The eighth stop on Cactus League trail in Arizona takes us to Peoria, AZ, where the San Diego Padres call home and they faced the Texas Rangers, as we look into their MLB futures odds for the new campaign.
Texas traded for Cole Hamels last year, hoping to made a playoff run in 2016 when Yu Darvish and Derek Holland would be at or close to full strength. However, the Rangers did the unexpected and closed 40-22, flying by Houston in September to win the AL West and make the playoffs. Expectations are even higher for this upcoming season.
San Diego was the talk of baseball last spring as then new GM, A.J. Preller made deal after deal and there was a buzz about the usually forgotten Padres. It did not work out with only 74 wins, but Preller said it was part of plan to kick start the franchise in a new direction.
Here is a look at both clubs and all the main MLB odds relating to these teams.
With Darvish due back sometime in May, GM Jon Daniels is on record saying healthy Darvish paired with Hamels, Holland and Martin Perez gives his club as good as frontline pitching as any in the American League.
Last season, Texas was only 11th in the AL in bullpen ERA at 4.12, but down the stretch the last two months they were as good as anyone. Whether Shawn Tolleson can come close to matching last year's 35 saves in 37 chances without a true swing and miss two-strike pitch is up for debate, but given his success, he deserves benefit of doubt. Otherwise, the questions are can Sam Dyson and Jake Diekman duplicate August and September again?
Offensively, Texas should be in good shape with the likes of Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus. Second baseman Rougned Odor might be ready for breakout season. To expect anything out of Josh Hamilton is wishful thinking and though Delino DeShields Jr. was a find last year, most want to see him replicate last year's .344 OPS.
Current Texas Odds: AL West 2nd (+250) - AL 5th (+850) - World Series T12 (+2000) - Win Total O/U 83.5
With one more look at Texas to come, we will hold off on final decree for MLB picks.
San Diego Padres
More than one Padres fan comes into the season wondering what exactly is their general manager's plan? Last year San Diego brought in Matt Kemp, Craig Kimbrel, Will Middlebrooks, Justin Upton among others and it simply just did not work out. All but Kemp are gone, as is first baseman Yonder Alonso and pitcher Ian Kennedy.
While there ended up only being a small increase in salaries ultimately, what did last year prove other than San Diego got attention before failing like everyone thought they would?
Preller is asking people to understand the big picture which is to rebuild farm system, yet not completely tank like other teams and still field a somewhat competitive squad.
Will Myers also was added last year, but this oft-injured still only 25 year old has ability and is being moved to first base to hopefully limit his injuries. Derek Norris is a fine catcher and good stick and John Jay takes over in leftfield coming over from St. Louis. Cory Spangenberg looks like a keeper at second base and a leadoff man. After that, the next best everyday player to be excited about is 3B Yangervis Solarte, enough said.
The Friars have three competent starters in James Shields, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, but this is not exciting group and new skipper Andy Green is being asked to make this work.
Current San Diego Odds: NL West 4th (+4000) - Win Total O/U 73.5
The Padres win total could be a game or two either way in a tough division and probably is best to pass on.
It was a wild windy day, with the wind blowing straight out at 20-25 MPH and fielders for both teams were ill-prepared with laughable misplays in San Diego's 17-5 crushing of Texas before a sparse gathering.
Colby Lewis after the game said he was not worried about giving up 11 ringing hits (two homers) and nine runs in less than five innings, but his body language said otherwise.
Cashner was very hittable early, but settled in and gave up two runs (seven hits) over six innings and added a long double at the plate.
San Diego had 22 hits and almost everyone looked good at the dish, especially Jemile Weeks who is hitting nearly .500 after 3 for 3 day.