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The 2013 NL East Offseason
This article is part of the series "2013 in the Major Leagues: The Shoot-Outs in the East".
November of 2012 through February of 2013 has proven to be an exciting offseason in terms of regrouping for the top contenders in the NL East.
Even though the Nationals didn't look as though they needed much tweaking, they were very proactive this offseason, acquiring outfielder Denard Span and seasoned closer Rafael Soriano. Adding to the late game corps of Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, Soriano brings another level of insurance to late game leads, something Washington is no doubt extremely wary of after Game 5 of the NLDS. The Nats resigned first baseman Adam LaRoche, leaving Michael Morse on the outside with the new addition of Denard Span in the outfield; Morse was traded to the Mariners in a three team deal that brought a wealth of young prospects to Washington. On top of a few other trades, the Nationals have plugged a few of the seemingly minor holes they had at the end of the 2012 season. These new acquisitions along with a full season of Stephen Strasburg makes 2013 even more promising than 2012, if that was even possible.
The 2012 offseason for the Braves was extremely quiet, much to the dismay of Atlanta fans; however, the team seemed much improved offensively and almost as solid pitching-wise in the 2012 season. 2013 has been a little different. With the retirement of Chipper Jones as well as the free agency and astronomical asking price for Michael Bourn, the Braves had some free payroll and some definite holes in their line-up that needed filling. The Braves went to work, acquiring both B.J. and Justin Upton in separate deals to put together an outstanding outfield both offensively and defensively. Martin Prado and the Braves parted ways in the Justin Upton trade, leaving a hole at 3rd base the size of Chipper Jones. It turns out that it will take two players to fill that hole: Juan Francisco (who isn't as big as he used to be, literally) and Chris Johnson (acquired from Arizona with Justin Upton). Both will platoon the 3rd base position, and hopefully, the competition between the two will get some production out of what is one of the Braves' few remaining holes. Atlanta trimmed the fat of disappointing starter Tommy Hanson, adding relief pitcher Jordan Walden. Walden has suffered bouts of inconsistency, but he can hurl it across (or slightly off) home at 98 mph. While he may not be a go-to guy on a regular basis, he adds some heat to a stellar bullpen with other dynamic hurlers who may be able to give him a push in the right direction. The Braves have a lot of youth on their team now with a lot of potential leaders ready to step up and take hold. With this new line up, the Braves have a high ceiling, whether they'll touch this ceiling is a question that can only answered by their play in the regular season, but my magic eight-ball tells me that the outlook is good.
The Phillies needed a productive offseason to bring some youth back into the aging line up, but the front office proved to be too passive to bring in the star power that was on the market. Center field is probably the Phillies' biggest hole after trading Hunter Pence to the Giants in August. The Phillies had their eyes on two possibilities: B.J. Upton and Denard Span. The Braves sniped B.J. with a considerably larger offer and the Nationals picked up Span. Instead, the Phillies signed Ben Revere, trading starting pitcher Vance Worley. Revere is a road runner of a player with a lot of speed but not a lot of pop. A potentially strong defensive pick up, but the offensive outlook on this player isn't too bright. To fill the hole left by Vance Worley, Philadelphia signed John Lannan from the Nats. Lannan was a Nats veteran who didn't make the 2012 starting rotation, but was called up to fill in for Stephen Strasburg after he reached his infamous innings cap in September. Since improving his delivery in the minors, Lannan seems eager for the opportunity to prove himself as a quality pitcher with better run support than he got from the Nationals. After failing to interest the D-Backs in a trade for Justin Upton, the Phillies signed Delmon Young, who may not be as defensively potent as the younger Upton but has the potential be just as productive at the plate. Overall, the Phillies' offseason was a heaping helping of luke-warm leftovers, which we all know can be decent with proper preparation. Whether the Phillies can make this rag tag offseason class mesh as well as Phillies teams of the past 5 years remains to be seen, but as the second half of 2012 showed, never count out the Phillies.
Oh, the Mets. I remember on an online forum somewhere in the murky expanse of the internet last season that some user had only this to say about the New York club: "The Mets? They're just adorable." So what have the Mets done to bring some ferocity to team this offseason? Short answer: not a lot, so far. At the beginning of the offseason, the Mets' front office claimed they were being patient, watching what possibilities would unfold. As they bided their time, teams around the NL East made headline acquisitions. The Mets just waited until it was too late. Not much materialized for them because they were too busy waiting. New York did resign Mets hero David Wright to an eight year contract, an obvious good thing. To attempt to fill the hole left by R.A. Dicket, the Mets signed Shaun Marcum, who is excited about once again pitching to ex-teammate John Buck. The 2013 offseason for the Mets is still an unfinished story, though, despite the imminent preseason. The Mets still have their eye on former Brave Micael Bourn to thicken the outfield. They also have lines cast toward fearsome bearded Giants closer Brian Wilson, Roy Oswalt, and a handful of other veterans on the market, but it's hard to say what will happen for the Mets. They could have a big deal come through for them, but the many obvious problems that still need addressing are definitely not all going to be solved through offseason moves. Look for another anemic year from the struggling side of New York baseball.
If you are a Miami Marlins fan, you may want to look into ticket deals for the minor league teams because that is what the Marlins reloaded with the clearance sale they had on all of the players you paid to see last year. Another option is to keep an eye on the Toronto Blue Jays because your favorite player last season quite possibly went there with the rest of the leftovers who made it through the regular season. There's really not much to say here. The Fish are thin in almost every regard, and they have their sights on the future, so expect another dismal showing this year. Maybe in a couple seasons all of the Marlins' moves now will amount to something, and there may possibly be some decent baseball in Miami around 2015.