Checking out the National League where the Nationals, Brewers and Rockies will win their divisions and the Cubs and Dodgers will get to the postseason with wild cards. Maybe.
Teams are listed in predicted order of finish. Links are each club’s Philly.com team page.
Last year: 97-65, won division, lost to Cubs in NLDS (3-2).
Runs scored: 5th. Runs allowed: 6th.
Manager: Dave Martinez (first season overall).
Quick hits: The Nats have won three of the last four division titles and four of the last six. Their inability to win a postseason series has them trying their fourth different manager in six years … Martinez, the former bench coach for Joe Maddon and the Cubs, was born during the 1964 Phillies’ collapse … Second baseman Daniel Murphy, who turns 33 on Sunday (April 1), had microfracture knee surgery in October and is out for a few weeks. He’s hit .334 in his two seasons with Washington.
The last word: Washington is hosting the All-Star Game, which could be the final one for superstar Bryce Harper, who is expected to command the largest free agent contract ever after the season. Will the Phillies make a run at him? Total value of the contract for Harper, who turns 26 in October, is projected to be in the range of $300-$400 million.
Last year: 70-92, fourth place, 17 fewer wins than 2016
Runs scored: t-18th. Runs allowed: 28th.
Manager: Mickey Callaway (first season overall).
Quick hits: If Mets pitchers stay off the DL, they have the roster to challenge for a wild-card and the money to enhance it with trades. Noah Syndergaard, who made just seven appearances last season, had a good spring and will be the Opening Day starter … Added 3B Todd Frazier, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and re-acquired fan favorite RF Jay Bruce … New manager Callaway was the Indians pitching coach.
The last word: “If we can stay healthy,” said Bruce, “we got a damn good chance to beat anybody.”
Vegas Vic’s odds
Last year: 66-96, last place, third consecutive season with 90+ losses
Runs scored: 27th. Runs allowed: 17th.
Manager: Gabe Kapler (first season overall).
Quick hits: Have finished in last place three of the last four years, a run of misery not seen since Mike Schmidt was a rookie in 1973 … The last three managers with no major-league experience brought in by the Phillies are Ryne Sandberg, Terry Francona and Nick Leyva … First baseman Carlos Santana is 4 for 23 in his career at Citizens Bank Park (.174), including a home run off Hector Neris in 2016.
The last word: “We’re going to have conviction and we’re going to fight and we’re going to win,” starting pitcher Jake Arrieta said shortly after signing with the Phillies.
Last year: 72-90, third place
Runs scored: t-20th. Runs allowed: 24th.
Manager: Brian Snitker (third season; all with club).
Quick hits: Outfield prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. has had tongues wagging in Atlanta for the last year or so. He’ll start the season in the minors, but should be up soon … Brandon McCarthy, who gave up George Springer’s 11th-inning home run in Game 2 of the World Series, was acquired from the Dodgers in the Matt Kemp deal. He’s pretty good on Twitter (@BMcCarthy32).
The last word: Julio Teheran will become the first Braves pitcher to start five consecutive opening days since Warren Spahn started six from 1957-62.
if you love the trade deadline #hugwatch you're gonna love the 2018 Rays
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) February 20, 2018
Last year: 77-85, second place
Runs scored: 11th. Runs allowed: 25th.
Manager: Don Mattingly (third season with club; eighth overall).
Quick hits: The Marlins traded Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals) and Christian Yelich (Brewers) in an attempt to cut payroll and talent, tank you very much. Those three represented nearly 60 percent of last year’s home runs and 45 percent of the Marlins’ RBI … CEO Derek Jeter has a four percent ownership piece of the club. His popularity in New York remains high, especially after the Stanton trade.
The last word: Remember when Miami spent $634 million on the ballpark that opened in 2012? The Marlins were 28th in home attendance last year at a little over 20k per game.
Last year: 86-76, second place, 13-win improvement from 2016.
Runs scored: t-20th. Runs allowed: 8th.
Manager: Craig Counsell (fourth season, all with club).
Quick hits: Missed the playoffs by one game last season, which changed the plan from rebuild to contend now … Added Christian Yelich (Marlins) and Lorenzo Cain (Royals), which has crowded the outfield. Ryan Braun, a third baseman when he came up in 2007, saw time at first base in camp and wasn’t real comfortable … Third baseman Travis Shaw should be a threat to crack 100 RBI again. He had 101 last season … Their offense has set the major-league team strikeout record each of the last two seasons. Last year, 1,571, averages out to a shade under 10 times per game. Yikes.
The last word: “We decided winning in 2018 was as important as to win in 2020,” said Brewers owner Mark Attanasio. Sounds like a slogan for the democratic party.
Last year: 92-70, won division, lost to Dodgers in NLCS (4-1).
Runs scored: 4th. Runs allowed: 7th.
Manager: Joe Maddon (fourth season with club; 15th overall).
Quick hits: Have a new pitching coach (Jim Hickey), hitting coach (Chili Davis) and bench coach (Brandon Hyde) … Cubs will have a full season of Jose Quintana, who went 7-3, 3.74 in 14 starts after being acquired from the White Sox. Love this guy for fantasy … Interesting year for OF Kyle Schwarber, who hit 30 home runs last year but just .211. Schwarber turned 25 earlier this month.
The last word: Yu Darvish, signed on the eve of spring training, will slide into the rotation in place of former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Would love to see a Darvish-Arrieta matchup when the Phillies make their only visit to Wrigley Field June 5-7.
Vegas Vic’s odds
Last year: 83-79, third place
Runs scored: 13th. Runs allowed: 11th.
Manager: Mike Matheny (seventh season, all with club).
Quick hits: Sniffed around for Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, but settled for LF Marcell Ozuna, a decent consolation prize coming off 37 homers and a Gold Glove … Haven’t missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons since 1997-99, which was early in Tony Larussa’s tenure … Starter Adam Wainwright and closer Luke Gregerson each are dealing with hamstring injuries.
The last word: St. Louis gave shortstop Paul DeJong a six-year, $26 million contract that is similar to what the Phillies just did with Scott Kingery. DeJong, 24, finished second in NL rookie of the year voting and he has less than a year of major-league service time accrued. If he’s worth $26M, Rhys Hoskins should get $50 million.
Last year: 75-87, fourth place.
Runs scored: 28th. Runs allowed: 13th.
Manager: Clint Hurdle (eighth season with club; 16th overall).
Quick hits: Traded Gerrit Cole (Astros) and Andrew McCutchen (Giants) and would have dealt Willie Stargell and the Waner brothers if it would help them lose a little more … Colin Moran, the third baseman of the future – if not the present – is a nephew of former major leaguer B.J. Surhoff.
The last word: Ivan Nova will be making the first Opening-Day start of his career. With two years left on his contract, he’s a candidate to be traded during the season.
Last year: 68-94, fifth place.
Runs scored: 14th. Runs allowed: 29th.
Manager: Bryan Price (fifth season, all with club).
Quick hits: Have lost at least 90 games in three consecutive seasons for the first time since the mid-1930s … Joey Votto, who enjoys trolling opposing fans, led the league in walks for the third time in five years and was third in OPS … Starting pitchers Anthony DeSclafani (oblique) and Brandon Finnegan (biceps) each dealt with injuries during spring training.
The last word: “ … Our success and our ability to make a big turnaround this year (is) largely in the hands of our ability to pitch better as a pitching staff,” manager Bryan Price told the Cincinnati Enquirer before the start of camp.
Last year: 87-75, third place, lost to Arizona in wild-card.
Runs scored: 3rd. Runs allowed: 14th.
Manager: Bud Black (second season with club; 11th overall).
Quick hits: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has 120 homers over the last three years – 64 at home, 56 on the road … Trevor Story set a dubious franchise record with 191 strikeouts, which is wayyyy too many for a shortstop … Gave former Cub Wade Davis a three-year, $52 million deal to become the closer.
The last word: “In my opinion,” Mike Schmidt told the Dayton Daily News, “Nolan Arenado is going to be the heir apparent to the all-time greatest third basement. He puts up numbers that I never dreamed of. I don’t think George Brett did or Chipper (Jones) did, either.”
Last year: 104-58, first place, lost to Houston in World Series (4-3); most wins since moving to L.A. in 1958
Runs scored: 12th. Runs allowed: 2nd.
Manager: Dave Roberts (third season, all with club).
Quick hits: The rotation isn’t as deep as it was a year ago with Yu Darvish (Cubs), and Brandon McCarthy (Braves) and Scott Kazmir (Braves) elsewhere … 3B Justin Turner sustained a broken left wrist last week and will be out indefinitely. Turner, who hit a career-high .322 last season, has played more than 130 games just once in his seven-year career … Clayton Kershaw is 22 wins from passing Sandy Koufax. Kershaw’s career high is 21.
The last word: In the last 50 years, the only team to lose Game 7 of the World Series and come back to win the title the following year was the 2015 Royals. The 1992 Braves managed to reach the World Series, but the other 15 clubs did not.
Vegas Vic’s odds
Last year: 93-69, second place, lost to Dodgers in NLDS (3-0).
Runs scored: 8th. Runs allowed: 3rd.
Manager: Torey Lovullo (second season; both with club).
Quick hits: Chose not to re-sign slugger J.D. Martinez, instead dealt for Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza who busted out for 30 homers last year with Tampa … Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano are a strong back-end of the bullpen … Staff ace Zack Greinke will not start on opening day. He had tightness in his groin late in spring training, but will pitch the first week.
The last word: Yasmany Tomas, at $13.5 million, is Arizona’s highest paid position player. Problem is, he couldn’t crack the roster and will open the season in the minors.
Last year: 64-98, fifth place; won 87 games in 2016.
Runs scored: 29th. Runs allowed: 16th.
Manager: Bruce Bochy (12th season with club, 24th overall).
Quick hits: Suffered a monster blow when staff ace sustained a broken hand from a line drive last week. Bumgarner missed three months last season was looking to lead the Giants back from their worst season in three decades. The initial diagnosis for this latest injury is 6-8 weeks and any thought of a hefty contract extension is on hold. Bumgarner is a free agent this year, though the Giants hold a $12 million option for 2019 … San Fran is playing Andrew McCutchen in rightfield and moving Hunter Pence to left. McCutchen is in a contract year … The Giants open the season at the Dodgers and close it by hosting L.A.
The last word: San Fran also added 3B Evan Longoria and CF Austin Jackson as it obviously tried to get back into contention this season. “It’s pretty apparent what this team is trying to do,” McCutchen told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — before Bumgarner’s injury.
Last year: 71-91, fourth place
Runs scored: 30th. Runs allowed: t-21st.
Manager: Andy Green (third season, all with club).
Quick hits: Freddy Galvis isn’t going to be a Padre for long. The former Phillie, who was dealt to San Diego largely to make room for J.P. Crawford, is in the final year of his contract and now has highly-regarded prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. behind him. Tatis is starting in Double A … The Padres team on-base percentage (.299) was the worst in baseball. Of their 189 home runs, 120 were solo.
The last word: Eleven of the Padres first 16 series are against teams that made it to the 2017 playoffs. They open the season Thursday against Milwaukee, which finished a game out. Miserable time to be a San Diego sports fan.