Jayson Werth: Phillies, not Braves, are Nationals' biggest threats

Jayson Werth has the beard of a sage. But does he have the predictive powers of a sage? (Getty Images)

In most quarters, the received wisdom is that the NL East race will come down to the two incumbents: the Nationals of Washington and the Braves of Atlanta. After all, the Nats won 98 games a year ago, and the Braves claimed the top NL wild-card berth. Moreover, both teams are well positioned to repeat those successes in 2013. However, to hear Washington outfielder Jayson Werth tell it, his old team in Philly poses more of a threat than the Upton-ized Braves. Here's Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

Back in Viera, as he tied his shoes for a morning workout, Jayson Werth was asked if considered the Braves or Philadelphia Phillies a bigger threat. Werth, the former Phillie, did not hesitate.

"Phillies," he said. "I think everybody is writing them off. They played good in September, when they were healthy. They’re not going to roll over, that’s for sure."

And about the Braves? "Yeah, the Braves got the Upton brothers," Werth said. "But they lost [Martin] Prado and Chipper."

I would disagree with Werth for, well, a number of reasons. First and foremost, the Braves won 13 more games than the Phillies last season (adjust their records based on run differential, and the margin should have been a still-healthy 11 games). Additionally, the Braves are substantially younger than the Phillies, and the Phillies -- in addition to being without Carlos Ruiz for the first 25 games of the season -- have likely gotten worse this offseason by tabbing Michael Young and Delmon Young to fill critical roles.

Anything's possible, of course, but there's nothing on paper that suggests the Phillies are anywhere close to making up those aforementioned 13 games.

Of course, maybe Werth, who spent the best seasons of his career in Philly, is just a touch biased.

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