Major League Baseball is finally back, and with all due respect to the season opening Red Sox-Yankees game, most of America considers the first full day of games Opening Day. I scooted out of the office a few minutes early to get home and watch baseball. As for today’s debate, The Sports Debates is looking at all six divisions in baseball and trying to decide which division is the strongest. Feel free to vote in our poll, but I fully believe that the National League East is the strongest division in baseball.
Obviously, the Philadelphia Phillies are the best team in the East and have a legitimate argument to lay claim to being called the best team in baseball. The core returns from last season, with the exception of Cliff Lee, who was traded to Seattle. But he was replaced by Roy Halladay, who the Phillies have seemingly been trying to acquire for years. The Phillies remain an offensive juggernaut and have one of the best infields in baseball. The Phils definitely have some injury concerns, as Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, and Joe Blanton will all start the season on the disabled list. But this team still should have no problem being a legitimate contender to win the pennant.
The Atlanta Braves have been getting a lot of Spring Training buzz, with a lot of it being centered on rookie Jason Heyward (Editor’s Note: Who had quite the debut.) and the fact that the 2010 campaign is going to be manager Bobby Cox’s last, or so he says. The Braves should be improved, but they need a LOT of things to go right for them to have a chance to keep up with the Phillies. The starting rotation NEEDS to stay healthy. Chipper Jones NEEDS to have a bounce back year. New first baseman, Troy Glaus, NEEDS to play at least 140 games and be productive. I could go on and on. The bottom line is that the Braves could be a legitimate threat to make some noise in the East IF things fall their way.
The Florida Marlins are once again a young team, but they can be sneaky good. Manager Fredi Gonzalez, who does not get the credit he deserves for the job he has done down in Miami, always seems to have his group of young kids performing well. Keep in mind that the Fish won 87 games last season, and much of that team returns. Josh Johnson, if he can stay healthy, can be dominant and is a threat to win the Cy Young award. Hanley Ramirez continues to be one of the game’s best all-around players and was probably drafted in the top five in your fantasy baseball draft. The Marlins can certainly sneak into the playoffs as a wild card.
The Mets and Nationals round out the East. The Mets’ first season in beautiful Citi Field did not go as planned, as they won only 70 games. Another season like that and Jerry Manuel will be looking for another job, which is something TSD touched on back in March. The Nationals continue to try to rebuild as they await the major league debut of phenom Stephen Strasburg, which will probably be in early summer if everything goes well.
These two teams admittedly make the East top-heavy, but that is not always a bad thing. The Phillies remain the class of the East, but it will be interesting to see if Atlanta and Florida can give them a battle down the stretch.