I’d imagine there aren’t many baseball fans who would object to me saying that not much is being expected of the Miami Marlins or New York Mets this season.
The Marlins, who downright stunk last year, traded away the vast majority of their established major leaguers, and while there is buzz around the league that the Mets could be major players for free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, they dealt Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey this offseason and are coming off a second half of the season in which they went an atrocious 28-48.
Outside of those two teams, however, the National League East could be pretty darn interesting this upcoming season.
The Phillies signed outfielder Delmon Young earlier this week, adding another potent bat to a lineup filled with age questions, injury concerns, but also plenty of potential.
They also traded for center fielder Ben Revere, brought in Michael Young and hope to have a healthy rotation headlined by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. You’ve got those three at the top of a staff, you’re almost instantly a contender.
Then there’s the Braves, who yesterday doubled their pleasure and doubled their fun by trading for Justin Upton, giving Atlanta both Upton brothers.
Atlanta also acquired third baseman Chris Johnson in the deal, with third baseman Martin Prado, right-hander Randall Delgado and three prospects going to the Diamondbacks.
The trade gives Atlanta a very talented outfield that features Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward, a trio which could compete with that of the Angels (Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Pete Bourjos) and the Nationals (Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth).
The Braves’ new-look outfield trio should excel defensively, and Justin Upton’s bat will now likely be slotted in the middle of a dangerous, power-packed Braves lineup.
Will the Uptons give enough of a consistent effort playing side-by-side in Atlanta? Will the Braves’ starting lineup, which most nights will hold a whopping six players who struck out more than 120 times last season, put the ball in play enough to be effective?
We’ll have to see. But while the Nationals have made some moves this offseason to set themselves up as a legitimate title contender, a couple of teams in their own division appear poised to give them a run for their money in the NL East.