Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baseball Season Musings

Baseball begins on Sunday night so it’s time to make last minute preparations with regards to betting trends and teams to watch. We’ll start this article off with pitchers to play and to fade.

Five Pitchers to back:

Wade Davis, TB – This 5th starter made six starts last year for the Rays going 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA on the season. Davis started his career giving up one run and three hits against the Tigers in seven innings of work last September. While he did struggle against the Red Sox in his next start, Davis gave up just six earned runs in his last four starts of the season against the likes of Baltimore, Seattle and the Yankees. Should be noted that Davis has an 8.80 ERA in spring training but he’s been tinkering with new pitches.

Brian Matusz, Baltimore – The bandwagon is big for this tall left hander as a good spring training has backed a nice finish to his 2009 season. Matusz is 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA in five outings this spring striking out 19 while walking only 3.

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati – This phenom’s career couldn’t be more helter-skelter. Bailey spent 2007 and 2008 getting smacked around going 4-8 in 17 games over those two seasons. Last year, he improved a bit going 8-5 with a 4.53 ERA. Bailey has made three outings this spring giving up just four runs in 11.2 innings pitched. While his strikeout numbers aren’t very gaudy (3), he seems to have fixed his walk problem that plagued him earlier in his career.

Ricky Nolasco, Florida – Nolasco spent some time in the minors last season and it seemed to clear his head. While the 5.06 ERA last season is unsightly, he still managed to go 13-9 striking out 195 while walking only 44. This spring, Nolasco is 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA in five starts striking out 21 while walking only one batter. Ricky seems to be in midseason form already.

Luke Hochevar, Kansas City – Much like Homer Bailey, Hochevar has been inconsistent throughout his career. The right hander is 13-26 with a 5.88 ERA in 51 starts over his career. Still Luke has shown flashes of brilliance. He’s 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in four starts this spring. This is purely a speculative play as I feel that the Royals will be a team on the rise this season and for that to happen, Luke will have to lead the charge.

Four hurlers to fade:

Cole Hamels, Philadelphia – While we don’t like telling people to fade the Phillies at any time, this left hander’s inconsistency presents opportunities to jump on a juicy runline. Hamels is a top 5 pitcher when he wants to be. The lefty went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA last year allowing batters to hit .273 against him. This spring hasn’t been much better as he’s gone 1-1 with a 5.57 ERA over five starts. Hamels has given up 11 runs in 10.1 innings of work his last two outings and pitchers are supposed to improve instead of regress the closer the season comes.

Cliff Lee, Seattle – Of course the injury helps us here but I feel like even when he gets healthy, the left hander will be fade material. Lee expressed dismay at his trade from Philly to Seattle and has already been suspended once during spring training. In two starts, Lee has given up 11 hits and five runs during 5.2 innings of work. Lee’s move back to the American League could be a struggle this season as I feel like the Mariners may not live up to expectations.

Vicente Padilla, LA – The Dodgers named this right hander as their opening day starter and I’m not quite sure why. This head case seven months ago was released by a pitching starved Ranger team and went to LA where he experienced some success. Padilla’s been tattooed a bit during the spring giving up 19 hits and 10 runs in 14.1 innings of work as hitters are ringing him up to a tune of .306 BAA. I just don’t feel safe backing this right hander in games where he will be pitted against other aces.

Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore – Guthrie had one of the worst seasons of his short career last year going 10-17 with a 5.04 ERA. The right hander hasn’t been much better during the spring giving up 19 runs and 28 hits in 20.2 innings of work. Not only that, the righty has walked 13 batters as well.

Two teams that will surprise:

Kansas City Royals (Over 72.5) – This could be a surprise to some as the Royals have gone over this total only once in the last five seasons. The AL Central is wide open with each of their teams featuring problem spots. The lack of a closer will hurt the Twins while an inconsistent lineup could plague both Detroit and Chicago. Kansas City is 12-11 in the spring but what’s been impressive is that this lineup has scored the 2nd most runs in the cactus league 175. The team added Scott Podsednik, Jason Kendall and Chris Getz to the lineup as well as Rick Ankiel who will bolster the middle of a lineup that features Billy Butler who most feel will break out this season. Alex Gordon’s injury will be a bit of a concern but when he returns the lineup becomes a lot better.

The team cleaned out a lot of crap in their organization letting Sidney Ponson, Jamey Wright and Coco Crisp go among others. Pitching-wise the team has Zack Greinke who had an amazing season last year for the Royals. The team has Gil Meche, Luke Hochevar, Brian Bannister and Kyle Davies rounding out the rotation. Meche is a solid number two and is a lot better than the 6-10 record he had last season. Hochevar, as noted above, is due for a breakout as is Bannister who went 7-12 last season.

Evidence that the team is capable of solid pitching is their 4.05 ERA from the beginning of the season to June 17th. Unfortunately, after that date, the team put forth a 5.32 ERA. That was due to an inconsistent bullpen which features more players who struggled to meet expectations in Kyle Farnsworth and Juan Cruz. Joakim Soria is a top 10 closer in the league.

This play is purely speculative but something I’m intrigued by. The Royals have the pieces to make a run at the AL Central and with a price of EVEN or better on some sportsbooks, it’s worth a shot to bet on Kansas City.

Cincinnati Reds (Over 79.5 wins) – Much like the Royals, a few things need to break our way for this team to contend. They spent the offseason making a big splash by signing Cuban born Aroldis Chapman who will start the season in the minors but figures to make an impact at some point this season. Orlando Cabrera is another underrated signing for Cincinnati. The Reds have improved their win total over the past three seasons and feature some youthful stars.

Last season Cincinnati had seven players go under the knife and featured eight players who made their major league debuts. The Reds were supposed to be a factor last year but ended up using their projected starting lineup only 10 times. Despite all this, the team racked up 20 wins in September and October giving them momentum coming into this year.

The lineup features 1st baseman Joey Votto who became the first Red since Sean Casey and Ken Griffey Jr. to hit over .300. Votto dealt with stress issues last year but still managed to lead them in most major hitting categories. Scott Rolen mans the other hot corner for the Reds and he provides the leadership a young squad needs. In the 40 games Rolen started in, the Reds went 27-13. Cabrera’s addition now gives Cincinnati three gold glove winners in the infield as Brandon Phillips also received the honor.

The Reds pitching staff has a ridiculous amount of depth featuring veterans Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Those two will be atop the rotation with young talent Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey anchoring down the back end. Bailey went 6-1 with seven quality starts over his nine final outings. The fifth spot is up in the air right now but former 17 game winner Edinson Volquez is expected to return by late summer from Tommy John surgery. Not only that, but as mentioned above Aroldis Chapman will provide a boost when he joins the 25 man roster. The bullpen ranked third in the NL in ERA and is completely back. The Reds are locked and loaded there with Arthur Rhodes and Daniel Ray Herrera being their LOOGYs while Nick Masset and Mike Lincoln will be the right handed setup men for consistent closer Francisco Cordero.

Much like the AL Central, the NL central is wide open and can be won by anyone. Cincinnati has the talent to contend and could have done the same last year with better health.

One team who will fall short:

Los Angeles Dodgers (Under 84 wins) – Hard to believe that a team who won 95 games could fall so far but the perfect storm has hit LA. An offseason of tumult has hit tinseltown with the McCourt’s fighting for control of the team during a nasty divorce. Because of that the team wasn’t as busy in the offseason losing players such as Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, Juan Pierre and Orlando Hudson. In the process they didn’t really manage to bring anyone spectacular in outside of Vicente Padilla who will be their opening day starter.

The Dodgers lineup is not the issue for the 2010 version. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez pace a strong outfield for LA. Ramirez has already mentioned that this may be his last season as a Dodger as he’s ready to move on. Could this mean a midseason trade if he becomes a distraction? Definitely something to consider as we head into the season. The infield features a lot of steady production from players such as James Loney, Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake. The team’s bench is solid but nowhere near last year when they could pull Juan Pierre off and not have much drop off.

LA’s issues will come from the rotation. Vicente Padilla is not an opening day starter. The righty has been known to have some mental issues from time to time and his inconsistency is not what this team needs. Behind him are talented Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley but each have questions. Kershaw had a 2.56 ERA in his last 10 starts but went 0-3 in that span because he was unable to go that far. Billingsley managed three wins in his last 19 starts last year after starting out hot. Kuroda’s got injury issues making only 21 starts last season. The fifth spot is up in the air but could go to Ramon Ortiz or Charlie Haeger. The bullpen features a solid array of arms but Joe Torre’s overuse forced them to the DL multiple times in 2009. Jonathan Broxton’s 85.7 percent save success rate was just ninth best in the NL.

This is a talented team but the McCourt’s off the field issues combined with a fragile roster make me believe that they won’t win an improved NL West. The Rockies figure to be a factor along with a Giant team that has the best rotation in the NL and a Diamondback team with a young lineup that could be tough to deal with. Some books have the under at +125 or +130 which is a great price for something like this.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bracket Buster Saturday Selection

For clarification purposes, this game is at the Palestra yet it's a Hawks home game. Those nice people think they can beat us away from their gym so they do the right thing and play it on a neutral court. We will outnumber them at this game as the SJU program is apathetic right now towards Martelli and it seems like their regressing.

This game is a Big 5 game and the 9.5 looks mighty juicy to those not in the know. I've been hard on the Owls lately constantly trying to fade them because I hadn't been a believer. I'm coming around...Three scorers with Moore starting now and Fernandez off the bench is just an amazing way to be. The Hawks can't matchup with Eric and Allen on the inside. O'Brien doesnt want to bang with the bigs. Williamson can only "shut down" one of our guys which leaves a few of the others.

All that said, weird things happen at the Palestra....I think for a half this is close. Maybe less then a half but eventually our depth and sheer awesomeness will overwhelm the Hawks. I never like to lay so many points so I don't have any official plays. Leans for me are St. Blow's 1H, Temple game and the game Under.

Also adding:
Boston -2 -- Delaware is hideous. Blue Hen fans arent going to show up much for this one.

JMU +4 -- The Dukes are a live road dog in this one. Canisius may have trouble with Bowles.

BC/UNC Over 143.5 -- I think that these two will play in the 70's. BC has so many weapons and they play so much better at home.

Buffalo +1.5 -- I think the Bulls are the better team outright. Having watched some St. Peter's games...they play better at home but it's not exactly intimidating in their little gym.

Colorado/Kansas Over 145 -- This is going to be one of those lopsided games where it's like 92-65 or something. Kansas will do most of the work in helping this hit.

Fordham/URI Over 148 -- See above except replace Kansas with Rhode Island.

Eastern Illinois -5 -- Simple fade of NIU on the road.
EIU/NIU Over 141 -- On the road NIU gives up almost 73 points per game. I don't think EIU will mind getting up and down.

Radford -7 -- No Fields for UNCW. Radford's a pretty respectable squad with a couple of good D-1 talents.
Over 141 -- Radford averages 77 at home and UNCW gets a bit leaky away from home too.

WKU/Arky State Over 135.5 -- Western Kentucky overs are on a roll as of late so I'm continuing to ride the wave. Last 5 games they are averaging 80 points.

Wisky Green Bay -5 -- Indiana State is still banged up. I think this one gets ugly.

Long Beach State +7 -- Idaho's guards will meet some just as good as them in LBS. They are 10-5 since 1997 against the Vandals too.

Zags/Pepperdine Over 146.5 -- The Waves don't play much defense so I think the Zags could get in the 80's or 90s.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday's Selections

Temple/URI -- Needless to say this is a huge game for both teams. Temple got undressed by Richmond last week and had a week to get ready for Rhode Island. They won over the Rams earlier this season with horrible officiating not in their favor and a lot going against them. It was one of the more impressive wins this season. Now they return home in a game that may not have much atmosphere outside the students...The bigger issue involves Juan Fernandez. The PG is still dealing with lingering concussion symptoms. At one point this week he sat in a dark room all day to rest his head. This is a bad game for him to miss because URI's press will eat them alive without him. Ramone Moore filled in well offensively but the offense lacked direction in Richmond without Fernandez. If you held me to it, I don't think Fernandez is going to play in this one. He hasn't practiced much outside of some light shooting. If he doesnt play it comes down to Lavoy Allen who tore URI up inside at their place. The Rams are coming off a tough home loss to Richmond and will be focused heading to Philly.

My pick for this one is URI +5 and a small small small lean to the over. I'm not sure if the Owls win this. If I knew that Juan was going to play, I'd feel a whole hell of a lot better with this one. I'll keep you posted if things change. RIght now URI +5 and the over.

Baylor/Missou Over 144.5 -- The over has hit three straight times in Baylor in this matchup. The Bears average over 80 points at home.

Drake +3 -- Indiana State's injury problems lead me to take the road team in this one. Drake's not a horrible road team.

Nebraska +15 -- Texas isn't playing well right now and the Huskers have had ATS success against the Longhorns.

JMU +11 -- This is a matchup of two teams that have talent but can't decide if they are good or bad. VCU's road problems rear their ugly head here. The key is the Sanders/Bowles matchup. Whomever wins this one wins the game. VCU may win but this one's gonna be close.

Auburn/Miss State Over 143.5 -- 8 of the last 12 have gone over. The Tigers score 70 points a game but give up that much as well.

WKU/UALR Over 138.5 -- I'm going to keep pressing the WKU overs until they stop hitting. The Hilltoppers will get to 75 or so in this one.

North Texas -5.5 -- Denver is 0-9 ATS on the road and is outscored by an average of 8 points. I think UNT runs them out of the building.

UVA +6.5 -- This one is tighter then people think.The hoos have been off for the week and are itching to get out there. Landesburg/Delaney is going to be one hell of a matchup to watch.

La Tech -8 1H -- Hawaii is outscored by 14 in the 1st half of their road games and are playing with a lack of guards now that Jeremy Lay is out for the season. This one's gonna get ugly.

San Jose State +7 -- Adrian Oliver and the boys are a whole different team at home. I think they hang around in this one against Utah State.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Saturday's Selections

We begin with the Owls and Spiders here in Richmond. Yours truly will be in attendance rooting on the cherry and the white. I'm not gonna lie...this matchup scares me. I'd like to see the Owls play a lot of zone and force Richmond to shoot them out of it. If the Spiders choose to zone up the Owls, I'd hope that Moore/Jefferson/Randall come in and slash thru it. Time and time i've short sold Temple this season because I keep getting this nagging feeling that the bottom is going to drop out on them. There's a ton of scoring options on this team but they rarely put it all together with all of them coming together. I've been real impressed with this Spider team and there's no reason why that they couldnt be a thorn in someone's side in the tourney. They are trying to hype this game here in Richmond but weather may keep some away. I'm going to short-sell this team one more time and take Richmond -1. The Spiders take care of business at home in a game that will be ugly as sin.

Nova +2 -- Georgetown was lucky to keep it close the first time these two met. The Vilecat guards are head and shoulders better then the Hoyas. Yarou has to get Monroe in foul trouble for them to be in good shape.

Gonzaga +5 -- I know that the Zags are a flaky team but I feel like the loss to San Francisco focused them a whole lot more. I don't see the Zags losing until the NCAA tourney. Their so much more deeper then Memphis.

Old Dominion +3 -- Let's just say there may be circumstances involved with this game that don't help the Rams out. Monarch size plus experience wins out here unfortunately. Also may not be the biggest crowd depending on the weather.

UCLA +5 -- I'm not sold on Cal. The Bruins have been a drastically better team at home this season. I think they keep it close.

Michigan +1 -- The Wolverines take care of business at home. I like this spot especially since the Badgers have lost three of their last four away from home.

Missouri -4 -- Simply playing the spot against the Buffs who extended themselves big time against Kansas and fell short. I dont think they've got two of those games in a row.

Oregon State -1.5 -- I know the Beavers are flaky (see Seattle game) but why would I think of backing the Ducks in this one. I think the Beavs beat them again.

Wichita State -13.5 -- Indiana State is banged up big time and Wichy smells blood in the water. The Shockers win this one easy.

Troy/WKU Over 143 -- This one went over in Troy and I can't see much of a difference in this one. WKU's game against Monroe would have gone over if the Hilltoppers didnt have a brain fart at the end of regulation.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday's Picks....

Before we get to the picks, just a comment on my Owls. Time after time they have surprised me this season and last night was another time. I've constantly short sold them waiting for the bottom to drop out. I don't like their chances in Richmond but we'll see.

Western Michigan -4 -- I've ridden this team a lot this year. I like their chances at home against Miami Ohio. Kool and McLemore are solid players and I think this team will be a factor in the MAC tourney.

Charleston -10 -- Simmons is probable for this one. I know the Mocs have improved but Charleston is especially tough at home. Just ask UNC.

WKU/ULM Over 136 -- Monroe has no problems getting up and down the court averaging over 70 points a game at home. They also average around that much on defense as well.

Valpo +3 -- Is there a team undersold more then these guys. I know Wright State has the better record but Valpo are no slouches. I think they win this one outright.

Murray State -12 1H -- The Racers are outscoring their opponents by DD in the 1st half of their home games.

UCLA -4.5 -- Stanford's road record speaks for itself. They are remarkably bad away from home.

Portland/Gonzaga Over 145 -- This one's gonna be high scoring. The Zags should get to 80 to help this one out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday's Selctions

Yikes...yesterday was my first trainwreck of a day. I don't see that as being a trend...stick with me...we'll be fine.

Temple/Duquesne -- The Owls return home before their big game here in Richmond. Temple played great against a shorthanded La Salle team. Next up is Duquesne....a talented but utterly ridiculous team. Bolding and Saunders have to be 1 and 1a in focus for the Temple defense. No doubt in my mind that the Dukes are the more athletic team but they don't play very smart. All that said, I feel this is a close one. Temple has won the last three by 5 points each. This game will be a little more methodical then the Dukes would like because Temple just won't let it get too nuts. Give me Duquesne +13 tonight. The total is right on so i wouldnt touch that. I'm thinking something like 61-50 tonight.

UVA -5 -- Line is very fishy. I dont know how NC State wins their games. Outside of Gonzalez and Tracy Smith, this team is devoid of consistent options. Wood and Horner pick and choose when they want to show up. Granted, UVA isnt as good as their record but I think the Hoos win this one easily at home. Maybe they struggle a bit at the start after their win over UNC but Tony Bennett is one of the best coaches in the country.

William and Mary +12 -- We gave you Drexel on Sunday in their game at Williamsburg. Now the Tribe are in Norfolk taking on the Monarchs. ODU is only 6-6 TS against the Tribe in Norfolk. I think William and Mary uglies this up enough that they keep it close in the end.

St. Louis -5 -- So Nicholson is questionable yet the line falls 1.5 points? St. Louis is the better team in this game but the Bonnies have been real pesky this season. Four of their last five road games settled by single digits. Still, I'll take the Billikens in this one.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I didnt post it and didnt add it to my record but I was actually on two unders yesterday. Never again....such a tough way to go.

ECU/UCF Over 133.5 -- I realize both offenses have fallen off since last year but I still sense a trackmeet in this one. I'd take the Pirates but they burned me against Rice who is much worse. I'm thinking this one makes it to the 70s.

SMU/Southern Miss Over 119 -- I just find it so hard to believe that this doesnt go over. Both average approx 68 points per game. Prolly a trap but I'll fall for it.

TCU/BYU Over 142 -- The Cougs averaging about 82 points per game. I dont think TCU would mind running either.

Air Force +18 -- Same rule applies here as Toledo did too. Low O/U and high spreads favor the underdog. I think AFA hangs around.