Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo previews the 2013 National League season, with teams listed in their predicted order of finish:
Clearly the most talented team in the NL with superstars Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, etc. But there are some developing pockets of concern. For instance, CF Denard Span, starter Dan Haren, and relievers Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano didn’t perform well or played on a limited basis in camp. The Nationals have all sorts of depth with a strong minor league system.
Chemistry rating: 5 out of 5 — They seem to have it all.
2012: 98-64, 1st; Manager: Davey Johnson (3d year)
If prospect Julio Teheran pitches up to his potential, which he did in camp, the Braves’ rotation could be lights-out. The bullpen is solid with Craig Kimbrel on the tail end. Catcher Brian McCann will be back from his shoulder surgery rehab by mid-April and the Upton brothers have created excitement. Dan Uggla needs to regain his power form. We’ll see if someone emerges from the 3B platoon.
Chemistry rating: 3 — Uptons have never been chemistry builders.
2012: 94-68, 2d; Manager: Fredi Gonzalez (3d year)
The big concern is Roy Halladay, who had reduced velocity in a poor spring training. An injured Halladay could derail the Phillies, who finally have a healthy Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the lineup. The emergence of RF Domonic Brown has also been encouraging. The Phillies get catcher Carlos Ruiz back 25 games into the season after he serves a drug-related suspension. The bullpen’s good.
Chemistry rating: 4 — Healthy Howard, Utley create more wins.
2012: 81-81, 3d; Manager: Charlie Manuel (9th year)
4. New York
The Mets have some good young players. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and righty Zack Wheeler (oblique) will both will start at Triple A. David Wright injured himself in the WBC (intercostal) and the hope is he won’t be hampered long term. Johan Santana (shoulder) is likely to miss the season. If the Mets aren’t competitive, an ongoing story could be Terry Collins and his job security.
Chemistry rating: 2 — They lost R.A. Dickey and will likely struggle.
2012: 74-88, 4th; Manager: Terry Collins (3d year)
We all know what the Marlins did, so nobody expects much. All eyes will be on Giancarlo Stanton in terms of how many homers he’ll hit and where he might be traded. The Marlins were encouraged with outfielder Christian Yelich, who starts at Double A along with righty Jose Fernandez. Placido Polanco has fielded and hit well at third. Closer Steve Cishek is one of the best relievers in the game.Continued...