Welcome to the Gigantic Sox and Dawgs 2014 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. 

SOX & Dawgs 2014 MLB Preview - NL EastWe will also select a MVP candidate and Cy Young candidate for each team no matter what their predicted team outcome is.

Also added this year is some home stadium information along with dates the teams will play against the Boston Red Sox.  The red shaded games are at Fenway; the blue shaded games are road games.

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.

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

The NL East has two guys managing their first full big league seasons in Matt Williams (Washington) and Ryne Sandberg (Philadelphia).  Both had distinguished MLB careers, Williams as a third baseman with the Indians and Diamondbacks and Sandberg had a Hall of Fame career with the Cubs, although he played 13 big league games with the Phillies.  Can that success as players translate to the dugout? The organizations hope so as Washington is trying to rebound and Philadelphia is attempting to regroup.  Atlanta will be solid as always but lacking a true ace in the rotation it may be hard to keep up while Miami and New York look for improvement on the field.

Washington Nationals1. Washington – Manager Matt Williams (1st year)

 Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals stands on second base after hitting a double in the sixth inning against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on September 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Nationals have this two-year window on the players under contract before a bunch of them become free agents.  Look for them in the next two seasons to do whatever they can to get to the World Series. They have a very good rotation, one of best in baseball, a solid bullpen and lineup with nice balance and good defense. They faltered early last year and the playoff push fell short after a wonderful 2012.  Look for a year in 2014, in which they rebound and make a serious championship push.

Home Field: Nationals Park; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 2008; Capacity: 41,418

2013 Attendance: 2,652,422 (6th in NL)

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: SP Stephen Strasburg

ROY Candidate: CF Brian Goodwin

Key Additions: Mgr. Matt Williams; SP Doug Fister, OF Nate McLouth; RP Jerry Blevins; C Jose Lobaton

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

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

Games against Red Sox in 2014: None

Atlanta Braves2. Atlanta – Manager Fredi Gonzalez (4th year/8th overall)

 Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after striking out Carl Crawford #25 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth inning to end Game Two of the National League Division Series at Turner Field on October 4, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. Last year despite the disaster that was B.J. Upton the Braves won the NL East.  It will be hard for them to repeat again in 2014 with two good Upton’s as B.J.’s younger brother Justin returns for a second year with the club as well.  Dan Uggla is a weight around their neck at second and they are counting on Evan Gattis to replace Brian McCann who left for the Bronx.  Gattis has the bat the question is his defense.  As always the pitching in Atlanta will go a long way toward carrying them.  They now have the new best closer in baseball in Craig Kimbrel, the dude is flat out nasty but the rotation lacks a true ace and that will hold them back.

Several spring injuries in the starting rotation, Kris Medlen (possible TJS), Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy have made them look for some extra depth. The day before this was scheduled to be published they signed SP Ervin Santana to a 1-year/$14 M contract.

Home Field: Turner Field; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 1996; Capacity: 49,586

2013 Attendance: 2,548,679 (8th in NL)

Key Players: LF Justin Upton; RF Jason Heyward; SP Mike Minor; 1B Freddie Freeman; RP Craig Kimbrel

MVP Candidate: RF Jason Heyward

Cy Young Candidate: RP Craig Kimbrel

ROY Candidate: 2B Tommy La Stella

Key Additions: SP Ervin Santana; C/OF Ryan Doumit; RP Luis Vasquez; SP Gavin Floyd

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

Possible rotation: Minor; Santana; Teheran; Beachy; Wood

Games against Red Sox in 2014: May 28-29; May 26-27

Philadelphia Phillies3. Philadelphia – Manager Ryne Sandberg (2nd year)

 Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws the ball to first base in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. If you listen to closer Jonathan Papelbon there’s a leadership issue in the clubhouse in Philly and no true leader has been identified.  With the signing of Roberto Hernandez (nee Fausto Carmona) I’m not sure they can identify the players. The revolving outfield continues this year, the starting pitching is older and not as deep as it once was and 3/4 of the infield is suddenly old.  New manager Ryne Sandberg who took over last August needs to make an impression and give this team an identity besides old and whiney. Luckily their top two prospects are pitchers and both are in Triple A and could make some impact this year.

Home Field: Citizens Bank Park; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 2004; Capacity: 43,651

2013 Attendance: 3,012,403 (4th in NL)

Key Players: SS Jimmy Rollins; 2B Chase Utley; 1B Ryan Howard; SP Cliff Lee; SP Cole Hamels

MVP Candidate: 1B Ryan Howard

Cy Young Candidate: SP Cliff Lee

ROY Candidate: P Jesse Biddle

Key Additions: Mgr. Ryne Sandberg; SP A.J. Burnett; OF Marlon Byrd; SP Roberto Hernandez; C Wil Nieves; RP Brad Lincoln; IF Reid Brignac; OF Bobby Abreu; IF Ronny Cedeno

Possible lineup: Revere CF; Rollins SS; Utley 2B; Howard 1B; Ruiz C; Brown LF; Byrd RF; Asche 3B

Possible rotation: Lee; Hamels*; Burnett; Kendrick; Gonzalez

* Hamels will start season on DL look for Roberto Hernandez to fill the slot until his return.

Games against Red Sox in 2014: None

Miami Marlins4. Miami – Manager Mike Redmond (2nd year)

 Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins connects for a double during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park on June 14, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The one thing you can say about the Marlins is change is ever present. In come FA’s C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 3B Casey McGehee, 2B Rafael Furcal and 1B Garrett Jones. Among the players moved out were 1B/LF Logan Morrison to Seattle and CF Justin Ruggiano to Chicago (NL).  With Furcal and SS Adeiny Hechavarria the middle infield is solid defensively, outfield is pretty good, starting pitching is extremely young and they hope Salty can add some leadership and the championship pedigree from Boston.

Home Field: Marlins Park; Playing Surface: natural grass/retractable roof; Opened: 2012; Capacity: 36,742

2013 Attendance: 1,586,322 (15th in NL)

Key Players: RF Giancarlo Stanton; SP Jose Fernandez; C Jarrod Saltalamacchia; LF Christian Yelich; SS Adeiny Hecchavarria

MVP Candidate: RF Giancarlo Stanton

Cy Young Candidate: P Jose Fernandez

ROY Candidate: OF Jake Merisnick

Key Additions: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia; RP Carlos Marmol; 2B Rafael Furcal; 1B Garrett Jones; 3B Casey McGehee; RP Carter Capps; IF/OF Jeff Baker

Possible lineup: Furcal 2B; Yelich LF; Stanton RF; Jones 1B; Saltalamacchia C; McGehee 3B; Ozuna CF; Hechavarria SS

Possible rotation: Fernandez, Turner, Eovaldi, Alvarez; Koehler

Games against Red Sox in 2014: None

New York Mets5. New York – Manager: Terry Collins (4th year/ 10th overall)

David Wright #5 of the New York Mets drivse in a run with a single against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 20, 2013 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.I’m not sure what these guys are doing.  They signed FA’s LF Curtis Granderson, SP Bartolo Colon and RF Chris Young to go with 3B David Wright.  They lost their best starter Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery in October and this squad just underwhelms me.  They have their top two prospects targeted for break out years in C Travis d’Arnaud and RP Zack Wheeler but after that the next best prospect for the franchise is in AA.  This team is a basement dweller again and is ripe to be blown up and soon.

Home Field: Citi Field; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 2009; Capacity: 41,922

2013 Attendance: 2,135,657 (13th in NL)

Key Players: 3B David Wright; LF Curtis Granderson; SP Bartolo Colon; SP Zack Wheeler

MVP Candidate: 3B David Wright

Cy Young Candidate: SP Bartolo Colon

ROY Candidate: SP Zach Wheeler

Key Additions: LF Curtis Granderson; SP Bartolo Colon; RF Chris Young; OF Eric Young Jr.; SP John Lannan; C Taylor Teagarden; RP Kyle Farnsworth

Possible lineup: C. Young RF; Murphy 2B; Granderson LF; Wright 3B; Davis 1B; d’Arnaud C; E. Young CF; Tejada SS

Possible rotation: Colon, Neise, Gee; Wheeler; Lannan

Games against Red Sox in 2014: None

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

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