MLB Future Bets “A Little Investment Could Turn Out To Be A Nice Payday”

March 26, 2009

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2009 MLB Future Bets “A Little Investment Could Turn Out To Be A Nice Payday”

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Written By Staff Writer Pat O’Keefe

Spring Training games kicked off today so now it’s time for the predictions. ESPN have their supposed analysts like Buster “Never Swung a Bat” Olney stating their opinions as if they were facts.

Well, something know-it-all brainiacs don’t talk about is one of the best bets out there today…long shot division winners.

In every Major League season there is that horse that everyone thought would be glue come playoff time that actually beats out the thoroughbreds.

Last season the obvious over achiever was the Rays. Tampa and their miniscule payroll beat out the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox and baseball’s highest payroll, New York Yankees.

If you put $100 on the Rays to win the American League prior to the season, you would have brought home $20,000 in the fall.

Even after thirty games in the 2008 season, the Rays up a game and a half on the Sox in the American League East, a bettor could have got +450 on the Rays to finish the regular season on top.

The Rays were not the only team to come out of nowhere and reward those throwing cash on the dark horse in March.

Entering the 2007 season the Detroit Tigers were the defending American League Champions, the Chicago White Sox were one year removed from a World Series Championship, and the Minnesota Twins had won the 2006 American League Central Pennant. No one was looking for the Indians and their relatively unstable roster to beat out the three other powerhouses. Certainly not after finishing the ‘06 season fourteen games under five hundred and beating out only the lowly Royals in the division.

Well, the Indians took home the American League Central Pennant that year and paid out big in Vegas.

So those who bet on the 2007 Cleveland Indians and the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays to win their respective division prior to Opening Day were big winners!

This year is no different than any other year. There will be an underdog beating out the favorites for their division. The World Series may be the Red Sox v. Phillies or the Yankees v. Cubs, which wouldn’t be real long shots (even though the Cubs seem to find a way to roll snake eyes come playoff time every season), but division winners is another story.

Division ugly ducklings are great futures bet.

The best big money pick this season is the Houston Astros. SportsBook.com has them at 2000-1 long shots, as in you put down $100 and you will bring home $20,000 if they win the American League Central.

The Cubs will be tough. A lineup toting Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Derek Lee, Geovany Soto, and Milton Bradley in the national league looks dangerous on paper. Further, a pitching staff with Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, and Ryan Dempster starting games and Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman, and Notre Dame’s own Jeff Samardzija makes this feat of the Astros even more difficult.

But the Cubs choke. It’s their MO. Sounds simple, but it has held true in the playoffs, so why not start the collapse a little earlier?

The Brewers made the playoffs last year…they won’t this year. They lost their top two starters, C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets and have a sketchy pen. The Brew Crew did add Trevor Hoffman, but he’s seen his better days. His career has been extended by pitching the majority of his games in pitchers parks in the National League West. All in all, this staff could lose more games than that powerful lineup will win.

The Cardinals continue to ignore free agent hitters every season. Albert Pujols is on an island in that lineup. Last year Ryan Ludwick came out of nowhere and whacked thirty-seven bombs…not likely this year. The thirty year old late bloomer has all of the signs of a one year wonder. There is no physical evidence or expert analysis, it’s just a hunch on my part. That doesn’t disguise the fact that there is no one else in that lineup. When Adam Wainwright, Joel Piniero, Kyle Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer, and Brad Thompson make up your starting staff, you need a potent lineup. They are having tryouts for the newly vacant closer’s role, which 90% of the time ends up ugly. Not a good outlook in Nelly’s hometown.

The Pirates and Reds are not even worth mentioning. They are consistent losers and do not have the potential the 2008 Rays squad had.

So there you are left with one last team. Now this is not even close to a sure thing. If you have $2000 in your bank account right now I wouldn’t recommend you put a grand on the 2009 ‘Stros to win the National League Central. But if you’re looking for a nice long shot, the ‘Stros are the team.

They made a terrific run in the second half of last season to win the Wild Card. The Cubs were running away from the division and very well could do the same this season, but these boys down in Houston have heart.

Lance Berkman was one of the best players in the National League last year and is consistently one of the better bats out there. Unlike Pujols in St. Louis, he’s not alone. Carlos Lee is another consistent performer. Those two alone will put up over sixty homers and two hundred RBIs year in- year out.

Miguel Tejada dodged jail this offseason and now has a lot to prove. At thirty-four years old he may have seen his better days. He’s also deflated since his juiced years in Oakland and Baltimore. Tejada could go either way, but he doesn’t have to be third option at the plate anymore.

That spot goes to twenty-five year old Hunter Pence, who continues to mature and is becoming a steady bat in the lineup and glove in right field. He adds some protection for their top two bats and takes some pressure off of Tejada to swing for the fences.

Michael Bourne adds speed on the base path and like Pence is a young up and comer. He is not a five tool player but he is essential just like all speed guys in the National League.

And the Brad Ausmus era is officially over. Houston is handing the reigns over behind the plate to blue chip J.R. Towles.

The staff has one of the most consistent aces in the National League, Roy Oswalt. After him it’s a roll of the dice. Wandy Rodriguez had twenty quality starts last season and finished the year with a 3.54 ERA. He isn’t the best number two, but can certainly hold his own especially throwing against anemic lineups like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.

After Wandy, it’s the oft injured Mike Hampton on the comeback trail and back end starters Brandon Backe and Brian Moehler. If Hampton can stay healthy and can come close to his old self (that’s hard to remember) then he would be a major boost to this staff. Former All-Star Russ Ortiz is battling to earn a spot in the rotation as well.

Again don’t bet the house on this staff, thus don’t be the house on this team.

The pen is very solid. Jose Valverde is one of the better closers in the National League and coming off a season he saved forty-four games in fifty-one chances. Bridging the gap between Valverde and the starters are some quality middle relievers. LaTroy Hawkins is back, seasoned, and coming off a great finish to last season. Geoff Geary, Doug Brocail, and Tim Byrdak all finished last year with sub four ERAs and will be back with the team this season. This bullpen has the ability to take over in the fifth inning and save the arms of Oswalt, Rodriguez, and Hampton for the race to the finish.

Again, I will state if I had to pick the winner of the National League Central, it would not be the Houston Astros. The safe bet is the Chicago Cubs, the money bet IS the Astros however .

With all of this analysis aside, there is another reason why the Astros are an attractive bet and why these types of bets are generally better bets.

Picking the winner of a single game has limits.

A starter can have one horrendous inning and the game is most likely over and you’ve lost your money.

A star hitter could have an off game, thus the lineup is not as effective and you’ve lost your money.

An ump could blow a call at the plate and you you’ve lost your money.

Picking a team to “win” at the start of the season adds more factors for better and worse.

It gives a much larger window for pitchers, hitters, and umpires to correct their mistakes.

General Managers can make trades and minor league call ups during a season that can change the outcome. They cannot make those moves during the course of a single game.

This is why $100 spent on a long shot for the season may be better then $100 on a favorite for a single game.

Think of it this way: If you make a safe bet of $100 on a single game you may win $150 tops. If you bet on a long shot of $100 on a single game and you may win $450. If you lose either of those bets that one game cost you $100.

Betting $100 at the start of the season on a long shot can pay out huge. In the Astros case it pays you $20,000 in the end. If you lose that $100 cost you $1.62 a game.

$20,000 if you win, $1.62/ game?

You make the call.

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