As we've said before, handicapping Spring Training games is a tough task. Starters may start, but only to get a couple of at-bats. Pitchers may pitch, but only two or three innings.
Exhibition Baseball Betting: Free Pix for Wednesday
...And managers may manage, but we wonder some times where their minds really are ….
Now, on top of all that, we have to factor in the draining of rosters due to the World Baseball Classic.
But pick games we must, so here's our take on three games for Wednesday, with free picks for your consideration.
Spring Training Record: 1-1 (+0)
Cubs at Rangers (3 pm ET)
The Cubbies, 5-3 in Cactus League play, take on the 3-7 Rangers.
A couple of things stand out for us on this game. First, Chicago had the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball last year. Second, while Texas lost Josh Hamilton and Michael Young over the off-season, it has scored at least five runs each of its last five exhibition games.
Most of the time we prefer to take underdogs in Spring Training games, mainly because with these games being so unpredictable, we'd rather get a price than give one. But Texas catches our attention in this spot.
MLB Picks: Take the Rangers at the -135 Basball odds offered at 5Dimes.
Brewers at Mariners (3 pm ET)
A discombobulated Milwaukee team, 4-6 in the Cactus League, takes on a Seattle team that's won 10 of its first 11 exhibition games.
The Brewers had to trade Zack Greinke last year, then lost Corey Hart over the off-season to a bad knee, then got disconcerting news about Ryan Braun shortly before starting camp. They're also now without both Braun and Yovani Gallardo, who are playing in the WBC, and 3B Aramis Ramirez just tweaked a knee and will miss a week. And they've still got a hole to fill at first base. If Milwaukee isn't careful it could be in for a long 2013 season.
The Brewers posted the worst bullpen ERA in baseball last year. And while they've made some changes, there's no guarantee this year's pen will be any better.
Seattle, meanwhile, has added guys like C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Kendry Morals and OF Michael Morse, good pick-ups all. The Mariners, it would seem, have a chance to complete for a playoff berth this season.
Again, we don't like taking favorites during Spring Training, but in this case we can't avoid it.
MLB Picks: Take Seattle at the -121 offered at 5Dimes for this MLB Pick.
Royals at Diamondbacks (3 pm ET)
Kansas City puts its perfect 10-0 Spring Training record on the line when it visits 5-5 Arizona.
The Royals, in trying to break a streak of nine straight losing seasons, beefed up over the winter with the acquisition of, among others, SPs James Shields and Wade Davis. Despite losing at least 90 games each of the last four seasons, KC has been tagged with a regular-season wins OVER/UNDER of 78. So there is some expectation of improvement.
And so far the Royals have shown improvement, winning every time out, helped along by a pitching staff that's held six of their first 10 opponents to two runs or less.
Arizona, meanwhile, is trying to bounce back after finishing at .500 last year, a season after winning the NL West. In the long run the Diamondbacks might be fine; but at the moment they're without their starting catcher and a couple of guys from the bullpen who are playing in the WBC.
The Royals' bullpen very quietly last season ranked sixth in ERA.
Winning isn't always a top priority in Spring Training, but now that Kansas City has gotten to 10-0, there might be some sentiment toward staying perfect. So in the spirit of riding a streak, we lean toward KC.
MLB Picks: Take the Royals at the +105 offered at Bookmaker.