Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

NL West Sunday Standings and a Look at the Week Ahead for the #SFGiants

Not all may be right in the world of the San Francisco Giants, but here are the facts: The Giants are in first, and the Dodgers are not. Recently (last ten games), everybody except the Dodgers have been playing at least .500 ball. The Diamondbacks are finally stringing some wins together, the Padres just took the same amount of games the Giants did against the Dodgers from the NL East second-place Miami Marlins, and the Rockies are busy either scoring very few runs or are abusing opposing pitchers left and right. The NL West is playing at a competitive level right now, so I guess right now is a good time for the Giants to leave NL West competition to face somebody else (even if they are 17-12 against the NLW). The standings:

Giants (24-14)

Rockies (23-17, 2.0 GB)

Dodgers (20-19, 4.5 GB)

Padres (18-21, 6.5 GB)

Diamondbacks (15-25, 10 GB)

The Giants will be playing thirteen of their next sixteen games at home, and will kick it off with the Braves for a weekday three-gamer and a four-game series with the Marlins. The combined record of those two teams? 41-33! The Marlins feel no pity as they face the Giants and the Dodgers, who combine for a 44-33 record. Speaking of the Marlins, if their pitching rotation continues as scheduled, the Giants, though they play four games against the Marlins, will miss Jose Fernandez. The Marlins, in turn, will miss Madison Bumgarner. A quick peek at the two teams the Giants will square off with this coming week.

Atlanta Braves (21-15, 1st in the NL East)

Monday, 7:15 PM: Gavin Floyd and Tim Lincecum

Tuesday, 7:15 PM: Mike Minor and Ryan Vogelsong

Wednesday, 12:45 PM: Julio Teheran and Madison Bumgarner

Remember when the Giants swept the Braves in their own Atlanta home, holding them to three runs the whole series and very few appearances from that awful chop chant? That was pretty great. The Braves just did some sweeping of their own, though maybe not as impressive, doing it against the now 12-24 Chicago Cubs, they look to ride that winning streak into AT&T Park and return the favor. Their pitching staff’s 2.91 FIP and 24.6% K% lead the majors and they have plenty of other pitching stats that are Top 5, which is always helpful in making an effort to lead the division. For the season, their bats have been rather lackluster, but over the past week, they’ve seen Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson‘s offense come back to life a little bit. Keeping Freeman, Justin Upton, and Jason Heyward quiet in this series will be a good starting point to winning another series against Atlanta.

Miami Marlins (20-18, 2nd in the NL East)

Thursday, 7:15 PM: Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Cain

Friday, 7:15 PM: Henderson Alvarez and Tim Hudson

Saturday, 6:05 PM: Tom Koehler and Tim Lincecum

Sunday, 1:05 PM: Jacob Turner and Ryan Vogelsong

The Marlins had a four game winning streak off of their series with the Mets, then lost three of four to the Padres. Some speculated this would be a team to watch for a playoff run, and their record through May 11th has some people wondering still if that is a possibility. The Marlins have decent pitching, and their bullpen actually is a little impressive — hopefully the Giants aren’t going to face them in a losing situation. Their hitting and team defense appears to be good, with their hitting of course led by the legendary Giancarlo Stanton. They have plenty others that have tallied triple digit plate appearances have are above average in wRC+, so that this team is putting up Top 10 wRC+ and wOBA is not a shocker. This is not the Marlins team of old, they could be developing into a team the Giants will be glad not to see in the final month of the season. Odd stat: the Marlins are 3-13 on the road. This actually is not as bad as the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have a home record of 3-15.

Sunday Lineups: #SFGiants Look to Sweep, Send #Braves to Their Sixth Straight Loss

The Giants have won four in a row, a lot of it thanks to the power of solo home runs, and the Braves have Barved all over the place, losing five straight. MLB Network has the game airing at 10:30 a.m. PST, so if you have that channel and you’re outside of both of those locales, you won’t have to resort to today if you don’t want to. The Giants are throwing out the regulars today being Madison Bumgarner:

When I questioned if Brandon Belt was being platooned, social media was there for me to point out that manager Bruce Bochy said that he was not platooning Belt, that he would be in the lineup Sunday against Braves LHP Alex Wood. Sure enough, there Belt is, batting fifth behind Michael Morse. Morse is seriously a strong dude, still can’t believe that Friday night fly ball for a home run to right field.

The Atlanta lineup, that hopes to salvage a game from the NL West leaders:       

Peculiar situation with Andrelton Simmons, but, I hope his issue gets resolved.

Moving on to Madison Bumgarner’s game logs, the last two games, his ground ball rate sure has gone up:

1 Mar 31 @ ARI W,9-8 99 4.0 6 4 0 2 3 0 0.00 21 78 48 12 6 9 43 19 2 0 0 2
2 Apr 5 @ LAD W,7-2 4 6.1 8 2 2 1 10 0 1.74 27 114 73 18 16 7 58 26 3 0 0 0
3 Apr 11 COL W,6-5 5 6.0 9 4 4 2 7 1 3.31 28 112 70 17 12 9 43 25 2 0 0 0
4 Apr 17 LAD L,1-2 5 4.1 6 2 2 3 6 0 3.48 22 99 62 16 14 4 46 19 2 1 0 0
5 Apr 22 @ COL L,1-2 4 8.0 9 2 2 1 6 2 3.14 33 97 68 17 12 14 61 32 0 1 2 1
6 Apr 28 SDP L,4-6 5 5.0 7 5 4 4 5 1 3.74 28 93 58 17 4 11 36 24 2 0 0 2
33.2 45 19 14 13 37 4 3.74 159 2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2014.

Half of his starts he has been able to go six innings, and in three of the four games he has walked two or more hitters, he has not gone at least six, so perhaps that is something to look out for today as Madison pitches closer to his North Carolina home. You’ll notice last game Bumgarner had only four swing-and-miss pitches (StS), much lower than this previous four starts. Bumgarner has seen three long balls get hit against him in his last two starts, two of them at Coors Field.

As for Alex Wood’s game logs, he tends to complete at least seven innings quite often, and has always gone at least five in 2014:

Date Opp Rslt DR IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit Str StL StS GB GSc 2B 3B GDP
Apr 1 @ MIL W,5-2 99 7.0 5 1 1 3 5 1 1.29 27 93 55 14 8 12 65 0 0 2
Apr 6 @ WSN L,1-2 4 7.0 4 2 2 0 4 1 1.93 26 107 75 21 13 12 65 0 0 0
Apr 12 WSN W,6-3 5 5.0 6 1 1 3 8 1 1.89 22 103 64 20 13 4 56 1 0 0
Apr 17 @ PHI L,0-1 4 8.0 8 1 1 1 7 0 1.67 29 103 72 22 11 15 68 0 0 2
Apr 22 MIA L,0-1 4 8.0 4 1 1 0 11 0 1.54 28 101 75 21 16 9 81 1 0 0
Apr 29 @ MIA L,0-9 6 5.0 10 7 7 1 2 1 2.92 25 85 54 16 3 5 20 1 1 1
40.0 37 13 13 8 37 4 2.93 157
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/4/2014.

Like Bumgarner, Wood had only three swing-and-miss pitches in his last start as the Braves when they got swept against the Marlins before starting their losing against the Giants. Hopefully, the Giants will be able to put together the same game plan the Marlins did against Wood and execute it to at least seven-earned-run levels. Not going to expect it, though. This could end up being another very low-scoring game like the previous two.

Friend of the blog Anna gave me a stat showing the Giants don’t win series in Atlanta that often:

An idea for how well the Giants are doing, W-L-wise:

Guess who’s only a game back of the Giants:

At 19-13, the Rockies have played two more games than the Giants, but they have also lost two more games than the Giants. Charlie Culberson helped the Rockies walk it off against the Mets last night. Former Giant, good for him, but only hit home runs in losing efforts, won’t ya, Culberson?

Where, Why, and Who’s Paying: The Braves will be moving 15 miles Northwest in 2017

Who says nothing happens at the GM and owners meetings? The East Coast — because let’s face it, the West Coast is sleeping in on their day off — woke up to news that the Atlanta Braves will be leaving Turner Field after the 2016 season. The Braves have dedicated a new website to their new ballpark, where they own the land and can control the immediate environment surrounding their new park. No sketches of the facility or what will be place in its surrounding areas have been made available as of yet. We do know that it will be a 41,000-42,000 seat facility, 10,000 less than Turner Field.

Where is Cobb County?

This map drawn up by Mike Petriello on Google Maps should give us a good idea:

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 7.00.51 AM

So instead of being where it seems like all the freeways meet, they’ll be heading northwest, outside of what I’ve heard called “The Circle.” Outside of The Circle, I’ve heard it’s mostly an area that is kind of stuck in the past, but that’s a lot of heresy, so my two Atlanta sources could be wrong.

Why the move?

Braves officials and some fans on social media have said that the immediate areas surrounding Turner Field are kind of a mess and that’s one reason for the Braves getting the heck out of there. There’s also this map that shows where people that bought a ticket to an Atlanta Braves game lived in 2012:

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 7.06.31 AM

Not exactly in the center of the heart of those Braves-ticket-buyers, but it is certainly within that area.

The Braves have also given time to talk about the costs of maintaining Turner Field, a stadium they do not own, to the tune of $150-$200MM, saying those improvements would not necessarily improve the fan experience. With their own stadium, and more importantly, control over their surrounding area, their improvements that they will need to make should be more meaningful to the fan experience than it would be at their current address.

Will the Braves be paying for all of it?

It appears not, with this quote from an Atlanta Journal Constitution writer:

“The Braves said the stadium is projected to cost $672 million, including parking, land and infrastructure, and will be built in partnership with Cobb County.”

While the portion of the Braves payment is said to be “substantial,” that doesn’t really answer any questions for us. Sorry for your loss in taxpayer dollars, Cobb County.

Update from a tweet:

More than two-thirds of your new home paid for? I remember when that worked out for Miami.

This is the area the Braves have laid out for their new stadium:

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 7.11.47 AM

That’s about all we have for the moment. My only opinions on this move are that: 1) The Braves getting taxpayers to help fund their stadium is dumb for the taxpayers and 2) It looks like traffic’s going to be just awful going in and out of that stadium.

My Rooting Ranking for the Eleven Teams Playing Past Game 162

Some people will have rankings once the field narrows down to ten. I am hardly ever in the mood to blog during the weekdays for various reasons, and so since I feel like writing right now, now is as good of a time as any to give you my list of how I’ll root for the Winning Eleven. My list might differ from yours, and it may not even make sense to you, but that’s OK.

“It’d be good for them” Division 

1. Pittsburgh Pirates — No playoffs and no winning season since 1992? How do you not root for that if you’re not a fan from a team within the NL Central?

2. Oakland Athletics — I have developed a soft spot for the team across the Bay, even though I don’t live there to listen to A’s fans. A’s fans coming back around to troll Giants fans would be the worst part of the Athletics winning. Possibility of speeding up ruling on a new stadium a naive thought in my head.

3. Tampa Bay Rays — A combination of youth, a former Long Beach State Dirtbag in Evan Longoria, and a manager I enjoy listening to make this a team I support at nearly all times.

4. Cleveland Indians — They normally lose a lot, and maybe the public can say to MLB, “Hey, that logo is kinda racist.” That they’ve turned things around to go from dark horse candidate to first Wild Card spot is a great story to me.

“I ain’t even mad” Division

5. Detroit Tigers — I’ve interacted with some twitter folk that are Tigers fans and they’re good people. I would be happy for them. Justin Verlander seems like a nice guy and Jim Leyland is a lovable grandpa.

6. Texas Rangers — This is a pity spot. I’ll leave it at that.

7. Boston Red Sox — I’ve put them here because I’ve forgotten what Red Sox fans are like when the Red Sox win. My memory is pretty poor.

“Nope” Division

8. Cincinnati Reds — The idea of Mat Latos winning after his history with the Padres and his outside-of-game antics against the Giants just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Billy Hamilton running wild on the world will be fun to watch.

9. St. Louis Cardinals — An incredibly talented team, I am tired of them winning and tired of their fans claiming to be the “Best Fans in Baseball.” Nobody likes people like that, especially when that’s pretty difficult to accurately measure. 

10. Atlanta Braves — The Chop, the newfound policy of policing the game with their made-up rules on admiring home runs make plenty of players on this team and their fans that support all that easy to despise.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy that’s also an obnoxious, disrespectful Giants fan” Division

11. Los Angeles Dodgers — There are some players on the LA team I like, but it’s still the Dodgers. That they have oodles of money is one thing, I mean you have to spend your money wisely, can’t just spend it on anybody. Still. Boo Dodgers.

That #10 and #11 on my list square off early guarantee one gets knocked out, but one could still do some big things. Hopefully that’s not something I have to worry about, and the bottom four teams find themselves knocked out of the Postseason before the trophy is hoisted.

GIFPost: Kid does The Chop incorrectly

During the second game of the Mets-Braves doubleheader, the Braves fans were at it again, doing The Chop. It is controversial, and Braves fans hate talking about it with people that think it’s racist. Moving on from that discussion, there is a kid who does it in a fantastic manner.

Look for the kid in the white shirt next to the pitch coach Warthen.


Straight arm, just going up an down, like he’s fanning the baseball players. But then… things get really heated:


A STANDING STRAIGHT ARMED CHOP! And it even looks like he’s hitting the baseball player on the head, but it’s still great.

He may be doing The Chop wrong, but this kid did everything right. He would fix his arm motion later on (not GIF’d), spoiled by the influence of society.

Southpaw duel on tap as Paul Maholm faces off against Madison Bumgarner

The series between two teams with twenty-one wins continues today at 1PM PST as Paul Maholm and Madison Bumgarner hope to break the series tie with their team taking the win this afternoon. Outside of Maholm’s start against Detroit, he has been pretty good this year, while Bumgarner would like to forget his last start against Philadelphia. Consider this game logs from the year:


Date Opp Rslt DR IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit
Apr 3 PHI W,9-2 99 5.2 6 0 0 1 6 0 0.00 24 97
Apr 8 @ MIA W,2-0 4 7.0 1 0 0 3 7 0 0.00 26 98
Apr 14 @ WSN W,9-0 5 7.2 4 0 0 1 7 0 0.00 29 113
Apr 20 @ PIT L,1-3 5 6.0 4 3 3 3 5 1 1.03 24 89
Apr 26 @ DET L,0-10 5 3.2 10 8 8 3 3 0 3.30 23 89
May 1 WSN L,0-2 4 8.0 3 2 2 2 4 1 3.08 29 99
May 6 @ CIN W,7-4 4 5.2 4 2 2 2 6 0 3.09 24 105
43.2 32 15 15 15 38 2 3.09 179
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/11/2013.


Date Opp Rslt DR IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit
Apr 2 @ LAD W,3-0 99 8.0 2 0 0 0 6 0 0.00 26 101
Apr 8 COL W,4-2 5 5.2 5 2 2 5 5 1 1.32 25 104
Apr 13 @ CHC W,3-2 4 6.2 6 2 2 2 6 1 1.77 27 110
Apr 19 SDP W,3-2 5 6.0 4 2 2 0 10 1 2.05 22 99
Apr 24 ARI L,2-3 4 7.1 5 1 1 1 7 0 1.87 28 101
Apr 30 @ ARI W,2-1 5 7.0 3 0 0 1 2 0 1.55 24 102
May 6 PHI L,2-6 5 6.0 8 5 5 2 7 1 2.31 28 100
46.2 33 12 12 11 43 4 2.31 180
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/11/2013.

Not bad, right? Both of these guys making very decent All Star Game campaigns for themselves thus far.

The lineups for today’s game for the two squads look like this:

Gerald Laird gets the start over Brian McCann today, and thank goodness (I think) because McCann has provided two homers in two games for the Braves in this series thus far.

and for the Champs:

Beat writer Andrew Baggarly saying that Maholm’s been pretty tough on the LHH this year so that’s why you see Brandon Belt getting a day off today.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 11.51.18 AM

And you thought Yu Darvish threw a lot of pitches. Maholm does have the kitchen sink to throw at you, and will do it, while relying on his two-seamer, four-seamer, slider, curve, and changeup the most. You can imagine, if he has most of those pitches working, it’s going to be pretty tough to prepare for an at bat against him.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 11.51.29 AM

We’re used to seeing this out of Bumgarner, the fastball-slider combo, with a touch of the curve, and the changeup also being brought out to RHH. It’s brought him much success before, and look for him to continue doing that today.

Enjoy your Saturday, everybody.

GIFPost: The Swings of Justin Upton’s Twelve Homers

Justin Upton‘s swing is a thing of beauty, and the good people of MLB have noticed and compiled a video of his twelve homers from the month of April. The video is here for your viewing pleasure:

The dates of all those games you may not know, although you’ve probably heard his RBI count is pretty low:

Rk Gtm Date Opp Rslt HR RBI BA OBP SLG
1 1 Apr 1 PHI W,7-5 1 1 .250 .250 1.000
2 2 Apr 3 PHI W,9-2 1 2 .286 .444 1.143
4 4 Apr 5 CHC W,4-1 1 2 .308 .375 1.000
5 5 Apr 6 CHC W,6-5 2 2 .389 .429 1.278
7 7 Apr 8 @ MIA W,2-0 1 1 .423 .448 1.192
12 12 Apr 14 @ WSN W,9-0 1 1 .348 .415 .891
13 13 Apr 16 KCR W,6-3 1 1 .340 .404 .900
15 15 Apr 18 @ PIT W,6-4 1 1 .328 .394 .862
19 19 Apr 23 (1) @ COL W,4-3 1 1 .296 .378 .775
20 20 Apr 23 (2) @ COL W,10-2 1 2 .307 .391 .813
23 23 Apr 27 @ DET L,4-7 1 2 .302 .384 .779
12 19 .299 .400 .722
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/2/2013.

All those homers within the first twenty-three games of the season. Better than a one homer every other game average! For that stretch, that’s amazingness. I present to you the swings of each of his twelve homers, in order:


It’s like the fourth and fifth homer go to the same place just based on what you see in the GIFs. Love that bat drop.


Thanks for playing, pitchers. This was a fun post to do.

Postseason and Award Predictions: Don’t Worry, They’ll Be Wrong

The regular season begins this Sunday tomorrow at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out.  Let us preview the postseason, where the best team doesn’t always win due to the randomness of how the short series will go. It’s a first team to eleven wins once the DS begins, and normally the team that catches fire tends to do the celebrating. Also in my analysis, the team that scores more runs tend to win games. I’ll start with who I have going into the playoffs, then the predictions of the resulting postseason series. After that, I’ll go into regular season awards.

NL Playoff Seeding

1. Washington Nationals

2. Cincinnati Reds

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Atlanta Braves

5. San Francisco Giants

Wild-Card Play-in Game

Atlanta beats San Francisco


Atlanta beats Washington

Cincinnati beats Los Angeles


Cincinnati beats Atlanta

AL Playoff Seeding

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Toronto Blue Jays

3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

4. Tampa Bay Rays

5. Texas Rangers

Wild-Card Play-in Game

Tampa Bay beats Texas


Detroit beats Tampa Bay

Toronto beats LA of A


Detroit beats Toronto

World Series (game will be in AL Park when AL wins ASG)

Detroit beats Cincinnati

Don’t worry Tiger fans, I’m sure my predictions won’t be correct!


Regular Season Awards

I will go into who the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues will be. These will also probably be wrong.

AL MVP — Mike Trout

Asking me if I’m mad, bro? Nah, not mad, but let’s say Mike Trout does even 80% of what he did in 2012 in 2013, and his team gets to the playoffs, the voters are going to give him his “redemption,” and feel good that “see, we don’t hate advanced stats,” as we roll our collective eyes together. Sophomore slump? Maybe a little, but the only thing that will stop this fish is if he gets hurt playing the game.

NL MVP — Justin Upton

They say a change of scenery can do wonders for a player, and how about playing with an organization that wants you? I’d say that’s a good start. I think Upton will have a career year, players like Braun and Posey will regress a little, and Upton will find his team in the playoffs. Justin Upton may not have the best year of everybody, but I think he gets the award.

AL Cy Young — Justin Verlander

Kind of like Trout, he’s only going to get stopped by an injury. He should continue to rack up the pitcher wins, satisfying the old school, and his team will make the playoffs all with lots of money, and lots of strikeouts. Probably not many multi-homer against games though. Verlander is just excellent.

NL Cy Young — Clayton Kershaw

Dickey was a great story in 2012, but I still side with the overall metrics a bit on Kershaw, believing he got snubbed by just a little bit, nothing too controversial. Kershaw, like Verlander, will be getting plenty of pitcher wins behind a boosted offense, and he’s still really, really good. Oh, and his team will be going to the playoffs so that equals instant votes.

AL Rookie of the Year — Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Shot up the prospect lists in 2012 into 2013, and is projected to start with the team. For the kid, the defense will be getting peoples attention, while the stick may not be able to do anything super special, it’ll be enough. Lots of names for both RoY awards, JBJ just happens to be my guess right now.

NL Rookie of the Year — Zack Wheeler

Wheeler will not come up until June and he’ll still get the award. Dominating the minors, and yes, I understand the pain he’s going to cause Giants fans, but the kid is good, and will be going after his opposition from the get-go with heat and curveballs and breaking balls and strikeouts.

Let’s hear what your predictions are! Pretty much anything goes before the season gets going.

The NL East Season Preview: Where Dynasties Live

The regular season begins this Sunday at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the NL East, where in my lifetime, I’ve really only seen the Braves (’94-’05) and Phillies (’07-’11) rule the NL East in its “new” format. Now, a new horse has arrived, it’s young, and it’s also got better competition this year.

5. Miami Marlins

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 40/1, 75/1, 200/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Giancarlo Stanton (4.9), Justin Ruggiano (2.2), Ricky Nolasco (2.1)

Stuart sees: a snake occupying the owner’s box, leaving a city the bill to a stadium with an eyesore out in left-center, along with a trade of major leaguers Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Emilio Bonifacio who were all sent north of the border because it just didn’t work out. Maybe you can find a little sympathy in your heart for that kind of business, I’m having trouble with it. The fish are left with Nolasco as their ace with not much behind him, and Stanton as the guy they’re supposedly building around. The bullpen might be the most well-rounded part of the team, but I wonder how this team scores its runs when Stanton’s not there. What lead will there be for the bullpen to hold? In case the only time you’ve seen Giancarlo is in the WBC, I’ve provided some memories from 2012 of the things he did. Worth your time.

4. New York Mets

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/1, 40/1, 100/1

PECOTA’s projected three four highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: David Wright (3.9), Shaun Marcum (2.6), Daniel Murphy and Matt Harvey (2.5)

Stuart sees: a team that is getting ready to put its bullets into its Major League gun, and they are going to hit the mound and shut down the opposition. That may be seen even as early as June when Zack Wheeler will likely get the promotion to join former prospect Harvey on the hill. Marcum, like Johan Santana, is already injured, so it’s hard to see the Mets starting corps providing much for their team outside of Harvey. The offense will need to pick it up until their starters have their health back, and 2B Daniel Murphy is on the comeback trail to getting healthy again, and Ike Davis can supply some power for this squad. The outfield is kind of a nightmare, and with John Buck behind the plate, Mets fans are also counting down the days to when they see prospect Travis d’Arnaud come up in June so they can see part of the fruits of that trade for R.A. Dickey. If this team starts hot, they could be a very real threat for a wild card spot, but I’m talking 45-days hot, not 1-week hot.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 3/1, 7/1, 16/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Cliff Lee (4.2), Roy Halladay (3.9), Cole Hamels (3.6)

Stuart sees: a walking AARP commercial unfolding in front of everybody’s eyes. Halladay is starting to show his age with decreasing velocity (although that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s done), and possibly being on the road to getting lit up more often. The acquisition of Michael Young seemed to be one built off of intangibles, and Delmon Young just plays like he’s old when he’s in the outfield. On the offensive side of things, this team should be fine, hitting some homers here and there, Philadelphia fans do have their reasons to believe in this team (not much of it on defense, though). I wonder how long the John Lannan experiment as the 5 will go, but the bullpen does have a decent 8th-9th inning set of arms in Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon (only to be used in save situations, of course!). It’s easy to not like this team because of the way their general manager, Ruben Amaro, Jr. built it, but they can provide some healthy, spirited, and most importantly competent competition for their NL East brethren.

2. Atlanta Braves

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 9/4, 7/1, 16/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Jason Heyward (3.6), Justin Upton (3.4), B.J. Upton (3.1)

Stuart sees: a team that could rule the division if not for another great team standing in their way. Those top three guys all reside in the outfield, and we haven’t even mentioned SS Andrelton Simmons and Brian McCann, whom is starting to feel better. Braves fans may not be confident of the platoon they have going at the hot corner with Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson, and it’s easy to be disappointed when you had a Hall of Famer in Chipper Jones manning the position there for as long as he did. My question mark on this team is how well does the starting pitching do this year, as I’m not worried about their bullpen holding leads or keeping things close. Does Tim Hudson stay healthy, can Mike Minor keep batters in the park and continue to lower his walk rate? What about Julio Teheran, how ready is he to reaching that ceiling of a #2-3 starter that’s been put on him? Watch this team at the plate for a series and you’ll understand the threat these guys pose, they are not just a force, they are a force. (oooOOOooohhhhh)

1. Washington Nationals

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 10/11, 7/2, 7/1

PECOTA’s projected three four highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Stephen Strasburg (4.8), Ryan Zimmerman (4.0), Jayson Werth and Dan Haren (3.1)

Stuart sees: a team that you will be describing using any and every positive/fear-inducing adjective and profane word in the book. Now that this team has brought their town an NL East title in 2012, their extraordinarily powerful lineup, along with newly acquired speedster Denard Span, are going to put up some pretty good numbers (hint hint, fantasy baseball players) and work on creating that dynasty within the NL East. Bryce Harper just got done being nineteen (that’s 19, as in, my college freshman+sophomore years you know what, I don’t wanna talk about it), Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann are also pretty stinkin’ good, and that bullpen added Rafael Soriano because I guess they wanted to make Drew Storen feel really bad. My question marks for this team are Dan Haren, who has been not been pitching as well as the years have gone by (getting old will do that… along with lower velocity), and the part of the bullpen that doesn’t involve Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Soriano. Outside of that, you can see why they’ve got the best odds to win everything. This team… I mean… Man. (how ’bout that analysis right there)

If there’s something not going for them though, it’s definitely this (couldn’t find a more out of control picture, I know it’s out there though):

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 6.09.58 PM

Tell me how you think the NL East standings fall out in the comments below, and remember to play nice!

The Long Nightmare is Finally Over: Justin Upton Traded to Atlanta

Wednesday afternoon reports surfaced that GM Frank Wren of the Braves had sent an offer to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 25-year old OF Justin Upton. Thursday morning, reports have come out that GM Kevin Towers has accepted that offer. Finally, after months of speculation that Justin Upton be traded, he does. There was some speculation that the DBacks would try to trade Jason Kubel to the Baltimore Orioles but now that Justin has been traded, that possibility seems pretty much done.

The Braves get:

OF Justin Upton (Already 108 HR, but a change of scenery could do wonders)

3B Chris Johnson (traded from Houston to AZ last season, 15 HR, defense not his calling card)

The Diamondbacks get:

UT Martin Prado (plays all over the place, in my opinion a little underrated, fans should like him but doesn’t have Upton power)

SP Randall Delgado (92.2 IP in MLB in ’12, will enter age 23 season)

SP Zeke Spruill (Double-A in ’12)

SS Nick Ahmed (High-A in ’12)

CI Brandon Drury (Single-A in ’12)

There was speculation yesterday that Braves top prospect Julio Teheran would be in the deal, but apparently he was swapped out and Prado and Delgado were brought in. Looking at the deal, I can’t say I hate it too much for either side, and I assumed the Braves would “win” this deal on paper. There are some people like me that didn’t feel trading Upton was appropriate, but getting Prado and Delgado back isn’t bad of a return at all. Atlanta now has a platoon partner for Juan Francisco, a pair of Uptons in the outfield to join another young star in Jason Heyward, it’s hard not to love this trade for the Braves. The Diamondbacks get a great player in Prado, another guy that they could ease into the rotation in Delgado who can be around until the latter part of the decade, and they get three guys that were all Baseball America Top 30 prospects (Spruill being the only Top 10 at #9; Ahmed #11, Drury #27, per JJ Cooper), this isn’t the worst thing in the world done by Kevin Towers. Really! I mean, the Trevor Bauer trade was easily much worse than this trade if you’re looking for an axe to grind.

If you clicked on the links to MLBDepthCharts on the team names, you’ll notice at how the rosters might take shape. Funny how the Diamondbacks used to have guys like Chris Young (now with the A’s), Justin Upton (traded today), Trevor Bauer (now with the Indians), and could’ve stayed content with Jarrod Parker (also now with the A’s). Their replacements are Cody Ross, Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton (all this combined is a downgrade because Upton is a pretty good player), and Trevor Cahill, Randall Delgado (could we call this a “push” for the pitching in the short-term?).

Both teams after this trade are left in pretty good shape, sending a message to their fans that they want to compete in 2013, but after the offseason the Diamondbacks have had, I’m not sure if I can say they are in better shape than what they ended 2012 with.