Carolina Panthers, NFL

The Carolina Panthers make the right call on Josh Norman

On Wednesday the Carolina Panthers sent shockwaves through the NFL world when they decided to rescind the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman. Making him an unrestricted free agent free to sign anywhere. Personally I think the Panthers made the right move in letting Norman walk and I think it will benefit the franchise presently and in the long run.

The Panthers sent a strong message with this move showing they will not be pushed around and/or mortgage the future success of the franchise for a player that doesn’t seem to have the right mindset for this organization. Especially with just one Pro bowl season and by all accounts a questionable attitude. Prior to last year’s breakout season Norman, if I recall correctly, he was in the doghouse with Coach Rivera and he didn’t play much his first couple of seasons. I understand a player wanting his payday after being productive on the field, but it was just one season and Norman’s asking price is absolutely ridiculous in my opinion.

He wants Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis type money asking for 16 million per year. Norman only has one great year under his belt where as Revis and Peterson have proven track records to be quality football players and shutdown corners. I’m not saying Norman isn’t a good player and may be worth that much someday, but right now there is no way. I know he didn’t get thrown at much the second half of the season after his torrid beginning, but I seem to remember some situations where he gambled and got burned  putting our defense in some bad spots.

Another big factor in his decision is his attitude it’s been reported that he was not the best locker room presence and that’s one thing I’ve learned since Gettleman’s arrival to the Panthers is a locker room chemistry is paramount and if that comes into question the “offender” is usually not a part of the long-term plan of the team. Norman’s attitude played a part in the contract negotiations and it was clear to Gettleman that a long-term contract was not feasible due to Norman’s demands.

The team was reportedly willing to give Norman 11 million per year, which isn’t too shabby, but sometimes a person’s true colors come out showing what he is really after. Instead of having the opportunity to win championships in the years to come Norman chose the greenbacks his choice and the Panthers were willing to oblige allowing him and his agent to explore a trade. When that didn’t work out they just cut ties with him altogether. Like I said I don’t fault a guy for wanting a big payday, but it seems he could have had the best of both worlds with the opportunity to win championships and make a good chunk of change in the process it is what it is best of luck to him.

Honestly the organization might be in better shape now they opened up 32 million in cap space. The team can shore up multiple areas of the roster and not have that money chewed up by one player; which could potentially handcuff the organization in the future when trying to add other players or re-sign our own. Speaking of keeping our own we can now lock up our core players like Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei to long-term deals to keep them in the Queen city for a while. I applaud the Panthers brass and ownership for sticking to their guns and not giving in!

Gettleman has proven he is not afraid to make the unthinkable move he doesn’t care what other people think he just does what’s best for the organization’s present and future. I’ll admit it was a shocking move, but I agree with it and I believe the Panthers will be better off and I’m excited to see what else he’s got up his sleeve to improve the team in the weeks to come.

 

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MLB

Unheralded prospects having huge impacts on their teams

One of the best things about sports is if you have talent, you will be found. This has been the case early on in the Major League Baseball season unknown prospects taking the major leagues by storm helping their teams get off to solid starts. Many of these guys are journeyman and are easy to root for because of their tenacious attitudes not giving up on their dreams. Three guys that have stood out on this young season are Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Houston Astros first baseman Tyler White and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks

Trevor Story

The Colorado Rockies had a bit of a tumultuous off-season involving shortstop José Reyes, who was arrested on domestic violence charges and was placed on administrative leave until the issue is resolved. Thus opening up an opportunity for Trevor story. Story was selected 45th overall in the 2011 draft out of high school.

Troy Tulowitzki blocked his path to the show, but when the Rockies decided to start a semi-rebuild they dealt Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline last season. Couple that with Reyes’s legal troubles opportunity came knocking for Story. Story took the opportunity by the horns with an historic beginning to his career.

He is the first major leaguer in history to hit seven home runs in his first week creating the best first impression possible. Many Rockies fans are saying Tulo-who and at just 23 years of age, it looks like shortstop is taking care of for the Rockies for the foreseeable future.

Story has come back down to earth a little bit since the scorching hot beginning as expected as the scouting report begins to form on a hitter. That being said, he is still hitting .292 with seven home runs and 13 RBIs in his first 11 games in the show. He has turned a potential concern into a strength early on in 2016.

He has lengthened a pretty formidable lineup already and they play in a hitter friendly ballpark at altitude in Denver. If they are able to pitch any they could be knocking on the door of a playoff spot this year. That’s the great thing about baseball bringing up one young guy can rejuvenate a franchise and give a renewed sense of hope that they can make some noise in late September!

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Tyler White

The Houston Astros have been looking for an answer at first base for a while now since Lance Berkman. I think they found it in the unlikeliest of players first baseman Tyler White a 33rd round selection in the 2013 draft out of Western Carolina where he walked on. He was kind of swept under the rug because the Astros have so many top-flight prospects that have quickly become household names in Major League Baseball. White was given the opportunity in spring training to win the job and he has done that and more. In his first 11 big league games he’s hitting a robust .412 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

This is a bad sign for the rest of major league baseball because if the Astros are able to get this type of production out of a 33rd round pick in addition to their superstars the Astros will be a perennial contender year and year out. The Astros fan base was very patient through several difficult years and now they’re seeing what can happen with great scouting and development and great positions in the draft.

Tyler White is the prime example of what can happen if you just give a guy an opportunity to showcase his skills. It also shows it doesn’t matter if you’re the first pick in the draft or the last if you perform you will get a chance to prove yourself at the highest level of competition.

White is proving all the doubters wrong and making the colleges and major league teams that passed on him say what if and at age 25 he has plenty left in the tank and in the American League he can DH from time to time to preserve his body. An amazing story that continues to get better and better for him, his family and the Astros.

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Jeremy Hazelbaker

The big concern for the St. Louis Cardinals coming into spring training was how they were going to replace outfielder Jason Heyward, who opted to sign with the Chicago Cubs this off-season. The answer has come from an unexpected place in 28-year-old rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker a guy who spent seven seasons in the minor leagues over 1000 games just waiting for that chance to prove himself. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Red Sox in 2009 and eventually found his way to the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

He made the club as a spring training primarily as a bench player initially, but in the first two weeks he has forced his way into the everyday lineup for the Cardinals. He has showcased all of his tools hitting .419 with three home runs and seven RBIs he also has blazing speed and an above average arm in the outfield. His emergence has made the Cardinals forget about Jason Heyward a little quicker than anticipated.

He is the classic journeyman that comes out of nowhere and quickly becomes a pain for opposing teams to face. He’s like a Swiss Army knife pesky and annoying on the base paths in the batter’s box and has a pretty good arm that opponents have to prepare for. The St. Louis Cardinals had a knack for finding cast-offs from other organizations and turning them into solid major-league players for a long time Hazelbaker looks to be another example of that.

He’s been really exciting to watch I don’t think he will slump very much because of his foot speed, making them a threat for a long time to come. He just shows if you have the right attitude and believe in yourself your dream can come true.

 Conclusion

Major league baseball’s first few weeks have had so many storylines these three guys have been at the top of the list. These are my favorite feel-good stories to start the year because it wasn’t just handed to them. They’ve had to go through the grind and uncertainty of life of a baseball player and just shown tenacity and hard work can pay off! Three guys we all can learn from when faced with adversity in all walks of life not just sports. I hope they all continue to have success because they are fun to watch!

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NBA

The Black Mamba goes out with a Bang

Last night was one of the most epic sports night in recent memory with the Golden State Warriors chasing history and Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game in his illustrious twenty-year career. For the first time in the better part of two years the Warriors were overshadowed by something else that happened on the hardwood. Kobe gave us one more performance to remember he scored 60 points on 22 of 50 shooting. A performance that sent the sports world into a frenzy! It’s one of those moments where fans will always remember where they were Kobe laced it up for the final time.

A Look Back

When Kobe Bryant said he would forgo college and take his talents to the NBA the journey to greatness began. I think this is the only thing I didn’t enjoy about Kobe Bryant’s career when he was drafted 13th overall to the Charlotte Hornets then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. One can only imagine what would’ve happened to the legend of Hornets basketball if that move was never made, but I digress it’s fun to dream.

He quickly became a Hollywood star transforming the Lakers organization once again. He helped the NBA transition from the tail end of Michael Jordan’s career to the Kobe era and realize they would be just fine. Bryant made basketball look effortless for the bulk of his career breaking countless records and breaking so many opponents hearts in the process. His career has given the new generation of NBA superstars’ goals to work towards and to remember what a champion’s mentality looked like.

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Legendary Career by the Numbers

• 5-Time Champion
• 2-time Finals MVP
• 3rd in the NBA in Points scored 33,643
• 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist
• 2nd most points scored in a single game 81

Another aspect of Bryant’s career that I love is he spent all 20 seasons in Los Angeles and never wavered. That is a rare feat in sports today because of the money and contracts being signed nowadays. I consider loyalty one of the best qualities in any athlete showing compassion and helping that organization reach the mountaintop; additionally helping lead when the team is not performing at its best. A trend that I hope continues in sports because they are just cool storylines to follow.

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Thank You

The Black Mamba might’ve bid farewell to the game basketball, but his impact will be felt forever. Everybody that watched Bryant throughout his career basketball or not can learn something from him. From his tenacious attitude when faced with adversity or his work ethic he brought every single day. Basketball will never be the same without the Black Mamba releasing his venom on opponents, but it was awesome to watch. Thank you for everything you did for the game of basketball and beyond.

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Just four games in Grey Hairs are coming fast

It’s no secret the Atlanta Braves are building for the future and it’s going to be a rough 2016 season as we bid farewell to Turner Field. However, I don’t think we could’ve gotten off to a worse start with a 0-4 record and just plain bad baseball. I understand getting beat by an opponent that’s fine, but beating yourself is inexcusable, especially at the highest level it’s really gut-wrenching.

In the first three games we blew leads of the 3-2, 1-0, and 4-0 for a team like the Braves, who aren’t expected to make much noise they have to protect every lead they have throughout the season early on they haven’t done that. The defense has been the main culprit of that it’s been putrid.

Starting with opening day AJ Pierzynski dropped the last out, allowing the tying run to score. Then in extra innings Gordon Beckham botching a routine throw allowing the eventual game-winning run on base. The ugliness has continued in the three games that have followed we made five total errors in the two games against the Cardinals and frankly there could’ve been more.

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Erick Aybar is the new shortstop replacing the defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons. It’s been a nightmare start for Aybar you hold your breath when the ball is it to him right now he botched a tailor-made double play yesterday that could have kept the game from getting so out of hand. It’s almost like he has the yips when any ball is hit to him. It’s making many question Simmons trade already because I honestly think we could have two victories if he was still on our roster. It’s something that has to get turned around quickly or Aybar might be on the pine sooner rather than later.

In the first four games the team has committed eight errors, not to mention all of the past balls and drop balls behind the dish. I didn’t expect to be world-beaters this year nobody did, but I didn’t think I’d have to wear a blindfold while watching us play. Not to mention our bullpen set a record on Friday night surrendering three pinch-hit homers that has never happened in major league history.

No question the first week has been something to forget for the Braves, but they are professionals and they see what is happening just as much as the fans do and I think they will iron out their defensive issues and at least play cleaner baseball games. If not we might see those youngsters here faster than we thought no matter where they are in our system.

I’m going to watch every game we play no matter what! That doesn’t mean I’ll make it through every one of them, though my advice for every Braves fan out there when you watch this team play make sure you have something to distract yourself with. That is the only way we are all going to make it through 162 games God help us!

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Golf, Top 5 list

Masters Preview: Top 5 Golfers to Watch

It’s been an amazing week of sports with an epic national championship finish; major league baseball opening week, and now Augusta Georgia takes center stage as the Masters begins today. There are plenty of storylines and golfers to look out for as this week begins. Will Spieth repeat? Will the Aussies dominate? Or will someone come out of nowhere and create a Cinderella story? It’s always been an entertaining week reminiscing about the history and amazing golf played there for centuries.

A new year means new possibilities I can’t wait to see what the 2016 Masters brings us. Here are my top five golfers to watch this week that has the best chance to don the green jacket and create their own legacy at the Masters.

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Jason Day

The clear-cut favorite for many this week is the newly minted number one player in the world Jason Day. He’s playing the best golf of anybody heading into the year’s first major he’s coming off back-to-back victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Dell match play championship. I think he is poised to add a green jacket to his trophy case this week.

Not only is his game in tip top shape  for this historic venue, but I also believe his mental toughness is second to none as he has dealt with multiple injuries and health issues that have popped up over the last couple of years. Most recently dealing with a back injury that almost forced him to withdraw from the match play, but was able to gut it out and dominate for the victory. He has also dealt with bouts of vertigo that have taken its toll on him as well, but he hasn’t those obstacles deter his golf game at all.

Another thing in Day’s favor coming into this week is his past performances at the Masters have been very good. He had a tied for second in 2011, a third-place finish in 2013, a tied for 20th in 2014 and a tied for 28th last year. He’s absolutely on fire right now and    his confidence is through the roof and his past success at this tournament give him some good memories to draw on if needed. He has a really good chance to be wearing that green jacket on Sunday night.

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Adam  Scott

Jason Days fellow Aussie Adam Scott is playing very good golf as well, picking up two victories thus far in 2016. He’s had to deal with changes, switching from the long putter because of the anchoring band. That story line was a constant question, Scott had to answer until his back-to-back victories then all the skepticism went away. I really like him this week because he’s had great success at this event, including being the first Australian born player to win the Masters in 2013.

In addition he’s had two top five finishes and a top 15 finish in his 14th career appearances at the Masters. He knows what it takes to reach the top of the mountain and as long as his putter cooperates with him and he carries the momentum he’s created early in 2016,he could definitely make some noise this week in Augusta!

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 Rickie Fowler

Fowler is one of the most popular players in the game today and his skills have caught up to his popularity in recent years. In 2016,his game has been very consistent and I feel is going to break through in the very near future as he’s had so many close calls in major championships. A couple of those close calls were at the Masters with a tied for fifth and a tied for 12th in his last two appearances.

Fowler is a guy that if he gets his putter rolling he could make it from anywhere and strikes fear in his competitors because they know how much of a bulldog, he can be having no fear and taking calculated risks when he needs to jump start a round. He has the makeup and mentality to win many major championships.

I feel if he’s able to break through this week or this year it will open the floodgates for him and his confidence will allow him to play even freer and that’s a scary thought for all of his other competitors. Expect a very good week from Fowler this week that started off pretty awesome when he drained a hole in one at the par three contest. A pretty cool way to start an intense week.

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Jordan Spieth

Spieth is the defending champion so obviously I think he has a good chance to repeat. He is coming off an historic performance at last year’s Masters setting the scoring record at -18 and an overall ridiculous season with six victories and two majors.

This year has been a little more of a rocky road as Spieth’s obligations continue to grow and fatigue becoming a factor his game has suffered a little bit.Inconsistency on the greens and with his wedge play causing frustrations. However, he still has one victory this season and four top tens it’s just not the historic pace he was on last year.

I am still very confident in Spieth’s ability to find his wedge game and his putting ability because he can flip a switch and make everything he looks at. Also he has an awesome partnership with his caddie that can help navigate these intense major weeks. I think he will always have an advantage in that category as well.

I expect Spieth to have a very good week and would be surprised if he’s in the thick of things on the back nine Sunday because he did absolutely dominate the same course last year. His confidence has to be pretty high at this course despite the inconsistency of late.

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Bubba Watson

The last guy that I think has a really good chance to win the Masters this week is Bubba Watson. Who is sort of flying under the radar despite being a two-time champion because of Jason Day being on fire and other big names overshadowing Watson. I feel like he’s had a pretty good season with the one victory, but he seems to know matter how his season is going he shows up at Augusta and contends.

He is one of the quirkiest golfers ever with no swing coach and a reckless abandon type attitude when he’s on the course because he can absolutely crush the golf ball giving him one of the biggest advantages and most of the time he takes advantage. Watson seems very comfortable at the Masters and plays it like any other tournament tee at high and let it fly.

His frustrations sometimes get the best of him, but somehow he is able to play the miraculous shot he needs to keep his round together it’s remarkable the things he can pull off. The reality is Watson is a very free-spirited player that has a great track record at the Masters and every time he’s able to see it up he should be a person to keep your eye on.

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Conclusion

 I know I chose five of the top golfers and didn’t really go out on a whim but they are in the best in the world for reason  and they always put on a good show and create storylines. I’m sure there will be an out-of-the-box golfer that comes out of nowhere to make a run at the green jacket, but I feel like you will be talking about these five guys the entire weekend and it should be a  Masters to remember! Sit back and enjoy and be jealous of the skills of these players wishing you were them!

 

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Atlanta Braves Roster Overview

Baseball is officially back with three games to open the season on Sunday and a full slate of games on Monday. The Atlanta Braves open the season against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. It’s a special year because the final year in Turner Field before the team moves to SunTrust Park.

It’s going to be a fun year seeing the new memories created and reminiscing about the great baseball played at that ballpark during the 2016 season. Let’s take a look at the 25-man roster and my biggest takeaways.

Starting Rotation: Julio Teheran, Bud Norris, Matt Wisler, Williams Perez, Jhoulys Chacín

Bullpen: Jon Gant, Jim Johnson, Jason Grilli, Eric O’Flaherty, Alexi Ogando, Arodys Vizcaino, Jose Ramirez, Daniel Winkler

Catchers: AJ Pierzynski, Tyler Flowers

Infielders: Freddie Freeman, Jace Peterson, Gordon Beckham, Kelly Johnson,

Erick Aybar, Adonis Garcia

Outfielders: Jeff Francoeur, Drew Stubbs, Nick Markakis, Hector Olivera, Ender Inciarte

MLB: Atlanta Braves-Spring Training Workouts

The Biggest Question Mark: The Pitching Staff

The biggest concern for the Braves in 2016 is most definitely the pitching staff and who’s going to get opponents out. The starting rotation had a roller coaster spring, but they all were able finished strong leaving a good taste in their mouth heading into the regular season. Another huge storyline for the pitching staff is the need for a bounce back year from Julio Teheran. He needs to prove the organization was right in holding on to him as his name was bantered about in trade rumors for the past two seasons.

However, The bullpen struggled throughout the spring with the exception of a few guys the team went 6-20-6 and a lot of those losses, and ties were due to blown late leads. I’ve mentioned this multiple times, but the team only has one left-handed reliever and Eric O’Flaherty whom they had to trade for in the late stages of spring training. The fact of the matter is, no one pitched well enough from the left side of the rubber to warrant a roster spot.

Another concern is Jason Grilli and Williams Perez are coming off injuries and you don’t know how they will perform when it really matters.  Additionally, they didn’t get as much work in spring training as they would like you to those injuries so that is something to watch for to begin the year.I think our offense will be better this season, if our pitching staff outperforms the projections we will have a pretty good chance to win ball games.

Biggest Surprises: Jeff Francoeur and Drew Stubbs

 

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The Atlanta Braves during this rebuilding process have taken some chances on low-cost veteran players this off-season was  no different with a former Brave Jeff Francoeur trying to restart his career where it began. Francoeur came up in 2005 with the baby Braves since then he has bounced around quite a few places. The Braves signed Francoeur to a minor-league deal and gave him one of the many opportunities this roster presented to start spring training.

Francoeur took advantage and forced his way on the roster. He hit a robust .327 with a homer and three doubles. He will provide pop off of the bench and get The starting assignments against the tough lefties. He is also very versatile with the ability to play all three-outfield positions if any of the starters need a day off.

Drew Stubbs

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The Braves signed Stubbs with three days to go in spring training. At first I was surprised he made the roster, but the team wanted a right-handed backup center fielder because Inciarte is left-handed and they didn’t want the outfield to become too left-handed heavy.

Stubbs provides speed and he is a very good outfielder, if he can make more contact and put the ball in play he can wreak havoc for opposing pitchers and defenses. He just needs to cut down on the strikeouts big-time it’s the reason he’s bounced around so many places  he tries to be more of a power hitter than he is. This move gives Fredi Gonzalez another option off the bench in late game situations with the ability to play match ups.

What I like: Roster Versatility

A trend coming back to baseball is the super utility man the ability of guys to play multiple positions. The Braves roster is full of super utility men in both the position players and the bullpen a great asset for manager Fredi Gonzalez to manipulate his roster to give his team the best chance to win every single night.

The bullpen has three options to close games Arodys Vizcaino, Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli, who have all had experience finishing games. The Braves can choose which guy they want based on matchups past history or who is the hottest at the time. A luxury many teams don’t have and hopefully the team will  take advantage.

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This team is full of position players that can play multiple positions Atlanta native Gordon Beckham can play second, shortstop and third. Kelly Johnson can play third, second, first, and left field. Francoeur can play all three-outfield positions. 

A very valuable asset for the manager during a 162 game season it provides the ability to withstand some injuries because of the versatility that exist on the roster.

Veteran Players

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The team might be in a massive rebuild right now, but you look at the 25 man roster as currently constructed there are a ton of veteran guys. Those guys include AJ Pierzynski, Gordon Beckham, Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis, Jeff Francoeur, and Erick Aybar. These guys have been through it all in their major-league careers and understand what it takes to win baseball games.

The Braves may struggle this year while we wait for the young guys to develop and make the big leagues, but this team will do it the right way and play hard. When the young guys start making their appearances in the show they will be able to lean on all of these veterans picking their brain to make their games better. 

An immeasurable asset to this club in a rebuilding process no one can predict what’s going to happen throughout the season who knows maybe we will shock the world!

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Conclusion

The Atlanta Braves roster is very interesting just like this season will be. Our opening schedule very unforgiving it’s ranked the hardest  of all 30 teams.So buckle your seat belts and remember stay patient Go Braves!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Top Storylines for Each NL East Team to start the season

The MLB season is just two away an exciting time for fans and everyone involved with the game! Every team has a reason for optimism when the season starts because there is a clean slate and anything can happen because games aren’t played on paper. I thought it would be interesting to go through each division and give each team’s top story line to begin the year. I’m going to start with my team’s division the NL East.

The National League East is probably going to be a two horse race once again between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets. To be honest it’s probably the weakest division around baseball with the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies hitting the reset button and trying to rebuild into a perennial contender once again.

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The Washington Nationals : Will they get along?

There’s no question the Washington Nationals have great talent on their roster and play on the field is not really a question its team chemistry because there are a ton of big personalities in the clubhouse and that was their undoing down the stretch of last season.

The turning point of their season is when GM Mike Rizzo decided to trade for hotheaded closer Jonathan Papellbon. It was a head-scratching move at the time because their current closer Drew Storen had an All-Star first half and the Nationals were primed to win the division. However, Papelbon said wherever he was traded he had to be the closer. I believe that threw Storen’s rhythm off and he struggled the rest of the season and it was downhill from there for the entire team.

There’s a saying in sports sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make and I firmly believe if the Nationals wouldn’t have acquired Papelbon their season could’ve had a different ending. Chemistry and camaraderie are huge and sports and especially baseball because it’s such a long season, it’s important to have good relationships with all teammates. When Jonathan Papellbon choked Bryce Harper it was clear the chemistry wasn’t where it needed to be to make a run at the playoffs.

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This off-season it was obvious the leadership needed to change in the dugout and the Nationals hired veteran manager Dusty Baker who had been out of baseball since 2011. I think this is the perfect hire because Baker has great experience in dealing with huge personalities that included Barry Bonds. Baker understands how to handle hostility and shaken chemistry in a clubhouse. With that being said, I don’t think he will tolerate Bryce Harper dogging it at times or hostile confrontations in the dugout. He is a very smart baseball man and will put the Washington Nationals in the best position to win every game on and off the field.

Chemistry was the dagger to the Nationals playoff hopes last season, hopefully for their sake a new voice and leadership style will prevent clubhouse tension and just focus on winning baseball games. The fact is they have all the talent in the world to make a long playoff run.

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New York Mets: Matt Harvey’s Health

This year and the New York Mets look to build off of the National League Championship and the World Series loss to the Kansas City Royals. It’s no secret how they did it dominant starting pitching led by Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zach Wheeler who is coming off Tommy John surgery.

They live and die with these young studs because their offense has been pretty inconsistent even with the addition of Yoenis Céspedes who can carry a team for a three-week stretch, but also can go ice cold for that same period of time. However, with this starting rotation you don’t really have to score a lot of runs to have a great chance to win games.

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Unfortunately, Harvey’s opening-day status is uncertain as he deals with kidney issues. Injuries are something you can’t control, but certainly can derail a career. A quality-starting pitcher like Matt Harvey doesn’t grow on trees so the Mets must be absolutely sure he is 100% healthy. The Mets have had a history of being very cautious with the young guys because young fireball pitchers are like precious jewels and must be put in the best situation for them and the organization to succeed.

For Matt Harvey he is extremely important to the Met’s success this season so if he must miss a few starts in April to get this kidney situation under control that’s much better than a longer-term injury popping up in the heat of a pennant race. Harvey the bell cow of this rotation and if he misses any significant time it will throw the other young starters out of whack because a lot of them haven’t pitched over 200 innings yet in their careers. The Mets success is predicated on the starting rotation health and especially Matt Harvey if they want to battle for a World Series title again.

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MiaMi Marlins : Can the Team Stay Healthy ?

The Miami Marlins have an opportunity to be very pesky and annoying to play throughout the 2016 season. The biggest key for them throughout the season will be the overall team health. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Ace José Fernandez headline that list. Stanton is one of major league baseball’s most prolific home run hitters hitting absolute moon shots. However, he’s had terrible luck with the injury bug he’s been hit in the face and the wrist that have cost him the bulk of the last two seasons.

As we’ve seen the team has suffered mightily when Stanton is absent because the fear factor is nowhere to be found for pitchers and opponents. If Stanton could stay on the field 150+ games his numbers would be absolutely ridiculous and the Marlins lineup would stay scary all season. Stanton has averaged 30 home runs in his first six seasons and was on a record pace last season with 27 home runs in just 74 games.

The Marlins lineup features Dee Gordon leading off wreaking havoc on the base paths distracting pitchers along with Christian Yelich who can be a hit machine when healthy. The reality is a Stanton can stay on the field everyone on the Marlins gets better and have more opportunities on the offenses side of the ball.

fernandez+Marc+Serota+Getty+Images

The other player they can’t afford to miss significant time again is ace pitcher José Fernandez. His 2015 season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery, prior to the injury he was 6-1 with 2.92 ERA on his way to a very impressive season. After the injury the starting rotation suffered understandably and Stanton was injured shortly after derailing the rest of the season.

Fernandez has a bubbly personality and has fun doing his job something that irks his opponents, but he is one of the best pitchers in the league so he’s allowed to have some fun. Overall he is an astounding 22-9 with a 2.40 ERA and has yet to lose in his home ballpark at 17-0. Amazing numbers for a guy that is just 23 years of age with a lot of innings left on his arm, assuming the Marlins will be judicious with his innings and preserve him for the long-term. If they’re able to keep the core on the field the team will have a chance to make a playoff push year after year.

MLB: Atlanta Braves-Spring Training Workouts

Atlanta Braves: The Pitching Staff

The Atlanta Braves are in the middle of a massive rebuilding project that is seen 24 transactions involving 86 players since the start of the 2014 season. It’s probably going to be a very long year, but the future is very bright for this organization. As for the 2016 season the biggest question is who is going to get opponents out. There are just two days before the games count and the Braves still have so many roster questions involving the pitching staff.

The final decisions on the rotation have been made Williams Perez will be in the fourth spot and Jhoulys Chacín will be called up on April 12 once the team needs a fifth starter. A major concern in the bullpen is the fact we are only carrying one left-handed pitcher, but the reality is that there wasn’t anybody pitching well enough to add to the roster.

2016 Starting Rotation

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Bud Norris
  3. Matt Wisler
  4. Williams Perez
  5. Jhoulys Chacín

This rotation is not one that will scare a lot of people off when looking at it on paper, but games aren’t played on paper, we will just have to see how it goes when the games really count. On a positive note, all of these guys had a strong ending to a roller coaster spring for all of them. Williams Perez struggled a little bit against the Astros, but proved that he was healthy and able to give all he’s got while on the mound. I’m not saying I’m not concerned because we went 6-20-6 in the spring and a handful of those games we blew late leads, but let’s just see what happens while we wait for the young guys in our system to develop.

The key phrase I will use while watching the season play out is trust the process and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just remember we are way ahead of the pace last year our farm system was ranked 29th now it is rated top three in baseball some have it ranked number one overall so there is reason for optimism. This season might just be a little difficult to watch, but we all know that so it shouldn’t be a surprise. Hopefully the pitching staff and the team shock the world!

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Yankees

Philadelphia Phillies: Maikel Franco

The Philadelphia Phillies are also involved in a massive rebuilding project, but they have definitely found their third baseman for a long time.23-year-old Maikel Franco has taken Major League Baseball by storm, in just 304 at-bats during his rookie season he hit 14 homers and had 50 runs batted in before his season was cut short due to a wrist injury.

This spring training, he picked up right where you left off hitting an MLB leading nine homers and driving in 23. This kid is going to be special for a long time, especially in that bandbox of a home ballpark.

The Phillies like the Braves might not have a lot to look forward to in 2016, but the Phillies get to watch this guy for an entire season and continue to watch him become a star in the big leagues.

Conclusion

The National League East might not be the powerhouse division in baseball but there certainly a lot of intriguing storylines to watch play out. It’s perceived and probably will be a two-team race between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets

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