To date, most baseball writers have predicted that the Braves represent serious competition for the Phillies in the NL East. After comparing the teams closely, and trying to put aside my obvious rooting for the Phillies, I can say I just don’t see it. The biggest difference is defense, where the Phillies, assuming health by their regulars, are clearly dominant at essentially every position except perhaps first base where let’s call it even since I don’t know enough about Freddy Freeman’s fielding skills. I’d say the defensive differences provide the Phillies a 3-4 game advantage (more if the Braves put Brooks Conrad back out there). Looking at the offense by position, the Phils have a distinct advantage at 1B, CF, SS (think a big year ahead for Rollins) and likely 3B (no way Chipper comes back and plays more than 100 games and likely hits about .245 this year when he does play). I’d give the Braves the edge at only RF, with the teams relatively even at 2B (assuming this is where Uggla plays), C, and LF. Overall, I’d give the Phillies a 3-4 game advantage because of offense. With Starting Pitching, yes the Braves have some good/great pitchers, but they also have Lowe and possibly Rodrigo Lopez in their rotation. No need to discuss who the Phils have, but to me this is at least a 5-6 game advantage. With regard to the bullpens, the Braves have some good young pitchers, but the Phils pitchers have a better track record and I think Lidge will be adequate as closer, so I think this is probably a 1 game advantage for the Phillies. Taking into account other intangibles such as injury, bad luck, and managing, I’d say on paper and based on past performance, the Phils should finish at least 12 games ahead of the Braves- say Phillies with 98 wins, Braves with 86 and not in the playoffs.