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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:

Atlanta Braves

  • 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)

Miami Marlins

  • 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.

New York Mets

  • 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?

Philadelphia Phillies

  • 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.

Washington Nationals

  • 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.

From Around The Web

  1. attgig says:
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    mets fan here… from early reports, seems like Cowgill is impressing managers on his hustle and heads up baserunning….

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @attgig: Thanks, good to hear. Seems like Cowgill has a decent amount of upside, given his minor league numbers.

  2. attgig says:
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    oh, and I would add Mets closer as another battle to watch. Francisco is a slight favorite to start off as closer, but he’s been hurt, so Collins said Parnell would be next in line, but a lotta folks also seem to like Lyon for that role.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @attgig: Thanks, very helpful. I’ll admit that Lyon didn’t come to my mind as a possibility, but that would make sense. Seems like this will be more of a wait and see situation…

  3. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:
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    Basically, as a life-long fan of the Metropolitans, going back to Jay Hook winning their first game in 1962, I would rather take the ’62 Mets outfield then the current atrocity the Wilponzi’s have put together. You might want to take a shot at Cowgill in a deep draft, and Duda has an occasional power run, and has some use as a streamer. As for the closers, no one including the Mets management has a clue. Frank-Frank will be given a shot when he gets healthy, except if Parnell surprises us all and settles down to be an adequate closer. Lyons will get the job if all else fails. Remember, the Mets had the second worst bullpen in baseball last season, and that hasn’t really changed.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Paulie Allnuts: Yeah, that’s rough. Hopefully – for your sanity – the bullpen improves. Late-inning losses are the worst.

  4. OaktownSteve says:
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    There’s no battle for the Nats closer job. Already announced at signing.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @OaktownSteve: I could’ve sworn that Rizzo said Storen will still close some games…

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @OaktownSteve: Fair enough. Here’s the part that lingered in my mind:

          At the same time, Rizzo seemed to make it clear he intends to keep both Storen and Tyler Clippard and give manager Davey Johnson as many quality relievers as possible to pitch the late innings of close games. Storen, who dominated down the stretch last season until his blown save in Game 5 of the NLDS, will likely serve as Johnson’s “B” closer.

          “Drew Storen is a closer,” Rizzo said. “He’s going to be a closer. He’s got closer stuff. He’s got a closer mentality. By no means the signing of Rafael Soriano was based on one inning and one game at the end of the season.”

          http://www.csnwashington.com/baseball-washington-nationals/talk/soriano-will-close-storen-will-get-chances

          • OaktownSteve says:
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            @Tom Jacks:

            Yeah, I see what you’re saying. I just read that as Rizzo giving his boy a vote of confidence and belief in his ability to close, but still being very clear that Soriano is the closer for the Nats this year. Doesn’t seem to be any dispute about that. Davey has said the same. Storen will get chances where Soriano has gone back to back nights or if he gets hurt but that’s about it.

            • Tom Jacks

              Tom Jacks says:
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              @OaktownSteve: Yeah, I agree that it’s Soriano’s job to lose, and it would take a lot for him to lose it.

  5. BrendanT says:
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    I see Jordany Valdespin getting some at bats in the mets outfield.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @BrendanT: Yeah, I could see him as a utility player getting some at bats in both the infield and outfield.

    • Wallpaper Paterson says:
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      @BrendanT: Yeah, he will get some. I don’t suspect he will last long though. He doesn’t play with enough discipline and isn’t good enough to be a lazy jerk. I can see Valdespin going to Lastings Mill edge route.

      I think the opening day OF starters will be Duda and two other Mets OFs. That’s about as good as I can call it right now.

      I think Parnell will be the closer to start the season. If the line for Francisco saves is 15, I would take the under.

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @Wallpaper Paterson: The Milledge route? So he’ll get cast off to Japan and become a star?

        • Wallpaper Paterson says:
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          @Tom Jacks: Yes, it is a real possibility in my opinion. Valdespin reminds me of Milledge and Timo Perez. All were sloppy and raw. Milledge and Perez did not last long. I liked the first two when they were with the Mets and I like Valdespin. They all carry the same trait of being undisciplined.

          • Tom Jacks

            Tom Jacks says:
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            @Wallpaper Paterson: That undisciplined trait is very unfortunate. It’s a waste of talent.

            • Wallpaper Paterson says:
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              @Tom Jacks: Yeah. I liked Perez and Milledge at first, but soured on them eventually due to not caring enough. Unfortunately, I think Valdespin’s another one of these guys.

              This makes me think of Elijah Dukes. He wasted a lot of talent by being a complete turd.

    • MrMojoRisin says:
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      @BrendanT: Valdespin is working in the infield almost exclusively this spring. That’s his route to the bigs this year. If he can handle 2B & SS adequately, he’ll make the team and be an emergency outfielder.
      It’s early but if opening day was tomorrow it would be Duda in LF, Niewenhuis/Cowgill in CF, and Baxter & either Byrd or Andrew Brown in RF. (And Parnell would be the closer, with a short leash)

  6. stumanji says:
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    Not related to the post, but value your opinion here, Tom Jacks:
    I was offered $3 Profar for my $2 Headley in my 5 keeper league (planning to keep Headley, $3 Rizzo, $3 Medlen, $4 Aaron Hill, and $18 BJ Upton probably). Obviously Headley established himself last year and is great value, but is Profar special enough to give him up? Can keep forever at 120% of previous year’s draft price, so both of these guys would potentially to be on my team for a long time.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @stumanji: I’d lean towards taking the deal because: 1) I think good MI are much more difficult to find than 3B (I can think of a lot of lesser 3Bs that are still worth playing), 2) I don’t have faith in Headley coming close to last year’s numbers, even with the walls moving in, 3) I believe in Profar, 4) I prefer younger players in a keep forever format, and 5) If my math is right, you could have Profar for the next decade for under $20 annually, which would be fantastic.

      One other factor to consider is that it would obviously hurt your chances of contention this year. If you’re ok with that, I say go for it.

      • stumanji says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Thanks. I also am leaning towards taking Profar. I think 3B is pretty deep, too, so I may not get the value of a $2 Headley but I can def replace his numbers if I pay for them.

        Also concerning my keepers, I was offered Adam Jones ($20, owner said he’s not keeping him) for Rizzo $3 or Medlen $3. I’d prob part with Medlen and then could either still keep BJ Upton ($18) or more likely Latos ($13), so my keeps would look like Profar $3, Rizzo $3, Aaron Hill $4, Latos $13, Adam Jones $20.

        TL;DR- For next year and the future, would you rather have A) Medlen $3 + BJ Upton $18 for $21 (Pacman & Latos would be available to bid on) or B) Latos $13 +Jones $20 for $33 (Upton would be available)?

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @stumanji: It’s close, but I wouldn’t make the deal. I’m thinking that Medlen/Upton is, at most, only slightly worse than Latos/Jones and the dollar difference makes up for any difference in production. The clincher is that Jones/Latos will be available in the draft.

          • stumanji says:
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            @Tom Jacks: Thanks, Tom. Looking forward to all your posts this season.

            • Tom Jacks

              Tom Jacks says:
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              @stumanji: Thanks for reading! I appreciate it.

          • Hats for Bats says:
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            @Tom Jacks: Someone posted on here an article about Medlen from a Braves blog that charted Medlen’s performance in key situations vs. other top tier pitchers and he stacked up to most aces. This guy could breakout even huger. I definitely bumped Medlen up a few spots on my personal rankings after reading it. It talked about how Medlen stayed closer to the zone while working the corners and was really able to locate on the corners.

            • Tom Jacks

              Tom Jacks says:
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              @Hats for Bats: Locating on the corners is definitely a good sign. I’m very torn on him, but tend to think of him as a #2 fantasy SP, with a best case of #1 and worst case of #3.

  7. Chris says:
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    I think Alfredo Silverio is a sleeper to land the LF job in MIA. He was a rising prospect with LAD, before missing all 2012 due to a car accident. Keep an eye on him in ST.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Chris: Thanks! He wasn’t on my radar.

  8. TheRealTaz says:
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    Round of applause for Baxter Stockman.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @TheRealTaz: Thanks!

  9. Sideshow says:
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    No doubt IMO Cowgil has best potential of Mets OF fantasy wise & probably reality. Kirk N 2nd.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Sideshow: I’d like to see him given a shot. What do you think his upside is?

  10. Hats for Bats says:
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    Niewenhius seems to be a decent quasi-speedy CF that may be able to hit .300 if he cuts his Ks and becomes an everyday player. Just my two cents from watching him play.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Hats for Bats: The Ks are really the big question on him. If his strikeout rate continues to be over 30%, then it’s hard to see him being successful since his power isn’t elite. If he brings is closer to 25% or less, then I agree his batting average should go up and he may be a decent player.

  11. Peter says:
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    Back to the Nats’ closing questions, do you see Soriano as an injury risk (higher than the normal injury risk for any pitcher)?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Peter: Yes, an injury history for an older pitcher always worries me. Combine that with the seemingly high turnover of closers for whatever reason and I will probably stay away from drafting him because he will likely be drafted early among closers.

  12. Braves Fan says:
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    “Do any of those lineups look devastating? Not really.”

    Andrelton Simmons
    BJ Upton
    Jason Heyward
    Justin Upton
    Freddie Freeman
    Brian McCann
    Dan Uggla
    Juan Francisco
    Pitcher

    You are selling the Braves short. As NL lineups go, this one is first-class.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Braves Fan: You know, I hesitated when I wrote that because of the Braves, but then thought there were too many question marks to consider them elite. I still think they are above average, but am worried about Uggla and McCann. To a lesser extent, Justin Upton and Heyward have their question marks, while I am not a big believer in a Freeman breakout this year. That struck me as too much uncertainty to call them elite, but that definition is subjective.

  13. gbaked says:
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    There are a few players to watch out for on the Mets, near the VERY end of drafts.

    As mentioned above, Cowgill looks like he may get a solid shot. He is not gonna be a star, but could be a usefull 5th OFer in a deep league.

    ‘Spin and Duda could become useful fantasy players if they get hot.

    None of the rest are gonna be worth anything in fantasy. MAAAAYYYYYBBBBEEE Newennkfnsddsnfdsf or Baxter. But that depends on how playing time shakes out.

    As for closer… I am looking to grab Bobby P at teh end of my drafts and would avoid Franky Frank at all costs.

    BP is the only player that I would consider drafting (and only with one of my later picks). The rest are players to Flag and keep an eye on during April and prob only in deep leagues. Cowgill could be a nice last pick in the draft kind of player, if you are reaching (Also depending how playing time shakes out)

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @gbaked: Thanks for your two cents. I agree on Frank Frank – he really makes me nervous. The hitters feel like late round guys to me too.

  14. Peter says:
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    In a 16 team, mixed, 5×5, would you trade a $0 Soriano (FA) for a $5 Headley?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Peter: Absolutely.

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