MLB Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 6/4/2013
I think this is the make-or-break week for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
The Dodgers, with their National League-record $217 million payroll, are simply a mess right now, sitting last in the NL West. Matt Kemp is on the disabled list, not that he was hitting much before landing there. So is catcher A.J. Ellis and pitcher Josh Beckett (who might be forced to retire). Outfielder Carl Crawford has a bad hamstring, and those types of injuries never go away (ask Kemp from last year). Shortstop Hanley Ramirez could finally return from the disabled list as early as Tuesday. Top prospect Yasiel Puig was set to debut Monday night -- the Cuban outfielder was probably the best hitter in either the Cactus or Grapefruit Leagues this spring.
But here's why I think this is a big week: Los Angeles started a 10-game homestand Monday against the Padres, the team's longest homestand the rest of the season. The Braves and Diamondbacks follow San Diego. If Los Angeles doesn't win, say, seven of those 10, I think the Dodgers do make a change at manager. Mattingly, the former Yankees star, already received a public show of support from upper management, but that's obviously not a positive sign.
Bovada has released odds on the first manager fired this season -- surprised we have made it to June without one -- and Mattingly is the 5/4 favorite. He called out his team last week publicly, specifically it seemed Andre Ethier, and was ejected for the first time this season in Saturday's loss to the Rockies. I think he might have been fired if L.A. had lost Friday's game to Colorado, blowing a 5-0 lead behind ace Clayton Kershaw before winning 7-5 in 10 innings. Predictably, the Dodgers lost the next two.
The second-favorite on the site is Milwaukee's Ron Roenicke at 5/1. Milwaukee has collapsed onto itself like a dying star, going 6-22 in May. The team is trying to shake the malaise with numerous roster moves, including acquiring third baseman Juan Francisco from Atlanta, demoting starting pitcher Mike Fiers and promoting one of their top prospects, second baseman Scooter Gennett, from Triple-A. Gennett's promotion is most definitely a wake-up call to starting second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has been one of the worst regulars in baseball this season.
I happen to think that Seattle's Eric Wedge might get the gate first. He's 7/1 along with the Angels' Mike Scioscia and Blue Jays' John Gibbons. Wedge actually had the audacity to blame sabermetrics for the struggles of young second baseman Dustin Ackley. He was sent to Triple-A as was Jesus Montero. Those are two of Seattle's presumed building blocks, so if Wedge can't get anything out of them it's time for him to go. Wedge has had only two winning seasons in 10 years as a manager as it is, and the Mariners have been putrid in his three seasons there. In fact, three of their five worst scoring seasons have come under Wedge. The only thing keeping the Mariners from being the Marlins right now is Felix Hernandez.
I know Angels manager Arte Moreno backs Scioscia, plus he's got a contract through 2018 (not that money matters to Moreno). I could see Halos GM Jerry Dipoto getting fired, however. He's the one who gave $250 million to Albert Pujols and $125 million to Josh Hamilton, both deals that are clearly backfiring in a massive way.
It also might be wise to throw a few dollars on the Royals' Ned Yost at 12/1. Why would any player listen to Yost when Hall of Famer and legend George Brett is now on the staff as the hitting coach? I fully expect Brett to be the manager by the end of this season; serving as hitting coach is simply a warm-up.
Home Run King
Quick, tell me who is leading the majors in homers. Miguel Cabrera? Jose Bautista? Justin Upton? No, no and no. That would be Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis, who might be the reason why Cabrera doesn't make major-league history by becoming the first player to win consecutive Triple Crowns. Actually, Davis is in the Triple Crown conversation himself, leading Cabrera by three homers for the AL lead but trailing him by 10 points in batting average entering Monday and 15 down in RBI.
How out of left field is Davis' season? He's not currently even a betting option on Sportsbook.ag's prop of most home runs in the 2013 season. He's part of the field at +200, which is the favorite with Cabrera at that number. Miggy is the even-money favorite at Bovada to win AL MVP again, with Davis right behind at 3/1.
The NL MVP favorite is a bit of a surprise: Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt at 5/1. The Braves' Upton was the early betting favorite but is now down to 10/1, behind Goldschmidt, Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez (both 6/1) and Cincinnati's Joey Votto (7/1). Goldschmidt is No. 4 in the NL in batting (.337 entering Monday), No. 4 in homers (13) and leads in RBI (46). Philly's Domonic Brown leads the NL in homers with 17 and is crazy hot right now with seven dingers in his past seven games entering Monday. He's also a part of the field on the Sportsbook.ag home run prop. That seems like a good bet right now.
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