Last week’s quick-hit trade deadline moves were surprising in a lot of ways. A week after the fact, I’d like to outline some of the differences between our expectations and the actual moves.
The Wild Card and parity
We’ve been hearing a lot about the expanded Wild Card in the last few years. It’s part of Bud Selig’s vision for the league where everyone’s in the chase, supposedly creating more excitement and better attendance.
Another bigger aspect of his plan that’s supposed to fall in right alongside that is parity. As a true salary cap (or perhaps, true-er cap) is in place with giant luxury tax implications, teams are encouraged to be in the same range of spending as others. Revenue sharing creates even more of a redistributive feel.
As far as these things contribute to an equaling of the playing field like that of the NFL, Selig has done the job. The Yankees’ empire appears to be crumbling, a topic Joe tackled in this morning’s post, and teams like the Marlins and Royals are no longer the worst in their divisions. (The Royals are five games above .500, while the Marlins are six games out in the Wild Card race.)
Over the last two weeks, I previewed the division races in the American League. This week I will be covering the National League. Up first is the NL East. We will organize our discussion by current standings.
60-49 | division lead
Following a 2013 season where they fell four games short of a wild card birth and 10 games out of first in the NL East, the Nationals have taken control of a weak NL East.
Washington’s offense has struggled recently. Denard Span has the highest average on the team at .291, and their team BA of .250 is 19th in the league. Also, Bryce Harper spent three months on the DL earlier this season, which certainly hurt their offensive output. However, there are some bright spots. The Nats traded for Asdrubal Cabrera at the deadline, who adds some much-needed power and a decent bat to the lineup (not to mention some flashy fielding). Also, Harper has been been slowly heating up sine his return to the majors, and is now hitting .260 on the season.
As the 2014 pennant race starts to kick into gear, we explore a number of teams who need to look to 2015 and beyond for their chance to compete. The third team we’ll discuss is the New York Mets.
For the last few years, they have been playing second fiddle to the other New York team, the Yankees. They have not made the playoffs since 2006, nor even finished with a winning record since 2008. A lot of people blame the Mets’ woes on a hesitance by their owners, the Wilpon family, to spend money. While this may be true, the Mets have done a good job of rebuilding and developing talent at both the major and minor league levels.
Core position players to build around
The current face of the Mets’ franchise is homegrown star third baseman David Wright. The 31 year old was named the fourth captain in team history prior to the 2013 season, about a year after signing a long-term extension to keep him playing in New York through 2020. Wright might not put up 30 home runs and 100 RBIs a year anymore (he’s batting .285 with just 8 home runs in 2014), but his consistency and leadership have proven invaluable in a period of rebuilding.