MLB Handicapping: How Returning Players Impact Betting Choices
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 06/29/2009
Players not on the field have been making just as much news as the ones currently playing on the diamond. Whether it is missing critical time on the disabled list or 50 games on the suspension list, teams throughout Major League Baseball are scrambling as they await the return of key components.
Some teams are desperately awaiting the return of those players more than others and here we will take a look at what players will make the biggest impact on their team once they are back in the lineup.
Los Angeles Dodgers LF
Reason for absence: 50-day MLB suspension
Anticipated Return Date: July 3
Let's start with the obvious one, one of the hottest players in the game when he was suspended and from the hottest team in baseball. However, the return of "Man Ram" might not have the beneficial outcome Dodger fans are hoping for. Obviously, a batting lineup with Ramirez in it is much more formidable than one without him. However, when you take into account defense, locker room chemistry and the play of his replacement, Juan Pierre, the return of Ramirez might just lessen the Dodgers value the rest of the way.
Without Manny in the lineup the Dodgers have been just fine going 26-18.
It might not be a bad idea to fade the Dodgers and take advantage of the increased value for Dodgers' opponents during the first week of Ramirez's return to the lineup. The money lines should be higher as an overreaction to his return and disruption of current chemistry is a solid reason to fade.
Chicago Cubs 3B
Reason for absence: 15-day DL Shoulder
Anticipated Return Date: Early July
Now onto another National League power hitter named Ramirez. Unlike the situation with Manny Ramirez, this absence is truly hurting the team. Without Aramis at third base the Cubs, already the most disappointing team in baseball, have played sub .500 ball, going 18-22.
Letting go of all-everything utility infielder Mark DeRosa did not seem like a bad idea in the offseason until Ramirez dislocated his shoulder. Manager Lou Piniella has tried a number of third basemen at the hot corner with no steady presence emerging.
The Cubs could badly use him at third and hitting third in the lineup. The lineup just has a different feel with Ramirez in it. The Cubs will be a solid value once Aramis returns to the team.
Nearly the entire lineup and pitching staff
Reason for absence: Hips, shoulders, elbows knees and a calf
Expected Return Date: Early July to Mid August
Injuries have ravaged the New York Mets batting lineup. Gary Sheffield is missing games because of a knee, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, Ramon Martinez and Angel Pagan are all on the 15-day DL. In the bullpen Billy Wagner, fighting his way back from Tommy John surgery, is still a few months away. J.J. Putz is also staring down another five or six weeks with an elbow injury and starters Oliver Perez and John Maine are both headed to the minors for rehab assignments.
Even without the heart of their order and critical pieces to the starting rotation and bullpen the Mets are still battling for a spot atop the NL East. Surprisingly, when the Mets have played without Sheffield, Beltran, Delgado or Reyes, they are five games above .500.
The Mets have been hit with the injury bug but the timing is much better now than it would be in August or September. If they get healthy at the right time, look for the Mets to have solid value in the late months of the season.
Philadelphia Phillies LF
Reason for absence: Groin
Expected Return Date: Uncertain
The catalyst for the World Series Champion's offense this season was Ibanez, who was leading the National League in nearly all slugging categories before he went on the 15-day DL with a strained groin.
Ibanez being out of the lineup is not the only reason the Phillies have struggled lately, but it's hard to ignore their 1-6 record without him there. Philadelphia will continue to struggle to win games without Ibanez anchoring the heart of the lineup.