For all the activity which happened in baseball from the end of the World Series until February 1, 2015, there were teams which did precious little to improve their betting odds for the new season.
The Colorado Rockies win totals the last four years have been 73, 64, 74 and 66. Not exactly the New York Yankees from just over a decade ago. Yet essentially Colorado stood still. They can point to Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado and Michael Cuddyer all missed substantial time away from the field and on May 20, the Rockies were only two games out of first place. However, Tulo and CarGo and have their own lounge on the disabled list from the past few years and what MLB baseball handicapper believes that will change this season. Toss in the Rocks were dead last in ERA in the majors a year ago and they made no notable changes to their pitching lineup, even those not that skilled devising MLB picks can figure out Colorado is Play Against material.
Baltimore ran into a runaway Kansas City freight train in the AL championship series and was swept by the Royals before reaching the Fall Classic. The Orioles lost key bats Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and failed to find suitable replacement. Instead they keeping their fingers crossed (along with burning incense to the baseball gods) that Matt Wieters and Manny Machado can pick up the slack. The problem is they are not outfielders, so who fills those positions?
Maybe GM Andrew Freidman and manager Joe Maddon saw the writing on the wall. They had literally built the Tampa Bay out of rubble and became one of baseball’s most reliable and stable franchises in spite of having low attendance and few resources. Nobody seemed to really understand their formula when reviewing their 25-man roster, especially the last four years. Nonetheless, sportsbooks sending on MLB odds on futures and win totals in the spring always gave the Rays the benefit of the doubt knowing they would find a way to win. Well, Friedman and Maddon have departed and other than Evan Longoria and some good young pitchers, the Tampa Bay cupboard looks the empty seats at Tropicana Field. The Rays could well have a devil of a time getting out of last place in the AL East.
The Philadelphia Phillies hung on to the past too long and are coming off consecutive 73-win campaigns. Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd were finally traded, but Ryan Howard is the 800-pound gorilla at first base, whose decline was faster than Jon Gosselin of “Jon and Kate +8”. Chase Utley is 36 years old and wants to remain a Phillie, while Cole Hamels waits to be traded to contender. The farm system is devoid of talent, meaning Philadelphia has few assets to be set free from current mess.
Cincinnati won 90 or more games three times between 2010 and 2013, but always fizzled in the postseason. Last year as expected, they slipped to 76 victories and they decided free agent pitchers to be Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon were not a part of their future. This weakens the starting pitching which places more on the bullpen to hold up. The individual numbers of the Reds players in the starting lineup appear above average, but the production was not last season. Consider the big offseason acquisition was Marlon Byrd to play leftfield (36 years young and sixth different team since 2012) and it is painfully obvious to those making sports picks Cincinnati has little upside.