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Reds Kick Off MLB Season to Low Expectations

As the 2016 Major League Baseball season gets underway, expectations are tempered among the Cincinnati Reds faithful.

The Reds amassed a dismal 64-98 record a year ago, good for dead last in the National League’s Central Division standings, and with offseason moves clearly putting the club in rebuild mode, the Reds open their campaign pegged at a distant 125/1 to claim their first World Series pennant since 1990 in MLB futures betting with the online bookmaker Betway.

Betway’s sportsbook offers sports bettors everything they need to wager on all major sports leagues and tournaments, including exciting live and in-play betting features, accessible online or through Betway’s Android and iOS apps.

Cincinnati unloaded some key veterans during the recent offseason, pulling the trigger on deals that saw all-star third baseman Todd Frazier shipped to the Chicago White Sox, while all-star closer Aroldis Chapman will be wearing pinstripes this season, while saving games for the New York Yankees.

The Reds will also be missing ace Johnny Cueto, whom they shipped to the Kansas City Royals midway through last season.

First baseman Joey Votto, who finished third in NL MVP balloting in 2015 returns to the Reds’ lineup, and Billy Hamilton looks ready to take the next step, both as a speedster on the baselines, and as a Gold Glove candidate in center field.

Not all is lost in Cincy, however. Starter Homer Bailey continues to recover from Tommy John surgery that cost him almost all of last season, and is reportedly on track to return by the All-Star Break, while 24 year-old hurler Michael Lorenzen will get every chance to secure a place in the Reds rotation upon his return from an elbow injury.

Complicating matters further for the Reds is playing in what is arguably the best division in Major League Baseball.

The Chicago Cubs, who open the campaign as 8/1 World Series favorites in MLB futures betting at Betway, are also heavy 3/4 chalk to claim the NL Central pennant.

The St. Louis Cardinals claimed division crowns in each of the past three seasons, and MLB Postseason berths in each of the past five seasons. But with the Cards losing both starter John Lackey and outfielder Jason Heyward to the rival Cubs, they have seen their divisional pennant odds at Betway slip to 5/2.

The Reds must also contend with a talented Pittsburgh Pirates squad, which won an impressive 98 games last year en route to a third straight NL Wild Card berth, and return to the ballpark sporting short 3/1 odds to win their first division crown since 1992.

The Milwaukee Brewers have been in steady decline since claiming their last NL Central pennant in 2011, winning just 68 games last season, and are pegged at a distant 40/1, while the Reds trail as 50/1 longshots.

Returning players ready to make an impact

As we edge closer to the start of the new MLB season, there are a number of players itching to get back into action after lengthy injury lay-offs. Many of those fit-again players are being tipped to have a big impact on their respective teams’ seasons and it’s going to be particularly interesting to see how these star names return to the field after their injuries.

Here are five players who could have huge parts to play in 2016 after their time on the sidelines.

Devin Mesoraco (Cincinnati Reds): The Cincinnati Reds tried everything to manage Mesoraco through last season before accepting defeat and sending the catcher for surgery. Following a brief spell in left field due to his inability to squad, Mesoraco underwent surgery in June to repair the labrum and resurface the hip bone. After a six-month rehab process, the 27-year-old appears to be coming along nicely. He is currently on course to put himself in contention for selection on Opening Day. The catcher has been a consistent and ever-present in this Reds team in recent years and his injury for much of last season was certainly a factor behind Cincinnati’s dismal campaign.

Yu Darvish (Texas Rangers): While there were a few hints that the pitcher was beginning to deal with an elbow problem at the end of the 2014 campaign, Darvish wouldn’t have expected that to be his last taste of competitive baseball for over a year. A torn UCL forced the Japanese star to undergo Tommy John surgery at around this point in 2015, with the Texas Rangers pitcher now looking at a return date of May. Following his high-profile move to the MLB from Japan in 2012, when he chose Texas over the Toronto Blue Jays, Darvish was finally beginning to look the part before suffering his injury. He recorded a solid 3.06 ERA in 2014 before spending all of last season on the sidelines and his return will real boost to a Rangers team which as of early March are at 8/1 with the Bet365 MLB odds to top the American League in 2016.

Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins): When the right fielder pulled up in June with a hand problem, which was later diagnosed as a fractured hamate bone, it was only thought he would be out of action for a couple of months. Stanton’s time on the sidelines ended up significantly increasing and it ultimately brought a premature end to his 2015 campaign in September with a .265 batting average. But while Miami’s season looked over before the Californian’s injury, having a fully-refreshed and fit-again Stanton back in the roster will be as good as a new signing for the Marlins. Having made a successful return to training at the turn of the year, the 26-year-old is now set to make his return to action for Miami’s opening game of the season against the Detroit Tigers.

Jung Ho Kang (Pittsburgh Pirates): Considering the severity of the knee injury Kang sustained in September, the fact the Pirates star has any chance of being involved in the early stages of the new season really is incredible. Expected to be moved to third base in a bid to take some of the extra pressure from his left knee, Kang will have to be managed carefully during his return to the game. In an impressive debut season in the MLB, the South Korean looked more than at home playing against the best players in the world on a regular basis. While his absence was a real blow to Pittsburgh’s postseason hopes last year, the Pirates won’t be able to rush Kang back early from such a nasty injury this season. 

Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers): Braun was forced under the surgeon’s knife last September after missing a run of games for the Brewers with a back problem during a season in which the right fielder had also suffered from a thumb issue. While the nine-season veteran is well aware he won’t be cleared to return to action until he’s swinging a bat again, the 32-year-old should be able to take part in some of Milwaukee’s spring training. In a Brewers team that isn’t expected to have much chance of making the playoffs this year, Braun is going to need to really step up and play the majority of the season if they’re going to upset the odds of 40/1 for the National League Central.

Eno Sarris Power Ranks the Shortstops of the Future

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I really like Eno Sarris. I always have. Even though my baseball at work reading has been cut down to zilch (down from several hours a day in it’s past), I still carve out time to check in for his chats.

I was persistent about this question for a few weeks, and good old Eno came through finally.

File this away. I wish I had included Trea Turner and a few others. But yeah, the shortstop position in baseball is probably at it’s best place it’s been in my lifetime.

“Chicken Soup” Rosario is no more. He is now Wonton Phosario

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Oh, the nuggets the boredom of an offseason brings.

We once gave Wilin Rosario the nickname “Chicken Soup” because he was seemingly always on the shelf, nursing himself back to health. If it wasn’t hangnail, he had a cold and was on the roost in the dugout nursing himself back to health with Campbell’s.

We panicked in hearing that Rosario was headed to Korea to play ball for the Hanwha Eagles!

This season, ‘Sitting Bull’ takes on a new form for his adventures. He’s now Wonton Phosario. Here’s how I see this playing out for the new oriental sitting league champion:

  • Wonton’s plane touches down in Korea, he immediately finds a golden throne somewhere and is fed sushi with chopsticks by several beautiful Korean women. He’s wearing nothing but an oriental sequent robe. They believe they are feeding the next Korean home run champion. Phosario misses six months because of a reaction to tempura rolls.
  • Phosario holds a press conference to announce he will return to the lineup a few months into the season on a Tuesday night, gets shocked for a split second when he touches the microphone and decides he needs the night off for being ‘electrocuted’.
  • Phosario misses a total of seven games during the Korean season because he stayed up too late the night before. Not because he was out enjoying the night life, he just stayed up too late watching television and has sleepy eyes in the morning.
  • Phosario tries Miso Soup and then gets a sour stomach, misses a week for food poisoning from Miso Soup! Who gets food poisoning from Miso Soup? It is basically water! Who, you ask? The catcher and soon to be DH who has the immune system of Charlie Sheen, that’s who.
  • Phosario tells his manager that his new oriental sandals he’s been wearing are causing turf toe, and is relegated to pinch-hit duty on the nights he decides he can play.
  • Phosario finally decides to miss the remainder of the season (as if he ever gave actually playing on a consistent basis his all to begin with) because he has a strained buttocks from sitting. He explains to the trainer that it ‘just hurts back there’ – becoming the first player in professional sports to actually get hurt from physically sitting on the bench.

This is going to be my first season checking in on Korean baseball, and it’s all due to our friend Wonton “Spup” Phosario.

Hat tip to our buddy Corey for the great photoshop of Phosario.

Corey Koskie offers advice on business, life, and gym management

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Corey Koskie carved out a nice little career in the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Toronto. Though never an All-Star, he had a really nice season in 2001 that saw him finish 25th in MVP voting. He was almost a 5.0 bWAR player that season.

And this article from The Players Tribune is a great read about players and their thought process after they get out of baseball. It’s written by Koskie himself. Give it a click.

Thinking Baseball Again

It’s my first post of 2016, it only took 25 days into the year to get to. With football season being down to the Super Bowl, my mind always crosses over back to my first love: the game of baseball.

And with those things I’ve started the usual nuances that baseball season brings; my house-keeping. I’m following a few new accounts on twitter. I’ve got MLB Network on the television after work (there’s a Montreal Expos documentary on tomorrow night at 9:00 PM ET).

I’m reading Ron Shandler and some of his fantasy baseball draft strategies. I’m starting to check Fangraphs every day again and reading about MLB’s tanking problem – the Reds are unfortunately mentioned.

We’re 69 days and 17 hours from the beginning of the MLB regular season. We all have to brave the month of February but 69 days is do-able.

Spring is almost in the air, and I’m ready for it about as early as ever. The crack of the bat is a few wake ups away from being among us all. I’ll try to start updating this page more each day.

Baseball Training Aids and Equipment

Trainings aids for baseball includes hitting cages, training bats, pitching machines, training gloves, training balls and several more. With so many training aids available, it is quite difficult for a player to understand which equipment will be helpful for the player to achieve their goals. Most of the people know about the game baseball. However, not many actually have an idea of what it takes for developing and training the required skills for playing baseball.

Several skills are required for playing baseball. If you are interested in the game and want develop your skill, it is very important for you to have a knowledge of what is your skill level currently. This will be very helpful when you select certain equipment that can be best for enhancing your skills.

Training aids for different types of players

Players who are just starting to learn and play baseball will never possess the same levels of skills as those players who play in big leagues. When you learn to play baseball, you must always start with basics. All the beginners need to start by learning the basics. They need to learn how to catch, pitch and hit. For more advanced baseball players, the training has to be specifically done in order to improve certain areas of their game. For instance, a player who pitches should use pitching equipment while a player who struggles with batting must focus on hitting equipment for training. One great thing for all players is that there are equipment for all sorts of players, of any skill level.

Where to find training aids

Coaches or players can look for these products anywhere, from an online retailer to a local sports store. There are numerous companies providing these products. While some of these companies carry only a specific inventory, while others carry products ranging from memorabilia to fan apparel. All the baseball companies thrive to provide the best possible products for baseball players. These companies are trying to create a wide selection of products that they can offer to all sorts of baseball players.

Searching in the internet for baseball training aids can be very helpful (I know that top5onlinecasino website owner is a baseball fan don’t hesitate to contact him for help). The search result can be further narrowed down if you specifically know your needs. Searching for ‘Pitching training aids’ or ‘Hitting training aids’ will provide the necessary results if you know about your specific needs.

How helpful are baseball training aids

Training and practice are extremely essential if you want to develop the necessary skills for playing game safely. A lot of time and effort has to be put in training. As the skill level of players increase, they can make use of different training aids and equipment. These training aids continuously challenge the ability of the player, which further helps the player in improving.

Many players and coaches have noticed that using baseball training aids is helpful in making training sessions more productive. These products are very effective and certainly help players in positive manner. Making use of them during practice and training sessions is always helpful.

The rise of South African baseball

If there’s one thing that can really unite South Africa as a country, it’s the love of sport. And whilst the nation’s cricket and rugby teams may often grab more global headlines, the emergent South African baseball scene has recently started to gain momentum.

South African emergence

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The Rainbow Nation made their first big impression on the international baseball circuit in 2006 where a team of amateur players headed to the prestigious World Baseball Classic championships. Although many were questioning the ability of the team, they quickly defied the doubters by nearly causing a huge upset to the established Canadian baseball team.

This has mirrored the rise of baseball as a rapidly rising sport in South Africa. Facilitated by the likes of the South Africa Baseball Union, the game has managed to bridge the divided country by offering a game that is relatively untouched by the struggles of the past.

And now the sport has reached a pivotal point where it has started entering the national consciousness, with many supporting the national team and enjoying baseball themed games at Springbok Casino that reflect on the emerging popularity of this game.

Origins

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The route that South African baseball has taken has been somewhat unorthodox, but in a way, it mirrors the nation’s idiosyncratic relationship with the world.

The game was first introduced to South Africa in 1895 when a group of American migrants who arrived on the shores in response to the gold rush that preceded the Boer War settled in the Transvaal province. It was here that they brought baseball equipment, taught the rules of the game, and even set up an official league in 1899.

Interestingly, given the cosmopolitan nature of the Rainbow Nation, there was also a big Japanese influence in the development of the game. This is because in 1934 a group of Japanese sailors had to wait three months for their next ship home, and in the ensuing period they played a game with the American locals at the Westbourne Oval in Port Elizabeth. The resulting success of the match quickly led to the development of the Easter Province Baseball Association.

Golden age

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From here, South African baseball grew at a fairly organic rate despite lack of financial assistance and political infighting.

The 1950s are often considered a golden era for South African baseball as it was during this time that audience numbers started swelling, and matches were held at many prestigious sporting arenas, often attracting the support of many American owned companies.

However, with international pressure on the Apartheid system restricting foreign interest, the game began to suffer as the century progressed. But with the recent political advances, baseball appears to be enjoying a long sought after resurgence this this sports-mad nation.

Jose Fernandez’s Return Highlights a nice Thursday of Baseball

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Baseball is a better place when Jose Fernandez is a part of it. After a 13-month layoff, Fernandez returns in Miami tomorrow afternoon for a start against the San Francisco Giants; trying to give his team without their other star a series win over the World Champions.

Ironically enough, tomorrow also marks the return of Matt Cain who will be making his first start of the season.

All in all, it’s a nice little slate tomorrow. Since Friday is observed at most companies for Fourth of July, it’s a start of the weekend with some nice offerings as part of the slate:

  • Max Scherzer starts in Atlanta against Manny Banuelos who is making his Major League Debut.
  • Four afternoon games dot the slate as you’re probably finishing up your workday. Aside from Fernandez going for the Marlins, you’ve got Corey Kluber, Francisco Liriano, and Jacob deGrom on the bump in those games.
  • Wade Miley is sent like a lamb to slaughter against Toronto and their mighty right-handed hitters.
  • Colorado at Arizona could be a total slobberknocker, with Chris Rusin opposing Jeremy Hellickson. Nolan Arenado has the longest active hitting streak in the big leagues at 18.

And after tomorrow is through, it’s Fourth of July weekend. No greater time during the baseball season. Just baseball, cookouts, fireworks, family and friends. And some Daily Fantasy Baseball mixed in. Another great and quiet gift that the baseball season gives to each of us each year that sometimes goes by unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention.

Odds & Ends from Friday Night

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Here are other things that happened around the baseball world last night, in case you missed them:

  • Anthony Rizzo hit his 9th and 10th home runs of the season last night in Washington. He would have had a three home run ballgame, except Denard Span robbed him of his third late in the game.  The Nationals hung on to win the game 7-5.
  • In that game, Bryce Harper doubled off the wall. The ball initially looked like it would get out, but the big park in Washington held it. He was clearly pissed off that Ryan Zimmerman did not try and score, and gave himself up without getting into a rundown. It was a weird play.
  • Harper seems like he’s a fine ambassador of the game at this point.
  • Baseball’s first ‘switch-pitcher’ made his MLB debut last night at Fenway Park. Pat Venditte threw two scoreless innings to finish the game for Oakland. And sure enough, his B-R page already lists him as being able to throw right or left handed.
  • The Brewers smashed the now 32-22 Minnesota Twins, 10-5 in Minnesota. And damnit; I knew I should have bet the house on the Brewers as the Twins were pretty heavy favorites for a team with Kyle Gibson on the mound. It’s always the ones you stay away from that work out just as you envision them.
  • The Reds went down without a whimper 6-2 in Cincinnati to Tyson Ross and the San Diego Padres. The Reds are now 23-30, and they’re in the tank. Those two losses they had this week in Philadelphia prior to beating Aaron Harang on getaway day were about as bad as you can achieve. Jay Bruce is back down to .217 on the year.
  • Carlos Martinez struck out 11 Dodgers last night late at Dodger Stadium, and the Cardinals won a 2-1 ballgame that they always seem to win. I don’t know how the Cardinals manage to always win these type of games or how they seem to just roll along without issue as new guys like Martinez and Randal Grichuk just step up and into the lineup as regulars; it’s just the way guys play when they wear the Cardinal uniform.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays won 1-0 in Seattle with a Logan Forsythe home run being the only run of the game. Robinson Cano went hitless to lower his season average to .243 on the year. Jake Odirizzi exited the game in the fifth inning with left side tightness.

MLB Power Rankings –With sneak peak by Mybookie.ag

The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals came into the season with plenty of pressure and expectations in the AL Central, especially as the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians have improved. However, the Tigers and Royals have shown themselves to be very strong teams as they are were unbeaten through the first two series of the season. They have won their first six games. Read more about MLB betting favorites in this 2015 review.

The Detroit Tigers swept the Minnesota Twins and the Indians to start the season but lost their first game to the Pittsburgh Pirates to go 6-1 to start the season. Star player Miguel Cabrera is still a stud for the Tigers and went .517 in his first seven games with 9 RBI. J.D. Martinez also has 9 RBI plus four home runs.

Meanwhile, the pitching has not been hurt by the departure of Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander’s injury. David Price has not given up a single earned run in 14.1 innings. The same can be said for Shane Greene, Joe Nathan and Tom Gorzelanny. It is no surprise that the Tigers have 6/1 odds to win the ALCS and 10/1 odds for the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals are out with the goal of trying to show that their ALCS title from last year was no fraud. The Royals only have 16/1 odds to win the World Series and 8/1 odds to get their second straight pennant.

The Royals swept the White Sox and Los Angeles Angels to start the year. Yordano Ventura won both his starts so far this season and has a 2.31 ERA. Wade Davis has also been reliable from the bullpen as he has pitched in four one-inning efforts and has not given up an earned run. Greg Holland also has pitched three perfect innings for three saves.

As for the Royals’ offense, Salvador Perez may be an interesting figure to watch for. He has a .417 average with three home runs and 8 RBI. In fact, the team’s 39 RBI is far greater than the 15 the Royals have given up.

The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals should be interesting to see in 2015 and they are good MLB betting favorites. However, they should be aware of their AL Central competition just as well as there are plenty of teams that could compete with them this year.

In particular, the Cleveland Indians are at 9/1 to win the ALCS and 20/1 to win the World Series. The Royals are 2-4 and will miss Yan Gomes for two months with a knee injury. Still, Corey Kluber has been a proficient pitcher with 17 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.

Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox have 12/1 odds to with the ALCS and 25/1 odds to get a Series win. Chris Sale’s injury and the question of when Carlos Rodon will be added to their rotation have floated around the team throughout the start of the season. In addition, the White Sox only have a .237 average and Jose Abreu only has one RBI.

The Minnesota Twins are also long shots at 66/1 to win the league and 150/1 to win the Series. At 1-5, the Twins may be afterthoughts if they keep struggling. This is in spite of Joe Mauer’s .300 average.

 

Whether it’s Buck Showalter, or Beau Bridges; this is a sweet Baseball commercial (It’s’ Buck)

Baseball has rolled out a really great commercial to start the 2015 season which we enjoyed – because it truly lets you know how great the players we watch on a nightly basis are; with their varying origins and skill-sets.

I have a friend who saw this commercial and texted ‘what a great commercial there narrated by Bridges’. I heard it, knew which one he was talking about, and while I didn’t look up during it; it does sound like Beau or Jeff Bridges (all Bridges sound the same). I replied that I thought it was Buck Showalter.

Conclusion: baseball is wonderful, and Buck Showalter sounds an awful lot like Beau or Jeff Bridges. Great commercial if you haven’t seen it, encapsulated forever here now.

The Last Idle Sunday

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For the last time, there is no regular season baseball on a Sunday. The stadiums sit empty for now with just one week to go until the regular season kicks off at Wrigley Field.

We can make it through one week of anything. Especially this week with MLB ’15 the Show rolling out, a few season predictions posts still yet to come, and our season preview podcast. But one week from now we embark upon what could be the most exciting season of baseball we’ve ever seen. And they’re all so good that after a while, they blend together.

All the renewed hope comes with the start of a fresh 162.

Baseball will start every game at the same time on the season’s final day

This is absolutely awesome for those of you who say baseball isn’t exciting or doesn’t feature enough drama.

Per a report in the LA Times, the idea stems from trying to create the maximum amount of drama leading into the playoffs:

“If a game impacts another game, they’re all occurring at the same time, so no team would be put into a lame-duck situation because their fate already had been decided by an earlier result,” said Tony Pettiti, MLB chief operating officer.

“If we do have games coming down to the wire, we want to make sure we maximize that day.”

I love it! I absolutely dig it. It’s going to be a Sunday in September, and baseball is forgetting about juicy television revenues in multiple markets in order to get people talking about this one final day which will surely have several teams vying for playoff positioning. This should have been done years ago.