Friday, March 5, 2010

Degenerate Friday!! MLB Futures

Before the gambling talk, a quick thought on the Giants beaning Prince Fielder with the first pitch of his first at bat of spring training. Prince hit the walk-off homer last season that culminated with an over the top celebration involving the entire team at home plate. I am all for the celebration, but when you do something like that, you may have to pay the piper, even though the celebration wasn’t aimed at the opponent and was just his own team celebrating together. I was glad to see Prince handle it like a man, flip the ball back to Zito and trot to first base. Now at the same time, the Brewers now have the right to continue the feud if they choose. If they want to plunk Pablo Sandoval in spring training or have Yovanni Gallardo buzz Zito’s tower when he gets to the plate in the regular season, it is justified.


Just a little over a week until we get to the “Degenerate Christmas” that is the NCAA tournament. In the meantime, we need to keep up the roll we have been on when we loaded up on picking the US Hockey Team in the preliminary round and Canada in the medal game. What, you didn’t think I was serious on those games? You don’t trust my Olympic hockey knowledge? Never underestimate the random crappy sports knowledge that is stored in the Sports Addict’s head. So how do I keep that momentum going? By telling you about wagers that won’t be determined until November, so you’ll have long forgotten the wager by then – that’s how! Let’s look at the value bets for baseball futures on winning the World Series and the AL & NL Pennants. These are not my picks for who I think will win the trophies, but purely where I think there is value based on the current odds being offered. Let’s figure out where to stash our long-term investments…..assuming gambling was legal of course.

Here’s the link to the odds on, and below are a few select odds for those that can’t get the link at their office:

Odds to Win the World Series & odds to win the AL/NL Pennant:

Yankees: 11/4 & 3/2
Red Sox: 10/1 & 6/3
Rays: 20/1 & 12/1
Twins: 20/1 & 9/1
Tigers: 28/1 & 14/1
White Sox: 25/1 & 12/1
Angels: 15/1 & 17/2
Mariners: 16/1 & 8/1
Rangers: 25/1 & 12/1

Cardinals: 13/1 & 11/2
Phillies: 6/1 & 3/1
Mets: 20/1 & 10/1
Braves: 22/1 & 11/1
Brewers: 40/1 & 18/1
Cubs: 18/1 & 9/1
Reds: 50/1 & 25/1
Astros: 75/1 & 40/1
Dodgers: 14/1 & 7/1
Diamondbacks: 35/1 & 15/1
Giants: 20/1 & 10/1

Worst Possible Bet:

New York Mets – World Series (20/1) or NL Pennant (10/1)
What have the Mets done that would lead you to think they could contend in their own division, much less the NL or the World Series? They added Jason Bay, who is like Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas. A strong individual contributor, but when you surround them with real talent – like Will.I.Am – then you actually have something that can sell records. Even with Bay, their pitching is not good enough to content with the Phillies, Braves and possibly the Marlins. Johan Santana is a stud, but after that they are relying on John Maine, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez – three guys that could barely be the #4 starter on the other contenders. And yet because of the New York media and optimism, the odds remain similar to a team like San Francisco, which has Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Johnathan Sanchez and Barry Zito? Seems like their odds should be similar to Heidi Montag winning the Nobel Prize.

Best Value Bet for AL Pennant:

Seattle Mariners (8/1 odds)
There is no value to betting on the Yankees or Red Sox, so we’re just going to eliminate those teams immediately. The number of homer fans that will bet on them drive down the odds, which makes them even less attractive. And as of this moment, the Sox don’t have enough offense to compete (they will likely add Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego at some point), and the Yankees have to fight complacency after last year’s title. So instead, let’s look at a team that made some crucial acquisitions during the off-season and I believe may be best positioned to knock off the Yankees – the Mariners.

Their pitching rotation is as good as anyone in the league, with King Felix Hernandez at the top of the rotation, followed by last year’s post-season darling Cliff Lee, and Erik Bedard. The back end of the rotation has as much depth as it does talent, with a veteran in Ian Snell and young guys like Ryan Rowland-Smith, Doug Fister and Luke French. The bullpen is full of guys you never heard of, like closer David Aardsma. Then again, no one knew who Blake Lively was when she showed up in random terrible movies like “Accepted” or “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and now she is paparazzi gold – much like Aardsma can be fantasy baseball gold.

Offensively, they added more speed to pair with Ichiro when they signed Chone Figgins away from division rival Anaheim. They picked up shortstop Jack Wilson from the Pirates at last season’s trade deadline, and they have great camraderie in the locker room due to the presence of the Mariners greatest player of all time, Ken Griffey Jr. If they can keep Milton Bradley focused on just playing baseball, he has the potential to be as important to the Mariners as Ron Artest has been to the Lakers this season. Getting 8/1 is pretty good value for a team that has two of the best pitchers in the AL, and two of the best on-base and production guys with Ichiro and Figgins.

Best Value Bet for the NL Pennant:

Atlanta Braves (11/1 odds)
Again, we are looking for value, so the Phillies are not in consideration. In addtion to that, it is hard to see them winning a third consecutive pennant. So where do we look? The Cardinals? Maybe, but the NL Central may be the toughest division battle top-to bottom with the improved Brewers pitching staff, a healthy Cubs team, and a young and improved Reds team. (The AL Central is the next toughest with the Twins, Tigers & White Sox. The AL East has NY and Boston, and maybe the Rays, but the Orioles & Blue Jays stink) And don’t sleep on the Astros, who still have Roy Oswalt to anchor their pitching staff and Carlos Lee & Lance Berkman on offense. Facing that challenge and not having great odds, I’ll pass on the Cardinals. That and I think that Tony LaRussa is an arrogant jag-off, so I would never want to root for him over a full season. The Atlanta Braves who have retooled, and have the offense and pitching to come together and make a run at the pennant, while giving us some quality value at 11/1.

The Braves have the offense to score runs, surrounding veterans Chipper Jones and Brian McCann with Nate McClouth, Melky Cabrera, veteran Troy Glaus and stud-in-the-making Yunel Escobar. It is a solid line-up of speed with McClouth, power with Jones, McCann & Glaus, and combo players like Escobar. Combine that line-up with their emerging pitching staff, including youngsters Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hansen with veterans Tim Hudson and Derek Low, and you have a team capable of being dominant. They also get the advantage of playing in a division with the worst team in baseball in the Washington Nationals, and teams that likely will not be able to compete in the Mets & Marlins. Lastly, don’t forget the emotions involved in the team knowing this is Bobby Cox’s final season as manager and wanting to send him out with a big season. Cox has been a legend in Atlanta and deserves to go out on top.

Best Bet to win the World Series:

Seattle Mariners (16/1)
Well, if we’re looking at a Seattle-Atlanta matchup in the World Series, Fox is not going to be happy, but baseball fans should be thrilled. You will get the angle of Ken Griffey Jr. and Bobby Cox trying to end their storied careers with a title, the return of Cliff Lee to the World Series, and the potential of a second straight Japanese born MVP (Matsui last year and Ichiro of the Mariners). While I like the odds and thus the payday of the Braves better, the Mariners have a more experienced pitching staff and will have come out of the tougher American League.

There you have it – my prediction that will most definitely not play out accurately, and I’ll come up with 1,000 different excuses for why it didn’t happen – injuries, weather, bad management, unfair playing field when the Yankees make another big trade, etc. Basically, I’ll turn into the 2009 NY Mets.

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