Finishing out the NL East rankings are the pine riders...the benches.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
Near Locks: Brian Schneider/C, Ross Gload/1B/OF, Ben Francisco/OF, Wilson Valdez/UTL, John Mayberry/OF.
Backups: Jeff Larrish/OF/1B, Mike Martinez/UTL, Delwyn Young/OF/2B, Dane Sardinha/C, Pete Orr/UTL, Robb Quinlan/1B/3B.
Schneider is a solid backup backstop. Gload is a proven pinch hitter (.279/.754 for career). Francisco may actually end up seeing a lot of starts. Valdez plays remarkable defense. Mayberry crushes lefties.
2. Atlanta Braves
Near Locks: David Ross/C, Jordan Schafer/OF, Eric Hinske/OF/1B, Brooks Conrad/UTL, Joe Mather/OF, Diory Hernandez/UTL.
Backups: Brent Cleven/OF, Wilkin Castillo/C, Matt Young/OF, Brandon Hicks/3B.
Ross is one of the best backup catchers in the game; he can hit and guns down runners with regularity (39% for his career). Hinske is a ticket to the playoffs (4 straight years with 4 different teams). Conrad sucks at defense, but damn that boy can clobber a ball when the game is late and close (1.115 OPS in such situations). The rest of the gang isn't anything special, but those top 3 are plenty.
3. Washington Nationals
Near Locks: Rick Ankiel/OF, Mike Morse/OF/1B, Jerry Hairston Jr./UTL, Wilson Ramos/C, Alberto Gonzalez/UTL.
Backups: Matt Stairs/PH, Jonathan Van Every/OF, Jesus Flores/C, Laynce Nix/OF.
Ankiel is now both a washed-up pitcher and outfielder. Morse is a career .291/.810 batter as a reservist. Hairston is versatile and joins his brother in the division. Ramos has upside and could push aside future Hall-of-Famer, Ivan Rodriguez, as the starter at catcher in DC.
4. New York Mets
Near Locks: Ronny Paulino/C, Luis Castillo/2B, Daniel Murphy/2B/OF/1B, Scott Hairston/OF, Chin-lung Hu/UTL.
Backups: Nick Evans/1B, Fernando Martinez/OF, Lucas Duda/OF, Mike Nickeas/C, Justin Turner/2B, Luis Hernandez/UTL, Willie Harris/OF/2B.
Paulino will likely split time with Thole behind the plate. Castillo should just be released. Murphy is an enigma. Hairston seems sorta pointless, as his at bats could be better spent on Duda or Martinez. This bench is lackluster.
5. Florida Marlins
Near Locks: John Baker/C, Emilio Bonafacio/UTL, Scott Cousins/OF, Bryan Petersen/OF, Osvaldo Martinez/UTL.
Backups: Brett Hayes/C, Brad Davis/C, DeWayne Wise/OF, Joe Thurston/UTL, Ruben Gotay/INF, Greg Dobbs/3B/1B/OF.
On paper this is one of the worst benches in the MLB heading into the season. I wouldn't take any of them over one of the Phillies bench players.