1. New York Mets (TV on the Radio) — All the ingredients are there for an awesome season and line of work, but can they put it all together and avoid the pitfalls — and another classic repeat of last year’s collapse? Johan Santana helps. In a division where most teams roll about two deep with decent starters, the Mets now have four — Johan, Pedro, John Maine, and Oliver Perez. Add El Duque probably throwing third and it’s the best rotation in the division on paper. Whether the old outfield holds up and Carlos Delgado hits again has yet to be seen, but the Mets really ought to win this division.
2. Atlanta Braves (Cat Power) — I think the Braves can make it tough. Yes, Andruw Jones left and so did Edgar Renteria via trade, but there’s still Chipper Jones, Mark Teixiera, and Brian McCann to hit ’em hard. Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson have a good shot to hit well at the top of the order. Questions about the bullpen and whether Mark Kotsay can still hit effectively are there. They could be spectacular or flame out.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (Burning Brides) — This Philly team has defined streaky the past couple of years, and they got streaky enough at the right time to take advantage of a Mets collapse. They really haven’t dealt with the third base hole and lost Aaron Rowand to free agency (not huge, but he was good for a needed hit.) Any line-up with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard is no joke. Concerns are the starting pitching outside of Cole Hamels and Brett Myers, and whether Brad Lidge can ever close again once he gets back from injury.
4. Washington Nationals (Tuscadero) — There’s going to be a sort of simple joy about this D.C. team for a while with a new stadium, plus, the uncertainty of having some serious castoffs like Elijah Dukes brought in to play ball. I couldn’t tell you who’s pitching for these guys unless his name is Chad Cordero, and he’s the closer. I’m still guessing they’re heading forwards, so they’ll eke out a 4th place finish.
5. Florida Marlins (Marilyn Manson) — Much like Manson only does one thing well in the world of rock, the Marlins are really only a serious offensive wonder when their hitters are clicking. They’re not a very good defensive team and have no pitchers really worth talking about or picking up for a fantasy team, and Hanley Ramirez may not be enough to keep them away from the cellar.