MLB Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 8/19/2013
I am stunned it took until mid-August, but we have our first Major League Baseball managerial firing of the season, with the sinking Phillies letting Charlie Manuel go. Manuel is the winningest manager in club history and led the Phillies to the 2008 World Series title. His contract was up after this season so it's really not shocking the Phils did this now to see whether interim manager Ryne Sandberg, the Cubs Hall of Famer who was passed up for that open job two years ago in favor of Dale Sveum, can do the job. Sandberg has been a very successful minor-league manager and was Manuel's third-base coach this year.
Back at the all-star break, Bovada released a special prop on the “over/under” of managers fired in the second half with the total at two, with under at -140 and the over at even. A few sites had first manager fired props earlier this season, and Don Mattingly was the favorite on all of them -- that was well before Yasiel Puig was called up and the Dodgers started playing out of their minds. Mattingly might get an extension now.
In case some of you bet on that prop, let's look at a few other managers who might get the gate.
John Gibbons, Blue Jays: There's no question the Blue Jays are one of the AL's biggest disappointments, but I would imagine that the Jays give Gibbons one more season. I'm really not sure why GM Alex Anthopoulos brought Gibbons back. He was only 305-305 in his first stint with Toronto. The Blue Jays' worst trade of the offseason likely wasn't that Marlins or Mets deal but instead trading John Farrell to Boston -- Farrell might be your AL Manager of the Year.
Mike Scioscia, Angels: Angels owner Arte Moreno has already said there was zero chance that Scioscia would be fired during the season. How about after? One problem is that Scioscia has a contract through 2018 worth about $25 million. It's not his fault that GM Jerry Dipoto made huge mistakes in signing Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to contracts totaling some $375 million (and Mike Trout will need to be paid sooner or later). I think Dipoto's a goner after the year, but not Scioscia.
Eric Wedge, Mariners: I actually think Wedge would have been canned by now, and the fact he had a mild stroke on July 22 saved his job. I mean that. You can't fire him now; it would be terribly bad public relations. He could be back soon.
Davey Johnson, Nationals: He's already leaving after this season to take a role as a special advisor in the front office. That seems to have locked in Washington from not being able to fire him. It's too late now anyways.
Terry Collins, Mets: The Mets never expected to make the playoffs this year, so it doesn't make sense to pay Collins to go away. I do think he is unlikely to return next year as the Mets believe they can contend around Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in 2014.
Ron Roenicke, Brewers: He was the 2011 NL Manager of the Year as the Brewers won the NL Central, but Milwaukee will obviously miss the playoffs for a second straight season. I could see him not returning next year.
Sveum, Cubs: It would look bad if Theo Epstein fired his hand-picked guy after two seasons. Sveum has very little to work with as Chicago continues to trade its better players. He'll be back for Year 3.
Bud Black, Padres: He seems safe considering the Padres extended his contract through 2015 last November.
Those guys listed above are the only ones I see as possibly getting fired. Hopefully you took the under if you bet that prop because I don't expect any to be given a pink slip until the offseason.
Can Miggy Catch Davis?
Also at the break, Bovada listed Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis' season home run total at 59.5. I recommended under there, and that's looking good. Still, we could have arguably the most interesting home run race in baseball since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998.
Entering this week, Davis leads Cabrera 45-40 for the big-league lead in homers. Miggy will win the batting title again and has a five-RBI lead over Davis for the RBI crown. Of course, Cabrera is aiming to become the first player in history to win back-to-back Triple Crowns. (As an aside, can you imagine if Cabrera tested positive for PEDs? That would essentially render baseball about as trustworthy as cycling.) Davis started slowly after the break -- Home Run Derby curse? -- but has come on of late with seven homers this month. His Birds host the Rays (Orioles are -120 series favorites) and A's this week in a battle of two very good pitching staffs. Twenty-four of Davis' 45 dingers have come at home.
Cabrera is actually having a better season than in 2012, which is simply incredible. He's the third player in Tigers history to hit 40 homers in consecutive seasons, joining Hank Greenberg (1937-38) and Cecil Fielder (1990-1991). Cabrera has outhomered Davis by three since the break and has eight this month, missing two games with an injury. The Tigers are home to Minnesota for three games starting Tuesday and at the Mets this weekend. Check out the pitching matchup in that one Saturday: Max Scherzer against Matt Harvey, the two all-star starters. Scherzer is just the fifth pitcher in big-league history to win 18 of his first 19 decisions in a season. The last to do it was the Yankees' Roger Clemens in 2001 when he finished 20-3 and won his last Cy Young. Scherzer is now all but a lock to do it and may be the only 20-game winner this year with no one else having more than 14.
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