March 2010


Basketball picksMarch 26, 2010

2010 Final 4 Picks, Predictions vs. the Spread

2010 Final 4 Picks, Predictions vs. the Spread

Rating the experience factor with Final 4 Picks and Predictions vs the Spread

Without a doubt, one of the most significant challenges for today’s bettors is figuring out how much value to give those “intangibles”. The reason they are called intangibles is that it’s difficult to calculate them exactly. These are things like fatigue, experience, and motivation. For the tournament, we need to look specifically at experience, since it is something that gets tossed around a lot for people making March Madness picks. Those who are sharp with their college basketball picks know that experience matters, but it might be a little bit overrated at this time of year. So how do you value it appropriately?


When all other things are equal, the Wundercat likes an experienced team. I wouldn’t go overboard betting on a team just because it’s full of seniors, though. Understand that with the way the college game works today, the players on these teams have all been involved in high level high school competition, AAU ball, and even some international ball on occasion. Even freshmen will have been through some wars, so they know all about playing in tough, close games. Nothing comes close to matching the NCAA tournament obviously, but don’t fade a team of freshmen just because they’re young. Talent beats experience most days, and don’t you ever forget it.

Still, if you can find a team with both talent and experience, that’s a heck of a combination. These teams will be seasoned and they’ll play smart basketball. Keep your eye out for them as you handicap the games, since this will give you a better chance to find good value. This is especially true if you are handicapping close games, where the expected margin will come down to a few points. That’s when poise will matter, and that’s when you can use it to your advantage.

Posted By : Wunderdog’s Trust Sidekick ” Wundercat “

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Basketball picksMarch 24, 2010

Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament Picks & Predictions vs. the Spread

Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament Picks & Predictions vs. the Spread

In the Zone- How does it affect your Sweet 16 Predictions and NCAA Tournament Picks ?

One team that I want to talk about as we head into the NCAA tournament is Syracuse. Many bettors might be overlooking the Cuse, and who could blame them? They’ve dropped two straight games and their early exit from the Big East tournament is a certain reason for concern. But you better know that the NCAA Tournament and NCAA picks is an entirely different kettle of fish. I like Syracuse for bettors heading into the tournament for a host of reasons. Their two straight losses is a big part of it, since this means that they will likely be getting deflated lines when the big dance starts.

Get Free Sweet 16 Picks & Predictions Free Picks

So why does the Wundercat love Syracuse so much in tournament play? Look past that foolish Big East tournament loss and take a look at their defense. The Orange are in the zone, quite literally. They play a 2-3 zone that is difficult to prepare for, since most teams these days are playing man to man. When they get into the tournament, teams with a short week to prepare for Syracuse will have a hard time beating them on the offensive end, and I can see teams trying to launch bad shots over the top of the zone. There’s nothing good about that, and it is what jump starts the Syracuse fast break.

Not only does Syracuse play a zone, but they play it well. They have long, athletic bodies all over the court, and this makes it an even bigger challenge for opposing offenses. Keep this in mind when you’re putting together March Madness picks, and take a look at the under in Cuse games, as well. Who knows what seed they will draw and what their exact path will be in the Big Dance, but there is value in Syracuse right now.

Posted By : Wunderdog’s Trusty Sidekick ” Wundercat “

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Baseball picksMarch 23, 2010

MLB Picks 2010 – AL West

AL WEST
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. LOS ANGELES ANGELS
2. SEATTLE
3. TEXAS
4. OAKLAND

L A  ANGELS
MANAGER: MIKE SCIOSCIA
LAST YEAR: 97-65
BIGGEST ADD: HIDEKI MATSUI DH
BIGGEST LOSS: JOHN LACKEY
BEST PROSPECT: CHRIS PETTIT OF

OUTLOOK:
The Angels will undoubtedly miss Chone Figgins who scored 114 runs last year, and John Lackey at the top of the rotation. Perhaps the biggest key to the success or failure of the Angles will be Scott Kazmir. Kazmir is going to have to stay healthy and return to the form he had in Tampa as a top of the rotation pitcher. Weaver, Saunders and Santana are quite capeable of good seasons on a slightly better-than average rotation. The pen should get a boost with the addition of Fernando Rodney. Hideki Matsui is going to drive in a lot of runs for this team, and he will be a pleasamt addition. This team can outhit a lot bad pitching starts as the offense is still potent. Kazmir holds the key to just how far they go.

SEATTLE
MANAGER: DON WAKAMATSU
LAST YEAR: 85-77
BIGGEST ADD: CLIFF LEE
BIGGEST LOSS: ERIK BEDARD
TOP PROSPECT: DUSTIN ACKLEY IF

OUTLOOK:
The Mariners have the best 1-2 punch of any rotation in baseball in Hernandez and Lee. The Mariners have top outfielders in Ichiro and Gutierrez. If the big two at the top of the rotation stay healthy, the M’s are going to win a lot of games. The big question is, how many will they win from Nos. 3-5? The M’s had an above average bullpen, so they need five innings from the bottom three in the rotation. They also have Chone Figgins behind Ichiro, and that is potentially 100 SBs, so the M’s will be able to steal a close game here and there. If Milton Bradley behaves, and just plays he is a solid No. 3 hitter. There are a lot of pieces in place, but the question marks in the bottom of the rotation need to come through. If this team can make the playoffs, they will be very dangerous with Hernandez, and Lee.


TEXAS

MANAGER: RON WASHINGTON
LAST YEAR: 87-75
BIGGEST ADD: RICH HARDEN RHP
BIGEST LOSS: KEVIN MILLWOOD
TOP PROSPECT: NEFTALI FELIZ RHP

OUTLOOK:
Rich Harden finally gives the Rangers a top of the rotation pitcher, bolstering an average staff. Scott Feldman developed into a reliable starter, and needs to duplicate his 17-win season from a year ago. The bullpen can be shaky at times, but for the most part has been slightly above average. The Rangers’ lineup has gradually become weaker, and last year was about average, so this team that used to have a dominant lineup, and no pitching, is now more balanced, but still a pitcher or two, and a hitter or two short. Playoffs unlikely.
OAKLAND
MANAGER: BOB GEREN
LAST YEAR: 75-87
BIGGEST ADD: COCO CRISP OF
BIGGEST LOSS: JACK CUST
TOP PROSPECT: CHRIS CARTER OF/1B

OUTLOOK:
It seems like the A’s develop pitchers, keep them around for awhile then start over again. They find themselves in the throws of a young rotation again, but one with plenty of potential. Anderson, Cahill, and Mazzaro all have some experience now, and just how much they grow this year will be the fate of the A’s. They were an average rotation a year ago, and I expect some growth and improvement here. The bullpen might not have names, but it was well above the league average a year ago, and should be adequate again. Coco Crisp gives them an experienced leadoff hitter, and Rajai Davis is emerging fast as one of the top outfielders in the league defensively. They’ve got lots of speed, but not much pop, which will hurt them a lot of the time. Pitching will keep them in games, but the lineup is a few hitters short and the A’s will struggle once again.

AL WILDCARD WINNER: BOSTON



Baseball picks & Sports picksMarch 23, 2010

MLB Picks 2010 – AL Central

AL Central

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. CHICAGO
2. MINNESOTA
3. DETROIT
4. CLEVELAND
5. KANSAS CITY

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
MANAGER: OZZIE GUILLEN
LAST YEAR: 79-83
BIGGEST ADD: JJ PUTZ RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: JERMAINE DYE OF
TOP PROSPECT: SERGIO SANTOS RHP

OUTLOOK:
The White Sox success will hinge largely on the performance of Jake Peavy. Peavy was injured last year, but he is a potential 20+ win pitcher on a top team, and it also deepens a staff that already includes Buehrle, Floyd and Danks. The White Sox had above-average pitching a year ago, and it only stands to get better with a healthy Peavy. Juan Pierre at the top of the lineup will be huge as well, and Gordon Beckham is solid in the two hole. If JJ Putz is healthy, he adds a big piece to the bullpen, and sets the stage for a run at the top of the AL Central.

MINNESOTA
MANAGER: RON GARDENHIRE
LAST YEAR: 87-76
BIGGEST ADD: JJ HARDY SS
BIGGEST LOSS: ORLANDO CABRERA SS
BEST PROSPECT: JEFF MANSHIP RHP

OUTLOOK:
The Twins have arguably the best player in the game in Joe Mauer, a top closer in the bullpen with Nathan, and a wildcard in the fact they open a new stadium this season. The Twins were very tough in the Metrodome, and with likely more fans in the seats this year in a new park, can they be even better? The Twins hope Francisco Liriano returns to form and return as a top of the rotation starter. If he does, the Twins’ top four were effective and above average a year ago, and they will contend. The Twins’ pen is also above average, and their lineup produced over 5 runs per game. They lack depth, so a key injury could really hurt and if the new park provides the same advantage as the Metrodome or more, and Liriano finds it, the Twins will be sitting pretty in the AL Central.

DETROIT
MANAGER: JIM LEYLAND
LAST YEAR: 86-77
BIGGEST ADD: MAX SCHERZER RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: CURTIS GRANDERSON OF
TOP PROSPECT: AUSTIN JACKSON  OF

OUTLOOK:
The Tigers made some moves that may have cost them some offense, but they have also bolstered a very good pitching staff and made it better. If Max Schezer lives up to the scouts’ billing, and Ricky Portello advances off a good rookie season, the Tigers with Verlander and Bonderman already at the top, will have a formiddable staff ready to make a run at the AL Central and beyond. The bullpen isn’t great, but it is good, and if the Tigers don’t drop off in run production much, their pitching is going to win them some games.
CLEVELAND
MANAGER: MANNY ACTA
LAST YEAR: 65-97
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: NONE
TOP PROSPECT: CARLOS SANTANA C

OUTLOOK:
The Indians stood pat in the off-season, but what happened to this team? They were on the rise in 2007-08 with Carmona, Sabathia, and Lee emerging. That top of the rotation trio is gone, outside of Carmona, who appeared to be a one-year wonder. They also let go of their most relaiable hitter in Victor Martinez, and the Tribe has really dropped off in a big way. What is left brings its own question marks. Grady Seizmore is a misplaced leadoff hitter, and Fausto Carmona has lost his confidence and command. Travis Haffner’s bat was slowed by injuries. Can he get back to the level he was? That just complicates things, because the Tribe isn’t good if all those players aren’t playing well – there simply isn’t anything else. The Bullpen is below average, and Jake Westbrook is your No. 2 starter behind a suspect Carmona. It’s going to be a long year in Cleveland.
KANSAS CITY
MANAGER: TREY HILLMAN
LAST YEAR: 65-97
BIGGEST ADD: JASON KENDALL C
BIGGEST LOSS: COCO CRISP OF
BEST PROSPECT: JORDAN PARROZ OF

OUTLOOK:
It all begins with Zack Greinke. He is a stud at the top of the staff and what happens behind him will determine the Royals’ season. Gil Meche has potential, just hasn’t put it together in Kansas City the way they had hoped. Brian Bannister pretty much can be summed up the same way. Overall the Royals’ staff was a tad below average, and it just doesn’t look promising to advance much beyond that. Joakim Soria has the best stuff, and most potential in the pen, but overall it is below average. They really need a breakout year from Alex Gordon, but even with one they are a hitter or two short. They may win a few more games this season, but no one will notice.



Sports picksMarch 23, 2010

MLB Picks 2010 – AL East

AL EAST

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. NEW YORK
2. BOSTON
3. TAMPA BAY
4. BALTIMORE
5. TORONTO

NEW YORK YANKEES
MANAGER: JOE GIRARDI
LAST YEAR: 103-59
BIGGEST ADD: JAVIER VASQUEZ RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: HIDECKI MATSUI DH
TOP PROSPECT: JESUS MONTERO C

OUTLOOK:
The Yankees ended their brief hiatus from the playoffs, and in decisive fashion. The Bombers went out and fortified a staff with Sabathia and Burnett, and found a killer role for Phil Hughes who solidified the bullpen. This year they went out and picked up Vasquez. That now gives the Yankees three of the six pitchers to log 900+ innings and 900+ strikeouts over the last five years. They fortified an already strong lineup with Nick Johnson, who is always on base, and Granderson to play CF. It gives the Yankees more speed and defense in the outfield, and Bret Gradner is likely to get the chance in LF. The Yankees staff is very strong, when you consider that Joba Chamberlain is the No. 5 starter, and Rivera at the back of the pen shows no signs of age.

BOSTON
MANAGER: TERRY FRANCONA
LAST YEAR: 95-67
BIGGEST ADD: JOHN LACKEY
BIGGEST LOSS: JASON BEY
TOP PROSPECT: MICHAEL BOWDEN RHP

OUTLOOK:
The Red Sox let Jason Bey go and used the money to fortify the staff with a top of the rotation pitcher in John Lackey. The BoSox have been consistent over the last five years as they have won either 95 or 96 games in four of them. The Sox bolstered their defense by adding Cameron, Beltre and Scutaro. The Sox rotation looks set from top to bottom and if they can get bounceback years from Matsuzaka, and if Bucholz turns things around, they will be right with the Yankees for the top honors in the AL East. The Red Sox have a top closer in Papelbon, and had good years from Bard and Ramirez and appear to be fine there. The biggest question is in the middle of the lineup with a declining Ortiz and oft-injured Victor Martinez, and Youkilus off a career year. They have the pitching to be a 100-win team. Will it be enough?

TAMPA BAY
MANAGER: JOE MADDON
LAST YEAR: 84-78
BIGGEST ADD: RAFAEL SORIANO RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: AKINORI IWAMURA 2B
TOP PROSPECT: WADE DAVIS RHP

OUTLOOK:
The Rays slipped last year as Upton and Navvaro had very poor years, but the nuculeus is in place to contend for a playoff spot. The lineup can produce a lot of runs with Langoria in the midle, and the Rays are loaded with a lot of good young arms. If some of that talent translates to the big league level, the Rays are going to win a lot more than the 84 games they won a year ago. Shields, Garza and Price, all must have big years for the Rays to get into the 90s in terms of wins, With a breakthrough from either Davis, McGee or Hellickson, the Rays could be in the hunt.

BALTIMORE
MANAGER: DAVE TREMBLEY
LAST YEAR: 64-98
BIGGEST ADD: KEVIN MILLWOOD RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: CHRIS RAY  RHP
TOP PROSPECT: BRIAN MATUSZ  LHP

OUTLOOK
The Orioles avoided 100 losses a year ago…barely. The Orioles are stockpiling some good young talent, and the middle of the order is growing in production. Baltimore has some young, but talented arms and even though the AL East is loaded, the Orioles might still add a few wins over a year ago. Kevin Millwood will add some depth and experience to a young staff, and look for Jeremy Guthrie to have a bounce-back year. Catcher Matt Weiters got a taste of the bigs a year ago, and should be more productive this season. The pen will determine if the O’s can get some wins to improve upon last season, and I look for this team to add about eight wins, but still far shy of contending.
TORONTO
MANAGER: CITO GASTON
LAST YEAR: 75-87
BIGGEST ADD: ALEX GONZALEZ
BIGGEST LOSS: ROY HALLADAY
TOP PROSPECT: JOSH ROENICKE

OUTLOOK:
The Blue Jays’ rebuilding process began last season when they allowed AJ Burnett to go free, and it was completed with the departure of Roy Halladay. The Jays just couldn’t make up ground on the Yankees and Sox, and are beginning a regeneration process – and it could be a long season in Toronto. You don’t lose the top two pitchers in baseball and stay competitive. I look for a similar result this season, with the loss of Halladay. The Jays’ starters were average as a whole a year ago and their pen was solid, but the rotation will fall and expect it to effect the bullpen as well. It’s going to be awhile before Toronto gets things back to competitive in a tough AL East.



Baseball picksMarch 23, 2010

MLB Picks 2010 – NL WEST

NL WEST

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. SAN FRANCISCO
2. LOS ANGELES DODGERS
3. COLORADO
4. ARIZONA
5. SAN DIEGO

SAN FRANCISCO:
MANAGER: BRUCE BOCHY
LAST YEAR: 88-74
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: RANDY WINN OF
TOP PROSPECT: MADISON BUMGARNER  LHP

OUTLOOK:
The Giants have two of the best pitchers in baseball at the top of their rotation with Cain and Lincecum. They will leave their mark by what the next three do – Zito, Sanchez and another promising rookie in Madison Bumgarner. Brian Wilson is a grade-A closer, and Pablo Sandoval is a blossoming super star. The problem is a lineup devoid of much else. The Giants will go as far as their pitching can take them, which last year got them to 88 wins, and 90+ is not out of the question this season. I look for the Giants to make the playoffs, and be a surprise.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
MANAGER: JOE TORRE
LAST YEAR: 95-67
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: RANDY WOLF  LHP
TOP PROSPECT: JOSH LINDBLOM   RHP

OUTLOOK:
Manny Ramirez was not the same player after his suspension as his bat speed slowed significantly and his confidence declined. It remains to be seen if he can be the same player, many scouts feel he can’t, and that will really hurt the Dodgers. Matt Kemp, on a brighter note, is emerging as a top player and should continue to improve. The Dodgers are above average offensively with Manny being Manny, and average if not. The Dodgers’ pitching will keep them in the win column which had a 3.58 combined ERA from starters, and 3.14 from the pen – both well above average. If you can pitch you can win, so expect the Dodgers to contend again.

COLORADO
MANAGER: JIM TRACY
BEST ADD: MIGUEL OLIVO
BIGGEST LOSS: JASON MARQUIS RHP
TOP PROSPECT: ESMIL ROGERS RHP

OUTLOOK:
The Rockies really recovered from a poor ’08, winning 92 games. Ubaldo Jimenez has begun to locate his slider in the strike-zone, and that just makes his plus fastball more unhittable as he is becoming a bonafide No. 1 starter. Aaron Cook has put together back-to-back good seasons, and is becoming a reliable No. 2 starter. The question marks start after that. The Rockies will hit, that is a given, it is a question of what they will give back. Houston Street gives them a reliable closer in an otherwise mediocre pen. This team can contend again, but has little margin for error.

ARIZONA
MANAGER: A.J. HINCH
LAST YEAR: 70-92
BIGGEST ADD: EDWIN JACKSON RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: MAX SCHERZER
TOP PROSPECT: LEYSON SEPTIMO RHP

OUTLOOK:
Last season was one of hope for the D-Backs, that all ended abruptly when Brandon Webb went down for the year. He will once again be the key for this season as when he is healthy, he has no peers on the mound in the game. Dan Haren is also a top flight No. 2 starter, and if Edwin Jackson keeps his head on right he is a more than capable No. 3 starter. The Diamnodbacks peaked at 90 wins  in ’07, declined to 82 in ’08, and down to 70 last year. The bullpen’s success or failure will be hinged upon the advancement of Juam Guitierrez. The lineup is ordinary, so a lot of question marks and this team has a steep range of what could happen. They could contend if all goes well, or repeat the 70 wins of a year ago if it doesn’t.

SAN DIEGO:
MANAGER: BUD BLACK
LAST YEAR: 75-87
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: BRIAN GILES
TOP PROSPECT: CORY LUEBKE LHP

OUTLOOK:
The trade of Jake Peavy last season was the last step in the demise of the Padres, who cut $20 million more in payroll last year. Despite the lack of star quality and being outscored by over 130 runs last year, they somehow managed to do ok. The pitching has Curt Young as a No. 1 starter, who would likely be a No. 3 in most other places, so not much there. The bullpen can hold their own, and they will get a lot of chances. The lineup has no power, and a lot of gap hitters. They will likely lose more than 87 this year.



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