National League East
Mets should be good, they've spent the money and brought in the names. Beltran improves, Floyd is solid but not as good as last year. Wright and Delgado rake. Bret Boone wins 2B over Matsui and provides 15 homers with a .257 average. Victor Diaz wins RF, surpassing 20 HR and 80 RBI, with Nady getting time in a utility role.
The defense is overall below average, but not horrible. Wright and Reyes are a little below average by ZR. Maybe they improve (I think their reputations are good) but I'm not going to predict it. Delgado, Boone, and Diaz are below average. Floyd was surprisingly very good in 2005 but average for 2006. Beltran is the only standout defender on the team.
The pitching really depends on Pedro. I project him at over 200 innings with a 3.04 ERA. I hope his toe is fine. A significant injury to Pedro could sink this team, as the other starters (glaving, Benson, Zambrano, Trachsel) project for around a 4.35 ERA as a group.
Mets projection is the second best record in the NL, tops in the East, and I expect them to contend for the wild card (reasons below).
Phillies also have a good shot at the WC. Pat Gillick is a really good GM at putting together winning teams. Phillies won't be so good when he leaves, around 2009-2010, as the Orioles, Mariners, and Blue Jays show. Gillick will win now and get out before the whole sh*thouse goes up in flames.
The Phillies have assembled a really good defense. Utley was outstanding last year, both Bell and Nunez are good defenders at 3rd, Rollins is average or better, and even Burrell has been average the last few years by ZR - he was Luzinski-like when MGL first gave us UZR ratings for 2000.
Aaron Rowand is a defensive superstar, he's a great offseason pickup and projected at +15 runs on defense. The pitching will be good as long as they keep the ball in play, easier said than done in this ballpark.
Howard, Utley, Burrell, and Abreau give them an impressive lineup. Rowand should add 20 HR or so at the bottom of the lineup. The rotation of Myers, Leiber, Wolf, Lidle, and Franklin doesn't walk too many. If they can avoid too many HR they'll win games with solid run support and a good defense behind them.
The Braves project at 88-74, third overall. I don't buy it. One of my rules is always pick the Braves. I'll keep doing it until they prove me wrong. They will win this division.
Andruw Jones won't hit 50 homers, but if he returns to the mid 30's he's still a good player. Larry Jones will still hit, though he gets injured more frequently these years. Francoeur hit like a monster in the majors after doing little in AA. Add it all together, consider he's only 22 and he projects for a .270 average and 27 homers. OBA is not much, but he provides good defense. Braves all around a a good, but not spectacular defensive team. The weakest like is either Renteria or Andruw. Renteria does more of the same, his 2005 season was no different than 2004 on offense, but the Red Sox acted surprised anyway. He's not likely to hit .330, but is a solid SS.
Smoltz, Hudson, and Thomson have 3 of the rotation spots. Horacio Ramirez probably has another, though he's not one of their best options. I'm projecting Chuck James to take a rotation spot, because I think he's really good. Jorge Sosa was probably a massive fluke last year, though he might be the answer as a closer. Right now the Braves don't have an obvious closer. Chris Reitsma, maybe. Kyle Davies could also be converted. One way or another, the Braves will solve this and go on winning.
Marlins have 100 loss potential despite the optimistic 75 win forecast. I rate the defense as average, not because I know it, but because I have no clue. I don't know who's in the outfield besides Jeremy Hermida. Pokey Reese could play 2B, if he's healthy enough to play. He'll provide a good glove and no bat. SS Hanley Ramirez will probably be terrible. He may be a decent player in the future, but he's done nothing to show he's even close to ready. I have a method to evaluate minor league defense for infielders. I'm not claiming its a good method, but its something. Ramirez projects a little below average with the glove as well. Alfredo Amezaga might win the SS job with Ramirez in AAA. If so, he's not going to hit either.
Miguel Cabrera is an awesome hitter. I think he can even be an average 3B, despite being a poor defensive OF. His skill set (good reactions, arm, slow of foot) fits better at 3B than the OF.
Josh Willingham can hit as well, he might be their catcher, or he might be in left field. He's probably terrible defensively, but should be a good fantasy pickup, especially if he catches.
The only known on the pitching staff is Willis. Otherwise, they have a great group of young arms. I have no idea which ones will pan out and which won't, but they have so many numbers that one or 2 will probably be really good. Take a ballpark made for power pitchers and a defense that should be OK, and the Marlins just might get enough pitching to meet my forecast of 75 wins and stay out of the cellar.
The Nationals don't look very good. Beyond Livan and Patterson, the pitching staff is weak. The ballpark makes them look better, but the defense this lineup provides doesn't help, and some of these guys (ex. Ramon Ortiz) just aren't very good pitchers.
On defense, I like the infield corners, with Nick Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman. Guzman, though, is possibly the worst player in the game. Not only can't he hit, butover the last 4 years, his zone rating has been between .804 and .809 every year, with average being around .835. That's 10 runs below average. Vidro's not a very good defender either, with age and injuries taking their toll. He might be traded so a certain prima donna can keep his normal position, but Soriano's a crappy defender too. There is no obvious center fielder on this roster.
Soriano will probably be a disaster in every way. His bat will suffer in this park, his defense is bad, and his attitude sukks. I'll miss Brad Wilkerson, he's a much better player. Soriano hits for a better average, Wilkerson a better on base average. The difference in power between them is not as great as it was in 2005, if there's even a difference. And when the team needs Wilkerson to play a new position, he just does it without complaint. None of this "I'm not going to move to the OF" out of him.
Nationals will score the fewest runs in the league, partly due to the ballpark. A below average pitching staff will look OK, again thanks to RFK. Jim Bowden will have no clue how to properly evaluate the team's weaknesses, and the team will finish in last place.