 again.. And his strikeouts will remain and his poor defense will remain.. Buck wasn't a bad deal.. I think he more than likely won't give u better than 265 but your catchers last year were either weak or injured so mo matter what he is an upgrade and sometimes when a position is weak in the majors and their isn't a lot to choose from you might have to overpay a little for the best available which is what the marlins did.. The biggest pickup the marlins got was the relievers from the padres... Both of those guys were strong last year!! Remember watching them on several occasions when we played them.. The marlins should get 85-88 wins.. Of course if health isn't an issue

Villa26

The Marlins will be the Division Leaders... Why...??
Well, because the Phillies are the same team as the past few years...
And they also left Werth... So we can tell that their offense is pretty weak.
Ryan Howard's K's have been raising every single year. Chase Utley is not as dominant as he'd been in the past. And the rest of the team is well known by the rest of the league.
So we can tell that the Phills are just a "Pitchers Team" with great defense.
So the Fish are going to beat them!!
Because of the NEW wave of raiding stars (Gaby, Stanton, LoMo, Dominguez, Dunn, etc)...
So for me , the most complete team in the National League East are THE MARLINS!!!
No doubt about it...!!!
Go Fish...Beat the Phills!!!

Villa26

*raising

Bigbb

I would like to think that this will be a good year for the marlins but this season is going to be tough. Getting used to not having uggla's bat and dfense will most likely be hard. This will probably be a rebuilding year for the marlins with all of the new changes, trades and adjustments. But hey if they don't win it all this year what better way to welcome in the new stadium then with a championship. And the phillies starting rotation is just hype....no biggie, right?

305native

did that guy just say Uggla and defense in the same sentence?

me.yahoo.com/a/fjpm6Wt_j4FWd1_Ygc0J3OEw.w6R

I like the moves the Marlins have made but it pales in comparison to the addition of Lee to the Phillies. It will be the Phillies and the four dwarfs fighting it out for second place. Dan Uggla was my favorite player and his bat will be missed. I wish him the best except we he plays the Marlins.

Mark

The Marlins don't have what it takes to improve. Their defense up the middle looks weak with Coghlan in center and Hanley at shortstop. I think Josh Johnson is a huge risk health-wise, and while Nolasco is safer coming off a leg injury his numbers are never as good as they should be given his sabremetric numbers.

Glags

Why are people still hating on the defense? Yes that was an issue last year but definitely was not the biggest problem they had. It's because it was such an issue that they, as a last resort perhaps, traded uggla for infante and they also went out and got Hill to coach. The moves they made weren't as "sexy" as some of the others but they made moves that were necessary to improve. As a fan I'm satisfied with what we have....until they don't work out of course.

scatterbrain

Anybody have any idea where the pitching will come from? The Phillies will win the division and the Braves the Wild Card. The Marlin young players will have some adjustments to make now that the league knows them. If they win 82 games it will be a good season

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