San Diego has sights locked on top players

San Diego Padres are hardly a contender for the World Series, but over the last couple of years they tried to make amends. The obvious choice was to consolidate the starting formation with pitchers and relievers that were capable of keeping the team afloat when run production was at its lowest. They obviously failed because the team didn’t even make the playoffs, yet in 2015 they have good reasons to be optimistic.baseball

There are couple of players that could shake hands with the current management and Luis Sardinas who is currently playing for the Milwaukee Brewers is an option. He joined the team after playing for the Rangers and he could finally end up playing with the San Diego Padres which would mean a great deal for this reeling team. Only time will tell whether Milwaukee will agree to flip him soon after signing this player, but anything can happen as long as the West Coast team is motivated enough.

San Diego is not exactly the region’s club in baseball, which explains why so few players are willing to play here in the absence of convincing results. Clint BArmes and Alexi Amarista are two shining examples and the 25-year-old players could spend at least a couple of seasons with the Padres. Since making their MLB debut, these two players have greatly improved their game and it is unlikely for the team to trade him in the foreseeable future.

In fact, they are willing to invest a lot of money in quality pictures and Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies is on the list of potential acquisitions. It goes without saying that they will have to pay a hefty paycheck to acquire him, after he went 9-9 last season and posted a record run average of 2.46, with a massive 198 strikeouts while playing in excess of 200 innings.

LA Dodgers intend to stick with Don Mattingly

Los Angeles Dodgers were credited with the first chance to win the World Series in 2014, due to the fact that they had some of the best players in their rotation. With a roster featuring some of the best starting pitchers and also a couple of extraordinarily precise players, they were one of their big disappointments. Compared to the Yankees or the Boston who failed miserably and didn’t even make the playoffs, Los Angeles was slightly better but that was hardly enough for their general manager.

la dodgersWinning the division was nothing more than a pale consolation because the elimination from postseason weighed heavily in the balance. Clayton Kershaw and his fellow starting pitchers couldn’t carry the team and in the absence of reliable relievers, the Dodgers sank into near irrelevance. To add insult to injury, they are otherwise potent offensive failed to rise to the challenge when run production was needed most and only scored a couple of points in the playoffs.

It was obvious that something had to change quickly as the new president of baseball operations knows exactly what needs to be done. The good news is that Don Mattingly will remain manager for the Dodgers, while the franchise with be looking for a new general manager. To some, this decision might look a bit surprising, since there were many who blamed Mattingly for the poor performance, but the players are 100% behind this announcement.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/friedman-dodgers-hire-gm-keep-mattingly-203546232–mlb.html is where the information surfaced first. It is now official that Andrew Friedman is going to take over and he already scheduled a meeting with Mattingly, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the upcoming season. Plenty of things will change and well before the season spring, some of the players will depart why new acquisitions will be made.

On the other hand, it is never too early to decide which players are worth keeping and which ones should go, especially when it comes to a baseball club. The Dodgers will regard the untimely elimination from the playoffs in 2014 as a setback for their plans, but they are going to persevere in this direction. They are still adamant in winning the World Series and 2015 seems to be as good as any other year and under the new general manager, Don Mattingly could be a part of that success.

Ron Gardenhire fired by Minnesota

To say that Minnesota is not exactly the best team in Major League Baseball be the understatement of the day, because the Twins have been struggling heavily over the last couple of seasons. Many found it downright surprising that manager Ron Gardenhire was not sacked earlier, because he managed to finish four consecutive seasons with more than 90 defeats. The numbers are staggering and nobody was really shocked by this decision made by Gen. manager Terry Ryan.

baseballdailyThe numbers are all that matter and Ron has no reason to be upset, because regardless of what drove Minnesota to the ground, a change is necessary. On the bright side, he was among the most enduring managers of all those hiring MLB teams, behind Los Angeles Angels’ manager. The Twins didn’t change too many managers over the last three decades, having just two of them and apparently it took a while for the top management to make this decision.

The problem is that the team has lost so many games, that it is virtually impossible to exclude the possibility of faulty management. The fact that they were never really in contention for the playoffs is one thing, but finishing last year after year was downright frustrating. Minnesota was simply abysmal in August, winning a fraction of the games and being outplayed by all opponents even the weaker teams.

When asked how he felt about getting sacked, Gardenhire said that he was not surprised and he accepted the fact that disappointing results brought him into this situation. The players themselves have good reasons to be sad about the manager leaving but also aware of the fact that they are mostly to blame for these terrible results. If the new manager doesn’t steer the ship around, it will be only a matter of time until players will start feeling the consequences.

Some of the players were more upset than others, but Ryan was the one who suffered the most because he had a special relation with Gardenhire. He was given a chance to remain within the organization, but the former manager declined politely, even though he said that he was honored by the invitation. Some players were probably happy to see him go because they clashed over the years, but overall the Twins and the fans are not going to get over this too easily.

Gardenhire joined Minnesota almost 30 years ago and he achieved some great things in the early 2000s, but since then things took a turn for the worse and they never truly improved. Everyone is anxiously waiting to see how the team will fare in the upcoming season, because for the time being, there is very little that players can do, but watch the playoffs on TV.

Texan derby underway in Houston

What seemed to be downright impossible at the beginning of the regular season did happen, with Texas being the worst team after 115 rounds. Despite the fact that the Rangers have a formidable roster and should compete for the World Series, they are now completely out the form and have turned into the MLB’s biggest train wreck. The fact that they start as huge underdogs on the road against local rivals Houston speaks for itself, while making it an interesting proposition for punters.baseballdaily

Texas has an equally bad record on the road and at home, having lost 64 games already, while winning just 51. Their offensive is no longer clicking and opponents get to score plenty of runs without them, which is a deadly combination. Earlier this week, Houston was just two points above Texas, but as a result of winning back-to-back games, they have extended their advantage to four wins.

Things can turn from good to better for the hosts, as they go for a clean sweep against their local rivals and there is very little that the Rangers can do to stop them. In the previous two games, the Astros scored 12 runs which is a lot for a team that usually settles for a narrow margin victory and emphasizes the importance to defend. The visitors will be without a couple of key players, including George Springer, while counting on Dallas Keuchel as starting pitcher tonight.

He looks like an excellent choice, after winning 10 decision the season and even more impressive is the fact that he managed to keep his ERA below 3.00. Dallas received very little support from his teammates in the most recent match, but even so he avoided a loss, so he is entitled to be optimistic about this fixture. Keuchel also has an excellent home pitch record, allowing just one run per match in the last three games, all of them victories for the Astros.

On the other hand, the Rangers will need to send in Nick Martinez who is mired in a lengthy losing streak and only managed to win a single decision the season. He lost eight times and his earned run average has climbed above 5.00, with the most recent defeat coming at the hands of Chicago White Sox. He allowed the opponents to score 5 times in just as many innings, which prompted the Astros to retire him early.

Granted the odds for a home win are not spectacular, with most bookmakers offering 1.60 for Houston to prevail, it is very hard to go against the trend here. Punters could go for higher odds, by betting on the hosts to cover the -1.5 runs spread, although it is considerably safer to simply back the hosts at full stakes.

Something’s got to give in the AL

Toronto dominated the Eastern division of the American League for months in a row, but they suffered a complete meltdown that allowed Baltimore to overtake them. They are still within striking distance and have won three consecutive games in a row, but in order to close the gap they need to win against the New York Yankees. Their opponents were just as successful of late, also winning three consecutive games and tonight they will also have home pitch advantage.

torontoThis sounds like a great deal, but numbers indicate something else, because the New York Yankees have won more games on the road. It came as no surprise that they managed to sweep Texas, which would normally be a huge accomplishment. The problem is that the Rangers have sinked into near irrelevance and despite their otherwise potent lineup are unable to win back-to-back games. At the time of writing they have the worst record in baseball and it is most unlikely for this to change anytime soon.

This series is of great interest to those teams involved, because the winner will not only collect three valuable points, but also strike a significant blow to a direct rival. Toronto desperately needs to return to its winning ways and build on a couple of successful games, to make players and fans forget about the recent slump. Things are clearly heading into the right direction, with the Blue Jays winning the final match of the series against Boston in convincing manner. More about the lopsided win can be read here: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_07_24_bosmlb_tormlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=tor.

The prospect of sweeping both Boston and New York Yankees in a single week is definitely going to bolster their morale, but the Blue Jays need to play perfect baseball to achieve that. Starting pitchers were stellar in the last matches, but the Red Sox missed a couple of inspirational sluggers, which greatly affected their offensive prowess. By comparison, the Yankees are pretty confident when it comes to scoring runs and they have a handful of skilled starting pitchers of their own.

Hiroki Kuroda only won half of the 12 decisions, but he has been absolutely dominant against Toronto, winning all three games so far and posting a 1.29 ERA. He will take the mound tonight and usually lasts for at least six innings, the visitors will have a hard time offsetting the handicap. It is always possible to take advantage of less than reliable relievers, but the bullpen exceeded expectations in the recent series played against the Texas Rangers.

The visitors will be countering with Buehrle who is seeking his first victory in 10 games against the New York Yankees, having lost the previous nine ones. He allowed more than six runs per match on average and despite their best efforts, offensive players couldn’t save him from recording a negative decision. If he doesn’t snap the string of subpar performances against the Yankees, the Blue Jays are bound to end their winning streak and allow the New Yorkers to overtake them.

Cincinnati takes on East division leaders

The first two games of the series have been surprising to say the least, with both teams earning lopsided victories while allowing double-digit runs. Toronto won the opening match and scored a massive 14 runs, but they allowed nine from a team that struggled offensively throughout this month. Cincinnati fired back in the second match to level the score after an emphatic 11-1 win and virtually anything can happen in the decisive match.

The top concern for both managers is to bolster the defenses, because it is most unlikely to catch up with the opponents if they start another scoring frenzy. The Blue Jays will have a hard time replicating the opening game performance against Johnny Cueto who has the best earned run average in the majors. For a starting pitcher who can brag about a 1.92 ERA, it is downright shocking that he won just 6/11 decisions, but an explanation is easy to find.

baseballdailyIn 2014, the Reds were expected to score plenty of runs but instead struggled up front and this greatly increased the pressure on the starting pitchers. On those rare occasions when the starters managed to limit opponents to one or two rounds, relievers squandered the slim advantage and deprived them of a winning decision. Johnny Cueto is quite familiar with this turn of events and can only hope that tonight his teammates will give him a decent support.

Dickey has also won six decisions while dropping five, but his earned run average surged above 4.00 and he has been one of the least reliable pitchers in Toronto’s rotation. The knuckleballer alternated stellar performances with disappointing outings, not to mention that he has some fitness concerns. One week ago he left the pitch with a groin injury and his next few starts were postponed, but he will be given the chance to prove his worth against Cincinnati.

The Blue Jays were downright impressive in the first two months and consolidated their position at the top of the East division. In late May and throughout June, they dropped most of the games and only managed to win 4/14 fixtures. Despite this disappointing numbers, they still hold a narrow advantage over the New York Yankees who play against local rivals. They have a stellar pitcher on the mound and are expected to win fairly easy against Baltimore, which means that Toronto is under a lot of pressure.

The fate of this match could well be decided in the first couple of innings, with the starting pitchers being extremely important. In baseball, past performance is rarely a reliable indicator for future results, especially when teams alternate lopsided victories with stunning defeats. After the last two games, predicting the outcome of this decisive match looks like a coin flip, but the role of Johnny Cueto as starting pitcher shouldn’t be underestimated.

He gave his teammates no reasons to doubt his consistency and ability to shut down Toronto, so he should be given credit. Bookmakers are favoring the hosts to prevail, with the odds for a straight victory being relatively low. Punters should consider the possibility of backing Cincinnati to cover the -1.5 runs spread, because if the Reds are to win the decisive match, they are probably going to prevail by at least two runs.

Fascinating pitchers’ duel at Target Field

Minnesota has one of its best starting pitchers fit to play in this fixture, but unfortunately for the hosts, so do the Rangers. Texas comes visiting and Yu Darvish will take the mound tonight, making this match a true pitchers’ duel that could go either way. Minnesota is having a hard time in the Central Division, with the fewest victories of all 5 teams, but they lost fewer games than Cleveland.

Home pitch advantage helped them stay afloat but their record at Target Field reads 12-12, which is hardly impressive by any standards. Winning games was particularly difficult of late and the top priority is to end the four game losing streak. It all began by this time last week, when Minnesota faced the Giants on the road and they were unable to score more than two goals per match in the entire series. By comparison, San Francisco steamrolled past them and wrapped the series up with an emphatic 8-1 win.

Rangers-Twins PreviewThe opening match against the Rangers didn’t go too well either and there is a good chance for the Twins to suffer another sweep. Texas has the kind of players that can take advantage of a struggling bullpen and this is exactly what Minnesota needs to fix quickly. Even when the starting pitchers held their ground and prevented opponents from taking an early lead, the relievers squandered everything.

Phil Hughes knows that he will need to pitch perfectly and last at least 7 innings for his team to have a fighting chance against the Rangers. This is easier said than done, not because Phil doesn’t have what it takes to pitch for a full 7 innings or even more. The real reason for concern has to do with Texas’ potent offensive lineup and their terrific form. The opening game was just a taste of what might happen in the next two games and the worst part is that the visitors won’t even need that many runs to win.

Yu Darvish won 4 out of 6 decision this season and his ERA is a bit over 2.00, which means that his teammates will probably need to score 3 runs to win the match. Add to this the bullpen issues that are unlikely to go away overnight and it is obvious why the Twins are so concerned.

Punters have two choices for this match, one being to back the visiting team to win outright, the other to bet on more than 6.5 runs to be scored. The starting pitchers are good, but the relievers are not to be fully trusted and bookies have overextended a bit by offering such big odds for a total of 7 runs or more.

Spectacular odds for a White Sox victory

Since winning the World Series more than a decade ago, Chicago White Sox rarely made the playoffs and they were rather disappointing. This season, they are not among the favorites to play baseball in October, but even so they are a force to be reckoned with in the Central division. At the time of writing, they are trailing Detroit and Minnesota but they actually have more victories and both of these teams.White Sox

The reason for why they sit in the third place while the Tigers and the Twins are above them, is that they played 26 games already and lost half of them. One of the things that punters should keep in mind is that most of those defeats came on the road, while the White Sox were dominant in front of their fans. They won 8/13 games at home and outshot opponents, with Jose Abreu being dominant and scoring the vast majority of home runs.

If he can keep up his runs production, he will be a strong candidate for the league MVP, but for the time being he needs to focus on helping his team. Obviously, Chicago can’t defeat Tampa Bay without solid pitching and Andre Rienzo is not exactly the most experienced starting pitcher in their rotation. The rookie is trying to convince the White Sox that he should be kept on the pitch after the veteran he replaces returns from injury and he is on the right track.

Andre won his first decision this season despite the fact that he allowed almost 5 runs on average and depends a lot on the support provided by the sluggers. His best friend tonight will be Jose Abreu, whose number against the Rays are encouraging. The visiting team will also rely on an inexperienced starting pitcher, as Odorizzi doesn’t have enough games played in major league baseball to be considered an asset.

He is yet to win a decision this season and lost both so far, which is hardly surprising given the fact that he allowed an average of six rounds per match. This is not going to be a pitchers’ duel by any stretch of imagination, instead it will be the offensive that will influence the result. The visiting team struggles at the bottom of the East division with just four victories on the road, which makes it strange that bookmakers are crediting them with the first chance.

Basically, we have two starting pitchers that are inexperienced, but the one playing for the hosts won his decision while the visitors rely on one seeking his first win in 2014. Rienzo doesn’t have the best earned run average, but he is still above his counterpart, while the White Sox have a winning record at home as compared to the 4-7 numbers posted by the Rays on the road. The odds for a home win stand at 2.15 with most bookmakers, which makes this that a no-brainer for bold and risk-averse punters alike.

LA Dodgers outspend, but can they outplay all other teams?

If you fancy long term wagers, then you are probably contemplating the possibility of backing the LA Dodgers to win the World Series in 2014. There are plenty of reasons for why punters would be inclined to place such a wager, but the leading argument is the fact that bookies regard them as favorites to win. Since the house rarely loses and the odds tend to reflect the value of individuals and teams alike, it is hard to dismiss the Dodgers as underdogs.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Oakland AthleticsWhile it is obvious that Los Angeles is among the favorites to win the trophy, we should think things through, because the Dodgers won’t be able to buy a World Series victory. They have the biggest budget in club history and for the first time in many years they outspend the New York Yankees, but this is not enough. The New Yorkers had a commanding lead in terms of budget for many years in a row, yet they won a single World Series since 2001.

The competition is every bit as intense as ever, with St. Louis being a strong candidate and the bookies have picked up on the vibes. Unlike the Dodgers who tend to collapse during the playoffs, the Cardinals are more resilient and they could pose serious problems in the National League finals. It would also be a mistake to underestimate the Red Sox, who are the reigning champions or to completely ignore the Tigers

Detroit spent a lot of money as well and have some of the best starting pitchers in the league, including Justin Verlander. Granted one player is not enough to win the World Series, a handful of well-paid ones are no guarantee that the Dodgers will cruise to an easy victory either. The strongest reason for why Los Angeles is heavily favored by bookies is that they are very likely to win the division. The competition is weak and now that the Giants are struggling heavily, there are very few capable of stopping the Dodgers.

Another thing to factor in is pressure, because with so much money invested, manager Don Mattingly will have to deliver remarkable results just to meet expectations. In turn, players won’t have any room for error and whenever they commit a mistake there will be someone to exaggerate its impact. The bottom line is that the value is not with the Dodgers and if you insist on placing an ante-post wager, it would be better to take a chance with the LA Angels or Pittsburgh Pirates.

Busy week in the MLB and beyond

david ortizThe regular season is still two months away, but things are moving at blazing fast speed in major league baseball especially at the big clubs. The Red Sox need to make up their mind about what they’re going to do with David Ortiz in the next couple of years. His contract ends one year from now and the 38-year-old is looking for a multiyear offer and told the local CBC television station that he doesn’t rule out the possibility of leaving the team.

The reigning champions made full use of his services over the last decade and in 11 years he helped his team win three World Series. Reporters took notice of his intentions and are speculating about the time he plans on playing, with no estimation being available yet. Additionally information about the interview and the possible outcomes can be found at http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/01/27/red-sox-ortiz-on-sports-final-hopefully-i-wont-have-to-wear-another-uniform/.

The prolific slugger would be definitely welcomed by most clubs in MLB, despite the fact that he is inching closer to 40 years old. He packs quite a punch and has both the experience and skills that many clubs need to make a successful and deep run in the playoffs, which means that the Red Sox need to take his announcement seriously. Ortiz told the media that he hopes that his club will make him a deal that he will gladly accept, as he would like to retire from Boston.

Not so long ago, similar words were uttered by Carlos Zambrano who played for Chicago Cubs, but things took an unexpected turn. The Venezuelan player was simply too flamboyant and sometimes downright aggressive and in absence of spectacular results he had no future with Chicago Cubs. Instead, he headed back home and now plays for Navegantes del Magallanes where he was the protagonist of an embarrassing incident.

He punched the opposing pitcher and three days later apologized for his gesture, which proves that even though Carlos changed his team his habits remained the same. Elsewhere in the MLB, Cincinnati Reds signed Chris Nelson to a minor-league contract, after he played for Colorado in 2012. He failed to meet the high expectations and was demoted, before finally leaving Colorado. The Rockies are now signing Paul Janish and he will be put to the test in the minor leagues, before having the chance of playing among the best players in North American baseball.