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Welcome to the inaugural edition of the NL East Divisional Update, one of the new additions to Batters Box 3.0. Every two weeks we'll look at what's going on in the NL East.
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No late-season charge
Lost reliable pitchers
But then, Carlos came

With their new superstar slugger, can the Marlins reclaim their mojo that led to their improbable Series triumph in 2003? One of the final previews here at the Box features the National League entry from Florida. As always, additional senryus from Box readers are most welcome.

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We hates them! It's ours, it is, and we wants it!
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How much difference does a manager make to a baseball team? Conventional wisdom suggests that managers are not that important, a bad manager can lose you more games than a good manager can win you; 2005 will be an interesting test of that piece of baseball wisdom. Jekyll, aka the fiery Larry Bowa, is gone; Hyde, in the guise of Charlie Manuel, is in. Will that change be the catalyst for the Phillies to finally win the division? I have seen a number of suggestions that the Phillies will do better in 2005 with their new manager, but this writer says the Phils will not win the NL East.

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2004 was another disappointing year for the Mets. The team found itself in a division race in July, although not playing particularly well. Short 2 starting pitchers, the club traded away top prospect Scott Kazmir and Ty Wigginton in separate trades for Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson. Zambrano developed arm troubles and the team collapsed down the stretch to finish with 71 wins.

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So, we’re not going to underestimate the Atlanta Braves again?

We’re not going to assume that this is the year they finally release their stranglehold on their division?

We’re not going to write them off until some other team actually beats them?

Good. Let’s proceed.
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Here's the 2004 season preview for the Phabulous Phils. Enjoy.
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Baseball's version of Ahasuerus will continue to wander in 2004.
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Whisper it, but maybe you can rebuild in the Big Apple.

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It's over. Over the last dozen years, the Braves have enjoyed the most sustained run of excellence in the post-Messersmith era. They've had as good a twelve-year run as any team, of any era, has ever had. And now is the time to appreciate it, because it's over.

-- Baseball Prospectus 2003

For twelve years, various people have predicted that this is the year that the Braves' run of division titles will come to an end. Some of these predictions have been based on accounting; others have been grounded in intuition. They've been made in newspapers, in private conversations, in baseball annuals, in blogs, and in every other sort of forum. And they've all been wrong. (Except in 1994, when the Braves were let off the hook by the strike, but we can't really count that.) Which makes it difficult to say that 2004 is the year in which they'll falter. However, the chorus of voices making that claim is an awful lot louder right now than it's ever been before; sometimes those who understand history are still doomed to repeat it.
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First, beat longshot odds/
Then, beat three excellent clubs/
Shockingly, World Champs!

Our 2004 Preview series now turns to the improbable kingfish of 2003, the Florida Marlins.
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