Thursday, April 01, 2010

MLB ante post betting – The American League divisions

A look at each of the American League divisional races and the betting for same.

AL West
2/1 Los Angeles Angels
2/1 Seattle Mariners
11/5 Texas Rangers
7/1 Oakland As

Overview: One of the potentially more exciting divisional races this coming summer. The Angels have made all the wrong moves (letting too many players go) while Seattle and to a lesser extent Texas have been building towards knocking the Halos off their previously lofty perch. No one has been able to touch Anaheim for a while in the AL West, but 2010 should be very different. Texas look a progressive sort, letting high priced, over valued and injury prone players like Hank Blalock go and moving forward with a young, talented infield of Davis/Kinsler/Young and Andrus. They also brought in ‘Big Bad’ Vladimir Guerrero to DH. Angels fans are going to have to watch a revitalized Vlad, no longer worrying about playing outfield, mashing long home runs off their shell shocked pitchers all season long. 19 times, Mrs. Rooney, 19 times! Painful. The rotation in Texas may not blow you away at first look but with Nolan Ryan at the helm in the front office and focusing on that area, you know they are going to be decent on the hill. The really exciting new kid on the block is the Mariners. They have made some stunningly simple yet exciting moves this winter. Chone Figgins at second? Nice. Milton Bradley in left? Hey, he is a sparky character, sure, but boy can he hit. Their starting rotation is potentially sensational. ‘King’ Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee back to back? Who is going to enjoy facing them in the first round of the playoffs? To end on a negative, you can write Oakland off immediately, and what was Anaheim thinking letting Lackey, Guerrero and Figgins go? That’s the heart and soul of their team. I am sure they are selling it to their fans as ‘getting younger’ but in reality, they just didn’t want to pay the players, so they are dumping salary. Well, enjoy a 70 win season, fellas. Nice way to treat your vociferous, loyal fans.

The sure thing: The Seattle Mariners are fantastic value at 2/1 to supplant the soon-to-be-awful Angels at the top of the West.
The outsider: Texas will challenge Seattle all the way
Our predicted finish:
  1. Seattle Mariners
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels
  4. Oakland As

AL Central
7/4 Minnesota Twins
2/1 Chicago White Sox
12/5 Detroit Tigers
11/1 Cleveland Indians
20/1 Kansas City Royals

Set to reign in '10

Overview: Well now, untangle this mess, if you can! The only team you can categorically rule out of the AL central race is Cleveland. Yes, the Indians, not the Royals. The Tribe has been dumping players and salary faster than Jennifer Anniston dumps Hollywood hunks, and have replaced them with, well, nothing special basically. Their loyal fans have been turning bitterly on the ‘big’ teams (Boston, New York, Philadelphia etc) when it is really their own front office they should be angry at. People of Cleveland, your team is dumping salary! They don’t want to pay good players, and would rather try bringing up young, cheap players. This is a cheap move, nothing short, nothing less. The scary part for Indians fans is, the Royals might actually pass them in 2010. The Royals made some interesting additions, particularly in the outfield. Scott Podsednik will be a great addition, as will Rick Ankiel. In those two guys they have added speed and power, and super defence. They have a fantastic front three to their rotation, Greinke (Cy Young), Meche and Hochevar will mean there aren’t too many losing runs in Kansas this summer.

Now for the big three. The Twins suffered shocking news when their nails closer Joe Nathan was injured for the season. They will miss him like the desert misses rain. If I was a Twins fan my real fear would be the rotation. In short, nothing special. Their number one? Scott Baker. He can be described with one word, ‘meh’. Worse yet, their number three guy? Carl Pavano. Never before has such a mediocre pitcher lasted this long in the Major Leagues. You can expect a 2010 of 9 wins 13 losses and an era over 5 for Pavano. Have fun with that, twins fans!

Detroit kept their core intact and made some sneaky good moves. Everyone knows about Johnny Damon, and he will be a great addition, however their finest move was possibly in the lower end of their rotation. How they managed to get Max Scherzer from Arizona I will never know but he is going to be a star for years to come, and will be in the second/third spot in that rotation in no time. He had 174 strikeouts in just 170 innings last season and is only 25. Great pick up, particularly when he is only being asked to be fourth/fifth starter. He should also learn plenty from Justin Verlander, Detroit’s fireballing potential Cy Young candidate.

Finally, Chicago. Their lineup looks a little light to me, there isn’t one guaranteed 30 home run guy in there (you could see Konerko stalling at 25), and Chicago might struggle to score runs on a consistent basis. Andruw Jones’s bloated corpse at DH is not a scary proposition. When you look at the electricity in some of the lineups in the AL, the White Sox version is nothing short of very ‘National Leaguey’. Chicago’s trump card is clearly their pitching. Beuhrle and Peavy are a really nice looking front two, and the back three aren’t bad either. The problem is, can’t you see the headline now, ‘Peavy out for six weeks with (insert injury here)?

The sure thing: Detroit Detroit Detroit. The Detroit Tigers have all the ingredients. Superior, power pitching, a big bullpen full of power arms and a fantastic, diverse lineup with speed and power. Tough division however the Tigers look the cream of the crop.
The outsider: Don’t laugh, the Kansas City Royals. At 20/1 they can overtake Cleveland and maybe make a run at the top three. Might not have enough depth in the end but, they have made some forward thinking moves and, at the end of the day, they have one of the finest pitchers in baseball right now in Greinke.
Our predicted finish:
  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Minnesota Twins
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cleveland Indians

Dark horse

AL East
8/11 New York Yankees
9/4 Boston Red Sox
9/2 Tampa Bay Devil Rays
66/1 Baltimore Orioles
100/1 Toronto Blue Jays

Overview: Possibly one of the more straight forward of the AL divisional races seeing as you can rule two teams out straight off the bat. Baltimore and Toronto, thanks for playing, good luck trying to break .500. Imagine poor Toronto’s plight. They lost Roy Halladay and have to face the Yankees, Sox and Rays 57 times. Ouch. The Yankees will do what they always do, Win a bunch of games with high priced, ageing free agents. If they stay healthy, they will be hard to beat. Imagine though, a scenario where for example two of their over 30 brigade go down injured. The Yankees have absolutely zero depth on the bench or in the minors. That’s just not how they work, they buy in everyone they can. The strategy worked last season, however this year they face two challengers who are dangerous for different reasons. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are desperate. This is their year. It has to be. After 2010 several of their best players are free agents and there is no way Tampa are going to pay them their market value. Simply put, Tampa has to win in 2010. The Boston Red Sox have gone for a brave strategy. They are basically going to try and throw the ball past everyone. Beckett, Lester, Lackey? If they stay healthy, forget about it. They brought in a couple of interesting role guys (Cameron/Beltre) to supplement the home grown talent (Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youk, Bard, Bucholz, Papelbon etc). They have pitching to burn and a stack of bats that won’t hit 40+ home runs but will definitely chip in around 30/35. They are going to cause absolute mayhem on the base paths with the Ellsbury/Cameron double act. The 2010 look like a National League team with power. Fundamentals first, but no lack of raw talent/speed/power.

The sure thing: A-Rods steroid riddled body, which showed signs of slowing down last season, falls apart and AJ Burnett puts up another 4+ era for just eleventy billions dollars (he has an ugly looking 8:11 K:BB in 14.2 spring innings). The clock strikes twelve on Tampa’s Cinderella story and Baltimore and Toronto give up and request a move to the NL West. Meanwhile you can’t ignore Boston’s claims to the title on the back of possibly the finest rotation in all of baseball. It’s not just Beckett, Lester and Lackey. The Red Sox can fill the final two spots with any two from Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Bucholz and Bowden, with Casey Kelly waiting in the wings. Now that’s pitching depth.
The outsider: Up against an 8/11 favourite, Boston is the outsider of note.
Our predicted finish:
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays

You wish, New York, you wish..

1 comment:

Fred said...

I can't believe how quickly the Rays have become good. They used to be so bad.

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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