Mets: The Mets have a lights-out closer (Wagner), an MVP candidate (Reyes) and several big bats (Beltran, Delgado, Wright). So they really don’t need much.
Coming into the season, the Mets biggest worry was their aging starting staff. It still is. Tom Glavine has been marching dutifully towards 300 wins, but one has to wonder how long he can keep it up. Oliver Perez has been surprisingly good, if inconsistent. Orlando Hernandez has spent a good bit of time on the DL. This staff might be enough to get the Mets to the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine these guys will lead them to a World Series championship. There’s no ace on this staff. But there could be if Dontrelle Willis became available and the Marlins got interested in Lastings Milledge.
Braves: After an encouraging start to the season, times are suddenly tough for the Bravos. Their best reliever to this point, Mike Gonzalez, will need elbow surgery and is lost for the year. Tim Hudson, who was unhittable in April, has been very hittable in May. Andruw Jones has been a shadow of his former self. And Chipper Jones managed to injure both hands on the same play — and there wasn’t even a piano or anvil involved.
If the Braves are going to catch the Mets, they need a healthy Chipper and a robust Andruw. But most of all, they need their starting pitching to step it up. Smoltz needs his latest injury to be minor. Hudson needs to rediscover his confidence. And Chuck James (I’m Chuck James, Bitch!) and Kyle Davies need to pitch up to their abilities.
Phillies: It’s no secret that the Phillies’ Achilles heel is their bullpen. Tom Gordon is out. Brett Myers may be lost for the year as well. So what’s a GM to do? Pray, for starters. And then try to pry David Weathers from the Reds, and sign the newly unretired Troy “I’m not dead yet” Percival.
Marlins: This young squad isn’t going anywhere this year. But if you’re a Florida fan, the future is bright. Hanley Ramirez, Josh Willingham, Miguel Cabrera — these guys are for real.
The fish are a few bullpen arms and some veteran experience away from a string of playoff births. The Marlins tried to trade for a closer earlier in the season, but ended up with an injured Jorge Julio. The time might be right to trade SP Dontrelle Willis. Hitters seem to have figured him out. The Marlins need a top of the rotation pitcher. Whether that comes in the form of a reinvigorated Willis or a free-agent acquisition, it needs to happen.
Nationals: I mean, let’s be honest, the Nationals need help at pretty much every position. I don’t even know where to begin. So I won’t.