Betting exhibition baseball is always a bit of a crap-shoot, considering we're not always sure who will be in the lineup, or how long they'll be in the lineup, and how a manager will handle his team. Let's just say winning isn't always the top priority for Spring Training games.
Nonetheless, we forge ahead with free MLB picks for Monday. As always, readers should take these picks for what they think they're worth.
Rangers (-135) vs. Padres (3 pm ET)
After making the playoffs the last three seasons Texas is almost in rebuilding mode, after losing stalwarts like Michael Young and Josh Hamilton over the off-season. The Rangers should still be a pretty good team this season, but they'll have their hands full dealing with the Angels and A's in the American League West.
San Diego, meanwhile, is coming off two straight losing seasons and faces the uphill struggle of trying to contend in an NL West with the defending World Series champion Giants and the going-for-broke Dodgers.
Motivation plays a key part in handicapping this game. Texas doesn't need to establish a winning atmosphere; its goal this Spring Training is to get the veterans in shape, and take a look at the guys who are fighting for the last few spots on the roster. San Diego, on the other hand, might have an incentive to win during March, in an effort to set a tone heading into the regular-season.
So far that looks like what's happening; the Padres are 6-5 this spring, while the Rangers are 2-7.
So we're leaning toward the team that seems to have a little more to play for, and is getting a price as an underdog on the betting line.
Free MLB Pick: Play the Padres at the +115 offered at Pinnacle.
White Sox (-120) vs. Giants (3 pm ET)
The World Series champs also have the luxury of allowing their veterans, especially that starting pitching rotation, to ease themselves into shape, giving newcomers and youngsters a chance to show their stuff.
Chicago, meanwhile, has work to do, after missing out on the playoffs for the fourth straight season last year.
Again, motivation plays a factor in how we breakdown the MLB odds for this game. San Francisco has very little to play for; its roster is basically settled, other than maybe a couple of spots out in the pen. All the Giants want to do is get to April healthy.
The White Sox, on the other hand, have some spots open, in the outfield and the bullpen. So they've got several guys who would like to make an impact this spring.
Both these teams are 4-3 so far this exhibition season. The Sox actually got shut-out Sunday by San Diego, while the Giants, even playing with split squads Saturday, have averaged better than six runs per game so far.
But things may be a little different around the San Francisco camp for the next couple weeks, as eight Giants, including Marco Scutaro and Sergio Romo, leave to play for various countries in the World Baseball Classic.
Chicago, meanwhile, has a handful of guys heading off to play in the Classic, most notably OF Alex Rios.
So in sizing up who might and might not play Monday, and the motivation of the two teams, we're leaning toward the favored White Sox.
Free MLB Pick: Take Chicago at the -107 offered at Pinnacle.