As the baseball approaches, those of you like us who enjoy the daily grind of betting baseball are excited about the possibilities of 2016 and going out and winning the cash again.
With the futures odds out and season win totals coming soon, now is a great time to assess what teams have done in the off-season and what potential impact this could have on season. Of course many factors change during the course of a season, which all play a part in the final result, but those who have accomplished positives place themselves in a better position to advance.
Here is our take on who helped themselves the most during the Hot Stove juncture and should be a factor later when making MLB picks.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Looking to Win Now
When Tony LaRussa joined Arizona after retiring from St. Louis as manager, you knew the ultra competitive LaRussa was not going to take cushy job and vacation in the sun and watch idly by. After improving from 64 to 79 wins last season, Arizona has gone all-in to win now and the next couple years. With a solid lineup led by Paul Goldschmidt, the D-Backs brought in new starters in Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. This gives them top of the rotation hurlers to compete in the division and if Patrick Corbin returns to pre-injury form, the Snakes can start winning series. Plus, adding Tyler Clippard sets up strong back end of bullpen. According to the MLB odds at most sportsbooks, Arizona is the third pick in the NL West, however, moving up could definitely happen.
Boston Red Sox - One Year Late Than Expected
Though questions arose about the signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez a season ago, it was presumed their additions to the offense would overcome a collection of slightly above average starters and decent bullpen. This did not work out as planned with Sandoval terribly out of shape and injured and Ramirez baffled by the Green Monster in the outfield. Moving Ramirez to first base will strengthen the outfield and Sandoval is reported to have lost weight. Where Boston really improved is in pitching, having a true ace in David Price and arguably the best closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel. This moves every pitcher on the staff down one notch and likely into more comfortable location and with nobody in the AL East potentially outstanding other than Toronto, the Red Sox become a real threat and are picked at several books to win the American League.
Detroit Tigers - Not a Last Place Club Again
With a new general manager with a fresh take, Detroit appears to have made enough changes to escape last in the AL Central after 74-win season. Adding Jordan Zimmermann with Justin Verlander improves the pitching at the top, especially with the changes Verlander made in second half of last year. Also, GM Alex Avila completely remade the bullpen after years of failed tinkering and brought in still reliable Francisco Rodriguez to close. The lineup card remains formidable and if they can stay healthy, the Tigers could be a threat to Kansas City in the division.
Best of the Rest
The Chicago Cubs are favored to win the National League (let that sink in) and helped themselves by signing Jason Heyward, John Lackey and versatile Ben Zobrist. If all those young players show further development and Jon Lester and Lackey pick up where Jake Arrieta is likely to slide some, more happy days on the North Side.
Some will think the New York Mets will fall and they might, but they have done enough to prevent much a drop if at all. Re-signing Yoenis Cespedes was huge and they improved at shortstop with Asdrubal Cabrera. New York also improved their bench strength and we all know how deep and talented the starting pitching is with even better bullpen.
San Francisco expertly added Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to pitch in big ball park behind Madison Bumgarner. Also adding Denard Span gives them reliable leadoff man and good defender. And it is an even year on the calendar and the past three World Series champions have been the Giants when this occurred.