5. New York Mets-The Mets long trip down the sewer has finally hit its destination: the cellar. They have great players (Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes) who can't stay off the DL anymore. And when they are not present the team suffers. And 2011 will be no different. The Mets will have awful pitching. They have decent hitters, but they play in a pitchers ballpark with relatively no speed (Not a good idea!!). They now have serious ownership issues (For previous examples see: LA Dodgers and the McCourts), as the Wilpon's are suffering from the Madoff scam. The Mets do have a new manager (Terry Collins) and a new general manager (Sandy Alderson). So they should be moving in the right direction. But it won't be found in 2011. And probably not 2012 either.
4. Washington Nationals-The Nationals turned some heads in the baseball world when they landed OF Jayson Werth to a ridiculous $126 million contract. They are a team on the rise. They are getting some good up and coming prospects (Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, and Roger Bernadina) to perform well in the majors. They have some established veterans (Livan Hernandez, Werth, and Ivan Rodriguez). And come 2012, they get Stephen Strasburg back. For 2011's sake, they will have poor pitching and slightly decent hitting. It won't be great to watch, but it will be better than what its been in the past for this franchise. But they won't be the worst team in the division anymore. And if they can continue the path they are on, they won't be for a while either.
3. Florida Marlins-Somehow, someway, the Marlins find a way to win despite having young teams and relatively low payrolls. They have one of the game's best young pitchers in Josh Johnson, who is a dark horse for the Cy Young in 2011. They have a great up and coming hitter in Mike Stanton. They added a good hitting catcher in John Buck. And, Oh yeah! They have Hanley Ramirez, one of the game's elite players. Many don't expect much from Florida. But look for them to start keeping their young talent now that they are moving into a new ballpark in 2012. And look for them to come in third once again in 2011.
2. Atlanta Braves-The Braves finally returned to the postseason in 2010. And they bid adieu to manager Bobby Cox after 20 seasons on the Braves bench. In comes former Marlins skipper Fredi Gonzalez (used to be the Braves third base coach before his stint with Florida0 to take the reigns. The Braves also brought in 2B Dan Uggla to add a bit of power to their lineup. Their lineup should be up there as one of the games best. Gonzalez also inherits a pretty good pitching staff. Craig Kimbrel, who takes over as closer for the retired Billy Wagner, could be shaky at the start but the Braves believe he can do the job. Fredi Gonzalez is a stellar manager (The Marlins have gone through so many good ones they have lost count), and the whole baseball world will see that now that he is on the Braves bench. And he will lead them to the NL Wild Card.
1. Philadelphia Phillies-Last year the Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt mid season. They then had the best front three of starters in baseball. In the offseason, they somehow landed Cliff Lee, and now have the four best starters in all of baseball. Starting pitching won't be the problem. The bullpen (For the most part if Brad Lidge can shut the door consistently again) won't be the problem. Their lineup could be a problem (If they run into a lefty starter), since their lineup is mostly left handed hitters. They lost their big right handed bat, Jayson Werth, via free agency and will fill his place with Domonic Brown another left handed hitter. But, this might be the best Phillies team of the past five years. And they win the division for the fifth straight season. But, can they get over the failure of the past two seasons coming up short for that second World Series ring?