Reasonable end-of-season reactions for every NL team
Nothing will stop baseball fans from overreacting after the first contest of a 162-game campaign. However, when the season ends - mercifully for many fan bases and victoriously for one lucky one - it's time to look back and be pragmatic.
Here's a reasonable reaction for every National League team.
American League reactions were published Saturday.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Don't get greedy. At the end of the day, this was an 84-win team that posted a negative run differential in both the regular season and postseason despite reaching the World Series. Optimism is good, and Corbin Carroll, Gabriel Moreno, and Zac Gallen are franchise-defining pieces to build around. There's still work to be done, but the system is loaded with talent coming up, and Mike Hazen seems invested in building a sustained winner.
Atlanta Braves: Major League Baseball needs a regular-season trophy. Atlanta was one of the most dominant teams ever assembled but wound up winning only one postseason game before getting bounced by a red-hot Phillies team because of the randomness of the sport's playoffs. This Braves squad shouldn't be forgotten.
Chicago Cubs: Run differential isn't everything. The Cubs outscored opponents by 96 runs this past season, better than the Phillies (plus-81) and NL Central-winning Brewers (plus-81). They likely deserved a better fate. With just one more win, Chicago would've had the same record as the D-Backs, and we know how that ended.
Cincinnati Reds: What's better, being good or exciting? In an ideal world, the Reds are heading toward both. However, they settled for exciting this past year, with Elly De La Cruz being the most captivating rookie in the league, even if he doesn't come close to winning NL Rookie of the Year.
Colorado Rockies: A franchise defined by mediocrity, the Rockies lost more than 100 games in a single season for the first time in their 31-year history. Everyone knows the problems, and they start at the top. There's really nothing more to say about a rudderless team with a minus-236 run differential and no legitimate reason to hope for improvement.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers will be at least a fringe contender as long as Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are on the roster. But are we nearing the club's nadir? It seems like a whacky thing to say after a 100-win season, but L.A.'s pitching isn't what it used to be. And if Betts and Freeman go cold in the playoffs, no one is around to pick them up. Andrew Friedman and Co. may need to consider some serious retooling in the near future.
New York Mets: Spending like God doesn't make you God. Baseball needs owners like Steve Cohen, who treat their teams like a toy and throw gobs of cash at every problem - including how to offload those bad contracts and still get a good prospect. It's hard to build a championship roster in any sport, especially baseball. Cohen will find a way, but looking at how the Rangers emphasized culture might help the Mets stop being, well, the Mets.
Miami Marlins: How is an 84-win season (the same amount of victories as the NL-pennant-winning D-Backs) looking this miserable a month later? Less than two years after Derek Jeter stepped down as Marlins CEO due to disagreements with chairman Bruce Sherman, Miami has now lost star general manager Kim Ng. Sherman was reportedly searching for an executive to work above Ng after she helped right a ship that seemed destined to sink at times. One step forward, two steps back.
Milwaukee Brewers: It sure feels like fire-sale time. The Brewers lost top executive David Stearns, are on the cusp of losing manager Craig Counsell, and have already traded Mark Canha because they didn't want to pay a supremely affordable $11.5-million team option. Could Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes - both heading into their final years of arbitration eligibility - be gone next?
Philadelphia Phillies: Slaying the Braves two years in a row in the postseason feels nice, but can the Phillies reach that extra level? Dave Dombrowski will certainly try to see to it so long as he's running things. Bryce Harper seamlessly becoming a great first baseman so he could return from Tommy John surgery sooner was an incredible boon. Like previous Dombrowski-led teams, the bullpen - and Craig Kimbrel in particular - was an issue. With plenty of star power elsewhere, Philadelphia must focus on the bullpen moving forward.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller proves Pittsburgh can, in fact, develop starting pitching. Pirates fans don't need a reminder about Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, or Jameson Taillon. Keller is a late bloomer at 27, but he made 32 starts this past year while posting a 4.21 ERA. His underlying 3.80 FIP indicates he was actually kind of unlucky. The Pirates need more, but this is a great sign.
San Diego Padres: You have to run it back. Honestly, maybe this isn't reasonable at all. However, this Padres team deserved a better fate. Only the Dodgers and Braves posted better run differentials in the NL. The vultures are swarming already to offer their best package for Juan Soto, but San Diego has to double down on this roster, address the potential free-agent loss of Blake Snell, and hope the lessons from last year sink in.
San Francisco Giants: Farhan Zaidi, rightly or wrongly, has to be on thin ice. Gabe Kapler's successor as manager will perhaps entirely dictate whether Zaidi keeps his job beyond 2024, so new skipper Bob Melvin frankly has to be perfect. Kapler has his deficiencies, but this team's underperformance ultimately wasn't his fault. After missing out on Aaron Judge and having the Carlos Correa acquisition blow up rather spectacularly, the Giants must be looking to spend, and those signings need to work immediately.
St. Louis Cardinals: Maybe stop trading away outfield prospects. It doesn't take a genius to realize this Cardinals roster would've been much better with Randy Arozarena and Adolis García. However, pitching was the real defect, and it doesn't feel even remotely close to getting resolved, even if St. Louis signed the top five free-agent starting pitchers.
Washington Nationals: It was a bit of a roller coaster, but a full season of MacKenzie Gore seemed relatively promising. When the 24-year-old lefty misses the zone, he misses badly, and it's a problem. But Gore can look like a dominant future starter at times thanks to elite swing-and-miss stuff. The Nationals may have a future ace if he can improve his command.