Pitchers and catchers are in camp, some players have shown up to knock off the cobwebs, and, thanks to the World Baseball Classic and the impact it is having on Spring Training, we are well under two weeks away from the start of spring baseball. Glory days. The public will start paying a little bit more attention to World Series futures once that happens, so now is a good time to look for any value in the futures and make a few 2013 World Series predictions before everyone jumps on board (all odds are from Bovada):
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Toronto Blue Jays (7/1) - As a Canadian I find it almost impossible to believe that the Jays are currently favored to win the World Series. They are, though, and after an offseason for the ages they deserve to be. They had a decent core to begin with, and adding Dickey, Johnson and Buehrle to the rotation, Jose Reyes to the infield and Melky Cabrera to the outfield makes this team dramatically better. The potential PED issues of Cabrera are a cause for concern because they could be such a distraction, but this is a deep veteran team in a winnable division. The price is far too low given all the uncertainty surrounding chemistry and health, but the sky truly is the limit. I’ll put it this way — if all teams play their best there isn’t a team I like more than this one.
L.A. Dodgers (8/1) - The additions from the Red Sox last year get to start the year with the team, and Zack Greinke and Ryu Hyun-Jin upgrade an already-solid rotation that boasts one of the top pitchers in the National League in Clayton Kershaw. They have the tools. I have two issues, though. First, they have to compete with the Giants, and that is never easy. More significantly, though, until this team proves me wrong I just don’t trust them mentally. They were in a position almost as strong last year, but they just crumbled under expectations and couldn’t do what was needed. I don’t like the price.
Washington Nationals (8/1) - Compared to the Dodgers, Washington is a real bargain at this price. They had the best record in baseball last year, and the addition of Dan Haren and especially Denard Span makes them better than they were. Bryce Harper should take a step forward, and Strasburg should be up to full strength this year. This is an easy team to like. I think they are in position to win the National League. At least. I like the price.
Detroit Tigers (9/1) - This is an ideal bet to make — if you hate money and want to get rid of yours. I just don’t like this team. They collapsed mentally when it mattered last year, and with apologies to Torii Hunter they didn’t do anything in the offseason to make me feel better about them. The rotation overachieved beyond Verlander last year, and I don’t expect them to get the same this year. Are they a playoff team? Maybe. But they aren’t going anywhere once they get there. I hate this price.
L.A. Angels (9/1) - The last of the elite prices. Last year was a disappointment despite their aggressiveness. The aggressiveness didn’t fade this year, either. Josh Hamilton was the big prize but also the big risk. The rotation had some issues last year, so they added no fewer than six new arms to the team this year. Interesting. I like the Jays better, but it’s hard not to respect this team for the three bats in the middle of the order alone.
Atlanta Braves (14/1) - I liked the Braves last year, and I like them much more this year. The addition of the two Upton brothers is a masterstroke that has the ability to pay off very handsomely. The rotation is solid and I love the bullpen. This is a dangerous team in a good position in their division, and the price is fair.
San Francisco Giants (14/1) - The team has won two of the last three World Series and largely kept their team together in the offseason. Hard to be too negative about that. Another fair price.
Cleveland Indians (75/1) - You have to have a longshot, and the Indians are the easy choice in my eyes. Adding Terry Francona as a manager is a brilliant move. He’s very good, and he’s angry about how he left the league. The team has been very aggressive. Landing Michael Bourn was a coup, and guys like Swisher, Reynolds, Bauer, Myers and Albers will pay dividends. The team has chronically underachieved for at least a decade. Now they have some swagger and shouldn’t be such a pushover. I’m not saying they will win the World Series, but at this price I’ll toss a couple of bucks their way.
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