Our fifth stop in spring training in the valley of the sun is Tempe, AZ, where the Angels of Anaheim reside. The MLB odds and futures are not bright for the Halos or today's opponent Cincinnati.
Owner Artie Moreno cannot figure why he's not winning championships just because he has shelled out big bucks and Cincinnati is the latest to team to give up with hopes of rebuilding to be a contender again someday soon. Here are the prospects for both clubs against the MLB odds.
Cincinnati Odds - NL Central 5th (+450) - Win Total O/U 70
One of baseball's most storied franchises is in complete rebuild mode. Oh sure, names like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart are still around, but other than Votto, is anyone excited about the other three names?
Billy Hamilton has blazing speed but he cannot steal first base and would have far great use on a good team that needed a centerfield who could steal bases when he actually got on base.
Manager Bryan Price is not making anyone think of him as the next Sparky Anderson and if he wants to be the skipper of this team next year, he better do what he does best, work with young starting pitchers and make them better and formulate useful bullpen.
With four other teams in the National League in the same boat at the Reds, really hard to predict what is the right call on total for Cincy, because if they go say 13-6 against Milwaukee for some reason, that could push them Over. Also, some the veteran players mentioned might not be on this team later because of trades. Best to pass and only hope for Cincinnati is they hit enough to win more than expected.
L.A.A. Angels Odds - AL West T-3rd (+400) - AL T-8th (+1500) - World Series T-15th (+3000) - Win Total O/U 80.5
It is very easy to fixate on what is wrong with the team from Anaheim, from way over paying for free agents who were past their prime or they overvalued to stubborn manager who is acting like Tony LaRussa, minus all the World Series rings.
With what is widely regarded as the most deleted minor league system in the majors, new GM Billy Eppler made moves to shore up other areas of weakness, starting with defense. Having Yunel Escobar and Andrelton Simmons makes the left side of the infield much better defensively and is probably no worse off on offense. Albert Pujols moves to fulltime DH hoping to get 600-plus at bats out of him and save is knees.
In the outfield, we know what to expect out of Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, who is turning in fine all-around right-fielder, thus if a bat can be found for leftfield, the offense should be better than last year with massive upgrade in defense.
Even if this works outs of that is counting on Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney to be 15 game winners or more because Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson will be lucky to win 10. For MLB picks, Halos should finish in 78-82 win range, thus pass on win total.
Without most of its regulars, the Angels bombed Cincinnati 10-2. Los Angeles banged out 13 hits mostly against an assortment of Reds relievers, none, who were very effective, especially Jumbo Diaz, who was slammed for five hits and three runs in just two-thirds an inning.
The news was not all good for L.A. as expected starter Weaver was scratched, having flown back to Los Angeles to see saw a spine specialist who confirmed "mild, degenerative changes in the cervical spine." Weaver has been cleared to continue pitching "as tolerated" and will continue work on regaining flexibility, after reports of fastballs in the low 80's.
The lefty Wilson is suffering from shoulder inflammation and his bullpen session on Saturday "did not go well" and it is uncertain when he will try and throw again. Two very negative signs for the Halos.