Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being 100 percent confident, how much confidence do you have in your team’s ability to win the NL East?
Martin Gandy, Braves, from Talking Chop: I’d give the Braves an 8. We have to play better than we did last year against the NL East and perform better in one-run games, but if we do that we’ve got a great chance.
Like I alluded to in the previous question, the Braves have great depth at key positions, but I would like to see us have one more power bat. Garret Anderson was not that guy, and he’s taking up a position where we could stick a power bat. If we had gotten someone like a Dunn or a Holliday to play left, then I think a lot of people would be picking the Braves. As it stands, I’m kind of glad we’re flying under the radar this year.
Craig Strain, Marlins, from Fish Stripes: I will go with 6.5. For the Marlins to win the NL East the starting rotation is going to have to stay healthy. Which is something that hasn’t happened in the last few years. Also there is a major concern about whether the bullpen can perform at the level necessary to win a division title. If the starters can stay healthy and the bullpen do their part the Fish should be in the hunt.
Matthew Cerrone, Mets, from MetsBlog.com: I’d vote a 7, which, typically, is what the Phillies fan voted. Lovely. I believe the Mets have a good-enough offense to do what it is needed, and I think the bullpen will be better than people expect. The starting rotation concerns me, and I am not sure there was much the team could have done to ease that worry during the off-season. To me, the Mets have three lynch pins: John Maine, J.J. Putz and Carlos Delgado. They are the lynch pin to their respective departments, and if any one of them slip up it could cause all sorts of issues.
Edward Chigliak, Nationals, from Federal Baseball: I’d put it in the 3-4 range, just because I’ve seen stranger things happen… I think it’s just going to take another season or two before the Nationals are taken seriously by the rest of baseball, and that starts this season, when their system begins producing major-league talent and they have the opportunity to add two top 10 picks in the 2009 Draft, including the first overall. Stephen Strasburg atop the rotation would give me more confidence.
Jason Weitzel, Phillies, from Beerleaguer: Seven, which means the window is still open. Certain things bug me, like the bench, which could be upgraded by the time this is published; and the bullpen, where there’s too much riding on Scott Eyre. But the biggest fear are the improvements made throughout the division. The Mets went 89-73 because the bullpen blew it in September. They fixed that. Florida, completely unburdened by pressure, has one of the youngest rotations in baseball and an underrated ace in Ricky Nolasco. Hanley Ramirez will be in the MVP discussion all season.