March 2010


Baseball picksMarch 23, 2010

NL CENTRAL
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. CHICAGO
2. ST. LOUIS
3. MILWAUKEE
4. CINCINNATI
5. HOUSTON
6. PITTSBURGH

CHICAGO CUBS
MANAGER: LOU PINELLA
LAST YEAR: 83-78
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGEST LOSS: RICH HARDEN RHP
TOP PROSPECT: JOHN GAUB  LHP

OUTLOOK:
Derek Lee will help the Cubs on the field and in the clubhouse. If they want to turn the corner, they need a big year from Carlos Zambrano, and good years from Lill, and Dempster. The bullpen is about average, but the Cubs can hit their way into winning some games. Their biggest problem may be in LF where Soriano is lost at times, and they have not had a centerfielder to take away some of the sting and that can patrol more ground. The Cubs fell sharply last year losing 14 more games than in ’08, and I’m not sure they have what it takes to get over the top.

ST. LOUIS
MANAGER: TONY LARUSSA
LAST YEAR: 91-71
BIGGEST ADD: BRAD PENNY  RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: TODD WELLEMEYER
TOP PROSPECT: JAIME GARCIA  LHP

OUTLOOK:
When you have Albert Pujols backed up by Matt Holliday, thinks are good. The good players as well as the top of the rotation on this team are great. That is enough in itself to produce a team at .500. The question marks occur when looking at everything else. Lohse, Hawksworth and Penny completing the rotation doesn’t offer much, neither does the rest of the Cards’ lineup. The bullpen is solid enough to keep the Cards from imploding, but I just don’t see enough to  improve upon the 91 wins of a year ago, and perhaps a few more losses than a few more wins are expected.

MILWAUKEE
MANAGER: DOUG MELVIN
LAST YEAR: 80-82
BIGGEST ADD: RANDY WOLF  LHP
BIGGEST LOSS: BEN SHEETS RHP
TOP PROSPECT: MATT GAMEL  3B

OUTLOOK:
The Brewers have two big hitters in the lineup in Fielder, and Braun, but the rest of the lineup is not so daunting, and teams are going to pitch around those guys in key spots. The staff is soft, Gallardo is good, and Wolf will help, but is suspect from there on. The Brewers had a 5.37 team ERA last season, and Wolf won’t be enough to change that. The pen is average at best, and without a big lineup the Brewers are going to struggle to even get to .500 this season.

CINCINNATI
MANAGER: DUSTY BAKER
LAST YEAR: 78-84
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: NONE
TOP PROSPECT: TRAVIS WOOD LHP

OUTLOOK:
The Reds have been consistently mediocre, winning between 72-80 games each of the last five years. This team virtually stood pat in the off-season, so why would anyone expect any different results? They don’t have any players with the “wow” factor, but have a solid group of good players. The staff is decent but not good, and the bullpen is about the same. Can this team push over the .500 mark for the first time in ages? I think if they get a surprise, like Travis Wood making his debut on the mound and winning, that could be what pushes them over, but still not likely.

HOUSTON
MANAGER: BRAD MILLS
LAST YEAR: 74-88
BIGGEST ADD: PEDRO FELIZ  3B
BIGGEST LOSS: MIGUEL TEJADA SS
TOP PROSPECT: TOMMY MANZELLA SS

OUTLOOK:
I think the Astros that added 12 losses last year from ’08, are in trouble. They really did nothing to improve this team over the winter, and it looks like their key pieces, such as Oswalt and  Berkman are on the decline due to age. The staff was below average with Oswalt at the top, and that is a big concern. The bullpen is so-so as well, and this team could be heading for 90 losses this season. I don’t see them contending at all.

PITTSBURGH
MANAGER: JOHN RUSSELL
LAST YEAR: 62-99
BIGGEST ADD: AKINORI IWAMURA 2B
BIGGEST LOSS: MATT CAPPS RHP
TOP PROSPECT: JOSE TABATA OF

OUTLOOK:
The Pirates have been uncompetitive for two decades now, and nothing that happened in the off-season is going to change things. There are no stars, and for the most part they have second-tier players across the board, including a pitching staff and pen, that is below average in the rotation. When your clean-up hitter is projected to be Ryan Doumit, you realize your lineup is really suspect. The Pirates will challenge this season, but that challenge will be to prevent from losing 100 games.

 

Baseball picksMarch 23, 2010

NL EAST

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. NEW YORK METS
2. PHILADELPHIA
3. ATLANTA
4. FLORIDA
5. WASHINGTON

NEW YORK METS
MANAGER: JERRY MANUEL
LAST YEAR: 70-92
BIGGEST ADD: JASON BEY OF
BIGGEST LOSS: CARLOS DELGADO 1B
TOP PROSPECT: JENRRRY MEJIA RHP

OUTLOOK:
The Mets are an enigma. They suffered through major injuries last year, but somehow the sum of the parts seem to add up to more than what they deliver in the win column. This year expectations are low, so don’t be surprised if the Mets are right there in September. Any team with Santana, K-Rod, Beltran, Reyes, and Wright, can’t be overlooked, and they have the money to grab a big arm in July if they need one. I think the Mets rebound and give the Phil’s a run for the division.

PHILADELPHIA
MANAGER: CHARLIE MANUEL
LAST YEAR: 93-69
BIGGEST ADD: ROY HALLADAY RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: CLIFF LEE LHP
TOP PROSPECT: ANTONIO BASTARDO LHP

OUTLOOK:
The Phillies won the NL pennant last season, and lost in the World Series to the Yankees. The Phillies lost Cliff Lee, but added Roy Halladay, which is virtually a wash. The key for this team will be if the Phillies have the Cole Hamels of two years ago, or last year’s version? The bullpen could be their Achillies heel, but the lineup can make up for a lot of bad pitches. Chase Utley has emerged as a special player, and is slowly becoming a team leader, backed by his play on the field. There is a good chance to be there again in the end.

ATLANTA BRAVES
MANAGER: BOOBY COX
LAST SEASON: 86-76
BIGGEST ADD: BILLY WAGNER LHP
BIGGEST LOSS: JAVIER VASQUEZ RHP
TOP PROSPECT: JASON HEYWARD OF

OUTLOOK:
The Braves had enough pitching where they were able to deal Javier Vasquez to the Yankees. This staff is arguably the best of all the NL East teams, with Derek Lowe penciled in at the No. 4 spot, they are pretty deep. The problem for the Braves is that their lineup isn’t very deep, and sooner or later, Jason Heyward is going to get a chance as he is labeled a can’t miss prospect. Billy Wagner, by all accounts, is healthy and could provide a top-level closer. Overall, this team looks to be about the same, with 10 games above .500 give or take once again.

FLORIDA
MANAGER: FREDDY GONZALEZ
LAST YEAR: 87-75
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: NICK JOHNSON 1B
TOP PROSPECT: MIKE STANTON  OF

OUTLOOK:
The Marlins probably get the most out of very little in terms of payroll than any team in baseball. They play hard and have more talent than the payroll would indicate. They have a bonafide No. 1 in Josh Johnson, and if Nolasco progresses like he did in the second half. A certifiable No. 2. Volstad is the key. He has potential, but has not reached it yet, and somehow their bullpen questions always seem to get answered. The defense is weak, and will cost them some games. I don’t see them challenging, but will make life miserable down the stretch for someone.

WASHINGTON
MANAGER: JIM RIGLEMAN
LAST YEAR: 59-103
BIGGEST ADD: JASON MARQUIS RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: LIVAN HERNANDEZ RHP
TOP PROSPECT: STEPHEN STRASBURG RHP

OUTLOOK:
The biggest positive for the Nats is their middle of the lineup with Zimmerman, Dunn, and Willingham. Nyjer Morgan is a top-flight centerfielder. It goes downhill from there. The pitching, as usual, will be their demise. Jason Marquis is at the top of their rotation, when he is a middle of the rotation pitcher, that says all you need to know. Bruney and Capps should make the pen better, but by the second half, they will be worn down. This is a staff that is about one run per game worse than just average, and nothing they have done looks to change that significantly. The biggest question is can they avoid losing 100 again?

 

Basketball picksMarch 16, 2010

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NCAA March Madness Picks, Predictions against the Spread

A day for the dogs – NCAA March Madness Picks

If there is one mistake that people make far too often with their NCAA March Madness picks, it’s taking too many underdogs. Wundercat doesn’t hate the dogs, but I tend to think that people go overboard. They fall into the trap of thinking that just because March is supposed to be about upsets, every team is going to make a run. Whether you’re filling out brackets or making bets, don’t just starting throwing dogs out there every time. The better teams will win, and there can often be a lot of value hiding in a favorite.

If you are hell bent on playing dogs, then choose them the right way. Few things are worse than being on a dead dog and you won’t find many feelings better than having your coin on a live dog. Those teams that play solid defense and rebound the basketball well will give you a chance in the tournament. These are teams that won’t need a crazy shooting night to win and they will be more likely to provide a consistent performance. Steady wins in March, so remember that before you throw your money down the drain.

We want you to also be willing to look past the traditional underdog spots. When the tournament comes calling, people will talk to you a lot about the 5/12 matchups and they’ll discuss which spots have traditionally led to upsets. Since people know that 5 seeds sometimes go down, you might not find a lot of underdog value there. Be willing to consider value elsewhere. Perhaps there’s an 11-seed with some bite or maybe you can find a 13-seed that has a chance to win the game. Going your own way and finding your own value will help you come out on top when it’s all said and done.

Posted by Wunderdog’s Trusty Sidekick ” Wundercat ” .

 

Basketball picksMarch 13, 2010

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NCAA Picks, NCAA Predictions & March Madness Picks

Desperate NCAA March Madness teams chasing fleeting dreams

Today, I want to talk a little bit about something that each of has seen over the last couple of weeks. That is, teams in college basketball playing with a desperate sense. If you are anywhere near sharp in your handicapping, then you know good and well that emotion plays a huge role in each game. If a team has something big to play for, then they might just rise up and put on a performance that exceeds their own ability. When it’s late in the season, you need to be careful betting against those desperate teams with fleeting dreams.

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Getting to the tournament is the goal of most teams out there, and at some point in the season, a team will face a “must win” type of moment. Take Notre Dame, for example. This is a team playing without its best and most consistent player, but it’s put together a string of strong performances over the last two weeks, knocking off Louisville, Pittsburgh, and a good Georgetown team in their own barn. Notre Dame was a desperate team, and they have most certainly played like it. Desperate teams have a little bit more energy and they have a little pep in their step.

It might be difficult to know exactly which team is desperate and which team is not, but you have to at least try. Down the stretch, there will be several matchups where teams will head into difficult environments when they have very little to play for. You will be better off siding with those home squads that have to win. They will give you their best effort, which is really all that you can ask for as a bettor. I believe the lines tend to undervalue this element, so that is a place where they can be exploited to an extent.

Posted By : Wunderdog’s Trusty Sidekick ” Wundercat ” .

 

Basketball picksMarch 12, 2010

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College Basketball Picks, NCAA Picks & March Madness Picks & Predictions

They’re just kids playing college basketball!

The Wundercat was recently at a college basketball game when I heard an interesting conversation in the row in front of me. One guy was berating his team’s power forward, talking about how the kid was terrible and how he might as well quit now. “He’s not worth a rat’s tail!” The talk of rats and mice piqued my interest, so I listened more. Another guy responded with a line that resonated with me. “They’re just kids,” he said.

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They’re just kids.

Since I tend to think of everything in terms of how it can help my handicapping, this was really no different. The difference in pro handicapping and college ‘capping is that you’re messing with kids who are young, immature, and impressionable. They have things like classes, girlfriends, grandfathers dying, and the common cold to worry about. While pro players might be able to shoot 1000 shots per day, every day, a college kid doesn’t have that luxury. This pushed me to start thinking about the psychological side of the game a little bit more.

We all know that in college basketball, road teams struggle in a big way. It makes sense, too, because they can get frustrated in a tough environment and this can compound any problems they might already be having. What this means for bettors is that you need to think about properly valuating these things when you do your handicapping.

Don’t forget about how fatigue can really wreck a team. If they are coming into a game with a short turnaround, you might want to give a few points worth of weight to that. Most people don’t consider these things nearly enough. All of the numbers and statistical indicators won’t mean a thing in that particular game if a given team is not going to play like itself. When you understand the psychology of the matter, you can more easily pick out when this is going to happen.

Posted By Wunderdogs’s Trusty Sidekick ” Wundercat ” .

 

Basketball picksMarch 12, 2010

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Momentum and your March Madness Picks & March Madness Predictions

Figuring out momentum is something that you have to do if you want to have a high level of success. Though it’s crazy to think about, there are times when guys play way over their heads in March. Teams put on epic performances and if you’re on the wrong side, it can sink your bankroll. There’s no reason why you have to be on the wrong side, though. If you are sharp, you will give momentum the proper amount of value and you will come away better for it.

Click Here for Free March Madness Picks

So how does Wundercat value momentum? I obviously like to ride those teams that are playing their best basketball heading into March, but I wouldn’t put too much stock into one loss in a conference tournament. Syracuse is a good example of a team that just got bounced from its conference tournament, but they’re still a good bet heading in the big one. Many bettors will lay off of them, but it might also be true that their small slip-ups down the stretch will bring about value in their lines.

With that being said, don’t make the huge mistake of playing a team that is obviously slumping. One loss might bring value in the line, but a team that’s been losing many games in a row is not one that you need to be backing. Confidence is huge in college basketball and when these teams lose their swagger, they can play a brand of basketball that’s just not pretty.

So what’s the point of all of this? Keep your basketball picks logical, and if you can find a magical wave to ride, do it. Don’t get into the habit of thinking that one bad loss down the stretch dooms a team, though. Momentum is important, but backing solid teams is still the prime directive with March Madness picks.

Posted By : Wunderdog’s Trusty Sidekick ” Wundercat ” .

 

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