National League East Questions (And Answers)

by on February 26, 2010   4 Comments

With spring training now in full swing, I’ll address just a few questions about the National League East…

Will Jayson Werth shave his magnificent beard, or will he summon it’s powers to help earn a long term contract? Werth, coming off a career year in 2009, is due to become a free agent after the 2010 season.  With another year similar to the one he had last year, he could be looking at a contract similar to what Jason Bay earned this past off season.  Think something like 4 years/$60 million.  Can the Phillies afford that?  With Ryan Howard due for an extension after the 2011 season, many believe it’s one or the other.  The lanky righty, who looks like Grizzly Adams in Right Field with a cannon arm and a nice mixture of power and speed, or the slugging First Baseman who is just about a lock to smack 45 round trippers and drive in 140 runs but strikeout nearly 200 times?  Time will tell, but my money is on Howard getting the extension and Werth taking a walk, sadly.

Will David Wright find the power he lost in 2009? Wright, the 27 year old Third Baseman for the Mets experienced quite the power outage last year.  In 2008, Wright hit 33 homers, drove in 124 runs, and batted .307 with an OPS of .924.  In 2009, Wright’s numbers were down across the board, but most noticeably so in that “HR” column.  Last year, Wright only managed 10 dingers.  While some can be said about the Mets new, larger ballpark, that wasn’t the only reason.  Wright’s OPS dropped nearly 90 points from 2008, and he struck out 22 more times despite getting 91 fewer at bats.  While Wright should bounce back, given he doesn’t eat any more fastballs, most of his numbers should rebound, except homeruns.  While Wright should hit more than 10 in 2010, he won’t have another 30 homer season this year.

Who’s the best pitcher in the NL East? With no disrespect to the Braves and Marlins, the two top pitchers in the division are Johan Santana and newcomer Roy Halladay.  When Halladay was asked who the best pitcher in the division was, he simply said that while he’d never vote for himself, he named Santana, along with his own teammate Cole Hamels, and Josh Johnson.  When Santana was asked that same question, he simply answered “Santana.”  While many of the stats are very similar, one definitely stands out in favor of Doc.  In Santana’s 10 year career, he has thrown 9 complete games.  In Halladay’s 11 seasons (not counting his 14 inning season in 1998), Halladay has amassed 49 complete games, including 15 shutouts.  All while pitching in arguably the toughest division in baseball, the AL East.  While the past is certainly no indication on future success, the fact that Halladay has been able to do that while pitching in Yankee Stadium and Fenway, among others, certainly says something.

Author: Matt Pennington
Categories: Major League Baseball (MLB)
Tags: , , , , , , ,


  1. A lot of people dogged Wright for his down year in 2009, but I have a bit of a different perspective – you don’t have Reyes hitting in front of you and you don’t have Beltran or Delgado hitting behind you – there is a wonder they pitched to Wright at all last year, and he still hit over .300. When Beltran returns and Jason Bay inserted in the lineup, I expect Wright’s numbers to go up, however, the Mets are a team still caught in the funk of bad attitudes, and it starts from the top. Omar has to go even if it is regardless of his performance, it’s a change for change sake in the Big Apple. And a fresh start in team leadership is what they (desperately) need.

    As for Santana – time will tell if he can bounce back from his surgery, but his Cy Young Awards and past performance made him arguably the best pitcher of the past decade. His presence will help the Mets have a much better year, but I still see an underperforming, overpaid group of superstars who already seem eager to point the finger to explain how they screwed things up again this year.

    Werth’s beard makes me itch.

    Comment by Jason Wuerfel
    February 26, 2010 at 8:35 am

  2. I believe Santana can be one of the best pitchers in the game but he is still having trouble with his arm. When he was traded to New York he probably should have went to the Yankees (before CC and Burnett came over) but I had heard they (Yankees) were worried about his throwing motion and mechanics and that is why they did not make a move to acquire him. He was the best pitcher in the game at that time and was overpowering for the Twins. He ended up going to the Mets and can dominante in the NL he just needs to stay consistent which is hard to do if your arm is hurting you. I predict a third place finish for the Mets (second if they play up to their level), which should not happen. They spend so much money that they should be at the top of the NL. It is a wonder why they can not produce a winner. If everyone does produce then they can compete and if not it’s time for a fire sale of the team and time to start over.

    Keep Wright and let everyone else go!

    Comment by Brian LaRue
    February 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

  3. Wright changed his swing last year. There was a noticeable difference. I don’t know if that’s why his power numbers went down or what. He changed his swing and his power numbers went down, but his other numbers (OPS, AVG, etc) didn’t go up as you’d hope. He struck out more and walked less. You’re right, he didn’t have the protection in the lineup so that changed a bit. But there was still something different about his play last year.

    And as far as Santana goes, he is definitely one of the best or most dominant pitchers in the majors over the last 6 years. Of course I’m a little biased, given I despise the Mets, but I’ll take Halladay any day over Santana. Johan played in the AL Central and NL East while Halladay was putting up similar numbers facing a DH and playing in arguably the toughest division in baseball. And don’t discount the importance of the number of complete games Halladay puts up, saving his bullpen. Of course, hopefully that heavy workload and large number of innings he’s pitched in his career already don’t hurt him in the future. But I’ll take Doc over Santana any day. Don’t get me wrong, if Johan played for Philly, I’d love the guy, but regardless, Halladay is better, plain and simple.

    Comment by Matt Pennington
    February 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm

  4. Another reason Santana is so valuable for the Mets is to start and shut down all those Phillies lefties and turn around their switch guys – Rollins, Victorino, Howard, Utley, Ibanez – the reason the Yanks won the series was Damaso Marte’s dominance of those guys late in games (obviously not the only reason, but he was huge late in games).

    But I agree, Halladay > Santana, especially post-surgery. However, these next couple of years will end the argument forever. No one will be able to say that Halladay would be even more dominant if… 1. He was in the NL; 2. He had better run support; and 3. If he had a bullpen capable of closing out games for him. Because up until now the biggest difference is that Doc has never pitched in a meaningful game past the All-Star Break while Santana’s teams have almost always been in the playoffs (or at least in the mix). I don’t anticipate that he will buckle under the pressure of bigger city, bigger stage, but it will be interesting to watch.

    Comment by Jason Wuerfel
    February 26, 2010 at 7:53 pm

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