MLB: NL East Season Preview Mar 13th, 2008
By: Sportsbook.com MLB Handicapping
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MLB: NL East Preview
The NL East is top-heavy with three teams among the favorites to win the pennant. The Mets are getting most of the attention and national press, but don’t count out Philadelphia and Atlanta. Those two squads have some very attractive future odds at Sportsbook.com. Take a look.
New York Mets
Boston is 10:11 to win the NL East, 9:4 to win the American League, and 4:1 to win the World Series. Their Over/Under win total is 94 games.
New York is 5:9 to win the NL East, 2:1 to win the National League, and 5:1 to win the World Series. Their Over/Under win total is 93.5 games.
Was it just six months ago that the Mets collapsed down the stretch of the regular season, failing to make the playoffs?
All is forgiven in Queens thanks to the addition of lefthander Johan Santana from Minnesota. Santana’s presence brings a burst of energy to the fans and players and makes them the substantial favorite in the NL.
One caveat for this team is they are already dealing with injuries to old men, Carlos Delgado and Moises Alou. However, hitters are always easier to replace than pitchers.
The batting lineup does not inspire as much fear as the Yankees, but they were 4th in MLB in runs scored last year and should be close to that again.
Atlanta is 5:2 to win the NL East, 10:1 to win the National League, and 30:1 to win the World Series. Their Over/Under win total is 85 games.
The Atlanta pitching staff has a ‘Back to the Future’ feel with Tom Glavine joining John Smoltz and Tim Hudson at the top of the rotation. The team is also counting on oft-injured hurler Mike Hampton, but his staying healthy is a major long shot.
The batting lineup is minus Andruw Jones, but having Mark Teixeira for the entire year is a big plus. A key player to watch is shortstop Yunel Escobar as he is replacing Edgar Renteria and also batting second.
Coach Bobby Cox is still one of the most respected managers in the game, and this team has enough talent to make a run in the division.
Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto is 6:1 to win the NL East, 15:1 to win the American League, and 30:1 to win the World Series. Their Over/Under win total is 85.5 games.
Toronto is a perennial sleeper team that is hurt more than any squad in baseball by the division they play in. The Blue Jays are still waiting for starter A.J Burnett to stay healthy for a whole season and become a dominant number two behind Roy Halladay. The bullpen also needs a healthy closer in B.J. Ryan.
The lineup looks to get a jumpstart with sparkplug David Eckstein at the top. More importantly, Vernon Wells needs to have a bounce back year. He struggled in 2007 after signing his new contract. A full season from newly acquired third baseman, Scott Rolen, would also help matters.
Philadelphia is 7:2 to win the NL East, 6:1 to win the National League, and 20:1 to win the World Series. Their Over/Under win total is 87.5 games.
It’s hard to remember that this Philadelphia squad won the NL East last year, although they did suffer an embarrassing sweep to the Colorado Rockies.
The one thing you know about Philly is they’re going to mash. Led by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, this squad finished second in MLB in runs scored even without the benefit of the DH. Look for more offensive firepower this year.
Ultimately though, this team will only go as far as the pitching staff, and there are questions about the starting rotation and the bullpen led by Brad Lidge. The Phillies look like a good longshot pick for the World Series at 20:1, but they will need a lot of breaks to get there.
Washington is 50:1 to win the NL East, 50:1 to win the National League, and 100:1 to win the World Series. Their Over/Under win total is 72 games.
Washington was 30th in MLB in runs scored last year but there is some cause for optimism. Centerfielder Lastings Milledge was acquired from the Mets and Wily Mo Pena showed he can hit last year when given at-bats. Add those two to Ryan Zimmerman and Austin Kearns and you have the makings of a legitimate lineup.
Unfortunately, the entire pitching staff is a mess, especially considering that starters Shawn Hill and John Patterson have major injury questions. Help is on the way from the minors but not soon enough.
If the Nationals get any pitching help at all, they should better last year’s 73 wins.
Florida is 50:1 to win the NL East, 50:1 to win the National League, and 100:1 to win the World Series. Their Over/Under win total is 70 games.
Florida’s odds to win the division, NL and World Series are the same as Washington, but their Over/ Under win total is two games less.
A big reason for that is the trade of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. That was a signal to everyone that this team has no hope of competing this season.
The Marlins are still left with a lot of interesting position players, led by shortstop Hanley Ramirez. However, the pitching staff is well behind the offense (a common theme in the NL East) and they can’t be expected to carry their share of the load for a couple more seasons.
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