This is the time when everyone is an expert and I am no different. The experts from ESPN, The Sporting News, Baseball Digest, Sports Illustrated, and here at Bleacher Report.com will have differences of opinions like the experts predicting the economy on CNBC.
I will start with the division I am familiar with, the National League East.
New York Mets
Hitting: The Mets have always had a potent offense. Even with Castillo having a horrible year and injuries to the corner outfielders, the Mets were able to come with a great balance of power, speed, and batting average.
Starting pitching: The rotation ran out of gas towards the end of the season. The injury to Maine did not help matters either. Look for Santana, Pelfrey, Perez, Maine, and Hernandez to be more relaxed and not try to do too much. Why?
Bullpen: It was a complete disaster blowing 29 games and costing the Mets the division title. Even with Billy Wagner, the bullpen was not intimidating. Omar Minaya overhauled the bullpen and added two jewels in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. This may be the best tandem in the Major Leagues.
Bench: This is where the Mets will not get much recognition but will be the sleeper of this ball club. Tatis may be the Mets MVP if he repeats what he did in 2008. Anderson needs to bounce back from his woeful 2008. The addition of Cora and Reed will give this bench some excitement.
Prediction: Third time is the charm for the New York Mets. Mets will win the division.
Hitting: As long as Chipper Jones is in the lineup, the Braves are dangerous. Matt Diaz, Yunel Escobar, and the addition of Garrett Anderson always benefit from Jones presence.
Starting Pitching: This is an interesting staff to watch. There is a lot of upside with the addition of Javier Vazquez and Derek Lowe. Jair Jurrjens came to his own and Tom Glavine is a question of health.
Bullpen: Not sure how this bullpen is going to work. There are a lot of questions to be answered here. Soriano and Gonzalez will be worked.
Bench: Prado, Infante, and Ross lead this group. This is not very impressive.
Prediction: Never count out a team managed by Bobby Cox. He has a way to bring out the best in what little he has. The rotation is solid but not enough to challenge the Mets. A distant second place is my call.
Hitting: This is a strong offense with Rollins, Utley, and Howard. Add Werth and Ibañez and they will get runs.
Starting Pitching: Hamels is expected to lead this staff but is hurt. Myers will have to show consistency. Blanton may go back to his Oakland A's days and be average now that the element of surprise is gone. Moyers is coming back at age 46. Chan Ho Park will have to have a Brad Lidge year.
Bullpen: After Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson, there is not much to talk about. They need to hope the suspension of J.C. Romero doesn't hurt this team until he returns.
Bench: Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins supply the power off the bench.
Prediction: This team will have to stay healthy to even compete. Any major injuries to the starting lineup or rotation and it will be the nail in the coffin. No repeat years from Lidge and Moyer. Third place is as high as they go.
Prediction: This may be a team that actually took a step backwards. A lot of offense but no defense. The bullpen is in disarray. They need a new stadium to compete and they don't make last place because....
Prediction: ...as good as Manny Acta is at managing, he needs a degree in psychology to run this group of misfits. Aside from Adam Dunn hitting moonshots in D.C., there may not be a better soap opera than the Nation's Capital. Last place again. At least they are heading in the right direction. Or is that left direction?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!