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NL East Preview

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Baseball is only a week away from starting it's long, grinding, 162-game season and after going through each American League division in recent days, it's time to center our attention on the senior circuit; beginning with the NL East.

We can begin by simply writing off the New York Mets (+2000) and Miami Marlins (+10000).

Miami had a roster fire sale this past winter getting rid of any established, talented major leaguer they had on their roster that wasn't named Giancarlo Stanton. They made one of the most questionable trades in major league history with the Toronto Blue Jays in a deal that basically fleeced them of all their talent. The rebuilding project is in full force in Miami again and it will be one ugly season down in South Beach with little to no fan support.

The Mets are a little harder to write off, but they are beginning their own rebuilding project after signing David Wright to a long extension and getting some very talented prospects from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade. This team now has the building blocks to be on the upswing for years to come, sadly it will take time to get there as these prospects develop and get used to the big league game.

Three-Horse Race: Washington (+100); Atlanta (+200); Philadelphia (+300)

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Washington is set up in the driver's seat after claiming the division last year with a 98-64 record and with the core of this team still being young or entering their prime's they are a tough team not to like. They were 12 games above .500 against division rivals last year and beat up on the rest of the National League with a 46-26 SU record against Central and West opponents. But being the hunted is a lot different than being the hunter and with Atlanta making numerous upgrades this winter and Philly healthy to start the year, the Nationals are a tough team to take at this price.

Atlanta's biggest move was landing the Upton brothers in the winter as they hope they are the missing links in getting them back atop this division. Without them they finished four games behind the Nationals last year (94-68) and were actually the best team against other NL East opponents (46-26). Winning division games is how a team gets on the fast track to a division crown and Atlanta will once again be in the race all year.

But 2013 might be the year we see the Philadelphia Phillies back on top in this division. Early season injuries to stars like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard ravaged this team's 2012 campaign and turned them into sellers at the trade deadline. That won't be the case this year as everyone is healthy to begin the year and getting rid of the likes of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino actually freed up the Phillies outfield to get younger and faster. They added Ben Revere from the Twins and John Mayberry really started coming into his own when he got consistent playing time at the end of the year. Add in the veteran addition of Michael Young from Texas and Philadelphia will be a force this year.

They still have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball with Hamels, Lee and Halladay anchoring it and it allows them to have no problem winning games 2-1 or 10-9. Last year's huge disappointment has got to be a huge rallying point for this veteran team that knows it's championship window is on its way shut.

Take the Phillies at +300 to win the NL East.

  
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