SI.com has published a “Hot Stove Preview” for the NL East, authored by Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus.
While the info on the Mets is not groundbreaking for us diehards, the coverage of the other teams in the East is worth making the visit and glossing over.
Some key quotes …
On the Mets:
It’s not like Omar Minaya needs many excuses to be aggressive, and he’ll have several after the Mets’ flop in September. Mets fans will have to hope that youngsters such as Milledge and Fernando Martinez aren’t collateral damage.
On the Phillies:
They have four superstar-caliber talents in Utley, Rollins, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard . . . a team with four superstars should be in a position to reach the World Series if they can be league-average everywhere else, and that’s what the Phillies should aim for.
On the Braves:
With a lineup of Johnson/Rowand/Chipper/Teixeira/McCann/Francoeur/Diaz/Escobar and a rotation of Smoltz/Hudson/Glavine/Jurrjens/James, the Braves would quite probably be the best team in the division, and very possibly the best in the National League . . . with the farm system in a relative lull and a host of players like Teixiera and Smoltz all questionable beyond 2008, now is the time to deliver.
On the Nationals:
. . . they need to do a little bit to stock the pantry, while giving fans at Nationals Park more reasons to turn out than the cherry trees in left field. Therefore I’d suggest a revised version of the Tiger Plan, where you’re looking to sign a couple of free agents not so much for 2008 but to set yourself up for 2009 . . . It wouldn’t surprise me if Bowden has a mandate to start behaving like he’s got a big-market team, which is really what the Nationals ought to be in their new ballpark.
On the Marlins:
This is a team that desperately needs to buy back some credibility from its fan base, as well as the politicians of South Florida. Merely making the effort would restore hope and good faith . . . (but) . . . There are no indications that the Marlins are ready to increase payroll. On the other hand, they only have so many assets that they could plausibly sell off. I would guess that . . . somebody would be willing to overpay for Dontrelle Willis . . . My guess is that Willis departs, but that the Marlins aren’t quite ready to move Cabrera, who is set to become a free agent after 2009.
I’d have to agree on most of what Silver has to say. That said, it looks like another three-team race among the Mets, Phillies, and Braves next year — and the offseason moves could have much to do with which team is the perceived favorite.