Welcome to the Gigantic Sox and Dawgs 2013 MLB preview.  Over the next few days you will get a team by team look at its key players, new faces, their potential MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidates, their possible starting lineup and rotation as well as a quick summary. 

2013 SOX & Dawgs NL East PreviewWe will also select a MVP candidate and Cy Young candidate for each team no matter what their predicted team outcome is.

This preview was sculpted over the off season with some mild tweaking as we went along prior to publication.  It comes from a culmination of reading many hours of baseball research. 

I hope you enjoy this look at the upcoming season.  I know everyone will not agree with me and that’s fine put it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or via email.  I can assure you I'll most likely have an argument for each and every objection that you could possibly raise. 

Yesterday we looked at the AL Central, Sunday was the NL West, Monday was the AL West, Tuesday we previewed the NL Central and today it’s the NL East.

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National League East

In what could possibly be an epic battle for the division, the NL East will see the Braves and Nationals go toe to toe all season with the outcome not being decided until the last weekend.  Both teams are deep in all phases and this will be baseball's best race.  The Phillies are getting old and will not be a factor at the end while the Mets and the Marlins could both lose 100 games.

Atlanta Braves1. Atlanta – Manager Fredi Gonzalez (3rd year/7th overall)

The Braves will not only challenge for the division but for a World Series appearance in 2013.  In the off season they added the Upton Brothers, B.J. via free agency and Justin via trade, to their outfield to compliment RF Jason Heyward and become a formidable trio for years to come.  The pitching should be more than solid with veteran Tim Hudson leading a young group of starters that feature Mike Minor and Julio Teheran and will only get better upon the return of Brandon Beachy.  The bullpen with Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and now Jordan Walden on the back end are top notch. The one concern the team has is 2B Dan Uggla and C Brian McCann need to put 2012 behind them and return to the form of previous seasons.  McCann may have a delayed start due to off season surgery.

Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 21, 2012 in Washington, DC.Home Field: Turner Field

Key Players: CF B.J. Upton; LF Justin Upton; RF Jason Heyward; P Tim Hudson; RP Craig Kimbrel

MVP Candidate: RF Jason Heyward

Cy Young Candidate: P Kris Medlen

ROY Candidate: P Julio Teheran

Key Additions: C Gerald Laird; 3B/1B Chris Johnson; CF B.J. Upton; LF Justin Upton; RP Jordan Walden; OF Jordan Schafer

Possible lineup: Simmons SS; B. Upton CF; Heyward RF; McCann* C; J. Upton LF; Freeman 1B; Uggla 2B; Francisco 3B

*McCann may miss start of season due to injury.

*Alternate lineup: Simmons SS; B. Upton CF; Freeman 1B; J. Upton LF; Heyward RF; Uggla 2B; Francisco 3B; Laird C

Possible rotation: Hudson; Medlin; Minor; Maholm*; Teheran

*Beachy will miss part of the season recovering from TJS

*Possible rotation: Hudson; Medlin; Minor; Beachy; Teheran

Washington Nationals2. Washington – Manager Davey Johnson (3rd year/17th overall) 

This will be Davey Johnson’s last ride and he will get the full Stephen Strasburg experience as the reigns have been taken off the young starter and Cy Young Candidate.  The starting rotation is solid top to bottom although the bullpen could be a bit deeper the pitching is first rate.  Although they could probably use a veteran bat off the bench they may have the best overall roster in the majors.

National League All-Star Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pithces in the fourth inning during the 83rd MLB All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium on July 10, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. Home Field: Nationals Park

Key Players: RF Bryce Harper; LF Jayson Werth; 3B Ryan Zimmerman SP Stephen Strasburg; RP Rafael Soriano

MVP Candidate: RF Bryce Harper

Cy Young Candidate: P Stephen Strasburg

ROY Candidate: 3B Anthony Rendon

Key Additions: CF Denard Span; SP Dan Haren; RP Rafael Soriano; RP A.J. Cole

Possible lineup: Span CF; Harper RF; Zimmerman 3B; LaRoche 1B; Werth LF; Desmond SS; Espinosa 2B; Ramos C

Possible rotation: Strasburg; G. Gonzalez; Zimmermann; Haren; Detwiler

Philadelphia Phillies3. Philadelphia – Manager Charlie Manuel (9th year/12th overall)

Phillies fans are going to be looking at an older team this season and one that is lacking in the outfield.  P Roy Halladay (36); P Cliff Lee (34) and new 3B Michael Young (35) aren’t so much so any longer as the Phils start to get a bit long in the tooth.  The starting pitching has to carry the team and get it to closer Jonathan Papelbon because the rest of the pen is very inconsistent.  The team is weak on the corners in the outfield and they will pay for that defensively.  C Carlos Ruiz is gone for 25 games for a PED suspension.

Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies doubles to right field during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 4, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Home Field: Citizens Bank Park

Key Players: SS Jimmy Rollins; 2B Chase Utley; 3B Michael Young; P Cliff Lee; RP Jonathan Papelbon

MVP Candidate: 1B Ryan Howard

Cy Young Candidate: P Cliff Lee

ROY Candidate: P Jonathan Pettibone

Key Additions: 3B Michael Young; CF Ben Revere; RF Delmon Young; RP Mike Adams; RP Chad Durbin; SP John Lannan

Possible lineup: Rollins SS; Revere CF; Utley 2B; Howard 1B; M. Young 3B; D. Young RF; Brown LF; Kratz* C

*Ruiz suspended for 25 games

*Alternate lineup: Rollins SS; Revere CF; Utley 2B; Howard 1B; Ruiz C; M. Young 3B; D. Young RF; Brown LF

Possible rotation: Lee; Hamels; Halladay; Kendrick; Lannan

New York Mets4. New York – Manager: Terry Collins (3rd year/ 9th overall)

I have heard one Mets fan say this may be the worst Mets team in his lifetime and that’s roughly 40 years going back to the glory season of 1973 when they lost in the World Series to Oakland.  They plan on building around 3B David Wright; RF Lucas Duda and 1B Ike Davis along with SP Matt Harvey.  The pitching is mostly young and inexperienced, the bullpen is wide open and there is a lot of room for improvement.  They are not a good “up the middle” team as they have holes in CF and C and the middle infield is non-descript.

David Wright #5 of the New York Mets runs to third base against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field on September 26, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Home Field: Citi Field

Key Players: 3B David Wright; 1B Ike Davis; RF Lucas Duda; SP Matt Harvey SP Zack Wheeler

MVP Candidate: 3B David Wright

Cy Young Candidate: P Johan Santana

ROY Candidate: P Zack Wheeler

Key Additions: C John Buck; C Travis d'Arnaud; C Anthony Recker; SP Zack Wheeler; CF Collin Cowgill; RP Brandon Lyon; SP Shaun Marcum

Possible lineup: Tejada SS; Murphy 2B; Wright 3B; Davis 1B; Duda LF; Baxter RF; Buck C; Cowgill CF

Possible rotation: Santana, Neise, Harvey; Marcum; Wheeler

Miami Marlins5. Miami – Manager Mike Redmond (1st year)

Well one season of going all out and going for it was enough for owner Jeff Loria and he had his baseball op’s people blow up the team.  It was quite the explosion as fans, media and the local politicians feel they were fleeced.  The pitching is nearly non-existent both in the rotation and the bullpen and there will be a lot of players coming in and out through the year but look for Marlins to compete with the Mets for the cellar.  The only thing good about this team is 1B Logan Morrison and RF Giancarlo Stanton and don’t look now Marlins fans but they won’t be there much longer.

 Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins hits a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park on September 4, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Home Field: Marlins Park

Key Players: RF Giancarlo Stanton; 1B Logan Morrison;3B Placido Polanco;

MVP Candidate: RF Giancarlo Stanton

Cy Young Candidate: P Ricky Nolasco

ROY Candidate: C Rob Brantly; SS Adeiny Hechavarria

Key Additions: Mgr Mike Redmond; LF Juan Pierre; 3B Placido Polanco; SS Adeiny Hechavarria; C Rob Brantly; C Jeff Mathis: RP Jon Rauch; RP Scott Maine

Possible lineup: Pierre LF; Polanco 3B; Morrison 1B; Stanton RF; Ruggiano CF; Brantly C; Solano 2B; Hechavarria SS

Possible rotation: Nolasco; Alvarez; LeBlanc; Eovaldi; Turner

Tomorrow, in Day 6, we will preview the AL East.

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