With spring training camps now underway, we here at Walkoff Walk should really get off our rumps and start taking a look at the pole positioning for premium positions among the six divisions. With the country stuck in the dregs of the Xtreme Depressionⓒ, folks'll be working extra hard to get the premium salaries that come along with starting jobs. Today, we look at the National League East.
- Philadelphia Phillies fifth starter: I was in Dover, DE this weekend and the top story in The Downstate Daily's sports section on Monday involved Kyle Kendrick's chances to retain his claim on the Phillies' fifth pitcher in the rotation. This told me two things: (a) Kyle Kendrick is a pretty lucky guy, earning that World Series ring and bonus check despite being a terrible pitcher who was left off the Philadelphia roster for the entire postseason and (b) there isn't much sports news going on in Delaware. Kiki is going up against the likes of Chan Ho Park, Carlos Carrasco, and J.A. Happ for the chance to pitch once every five days and carry Brett Myers' beer cooler out from the bullpen twice a week.
- New York Mets fifth starter: The first four slots in the Mets starting rotation are taken by stud Johan Santana, smug John Maine, slug Oliver Perez, and scrub Mike Pelfrey. That leaves the fifth day, the Lord's day, left to be filled by one of a bevy of general manager Omar Minaya's gentleman callers. You've got youngster Jon Niese, born the same night the Mets clinched their last World Series win back in '86, former Nat Tim Redding, who somehow managed double-digits in wins for a miserable Washington team last year, journeyman Freddy Garcia, who looks nothing like this portly creature, and Livan Hernandez, the man who has never met a base-on-balls he didn't like. Dear God, please let it be Livan Hernandez, and please let him bring his golf clubs to camp.
- Atlanta Braves center field: Quick, name the Braves' starting center fielder. Nope, keep guessing. Wrong again. I'll just go refresh my coffee mug while you keep repeating the names "Griffey" and "Andruw" over and over. If the season started today, (a) Gregor Blanco would be the man with the job and (b) we'd have neglected to give you our wacky predictions. However, Braves beat blogger Dave O'Brien thinks the job battle is between Josh Anderson and Jordan Schafer. Anderson got his chance to play in the bigs after Mark Kotsay was traded to the BoSox last year and hit .294 in 40 games. Schafer's the dude who got suspended 50 games last year for ingesting some of that delicious human growth hormone, but don't hold that against him.
- Florida Marlins catcher: Misty May's husband is gone, nursing his grundle with the Detroit Tigers, so that leaves John Baker and Mike Rabelo to 'fight' for a job they'll probably end up platooning. Still, Pudge Rodriguez might still swoop in and inject the young Marlins team with some veteran intensity and Icy Hot. This is progress?
- Washington Nationals outfield: Ever since Jim Bowden oddly brought in difference-maker Adam Dunn to play first base, the Nats depth chart has been re-arranged more than Mickey Rourke's face (zing! relevant Oscars joke!). So: you've got Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Austin Kearns, Josh Willingham, Willie Harris, Wily Mo Pena, and my white knight Corey Patterson fighting it out for three outfield slots for a team that will struggle to score 700 runs. But hey, the 2009 Nats outfield can't be worse than last year's version...can it?