Over the next four days, I’ll give a short preview of the other four NL East teams the Braves will deal with in their efforts to shock the world because they are totally not rebuilding this season. Let’s start with the team that makes me feel better about the Braves.
Additions: Jeff Francoeur, Kevin Slowey, Aaron Harang, Jordan Danks, Chad Billingsley,
Subtractions: Mike Adams, Kyle Kendrick, A.J. Burnett, Antonio Bastardo, Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd
Rock Solid Win-Loss Prediction: 68-94
The Phillies finally got the memo this offseason and began to dissolve their veteran team, trading away Rollins and Byrd while attempting to cash in their biggest trade chip, Cole Hamels. They would also love it if you’d consider acquiring Ryan Howard. He’ll eat fresh and they’ll pay you a large sum. Since the Braves are absolutely not rebuilding in 2015, the Phillies look like a good bet to finish last in the NL East. They still have Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley and Maikel Franco, who’s been optioned, could be a pretty good player, but with Cliff Lee on the mend, their rotation has reached such a level that Harang is scheduled to be their second starter next year. Ouch.
Philly is a like the Braves in one way, though. The trades have helped to rejuvenate a sliding minor league system and has the Phillies poised to be a rising team in the coming years. But 2015 looks lean. The rotation could have used Cliff Lee staying healthy. As is, they look to be relying on David Buchanan, Jerome Williams, and Slowey, who looks to have beat out Cuban Miguel Gonzalez. Their lineup should have a bit of pop, though missing Domonic Brown will certainly hurt. They probably won’t walk much and who knows how many games Utley will miss? I do like buying low on Billingsley. He could turn out to be a find.
Overall, this is a massively flawed team and one that looks worse by comparison to the Braves, who at least sport some good pitching and a solid and still young middle-of-the-lineup threat. One has to wonder if this might be Ruben Amaro Jr’s last season at the helm, though one had to wonder that last year, too. They should be better sooner now that they have acknowledged that their team was broken, but when Francoeur looks like a good bet to be in the outfield mix, it’s probably hurt to take solace in the future.