Beast in the (NL) East? (3/30/00)
The Atlanta Braves have been the most consistent franchise in baseball for the past decade. Every year they have put together a solid enough team to make the playoffs. And every year there's a new challenger. This year might be the first in quite some time where they get a challenge from more than one of their division rivals.
New York Mets
Even without Smoltz, the Braves have enough talent to win the division again. However, if injuries start to pile up, especially if Chipper Jones misses a chunk of time, the door will swing wide open for someone else to wear the division crown. The Mets did improve their rotation, but not by as much as the New York fans would like. The bullpen is still very good, but it seems certain that the Mets offense and defense will be noticeably inferior to last year's squad. The Phillies have questions in too many places to make a serious run at the Braves. The Expos are moving in the right direction. The only question is have they done enough? Defense is still a question, but the pitching and the hitting has awesome potential. And with Alou, it's foolish to underestimate them. The Marlins are also moving in the right direction but their offense still has too many holes and the rotation is still a year or two away from being really competitive in this division.
3) New York