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NL East news and rumors: Johnson, Stanton, Byrd, McCann

The NL East has seen a lot of action this offseason, with Braves, Phillies and Nationals all making big additions while the Mets and Marlins sent top talent elsewhere to build for the future. Here is the latest from the division-

Greg Fiume

The Marlins have been gutted, the Mets have missed out on everyone, the Phillies refilled their outfield and the Washington is preparing for battle with the Braves. The NL East madness knows no bounds, much like Jayson Werth's beard.

The Cautious, the Recovering and the Infirmed

Spring Training can be a nerve-racking time for fans. Players are back in action and that is exciting and all, but it also means the chance of injury. The teams of the NL East can attest to that.

The Mets have a few delicate flowers in their pitching garden this spring, namely Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum. Both pitchers are being handled with care right now, which means, they are not starting games.

The Nationals may wish they were more cautious with Christian Garcia. The reliever was supposed to transition to starting this spring, but instead, he is being shutdown.

Unlike their division rivals, the Braves got some positive news this week; Brian McCann took batting practice. The star catcher is did not feel any ill effects from the workout in his surgically repaired shoulder. He was originally expected to miss the start of the season, but the return to baseball activities may be a sign that he is further along in his recovery than initially thought.

Washington Will Rule

Despite the Braves significant improvements this off-season, the Nationals are still the favorites in the NL East. With a bevy of young talent and more on the way, the Nationals have the depth and talent to reign for a long time.

Manager Davey Johnson says that it is "World Series or bust" this season for Washington. Johnson has a well-known history of making these bold pronouncements, as the guys at Federal Baseball note.

Johnson doesn’t need to win in Washington to secure his legacy, however. Rob Neyer examines Bill James’ take on what makes Hall of Fame managers and finds that Davey Johnson already fits the bill. Of course, taking home a ring with the Nationals couldn’t hurt his case, right?

Nationals Top Prospect Anthony Rendon won’t make the team out of camp. The 22 year old has raked in spring training games thus far, but the Nationals want him playing everyday and he can’t do that with Ryan Zimmerman around, so he is headed to the minors.

And if the Nationals talent doesn’t strike fear in their opponents, Jayson Werth’s beard will.

Help Wanted

The Mets and the Marlins took the opposite tact from the Nationals and Braves this off-season, selling off what they could over the winter. As a result, it is no surprise that they have holes to fill this spring.

The Mets need outfield and Marlon Byrd is going to make the team or call it a career. It makes sense really, if you can’t make the 2013 Mets outfield after failing to stick in the intensive care unit that was the Red Sox 2012 outfield, you are probably done as a professional ballplayer. Byrd is off to a hot start in Mets camp, however, so the end may not yet be at hand. Rage, Marlon. Rage against the dying of the light.

Miami has one of the best outfielders in the game, but the miserly Marlins are not ready to offer Giancarlo Stanton an extension. After all, why a little pay for a Picasso in 1907 when you can wait until the price peaks in the 21st Century, eh Mr. Loria?

The Marlins do need catching help, however. Following the injury to Jeff Mathis, the Marlins are down to Rob Brantly and prospect Kyle Skipworth, who has yet to play at any level above AA at the position. Their preferred candidate will take league minimum, enjoys long walks on the beach, wrangling inexperienced catcher and hopes to be a part of a mid-season deal to a more competitive team.