As spring training approaches, many questions are arising. Will the Phillies return as World Champions? Will the Mets' acquisitions pay off? Will the Cubs win the World Series after 101 years of disappointment? How will the loss of CC Sabathia affect the Brewers?
These questions will be answered by how each team plays. But let's take first look at the 2009 season for the National League.
National League East
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. New York Mets
3. Florida Marlins
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Washington Nationals
With the reigning World Champions in the NL East, trips to the the East Coast will be killer for any team. With the Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox all in one part of the country, you have to wonder what managers are thinking when they are boarding a flight to New York, Philly, Boston, or Florida.
The Phillies, Mets, and Marlins are all capable of winning the division. The Marlins showed that their young power hitters will eat up any fastball, but it will be tough to hang with the Phils and Mets this year.
After the Mets acquired J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez during the offseason, they could challenge the Phillies for the best bullpen in the N.L., but two pitchers don't make a bullpen. The other members of the Mets' 'pen will have to pick up the slack.
With J.C. Romero's 50-game suspension, the Phils will have a whole in their bullpen, but they do have other options for the late innings. It will definitely be the battle of the closers this year.
I wouldn't be surprised if both the Phillies and Mets make the playoffs this year.
National League Central
1. Chicago Cubs
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. St. Louis Cardinals
4. Houston Astros
5. Cincinnati Reds
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Cubs had the best record in the National League last year, but they were quickly eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers during the NLDS. They should make a comeback this year, but with the loss of versatile Mark DeRosa it will be hard to do.
The Brewers will also have a tough time coming back after losing CC Sabathia. Let's face it, Sabathia single-handedly led the Brewers to the playoffs. They still made the playoffs after going 10-16 in September and firing manager Ned Yost. They won't have as good a showing as last year.
But don't count out the Cardinals. They also have a decent shot at making the playoffs. They are led by 2008 MVP Albert Pujols and should make a statement.
Now to the bottom of the division. The Houston Astros won't be great right out of the shut, but they could cause some headaches towards the end of the season like last year. The Reds will be carried by Edinson Volquez and will need a monster year to have a shot. The Pirates will also need much help and are definitely in rebuild mode.
National League West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
The laughingstock of the league last year, the N.L. West should be better than last year. After making it to the NLCS, the Dodgers have a shot at a repeat. Though it was a sad year last year, it was fun to watch the Dodgers and Diamondbacks battle it out.
With the acquisition of Randy Johnson, the Giants not only got a player, but also somewhat of a coach. He will definitely help the younger players. I'm not fully into the idea of them winning the division, but they could be a good shot next year.
The Diamondbacks are a good team, but after losing to the Dodgers last year, it could take a toll. They do have the young talent and could always come out of the division as champs, but they will need to prove themselves in April.
After making it to the World Series last year, the Colorado Rockies have gone downhill. I wouldn't be surprised if they finished last instead of the Padres, especially after the loss of Brian Fuentes.
With Jake Peavy still with the Padres, it should be an interesting season. Not often do you see a top pitcher with a last place team. The Padres won't fully be in rebuild mode until they trade him. The Cubs are still interested and if they get him, it will boost their chances of success.