NL East Links: Marlins, Amaro, Betemit

The Nationals' acquisitions of Doug Fister, Nate McLouth and Jerry Blevins may be enough to make them the NL East favorites for 2014, MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko opines.  Kolko feels the Marlins and Mets are still rebuilding, the Phillies lack depth and the Braves have been weakened by the losses of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, opening the door for Washington reclaim the NL East crown after their disappointing 2013 campaign.

Here's some more from around the division…

  • The Marlins are still looking for a veteran reliever to add experience to their bullpen, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes.
  • Ruben Amaro Jr. sees a lot of risk in the free agent pitching market, the Phillies GM told reporters (including Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com). "With the way the market is set up right now, I’m not real comfortable with going the extra mile for some of the guys that are still out there still that may improve us a little bit, but in the long run may be detrimental to us," he said.  Amaro's statement likely includes top pitchers such as Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ervin Santana.
  • The Braves and Indians have interest in Wilson Betemit, CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff reports (Twitter link).  The Marlins were also linked to Betemit earlier this week but their signing of Casey McGehee probably ended that interest.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post


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54 Comments on "NL East Links: Marlins, Amaro, Betemit"


David
1 year 8 months ago

The Nationals may well be the favorites in the NL East, but as a Nationals fan, I won’t exactly be making my World Series plans. I learned my lesson last season. I prefer to go with a “cautiously optimistic” approach this year. The Braves are a good team and while the Mets/Marlins aren’t going to contend, they’re going to be harder to beat than they were last year.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

My expectations are tempered, but I feel much better about this year’s team than last year’s. There’s no reclamation project slotted for the 4th spot in the rotation, the lefty out of the pen isn’t Zach Duke, and the bench is improved.

Matt Talbert
1 year 8 months ago

The Marlins will be much improved IMO, The Mets (while the moves they made have helped I think will finish on bottom). I don’t know man Marlins, Braves, and Nats are all looking very solid the NL East is up for grabs between these three. The Mets pitching will ultimately let them down over the course of the season. Harvey healthy I might be willing to say wait not so fast. Lest you forget — Florida has a pretty good pitching staff – starting and pen (can really match up with anyone), It just depends if McGahee can stay healthy and productive and how well Marisnick and Yelich improve to give Stanton some protection.

jury_rigger
1 year 8 months ago

That’s what they said last season too. Go Braves!

Daniel1216
1 year 8 months ago

If I were a braves fan I wouldn’t be very comfortable at least last year they made additions to the team.

Defiancy
1 year 8 months ago

They made additions this year too. Plus they won 96 games last year, maybe they don’t do that again but they’re still a 90+ win team.

Daniel1216
1 year 8 months ago

Don’t get me wrong they’re still a great team but losing Hudson and McCann will hurt them, Johnson probably won’t be as good but still solid, They weren’t able to get rid of uggla, they’re bullpen can’t possibly be as good as they were last year but at the same time Upton can’t be as bad as last year. McCann and Hudson were great veteran presences to have especially for such a young team. I’m not saying they won’t contend it’s just that you can’t count on so many things working out.

Defiancy
1 year 8 months ago

Losing Hudson will be a non-factor. He’s a good pitcher and he will get you value but Floyd will replace his production pretty well, and if not then they have an abundance of pitching waiting in the wings.

And while I can see Johnson being worse, if Uggla isn’t traded, I doubt he makes it as a 2nd baseman to far into the season. La Stella will get every chance to prove he is ready for an MLB job.

And their bullpen has been the best in MLB the last three years or so in a row and this past year it was without two of their primary setup guys (who will be back this year). There bullpen should be just as good.

McCann hurts, but he contributed 2.7 wins last year so it won’t be to bad. I expect them to win 93 games.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

You expect Kimbrel, Avilan, and Carpenter to post a combined 1.50 ERA in around 200 innings next year too?

Defiancy
1 year 8 months ago

Did I say that? Even if Carpenter and Avilian don’t they have Venters and probably O’Flaherty coming back. Nothing has changed about their bullen and it should still be extremely solid if not the best in baseball, just like it has been the past few years.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

So…you’re expecting a guy who hasn’t pitched since 2012 and a dude who is coming off TJ to be fantastic despite relievers being the most mercurial players in MLB?

Defiancy
1 year 8 months ago

“To be fantastic” Why does he have to be fantastic? He can be “good” and the Braves will be fine. Also both guys had TJ surgery. You’re acting like the Braves bullpen is going to fall apart but you’ve given no evidence as to why that would be.

Relievers may be volatile in general, and perhaps it’s simply an outlier, but Atlanta has had a pretty good BP for several years now, I think that’s more that just coincidence. BP arms are one of the deepest parts of their farm system.

aRunning_Maniac
1 year 8 months ago

Expecting solid numbers from guys that have produced at an elite level in the past isn’t much of a leap. He’s not saying the bullpen will be as good as it was last year, he’s saying it’s going to continue being one of the Braves’ major strengths.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

Uh, he literally typed “There bullpen should be just as good.”

aRunning_Maniac
1 year 8 months ago

In terms of depth, it is. But you’re the one that’s citing innings pitched and ERA. Numbers are obviously going to fluctuate. The bullpen will likely not put up the same numbers as they did last year, but that doesn’t make the pen any less good.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t think he made the post in regards to depth but ignoring that, depending on how the numbers fluctuate they could indeed be less good than last year. But again, relievers are mercurial. It’s entirely possible Avilan and Carpenter are about as good as last year while at the same time Venters returns to form and O’Flaherty bounces back from his injury. I feel like that bullpen would be historic and doubt it happens, but I’m jealous of the Braves pen all the same.

I hate Craig Kimbrel, but damn if he isn’t lights out. EDIT: Except for that game where Kimbrel came on and walked a bunch of dudes and Simmons let a ball go through his legs. That was seriously one of the only highlights of the season for me and it was only because of how bitter I was at that point.

Defiancy
1 year 8 months ago

How do you know what I made the post in regards to? I think I made my points plenty clear.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

Well, your first two paragraphs were talking about production. Then your third said the Braves had had the best bullpen the last three years, and normally when people refer to something as “the best” they aren’t referring to depth (example, I haven’t heard anyone say the Yankees have the best outfield in MLB despite their exorbitant depth). So, using reading comprehension and context clues and the like, I assumed you were referring to them being the best because, well you know, you think they’re the best because of stats and stuff…

If I was mistaken I apologize.

Defiancy
1 year 8 months ago

I called out two of their injured pitchers in the third paragraph, two guys who will now be added to all the guys they still have from last year. If that isn’t talking about depth, I don’t know what is. That’s not to mention what I wrote to you an hour ago expounding on the depth part even more. But I believe because of their depth and past performance that they will be excellent and among, if not the best BP in baseball.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

You brought up bullpen depth in your second response to me. Nothing in your first post suggested you were talking about depth. Geez man, even in your second post you were intimating that even if Carpenter and Avilan don’t produce the way they did last year that the addition of O’Flaherty and Venters will make up for the drop in production with *their* production.

But this is silly. Tell yourself I’m being obtuse if you feel like it.

rundmc1981
1 year 8 months ago

Great thing is, we don’t need them to pitch that well to win games. We all know that Kimbrel can’t put up those gaudy numbers back-to-back? Why can’t Avilan/Carpenter be just as dominating as they were last year? Walden could do a lot more. And we always seem to find someone whether it be on the farm or being released to do patchwork. We certainly have enough talented arms that whoever doesn’t make the rotation (Hale, LHP Wood, Floyd, Beachy, JR Graham, Mauricio Cabrera, etc.) will make the bullpen look great through long relief.

rundmc1981
1 year 8 months ago

Still almost 2 months until players report and almost 4 until the season starts…there’s still time to trade Uggla, or release him. And a strong spring by La Stella to top his strong AFL showing will make that decision a lot easier, especially if Pastornicky/Pena look healthy. The biggest thing ATL will miss from Hudson/McCann is leadership. They had great years but no longer in the NL. ATL got to 96 wins and that was having minimal production from Uggla/Upton, McCann/Hudson missing a combined 5 months, Heyward being hit in the face (broke jaw), and 2 of the main pieces of the bullpen (O’Flaherty, Venters) being lost for TJ. We get Beachy back, the youngins actually have playoff experience, and Fredi has FINALLY figured out a lineup that can work.

Leonard Washington
1 year 8 months ago

Amaro doesn’t see the old over the hill droids he is looking for. One of these younger productive pitchers could be a real risk to the type of organization he is trying to build. His off season pretty much ended when Doc hung it up.

(Amaro rings Doc’s doorbell with a big contract extension behind his back)

Doc: Oh hey Amaro how are things???? You know I retired right????

Amaro: (Shocked) Yeaa……I just wanted to wish you well in all your future in devours.

Doc: Oh well thanks you as well…….whats that large envelope behind your back????

Amaro: (loses the ability to control the loudness of his voice)………………NOTHING I WAS UH UH I WAS PASSING OUT CHRISTMAS CARDS BYE!!!!!

(Amaro runs to his car and drives away in tears)

Zak A
1 year 8 months ago

Merry Cliffmas… you’ve been traded.

Leonard Washington
1 year 8 months ago

I bet Cliff Lee is wishing he had taken the Yankees or Rangers offer right about now.

Zak A
1 year 8 months ago

Maybe Texas, for tax purposes.

Phillies_Aces35
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t see any young and productive pitchers on the free agent market though.

Leonard Washington
1 year 8 months ago

Obviously this is part joke and part legitimate criticism. I said “younger” as in being more youthful a player than he is known to sign. Garza would be the best example as he is currently 29 years old and has a solid to above average career. I mean even Ubaldo would fit the idea. He has a body of dominant work in the NL and is only 29. The point is these are all better moves than the ones Amaro has pulled in the past like giving a 31 year old closer (Paps) an ungodly amount of money, so him being super skeptical is at least a little comical.

Phillies_Aces35
1 year 8 months ago

I actually think they’d all be just as bad if not worse. All of them have warts and at least two of them are looking for $90 million. Inconsistent, overpaid, and, injury prone players is what the 2012 and 2013 Phillies were all about.

Leonard Washington
1 year 8 months ago

Please understand I do agree with both of you on this point. I do see some upside at the right price but otherwise I wouldn’t want my team into them for a ton of money either. I am skeptical of them too. I just think its funny coming from RAJ. He is clearly very poor at his job so right or wrong I think its humorous to rip on his attempts at reason. its like if Mike Tyson was a harsh judge of other peoples tattoos. Right or wrong you gotta laugh that he is in a position to judge.

Zak A
1 year 8 months ago

Oh RAJ you finally realize you’ve messed up this team and can’t buy a player to fix it? Yankee’s Old Timer’s game will be an inter-league match vs the Phils this year…

GothamBats
1 year 8 months ago

Even had the Braves hold on to McCann and Hudson, the pundits were probably going to pick the Nationals regardless. Still, it should be an interesting race, possibly more so than last year when the Nats didn’t show up at all.

Phillyfan425
1 year 8 months ago

I’m not saying RAJ is making amazing moves, but I’d much rather him be making these moves (Roberto Hernandez for $5 M; Marlon Byrd for 2 years, $16 M) than going after the “big fish” in the FA pool this year ($15+ M a season on Garza/Ubaldo/Santana; or $50+ M over 3-4 years on Nelson Cruz/Granderson).

Phillies_Aces35
1 year 8 months ago

They could have also (potentially) lost 2 draft picks and the slot money that would have come with them.

aRunning_Maniac
1 year 8 months ago

“The Braves have been weakened by the losses of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson.”

I honestly don’t buy it. Both Hudson and McCann were solid veterans, but their production levels at this point in their careers are hardly irreplaceable.

Phillies_Aces35
1 year 8 months ago

Not to excuse his last two off seasons, but I think Ruben had a good off season. This team wasn’t one major free agent away from contention so they plugged their holes with cheap (in this market) veteran players. If they catch fire they could contend for a second Wild Card but realizing that’s a long shot he hasn’t signed another unmovable contract to add to the collection.

In the process he’s also made two solid acquisitions in my mind: Roberto Hernandez and Brad Lincoln. Both low risk moves with possible upside.

Phillyfan425
1 year 8 months ago

Phillies need health. It’s that simple. If Howard and Utley can stay healthy for the year, and Revere can bounce back from his broken ankle to perform at the level he was (a .290 hitter who can run amok on the basepaths), then I think their offense will be better than expected. Of course, if one of those 3 misses any significant time, they’ll take a huge hit and probably have the same thing happen that happened the past 2 years. Not saying it’s the smartest course of action to bank on health, but it’s much smarter than signing slightly above average players to big contracts.

phillies1102
1 year 8 months ago

If Howard or Utley gets hurt, the season is toast, but if Revere gets hurt, we could at least stay above water, with Cesar Hernandez providing close to replaceable value in Revere’s absence. Lets not forget Rolllins and Chooch, who also have had troubles staying healthy. The talent is there, but the health is a thin line.

Phillyfan425
1 year 8 months ago

I’m not big on Hernandez in CF. He’s as bad as (if not worse) than Rev defensively (-3.3 UZR in 190 innings in CF last year for Cesar, compared to -2.3 UZR in 700 innings for Rev). And while he hits for an average (in the minors), he’s not as good on the base paths as Rev (Fangraphs baserunning had Cesar at -1.9 while Rev was listed at 2.5). I think it’d be a more significant dropoff than we’d hope. Chooch (in my mind) is only being banked on for 115 games (which is about his average the last 3 years). That’s why they signed an upgrade at backup in Nieves. So they didn’t have to rely on an occasional HR and nothing else when Chooch is out for 3 weeks. And Rollins hasn’t had trouble staying healthy. He had 1 year where he missed time 3 years ago, but since then, he’s played in 95% of the team’s games.

raltongo
1 year 8 months ago

Good Points, although Hernanez really hasn’t gotten much of a chance to prove himself in The Show. I hope Gywnn Jr has a decent spring so he can make the job as the 4th outfielder/regular lefty while Caesar can focus back to a role as backup IF. Moving Hernanez around the diamond seems to indicate a strong faith in his potential MLB-level OBP, so I would like to see him get some more at bats and see how he develops

Matt Mccarron
1 year 8 months ago

Tony Gywnn could also turn into a nice piece down the stretch. He has very appealing speed and a great glove. Could and should get a shot at Mayberry’s spot. Ruf can handle the corners/1B and Gywnn can take on CF/Pinchrunner while Ruf also takes Mayberry’s pinch hitter job.

Phillyfan425
1 year 8 months ago

Saying Ruf can handle the corners is a stretch (-1.1 UZR in LF and -6.5 UZR in RF last year – compared to JMJ’s 0.4 in LF and 0.1 in RF). But that’s moot. The rest of your statement is dead on. IMO, the 4th or 5th OFer is your great defensive guy. Gwynn fits that build much better than JMJ.

Matt Mccarron
1 year 8 months ago

I can’t see the Phillies sending Ruf back to AAA, not after he finished 3rd on the team in HRs in half the ABs of everyone else. Only reason to go to a Phils game in the 2nd half was Ruf. I think he can handle the corners for 30 games a year. I honestly can’t see howard playing 130-140 games after the last 2 seasons.

lt michaels
1 year 8 months ago

^^Meh^^. Phillies needed to replace Halladay, upgrade CF, upgrade,RF, improve the bullpen (Adams+papelbon huge ??? marks) improve the bench .
Hernandez is certainly no replacement for Halladay. You still have a CF who cant hit the ball to the outfield and can’t throw the ball into the infield. I would hardly chacterize Amaros offseason as “Good”. Especially considering the Phillies have a $5 B TV deal waiting to be signed.
The only hope I see is that Sandberg and Bowa can somehow turn this thing around. The country club atmosphere being removed can only help start the rejuvenation process.

phillies1102
1 year 8 months ago

At first I would have liked to take a chance on an injury returning guy, similar to Gavin Floyd or Johan Santana. But Floyd’s paycheck shows why we probably never bothered.

Still, James McDonald and Tommy Hanson are fairly attractive buy low options, worth scouting at least.

Phillyfan425
1 year 8 months ago

They might have already taken their guy that they are hoping to get something out of practically nothing (although, he’s not coming back from an injury). Sean O’Sullivan (who they just invited to spring training – in the same group as Gwynn Jr, Marson, and Dave Sappelt). Personally, the other 2 pitchers I would keep an eye on are Tommy Hanson (bleh, Atlanta, but still young enough to look at) and Jeff Niemann (a big guy from Tampa, with decent control – 2.93 career BB/9 rate – and relies more on ground balls).

phillies1102
1 year 8 months ago

I would personally love to take a Atlanta washout and make him a Philly star, just to stick it to them, even if it probably won’t happen. Niemann was a consideration, but he gets injured too much to give guaranteed money to. McDonald has a high ceilng, he just needs a new staircase to get there, and maybe the Philly atmosphere is the one he needs. IT won’t happne regardless, but it would be nice.

Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog
1 year 8 months ago

Doug Fister definitely makes the Nats better, but you’re telling me the addition of Nate McLouth and Jerry Blevins was what they were lacking last year?

David
1 year 8 months ago

Those guys specifically, no. But the Nationals bench was THE absolute worst in all of baseball. Tyler Moore had an OPS+ of 64, Steve Lombardozzi 69, Kurt Suzuki 64, Roger Bernadina 43, Chad Tracy 55. Those guys got a whopping 1,236 ABs. That’s significant. As for Blevins, he’s better than what they had so it’s improvement, but a lefty in the pen wasn’t the difference between making it and not.

Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog
1 year 8 months ago

I get all that and I think these are all good acquisition they made. I just don’t see how they now consider the Nats the “favorites” in the division. It’s not as if they were a win or two away from winning the division or anything. Granted I’m a bit biased toward Atlanta, but I’m not sure how they consider the loss of Hudson such a game-changer. They didn’t have him most of the season and won the division quite handily. McCann is a big loss of course, but I hardly see how losing McCann while the Nats add these three players somehow shifts the balance of two teams that were TEN games apart last year.

Natsfan89
1 year 8 months ago

Their bad bench and lack of a consistent lefty were certainly what they were lacking last year. That and having the starters actually hit at the same time. None of the position players really had bad years (LaRoche excluded), just really really poor timing.

Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog
1 year 8 months ago

They certainly had those issues last year, but are we to just assume that they are fixed now? To the point that they are the “favorites” in the NL East? If we are throwing out underperforming players performances and assuming they will be back on track next year, I submit to you Dan Uggla and BJ Upton. The article also uses Tim Hudson as an example of why the Braves will be worse, without acknowledging that Atlanta barely even HAD Hudson last year when they won 96 wins.

NYBravosFan10
1 year 8 months ago

It’s baseball everyone, who knows what’s going to happen? That’s the beautiful thing about this sport. What happens on paper doesn’t always happen in real life. It’s all about coming together as a team and playing well together. These are all talented professional athletes and can beat any team, any time and anywhere. Not like football when playing the Seahawks at their home is pretty much a guaranteed loss. Baseball isn’t like that and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Fat, Ugly Inner-City Sweathog
1 year 8 months ago

Dan Kolko is making quite the leap here. The Nats are certainly improved on paper and the Braves are hurt by the loss of McCann, but he fails to mention that “the loss of Tim Hudson” happened early in the year and Atlanta managed to win 96 wins without him at all. You’re not going to convince me that the Nats are the odds-on favorite just because they added Fister, McLouth, and Blevins. They were TEN games behind Atlanta last year (who did it without Hudson, Beachy, Uggla, or BJ Upton contributing in the least). The Nats are surely improved and a likely playoff contender, but to call them the “favorites” in the NL just because of those three additions seems like a bit of a stretch