With the National League set to start Wednesday night with the defending-champion St. Louis Cardinals facing off against the Miami Marlins in Miami, it’s time to predict how the National League will turn out.
National League East
1. Atlanta Braves; Predicted Record: 93-69, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: Atlanta traded away pitcher Derek Lowe in more of a salary dump to Cleveland and despite an injury to Tim Hudson have a good rotation with Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens at the front of it. Chipper Jones may start the season on the DL.
2. Philadelphia Phillies; Predicted Record: 91-71, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: The five-time defending division-champion Phillies will start the season without infielders Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and saw Raul Ibanez leave for the Yankees. They countered by signing former Phillie Jim Thome and re-signing shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but it won’t be enough for a sixth straight title.
3. Miami Marlins; Predicted Record: 84-78, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: The suddenly free-spending Marlins signed shortstop Jose Reyes, reliever Heath Bell, and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle to contracts worth a combined $191 million. Should incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez gracefully move to third base and regain his hitting form, the Marlins may have something. Giancarlo (formerly Mike) Stanton is questionable to start the season with a bruised left wrist and left knee inflammation.
4. Washington Nationals; Predicted Record: 80-82, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: The Nationals bolstered their starting rotation with the additions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson and didn’t break the bank in doing so. If young pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg returns to his ace form, the NL East could challenge the AL East as the toughest division in baseball.
5. New York Mets; Predicted Record: 72-90, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: The Mets saw star player Jose Reyes take his talents to South Beach then traded away outfielder Angel Pagan to San Francisco for reliever Ramon Ramirez and outfielder Andres Torres. Maybe Jason Bay and David Wright will enjoy renaissance seasons with the moving in of the left field wall though.
National League Central
1. Cincinnati Reds; Predicted Record: 94-68, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: The Reds are all in after making several splashes in the offseason in acquiring starting pitcher, and potential ace, Mat Latos from San Diego and then signing closer Ryan Madson (who’s now injured and will miss the season). First baseman Joey Votto was just recently locked up to a 10-year contract extension worth $225 million.
2. Milwaukee Brewers; Predicted Record: 84-78, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: The Brewers lost first baseman Prince Fielder to free agency and tried to buffer the loss by signing former Cub Aramis Ramirez. At shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt is gone and will be replaced by former Brave Alex Gonzalez.
3. St. Louis Cardinals…