So Carlos Beltran has decided to duel with Jimmy Rollins over which team is the team to beat in the National League East? Excellent - it's cool to know that the Phillies are even under scrutiny for this. What Phils fan would have believed that they would be the yardstick of the NL East?

Rollins was widely mocked when he made this same proclamation about the Phillies a year ago. And then they went out and won the NL East, as the Mets famously flamed out...which made the Phillies division crown all the sweeter.

But now the Mets have Johan Santana and one can understand Beltran's enthusiasm. Still - even with a suspect pitching rotation, the Phils are still the defending NL East champs, and have enough bats to make teams sweat.

Oh yeah - the Braves still play in that division, Chipper Jones has reminded everybody.

So I will refrain from crowning the Mets just yet. I hope the regular season is as interesting as pre-spring training and spring training has been.

And the Mets and Phillies will have 19 chances to make their point. Nice to have a heated baseball rivalry that doesn't involve the overexposed and endlessly annoying Yankees and Red Sox. Enough of them. Let's hear some noise for the NL East.

Originally Posted on on February 28th.

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