Why hello there. This article will look at the position battles in each division. Today’s topic, for the rare reader that ignores the title, is the NL East. By the way, I’m all in on non-Marlins pitchers in the NL East. Do any of those lineups look devastating? Not really. And you’ll probably get a win each time they face the Marlins. Anyway, here’s some of the position battles to keep an eye on in the NL East:
- Catcher: Gerald Laird will be the primary catcher until Brian McCann returns from his rehab. This is a duel in the sense of McCann vs. McCann to determine how many at bats Laird will receive. I would only look to own Laird in the deepest of leagues. He should provide mediocre numbers, but sometimes you need a guy to shoulder the load.
- Third Baseman: Juan Francisco vs. Chris Johnson. Johnson came to the Braves in the Upton trade, but seems to lack upside and has below average defense. On Fredi Gonzalez’s other hand, Francisco has tremendous power potential and is a competent fielder. Worst case scenario could be a platoon. I’d definitely take a chance on Francisco since he’s the better player and could win the job out of Spring Training.
- 5th starter: This was Julio Teheran vs. Randall Delgado and then Teheran bribed the Braves to trade away his competition.* Now his main competition is Sean Gilmartin and it seems like the only way Teheran will lose the spot is if he completely bombs in Spring Training. Although things will get interesting when Brandon Beachy returns in the summer…
(*may or may not be true)
- NEARLY EVERY SPOT: Or not. I was surprised to find that they actually have nearly all of their spots locked down, although center field may be wide open. It was Justin Ruggiano’s job, but he’s had back problems recently. If this continues, it could come down to Gorkys Hernandez or Juan Pierre (talk about exciting!). If it truly comes down to that, I hope they give one of their stud prospects (Jake Marisnick or Christian Yelich) a shot.
- Right Field: Mike Stanton vs. Giancarlo Stanton. Seriously though, I saw that Stanton got hit in the head with a 95 mph fastball. The baseball gods better keep him healthy. Let’s all hold our collective breath… ok that’s enough.
- Outfield: Raise your hand if you can name the Mets outfielders. Ok, now lower your hand if you are a Mets fan. That’s what I thought. My understanding is that Lucas Duda has left field locked down, but the other spots could include Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, Mike Baxter (sadly not Baxter Stockman), Marlon Byrd and who knows who else. If those guys all get stuck in a platoon, then I’d prefer Baxter and Nieuwenhuis because they could play against righties. Still, I’m likely staying away from these guys in shallow leagues since their value may be limited. Mets fans: who do you see getting the most playing time?
- Outfield: The Phillies may have an even more confusing outfield than the Mets. Delmon Young looks like he may miss the start of the season, so let’s count him out for now. My guess is that Ben Revere is a sure thing in center field, but I have less faith in Laynce Nix and Domonic Brown holding down the other outfield spots. Both John Mayberry Jr. and Darin Ruf could challenge for playing time, leaving owners of the aforementioned players frustrated. I’d take a chance on Brown with the hope he gets a chance and runs with it.
- Catcher: Kurt Suzuki vs. Wilson Ramos. I expect Suzuki to open with the bulk of playing time, with the Nationals easing Ramos into action. However, as the season progresses, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this turn into more of a split playing time situation. In deep leagues, I’d take Suzuki before Ramos. I don’t think either has much value in shallow leagues.
- Closer: Rafael Soriano vs. Drew Storen vs. Tyler Clippard. Soriano may not be the most deserving for the job, but I’d bet that the Nationals give him the closer job and a long leash, given his contract. That’s all I have to say about that.