a 2009 NL East Preview: 2009 MLB National League East Notebook
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2009 MLB National League East Notebook

 

Jerry Manuel's laid-back demeanor appears to be exactly what the Mets have been looking for with a clubhouse that sometimes can look chaotic.

Manuel has dealt with some offensive issues and late-inning mishaps and still has the team at the top of the division through the third week of May. They were tied with Philadelphia through the middle of the week.

Since taking over for Willie Randolph last year, Manuel's record through 131 games is 76-55. That's the best record of any of the 15 managers who have guided this franchise, even in its championship years of 1969 and 1986.

Of course, Manuel's overall grade will be known in September and whether the Mets will have enough to stay in the race or if they are subject to their third consecutive collapse. In each of the last two seasons, the Mets have blown decent sized leads inside the final two weeks.



ATLANTA

Braves manager Bobby Cox has been nothing short of an icon in the South. Since 1990, he's directed the ballclub and is now fourth on the all-time managerial wins list with 2,345. He's second to St. Louis' Tony LaRussa among all-time active managers.

However, the 67-year-old Cox has the longest run with any team. But for the last couple of years, there have been questions as to whether Cox would want to continue to manage given his age and accomplishments. For his part, Cox has been on a year-to-year personal evaluation.

The Braves have missed the postseason for the last three seasons but are expected to contend for the division this year. If they miss, it could give Cox a chance to consider his options.

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PHILADELPHIA

The moral of the story about cheering for the Phillies this year is -- don't give up early. Of their first 20 wins, 15 have been in come-from-behind fashion. That's the most in the big leagues.

That's also a tough way to make a living. They are on a pace to blow past their total of 39 they had during their world championship run last year.

But say this about the Phillies, the late-inning drama also reveals this team's character. Their 82 runs scored after the seventh inning is also the most in the big leagues.

WASHINGTON

It's pretty much the worst kept secret in baseball that when Major League Baseball's First Year Player Draft begins on June 9, the Nationals will use the first overall pick on San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg.

The 6-5 220-pound junior is considered to be the most polished prospect to ever come into the draft. Here's a look at what Strasburg has accomplished to this point as the Aztecs were preparing to play in the Mountain West Conference tournament this week.

He is 12-0 with 1.34 ERA. He leads all of college baseball with 174 strikeouts. He threw a no-hitter against Air Force on May 8 and had not allowed an earned run in 42 of his last 44 innings.

Speculation is that the signing bonus could hover close to $50 million. Regardless, to sign Strasburg will take a major financial commitment from the ballclub.


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FLORIDA

If the Marlins are going to have any hopes of staying the division race, they have got to back off on their bullpen. It is the most used in baseball.

As they continued their series with Arizona this week, Florida led or was in the top three in baseball in wins, strikeouts, ERA and innings pitched. Now, that looks OK because it's May. But their 131 innings through 38 games is an average of more than 3 1/3 innings per game. Not surprisingly, Kiko Colero leads baseball in appearances with 22 and several starters are averaging less than five innings per start. That's going to wear a team out by August and cause it to fall out of the race faster than it was ever in it.

 

By Kevin Lonnquist
MLBcenter.com Staff Writer


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