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Can anyone challenge the Nats?

Mar 30, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

2013 N.L. East Preview

It was quite the interesting offseason for teams in the N.L. East as major free agent splashes were made by some teams while another club traded nearly everyone they had. With all the movement that went on within the division this offseason, let's look at each of the Nationals' division foes to see what they have going as the season gets ready to start.

Atlanta Braves

2012 record: 94-68
2012 finish: Wild Card, 2nd in N.L. East
Key additions: Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Jordan Walden, Chris Johnson
Key departures: Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, David Ross
After losing in the one-game wild card playoff last season, the Braves overloaded much of their roster to get faster and younger. In come both of the Upton brothers to join All-Star Jason Heyward in what could be the best outfield in the majors. Both Uptons bring questions of consistency, but each are of the most talented at their position in the game. If they both have seasons that get even close to their potential, Atlanta’s lineup could be scary. They are balanced up and down with speed and power.
Atlanta’s bullpen will once again be among their strengths, not much has changed besides adding Jordan Walden. But their rotation holds a few wild cards. Kris Medlen will be counted on heavily to reproduce his 2012 season (10-1, 1.57 ERA) and Mike Minor will have to stay consistent. They also have Julio Teheran expected to be the fifth starter, he is super talented but has yet to find success at the major league level.
Philadelphia Phillies

2012 record: 81-81
2012 finish: Missed playoffs, 3rd in N.L. East
Key additions: Michael Young, Ben Revere, Mike Adams, John Lannan, Delmon Young
Key departures: Vance Worley, Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Brian Schneider

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  1. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Chase, you are killing me. Please change that photo to a cool Nats picture.

  2. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Nice to see key additions/departures in the NL East. Now let's play real games and see how/who it shakes out.

  3. SonnyG10 - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Looks like we'll fight it out with the Braves and the Phillies. Let's stay healthy, boys.

  4. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    WaPo has done a 2 week breakdown of how the pitching matchups could shake out through the 1st Braves series:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/03/30/nationals-early-pitching-matchups/

  5. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    WaPo I'm fairly certain is inccorrect as the Nats are off on the 2nd and then play the 3rd and 4th although the pitching rotation is correct.April 1, vs. Marlins, 1:05 p.m.: Stephen Strasburg vs. Ricky NolascoApril 2, vs. Marlins, 7:05 p.m.: Gio Gonzalez vs. Nathan EovaldiApril 4, vs. Marlins, 4:05 p.m.: Jordan Zimmermann vs. Wade LeBlanc

  6. Whack-a-Mule - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    I am increasingly excited about Monday and Opening Day! The N.L. East would appear to shape up as a tough 3-way battle, with all 3 contenders as realistic possibilities for a Division flag. To quote the late Earl Weaver: "All teams will win and lose 60 games apiece. It's what they do with the remaining 42 that will make the difference." 6 months doth a long season make.P.S.Having made my debut as the "bartender" at Duffy's Tavern for the recording of "Let's All Cheer for the Washington Nats", any word on the appearance of the video?W-a-M

  7. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Ghost……all my schedules show Tuesday as an off day.

  8. gail - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Well, the Yankees managed to beat them yesterday.

  9. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Andy Pettite beat them. He can't pitch every day. Didn't the Braves just lose a reliever? In the Phils and Blue Jays– saw Lannan, Nux, Langerhans, Andy LaRoche, Bonifacio- former Nats and Nats family .

  10. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    That would be Nix.

  11. Section 222 - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Yes, the off day is Tuesday. They always do that just in case there's rain so the sold out crowds can just come the next day. Ricky Nolasco is a good pitcher and has done well against the Nats. But our #2 almost won the Cy Young award last year and the Marlins' is a promising youngster who they got for Hanley. That kind of says it all.

  12. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    NatsJack, thanks for the confirm! By the way, I ran into StanK at a Dodgers high rollers event to sell premium packages. The Dodgers are going to give SFG a run at the NL West if Yo Adrian is at the top of his game behind Kemp. On paper it's the Nats and Dodgers.

  13. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Ghost…….did Stan have any Philly fans with him?

  14. Section 222 - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    I'll believe the Dodgers when we see them actually perform up to expectations. They could be this year's Red Sox of 2011.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    I enliken the Didgers to last years Marlins…..all hype with no thought to chemistry. I give Grienke till the all star break before he starts to let on he got sold a used car from Kasten.

  16. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    I see the West as a battle berween the Giants and my dark horse, the D-Backs.

  17. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    The braves are the obvious threat. Who knows what is going to happen with the Phillies. The Mets seem cursed – I feel bad about Johan. I feel sorry for the Marlins Players, the owner is getting what he deserves.In the rest of the league, the Reds & Giants are really good. Pirates & Brewers could contend, but not sure about their pitching. STL will always be in the fight. The Cubs are the Cubs (as much as it pains me to say that)I am going to be really curious how the Dodgers will play. They also have a target on their backs too with all the $$$ spent. Plus the injury to Hanley. Kershaw and Greinke will make them competitive. The Dbacks could be interesting, but not sure they have enough to contend. And the Padres will be mediocre at best

  18. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    NJ, Phoolie shills! He is much different and confident as it's an easy sell for this team and he needs to make sure no SFGs infiltrate. That TV deal makes it easy for their revenue stream.He hired the best stadium re-designer in the country Janet Marie Smith and everything looks great for the Nats in early May.

  19. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    NJ.. On the DBacks do they have the Bats, i know th "gritty" stuff and all, but can they hit? Pitching – seems to be solid. I hope McCarthy does well.

  20. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    CHASE, CAN YOU UN-SPAM ME? thanks!

  21. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Michele…..I see the D-backs battling every pitch. They've built a team in the image of Kirk Gibson and their pitching staff is excellant….better than the Dodgers overall.

  22. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    NJ, the only thing that worries me is they have a couple of Guys starting the year on the DL. Ross is and that new stud rookie they have as well (he is out longer with an elbow issue).

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    Just watch. It's going to be fun.

  24. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    And I think the Dodgers have someone on the DL too.

  25. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    NJ.. Having Hanley on the DL might be a blessing in disguise. He is such a cancer. I am more worried about the health of Kemp and Gonzalez. Part of the reason is was smart to move Bryce to LF was the wear and tear that CF takes on the big boys

  26. waddu eye no - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    hey whack a mule – drop me a linegyfngpfb@gmail.com

  27. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    So the last couple of years, the NL central had six teams, one of which lost over 100 games. Milwaukee, StL, Cin, Pit and the Cubs don't have the Astros around anymore to help pad their win totals. I will be interested to see what their records end up being in 2013. I think it will have an effect. I also see inter- division battles, like SF and LA affecting each team, with Ariz chiming in. The Barves dogged us all season, but both of us ended up with high win totals. You play your division a LOT.

  28. Doc - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    MicheleS and NatsJack, not sure but Greinke is either on the DL or is on 'temporary rest', which I presume has to do with his arm, not his nerves.

  29. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    Doc, not on the DL, had the issue early in spring with the Elbow, haven't seen anything else yet. On the Dodgers website they have him listed as starting against the Pirates (4th game of the season)

  30. Doc - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Thanks for the update MicheleS!We'll see how Grienke's elbow problems play out. Methinks that we'll hear more about it as the season progresses.Being an underdog fan, and a Kirk Gibson fan, I'd like to see the DBacks put a stick in the Dodger bicycle.

  31. IKN8wxU2 - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Great article on how the Phillies make personnel decisions:http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20130328_Phillies_continue_to_rely_more_on_scouting_than_sabermetrics.html

  32. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Remember when we had a player with a babysitter on staff? Well, ok, he was a cop. Some players have their own translator. I think there others that need live- in shrinks. So glad the Nats all seem so boringly normal. They express themselves with facial hair and hairstyles.

  33. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Swami, it's a great thing when the team is devoid of total knuckleheads. Personality is fine, but when you need a cop to babysit a player.. UGH

  34. peric - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    The Braves or Barves thinking like Rizzo and Clark gee who would have thunk it?Both Upton brothers to go with Jason Heyward's left-handed power bat. Chase fails to mention Uggla and Freeman who both can be offensive forces. Their shortstop has otherworld talent in the field its at the plate that things get dicey and the Braves surely wish they had Anthony Rendon or even Matt Skole to line up at third. Catching will be a bit of a issue due to the age and injuries of McCann so they are stuck with Laird and Gattis more often than not. The Braves bullpen is awesome no doubt but their starters not so much. Makes one wonder why they didn't strike out and pick up Kyle Lohse when they had the chance? I suspect they might have some other irons in the fire and that can't be good for the Nats. This is an FO that somehow managed to unite both Upton brothers, who along with Heyward, gave them the best overall outfield in the majors. Who would have thunk it? Have to think they've got something up their sleeves given the situation in their rotation.

  35. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Chase, the Phillies outfielder spells his name "Domonic," not "Dominic."

  36. Unknown - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Braves are either a 100-win team if the Upton's do their thing or an 87 win team if Kris Medlen returns to Earth and the brother's Upton continue to play below their potential.The Phillies could be a 75-win team if their roster continues to decline or a 90-win group if Roy Halliday returns along with Chase Utley.But if the Nationals play up to their potential–and remain healthy, something that hasn't happened since they returned to DC–Washington could easily surpass 100 wins.I'm just not smart enough In late March to figure out which of all those scenarios will play out.If things get tough, I'll just recall the years 1972-2004 and remain happy that we have a team.Farid @ Idaho

  37. peric - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    Harumph Natjack you can watch the DBacks I'll be keeping an eye on those Cubbies who I think will surprise a lot of folks this season. Meanwhile, some folks still speak fondly of Giggleman's Isle just like the old sitcom: Here on Giggleman's Isle

  38. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Ghost…….did Stan have any Philly fans with him? March 30, 2013 4:02 PM They don't let Phoolies on the West Coast! Stan is on soft sell these days as the hype of signing Greinke paid dividends and the team is getting great buzz. If they fail this year, expect lots of cancellations of STHs (let's hope).The stadium is going through a facelift as Stan got designer Janet Marie Smith to work for him. The plans look great. Stan & Magic have been very smart to put Dodgers greats like Sandy Koufax on team payroll. That is a huge bene to rub elbows in the stadium club with Dodgers greats.I hope Stan's plan collapses on the W/L record but that TV deal is for real and will make them very profitable regardless.It just shows the Nats have an opportunity to do huge things if they can ever get their fair share of TV revenues.

  39. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    Too bad we are not clairvoyant. Pretty sure the Barves have a reliever visiting Dr. Andrews right now. Don't know which guy. Now that is doom- worthy for any team.

  40. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    Swami, it's Venters who is with the Doctor.Ghost, I have a feeling that the TV deal won't get resolved until someone in Baltimore is forced out.

  41. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    This Tv thing is frustrating. Just seems like no one really cares. Now we have to keep on enduring joint this and joint that. Ugh. DC and Baltimore might as well be Venus and Saturn.

  42. peric - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Stan has done a tremendous job with the Dodgers but the player selection and acquisition still looked more about throwing around money and not so much about chemistry and talent.I'm seeing SF fans far more enthused about their team than the Dodger Blue followers … what I can't understand is hardly any love for those overachieving A's? And they still have Tommy Milone even if Bradley Peacock now starts for former Nats third base coach Bo Porter. The 'Stros are going to be miserable with that rotation and bullpen. They're the Nats of 2009 and 2010.

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    MicheleS said… Ghost, I have a feeling that the TV deal won't get resolved until someone in Baltimore is forced out. March 30, 2013 6:26 PM It's just not right that Selig the p**** will allow Peter F'ing Angelo$er hold the Nats hostage.By the way, the Orioles made the playoffs last year and their ending payroll will be lower than this years Opening Day payroll. He has no interest in doing anything right by his own fanbase and will do nothing to that will benefit DC unless it benefits him more. His own broadcast team and especially Gary Thorne made horrific comments on air to scold Rizzo on the Strasburg handling.I can't stand the troll and his thinly veiled attack tactics.

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    WaPo corrected the April 2nd/3rd scheduling mistake in that article. Only took them 4 hours and they expect people will pay for their site? They are lucky that their non-paying readers help them with their corrections and edits!

  45. peric - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    It's just not right that Selig the p**** will allow Peter F'ing Angelo$er hold the Nats hostage.In the end Ted is going to have to take care of this problem … and it seems certain all of baseball will go along with his solution. Selig is pretty worthless except when it comes to making pseudo salary caps to keep the team his daughter owns viable (the Brewers).

  46. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    For the uninformed…..As someone who is no fan of Selig….. it's a lot more complicated with alot more entities involved.

  47. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    NJ.. I am guessing that as well. I have a feeling that we have had virtual silence on the TV deal because they have brought in the big guns (Other Networks) to try to resolve this. It's going to take Mega $$$ to buy him out. Baltimore's TV Deal will be significanlty dimished once they are away from the Nats.

  48. MicheleS - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Peric, she doesn't own the team anymore, they were sold in 2005 to Mark Attanasio

  49. NatsLady - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Here is the story on Venters. He will start the season on the DL.Ventershttp://www.ajc.com/news/sports/baseball/braves-venters-to-have-elbow-checked-by-andrews/nW6tG/

  50. peric - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Peric, she doesn't own the team anymore, they were sold in 2005 to Mark AttanasioFor some reason I don't entirely believe it. Another Greek bearing gifts like Peter Angelos.

  51. baseballswami - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Never want to wish the good Doctor on anyone. Really. I mean it. Sincerely. Even a Barve. Really and truly…..

  52. peric - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    The Barves have other relief pitchers they can use … its in the rotation they are weak. If they lose Hudson they are pretty much done.

  53. Rich P. - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    "NatsJack in Florida said… For the uninformed…..As someone who is no fan of Selig….. it's a lot more complicated with alot more entities involved."Well, duh. But Selig is the only one with the power to move ALL the entities involved toward actually reaching a decision. Which, of course, he won't.

  54. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    Anyone else watching the 2013 Preview show on MLB? I know they are going to re- hash that day in October and that thing with our pitcher. Remote is handy.

  55. Rich P. - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Dr. James Andrews has almost cornered the market in working for teams with racially-insensitive nicknames. Are any Cleveland Indians experiencing elbow, shoulder or knee pain?

  56. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    They have Desi's new 'stache picture!!! Listed as a breakout player.

  57. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    By the way, congrats to Bryce's big brother Bryan Harper for his promotion to the Hagerstown Suns.Wouldn't be surprised if Ron & Sheri are in DC all summer to watch both sons!

  58. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    Too bad they did not keep producing male children. They are quite good at making baseball players :)

  59. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    To Rich P…..oh, if only it was that simplee

  60. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    HRod still feeling ok?

  61. Rich P. - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    No one said anything would be simple. But stalemate has its own inertia unless someone starts pushing to make something happen. Selig should be pushing, but clearly he's not.

  62. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    Swami.. Bryce & Bryan have a nephew named Colton. Next in line from the Harper family tree.And as someone who suffered through having a sister that was a gifted athlete, I am rooting for Bryan.Rich P. you forget that Angelos is a a Lawyer. He is digging in.

  63. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:41 AM

    Can you even imagine what Bryan's journey has been like? And isn't he older? Solid family, though.

  64. Rich P. - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:55 AM

    Everyone is dug in. They'll stay dug in until someone with the power starts trying to get them dug out. Who else could/should be doing that, other than Selig?

  65. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    Is it a problem for the team to have so much time off?

  66. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2013 at 3:01 AM

    Rich P. – Angelos didn't get rich by being a dumb lawyer. He is holding out for the largest $$$$$ b/c his teams value DIMINISHES significantly with the loss of the Nats broadcasting rights. It's going to take a current cable network (Fox or CSN) to basically bribe Angelos to ditch the Nats.

  67. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2013 at 3:03 AM

    Swami.. Bryan is 3 years older and yes a solid family. And I LOVE that you are such a worry wort about 2 days off at the beginning of the season. They are practicing tomorrow at Nats Park, so I don't think it will be too bad.

  68. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 31, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    Michele, you are a wealth of knowledge! Good to know the practice schedule!

  69. Drew - Mar 31, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    Old friend alert: Brad Peacock rode a good March to the No. 4 spot in the Astros' rotation.Congrats, Brad. Welcome to the AL West. Meet Mr. Pujols, Mr. Trout, Mr. Hamilton…

  70. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    Michele– haha, yes, searching for something'to worry about, I guess. Two days off is certainly not good for me!

  71. Joe Seamhead - Mar 31, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    I'm up early, getting excited about opening day. I'm also worried about all of the lofty predictions and expectations for this team. We've got a very good team that plays in a very tough division where we play each of those teams 18 times. None of them are going o roll over and concede any one of those games to us. We've also got a tough schedule outside of the division and every one of those teams will no longer be guilty of looking past the Nats. On the contrary, every one of them will want to knock this team off of its perch.I made predictions early last year that the Phillies were in trouble, the Nats would win the division by beating out the Braves in a dogfight, and that Davey Johnson would be manager of the year. This year, though I worry about all of the paper awards already being handed to us in the press, I have confidence that if there is anybody that can keep them from getting too cocky about it, it's Davey Johnson. I doubt seriously that we will run away with the division from right out of the gate. We'll struggle at times, the Legion of Doom will ruffle our feathers, but ultimately I think we will win the NL East after another exciting finish. NOW, LETS GO YOU NATIONALS! GYFNG!!!

  72. Joe Seamhead - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. Joe Seamhead - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Oh, yeah, also wanted to mention about a minor league outfielder that I think may be seriously worth watching at Potomac this year named Billy Burns. He is said to be the fastest player in the organization, hits good,great glove and tracking ability, and possesses a cannon for an arm.

  74. Positively Half St. - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    One question on the depth the Nats will need to succeed. Chris Young hasn't signed anywhere, as best I can tell. Is he out buying a ticket to Syracuse?

  75. slidell2 - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Regarding the 2 days off- it would have been interesting to do what several other teams did yesterday- play an exhibition game with a farm team. Going up to Harrisburg yesterday for example would have been a neat gesture and the Senators' fans would have eaten it up.Maybe the Nats brain trust will give it a thought for next year.

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