As we continue to watch for where two of the largest free agent pieces will fall into place in Max Scherzer and James Shields we will look at what expectations we should have with only two months from pitchers and catchers reporting for most clubs. Can the Dodgers start to dominate the National League and break up what can only be described as a dynasty by the bay?
National League East
Washington ran away in the East and hasn’t done anything to think that might be in jeopardy for 2015. Re-upping Harper and kind of staying put with what worked. The Mets really seem to believe that they were a lot closer to relevancy than they actually are. After finishing 17 games behind Washington in the East they’ve done nothing to try to close the gap.
Atlanta and Philly have gone into rebuilding mode, seeing realistically in my opinion that they can’t close the gap with Washington in one year. Miami on the other hand has gone the other direction locking down Stanton, signing Morse and trading for the dynamic Dee Gordon. I love the Marlins offseason and think they’ll improve big time this year. But it won’t be enough to close the gap completely with Washington who will still sit atop the division.
National League Central
After winning the Central by only two games GM John Mozeliak says he’s not worried about what the other Central teams are doing, he should be. Aside from adding Heyward they’ve done nothing, Pittsburgh also seems a little too confident in their bats for me. However their addition of Liriano shows they’re not thinking they can get over the hump with what they have.
Milwaukee and Cincinnati have made some moves, but largely handcuffed by their market size and the distance between them and the top of this division in talent they have to rebuild in a slower way than their fans would like. The Cubs don’t have that problem. Joe Maddon is a huge get to manage this team and the signing of Jon Lester and Motte make them a much better team. Maddon’s culture I believe will have an immediate impact. I think Pittsburgh and Chicago, that’s right Chicago, will emerge from this division and onto the playoffs. St. Louis seems to forget they have quite a few neighbors that are willing to spend to knock them off their pedastool.
National League West
The Dodgers won the division by 6 games, gone are Kemp, Haren, Gordon but the have added a nice pitching prospect, added Jimmy Rollins, they’ve overhauled their bullpen and a downright scary rotation, still the team to beat in the West.
Meanwhile San Francisco adds Jake Peavy making the rotation in San Fran as good as they have in LA. That being said I’m not sure they aren’t overlooking the importance of Morse and Sandoval. I think they’ll make the playoffs on the strength of their pitching.
Arizona appears to know it’s too far away and isn’t going to bridge the gap this offseason. Colorado also seems to be taking that approach while trying to sell their fan base on the idea that they were simply injury prone last year. Not the case, these teams aren’t poised to do anything unless there is a meltdown in the division.
San Diego has added Kemp, Myers, Upton, Norris among a bevy of other moves. This will be a better, more competitive and more exciting team in 2015. That being said there’s nothing here short of all of those guys playing near their ceiling they aren’t going to reset the top of this division this year.
The NL Best is still out West
I can’t take the Nationals seriously until they’re actually pushed inside their own division and like the AL Central I believe the best division in the NL is out west. The NL central is fine, but I don’t see them being able to deal with the pitching out west. I think finally the Dodgers for the first time since 1988 will represent the National League in the World Series.