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Updated: June 6, 2010, 11:37 PM ET

NL East the new power division in baseball

Ravech By Karl Ravech
ESPN
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Look around baseball right now, and the Rays, Cardinals, Padres and Twins started the day Sunday leading their respective divisions. Texas, meanwhile, leads the AL West, a division in which the last-place team, Seattle, has a .393 winning percentage. The only division in which every team is playing better than .400 baseball is the NL East. The last-place Nationals are only four games under .500, and they have Stephen Strasburg reporting for duty on Tuesday. Within a very short time, the NL East will be baseball's premier division, surpassing the AL East.

Baseball in Washington was, once upon a time, a big deal. The original Senators won a World Series in 1924, and teams twice left Washington to become other franchises. The Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers trace their roots right back to the nation's capital. The current club traces its roots north of the border. The Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005. Two years ago, the Nats moved into their new park. Now, over the next 48 hours, beginning with Monday's almost certain drafting of 17-year-old phenom Bryce Harper and Tuesday's debut of Strasburg, the Nationals will cement their status as relevant players in the NL East. Barring injuries, they will stay that way for years to come.

[+] EnlargeStephen Strasburg
Andrew Weber/US PresswireStephen Strasburg's arrival to the majors Tuesday only makes the Nationals strong -- and the NL East a bit deeper.

And look at the rest of the division … the Phillies have Roy Halladay at the top of the rotation and position players locked up in key areas for the next three seasons. General manager Ruben Amaro has proved to be capable as a GM, and the fan base is as well established now as any in Boston or the Bronx. The Phillies are not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

The Braves have proved to be, if nothing else, resilient. Yes, this is manager Bobby Cox's final season, but as long as John Schuerholz is running the show, they will be successful. The Braves have the best young position player in baseball in Jason Heyward and a very good young pitcher in Tommy Hanson to build around.

The Marlins have Hanley Ramirez, who, in light of his public issues earlier in the year with manager Fredi Gonzalez and subsequent sit-down with Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, should be a stable force for years. Mike Stanton has been called up. Josh Johnson is at the head of a good young staff. Most importantly, the Marlins will be in a new ballpark in 2012, which translates into more revenue, which in baseball terms means better players and bigger names.

What do you say about the Mets? The team spends money, it's just it has been devastated by injuries. Given the fact they are the Mets, and they need big-name players and play in New York, I believe they do everything to stay competitive. In the short term, that might mean changing the manager or general manager. Bottom line is, given the economic hit the Wilpons took in the Madoff scandal, they're on the hook for a big part of their own ballpark, so they can't afford to have empty seats for very long. The Mets are one of only a handful of teams that have to succeed on the field to be financially successful for the owners off the field.

Considering the media markets within the division -- New York, Washington and Philadelphia -- combined with the energy a new ballpark and great young players will create in Florida, the National League East will be the most competitive, exciting and dynamic division in baseball for years to come

Karl Ravech is a host for "Baseball Tonight."

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Monday's Best Matchups

Padres at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

Phillies starter Cole Hamels should be well rested. The lefty pitched only two-thirds of an inning his last time out thanks to an early rain delay against the Braves. The start was, however, long enough for him to earn his second consecutive loss. In two-thirds of an inning, he allowed two hits, two walks and three runs.


Giants at Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET

The Reds' Johnny Cueto is coming off his worst start of the year. After four consecutive wins, Cueto gave up 10 hits and eight runs against the Cardinals, but he snuck off with a no-decision. The righty has not lost since April 24, going 5-0 with a pair of no-decisions.


Cardinals at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

Carlos Monasterios has slipped into the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation, and he has handled himself nicely in three starts. Over his past two starts, he has permitted only two runs over 10 innings, winning one game and getting a no-decision in the other. The Dodgers won both games, the second a 1-0 victory at home against the Diamondbacks.

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