The Sports Bookie Blog

World Cup 2014: Brazil

July 31st, 2007

World Cup: Copa 2014 in Brazil?Brazil bids to host 2014 World Cup.

Brazil, the only candidate bidding to host the 2014 World Cup, is set to officially present its bid at the headquarters of world football’s governing body FIFA in Zurich on Tuesday.

The Brazilian delegation, headed by Brazilian federation (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira and which includes famous author Paulo Coelho and 1994 World Cup star Romario, is set to declare they have agreed to all the guarantees demanded by FIFA to host the event.

This first administrative step will put the bid, for what the Brazilians want to call “Copa 2014,” officially into the FIFA system. FIFA have said repeatedly: “Even if Brazil is the only candidate, it has not yet obtained the right to host the 2014 World Cup.”

The only other country which might have made a bid was Colombia but it pulled out of the running in April. Only problems with the bid however could derail hopes of organising an event last held on Brazilian soil in 1950 when they lost in the final to Uruguay, a defeat which rankles among Brazilians to this day.

One of the headaches in such a huge country is which stadiums would be used and 22 cities have officially thrown their hat into the ring. Between 10 and 18 cities could be chosen but the figure would probably be 12.

Rio de Janeiro will surely host matches but that would throw up the question of whether to renovate the mythic Maracana stadium or use the Engenho de Dentro stadium, which was inaugurated for the 2007 Pan American Games which have just finished.

Brazil, which also hopes to host the 2016 Olympics in Rio, wants to follow in the footsteps of Germany (1974 World Cup and 1972 Olympics), and Mexico (Olympics 1968 and 1970 World Cup).

However a senior European IOC member told AFP last week that it would be unlikely that Rio would succeed in winning the right to host the Olympics. “IOC members don’t like feeling they are the pudding, ie coming after another major sporting occasion,” he said.

Got your online sportsbooks sorted for the new season? Check out www.BookieLabRat.com for the latest bookmaker reviews, comparisons and ratings.

Free 2008 Official Team Shirt – Bookie Offer Too Good to Miss!

July 28th, 2007

The new football season is approaching fast (hurray!) and this is a bookie promotion that will ensure you are at least dressed for the occassion!

Every now and then an online sportsbook offers a REALLY good joining bonus – and this is one of those times!

Top Australian bookie Centrebet will GIVE YOU your choice of free 2008 Official Team Shirt… this is a genuine offer and it really is too good to miss!

Click for a FREE TEAM SHIRTOK – what do I do?

1. Join Centrebet TODAY using the promotional code: FREESHIRT
2. Place a £35 (or 50€) bet on the team you think will win one of the following markets:

– English Premiership
– Spanish Primera Liga
– Italian Serie A
– German Bundesliga
– Danish Superliga

3. Once they confirm your bet, Centrebet will send you instructions on how to claim a free official team shirt of your choice.

Note: The shirt you request does not have to be for the team you bet on!

(So to score a free Derby Shirt for example, you might want to bet on Chelsea or Man Utd to win as odds of 5000/1 are fairly daunting!)

Why pay for a shirt when Centrebet are handing them out free?

Right, are you ready to go to Centrebet to place a bet and score that Free shirt to start the football season in style?
Centrebet Promotion Terms and Conditions:

* Only UK and European bettors (excluding Danish) can enter
* Offer open to new customers only
* Promo runs from 20 July to 30 August 2007
* Shirts subject to availability
* Offer limited to 1 per person / household
* Centrebet reserves the right to change/remove
   this promotion at any time  

Sorry, no US bettorsPS: Check out our latest review of Centrebet Bookmaker for more details on this excellent online sports betting site.

Pro Football teams with new looks

July 26th, 2007

PRO FOOTBALL TEAMS WITH NEW LOOKS Dave Cokin talks Pro Football

by Dave Cokin

In 2002, the defending champion Patriots defense got old fast and fell apart, finishing 31st in the NFL against the run. If you can’t stop the run, why would opponents even try to pass?

The next two seasons New England beefed up the line and the defense was seventh overall (3rd against the run) and ninth overall (6th against the run) leading the way to consecutive titles. In 2003, the Steelers were a pass-happy team, with the running game ranking 30th.

Then they got back to running the football, long a Steeler staple, and it resulted in a 31-7 record and a Super Bowl title. Making offseason changes to address weaknesses is key in the NFL.

Let’s take a look at some NFL teams that have made offseason moves they hope will tighten up some weaknesses.

Arizona Cardinals : Dennis Green is out and Ken Whisenhunt takes over. He was the 2006 Steelers offensive coordinator. They grabbed Penn State OT Levi Jones in the first round and signed two offensive linemen, Mike Gandy and Al Johnson, to provide depth. They need protection for young QB Matt Leinart and some blocking for RB Edgerrin James, who went from 1,506 yards with the Colts in 2005 to just 3.4 yards per carry with Arizona.

The new coaching staff is looking for mobile offensive linemen, to block and run down field like the Steelers. The defense has been poor against the run but they bring in 6-foot-6 rookie NT Alan Branch (Michigan). His stock slipped in the draft, but he is still a rare run-stuffer that the Cardinals desperately need. Sports bettors take note: Arizona is 15-17 SU, 18-14 ATS the last four seasons at home, but 6-26 SU, 11-21 ATS on the road.

Cleveland Browns : GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel went wild on draft day. Was it because they found some super-talented to turn the team around? Or did they rush rashly because they are feeling the heat? We’ll find out soon. Rookie QB Brady Quinn comes aboard along with mammoth offensive tackle Joe Thomas (Wisconsin, the No. 2 pick in the draft).

Throw in newcomer RB Jamal Lewis from the Ravens alongside TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards, and you won’t recognize the Browns offense. That would be a good thing, as the Browns ranked 31st in total offense. Of course, Quinn is a rookie, and this defense has been awful, ranked 29th against the run. The Browns hope the offense is explosive on the field as it is on paper, but beware: Cleveland is 20-10-1 under the total the last two years!

San Francisco 49ers : For a team that went 7-9, expectations are high for San Francisco this fall. Head Coach Mike Nolan begins his third year and the team had a huge offseason. They added outstanding free agent cornerback Nate Clements (Bills) and safety Michael Lewis to strengthen the secondary, while nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and linebacker Tully Banta-Cain add depth to their 3-4 defense.

WR Ashley Lelie has speed to help young QB Alex Smith, and on draft day the 49ers ended up with two first round picks, Mississippi’s Patrick Willis (the best linebacker in the draft) and Joe Staley, a 6-foot-5, the 306-pound offensive tackle from Central Michigan. Staley’s 4.7 second 40-yard dash at the combine was the fastest time of any offensive lineman. Can they step up on the road? The 49ers are a poor 6-26 SU/14-16-2 ATS on the road the last four seasons where the ‘D’ has allowed 27.6 points per game.

Houston Texans : Second year head coach Gary Kubiak continues to overhaul the Texans, dumping franchise face QB David Carr for Atlanta backup QB Matt Schaub. The 26-year old Schaub has 6 TDs and 6 INTs in three NFL seasons (only 2 starts), but many feel the 6-foot-5 accurate passer has the stuff to be an everyday leader. He gets his chance, though Houston has had a lousy offensive line for years (and no Reggie Bush).

New offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is putting in a plan for more balance to the offense for this fall. They grabbed OT Brandon Frye (fifth round, Virginia Tech) and OG Kasey Studdard (sixth round, Texas) in the draft, signed LT Jordan Black (Chiefs) and add 30-year old RB Ahman Green (Packers), who is off a 1,059 yards season. Shaub will have excellent targets with WR Andre Johnson (1,147 yards) and veteran Eric Moulds.

———————–

You can read more from Dave Cokin – and get all his sports betting pick and previews at his site :

Keep Football out of the courts!

July 25th, 2007

Tevez saga set for High Court showdown

Teves at 23 must find this all very frustrating!The Carlos Tevez transfer saga is to be settled in the High Court after it emerged that the Argentine striker’s representatives are set to launch legal action against West Ham.

Tevez has agreed a move to Premiership champions Manchester United but the deal has been held up because Media Sports Investments (MSI), the company owned by Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian, claims it owns the economic rights to the player rather than the Hammers.

But Tevez, 23, is registered as a West Ham player and the London club insisted that they ripped up a contract giving MSI the rights to any transfer fee during an investigation into the details of the former Corinthians star’s move to Upton Park.

As a result West Ham believe they are due the money and FIFA, world football’s governing body, had on Tuesday recommended that the dispute be settled in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

West Ham are happy to abide by that decision as are the English Football Association (FA) and the Premier League, but Joorabchian has other ideas. He wants the deal wrapped up before the close of the transfer window on August 31, and is considering issuing a writ for damages in relation to an alleged breach of contract by West Ham.

FIFA had opted to bring in CAS following a high-level meeting with FA and Premier League officials in Zurich on Monday and spokesman Andreas Herren said: “Under the circumstances it was felt it would be in the best interest of all parties to take this course.

“It looks like being the fastest way of resolving this matter. It is not a refusal by FIFA to get involved, quite the contrary. It is a recommendation by FIFA to opt for this way.”

But the Premier League are keen for West Ham to contest Joorabchian’s claims because they contradict the verdict delivered after their investigation. Chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “For eight months now, we have been trying to resolve this issue as well as keeping the rule book intact. It is quite difficult.”

Click to visit Gamebookers online sportsbook - no US bettorsThis item is contributed by the team at Gamebookers online sportsbook. Check them out is you’re after a good reliable bookmaker for the new season – and the latest in sports news around the world.

Link to latest Gamebookers Sportsbook review on BookieLabRat.com
Link to Gamebookers

Pro football teams with something to prove

July 24th, 2007

Jim Feist talks NFL FootballPRO FOOTBALL TEAMS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE

by Jim Feist

Frustration and failure can prove excellent motivating factors in sports. We see quality teams get beaten badly all the time, then bounce back the next game with a terrific performance with an easy win (and easy cover).

This can also take place with teams that are off disappointing seasons.

It may seem a distant memory now, but the Bears ended the 2005 season with a blowout loss at the Vikings (34-10) then a home loss to the Panthers in the playoffs, 29-21. Last season, the Bears were very motivated team, going 15-3 while winning the NFC. They seemed to be on a mission and didn’t want to repeat the late season disappointment of 2005.

A year ago – I pointed out that only the Colts could feel terrible after a 14-3 season, blowing a home playoff game to the Steelers, 21-18, and that for 2006, “They are still a talented team capable of beating anyone.” They certainly played with a chip on their shoulder while starting 9-0 and rolling in the postseason. When channeled properly, frustration can be focused into positive energy.

Here are 5 NFL teams that may have something to prove in 2007.

(1) San Diego Chargers : Like the Colts in 2006, no team has more to prove in 2007 than the Chargers. A dominating 14-2 regular season was flushed down the drain in a shocking playoff loss at home to the Patriots, blowing a late 21-13 lead. This is still a talented group led by QB Phillip Rivers (22 TDs, 9 picks), a strong offensive line and MVP RB LaDainian Tomlinson. LT ran for 1,815 yards (5.2 ypc) and 28 TDs, while catching 56 passes for 508 yards.

TE Antonio Gates is joined by rookie WR Craig Davis (LSU) and the defense is loaded up front. While the talent on the field is the same, the coaching staff got a complete overhaul, with Norv Turner as coach and Ted Cottrell the new defensive coordinator. It’s a tough situation for Turner in that Marty Schottenheimer was liked by the players. On the other hand, he’s been handed the keys to a Mercedes, one that should be motivated by the playoff collapse.

(2) New York Giants : The spotlight is on NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is likely on a short leash. He was a cinch to be fired after the team went 2-7 SU, 3-5-1 ATS. They were sloppy, undisciplined and fractured after a 6-2 start. Incredibly, he’s back. There are plenty of big-names with something to prove, from Coughlin, to turnover-prone QB Eli Manning, injury-prone TE Jeremy Shockey, not to mention a defense that has ranked 27th against the pass in each of the last two seasons. That’s why Texas cornerback Aaron Ross was plucked in the first round. Note that the Giants are 13-19-1 ATS their last 33 home games.

(3) Arizona Cardinals : In 2006, the Saints ripped off the “longtime loser” moniker and soared all the way to the NFC title game. This season, the Cardinals want to rip off the loser label. Like the Saints a year ago, the Cardinals bring in a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt, the Steelers offensive coordinator in 2006.

He’s looking for a balanced offense, like the Steelers, and bulked up the offensive line with Penn State OT Levi Jones and the defensive line with 6-6 run-stuffer Alan Branch (Michigan). The offense has all kinds of talented pieces to work with in QB Matt Leinart and Pro Bowl receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Keep in mind the Cardinals are 30-15 over the total the last 45 games.

(4) Seattle Seahawks : Seattle made the Super Bowl two years ago, but despite making the playoffs last season they stumbled with all kinds of problems. The running game slipped badly with some offensive line changes plus the injured foot of RB Shaun Alexander, and QB Matt Hasselbeck missed time in mid-season.

The defense fell to 18th overall and a poor 22nd against the run. Former Atlanta DE Patrick Kerney comes aboard, while the secondary adds SS Brian Russell (Cleveland), FS Deon Grant (Jacksonville) and Maryland CB Josh Wilson comes in as a rookie from Round 2. They lost top WR Darrell Jackson (956 yards), which means WR Deion Branch (725 yards) will have to step up as the No. 1.

(5) New England Patriots : The Pats ran out of gas in the AFC Championship, with injuries everywhere, contributing to a stinging 38-34 last second loss at Indy. They’ve beefed up the linebackers with free agent Adalius Thomas (Ravens), added Miami S Brandon Merriweather in the secondary, and upgraded the receiving corps with WRs Dante Stallworth, Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

RELATED LINKS :
Jim Feist’s Paid Picks Site ::::
Top internet betting lines :::: Pinnacle Sports Bookmaker 
Top US facing Sportsbook ::  Bodog Sportsbook (accepts ALL US players)

Paddy Power faces a 5 million Euro Golf Payout

July 23rd, 2007

Ah huh, we assumed Padraig Harrington’s British Open victory would give our intrepid Irish bookie, Paddy Power, a little pain in the back pocket. The Paddy Power crew sound chipper enough though in a press release yesterday…

PaddyPower.com golf betting specialsIrish bookmaker Paddy Power is facing around €5 million in payouts after countryman Padraig Harrington’s British Open victory. A spokesperson for the bookmaker called his win “pretty expensive”, but said that it was “impossible not to cheer for him”.

PaddyPower.com was running an Extra Place Special on the British Open too – paying out on the sixth placed players Hunter Mahan and Stewart Cink as Dead heat rules applied.

Congratulations to Padraig for becoming the first European to lift a Major in this millenium! The question now is will his win at Carnoustie give Padraig Harrington enough of a confidence boost so he can go on to win more Major titles?

Click to visit top Irish bookie PaddyPower.comCheck out our latest review of PaddyPower.com and how they compare to other online sports bookmakers.

Asian Nations Cup Quarterfinal Results

July 22nd, 2007

South Korea edged out Iran 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw.

World Cup hero Lee Woon-jae saved from Mehdi Mahdavikia and Rasoul Khatibi before Kim Jung-woo scored the final penalty to take Pim Verbeek’s team through to the last four and a meeting with Iraq in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia survived a late fight back to down Uzbekistan 2-1.

The Saudis will meet defending champions Japan in Hanoi on Wednesday after goals from Yasser Al Qahtani and Ahmed Al Mousa took the three-time champions through to the last four.

SEMI FINAL DRAW :
In Hanoi ——— Saudi Arabia v Japan
In Kuala Lumpur – South Korea v Iraq

RELATED LINK :
For betting previews on the Asian Nations Cup visit the International Football page at GoonersGuide.com

Bet Early to Avoid Disappointment

July 20th, 2007

The Inside Word from Pinnacle Sports Book

by Locke

One simple tactic can improve the results of the majority of bettors but amazingly, only a small portion of players take advantage of it at the Pinnacle Sports book.

That betting strategy is to bet early.

Overnight lines are the betting world’s gift to players, allowing them to get good numbers across the board. It even helps you pick better sides!

Once you experiment with betting overnight, it will quickly become clear that it offers you better value. I’m here to explain why, and how best to take advantage of that opportunity.

What moves the odds? Money! When money talks, sportsbooks listen. Books seek to get two-way action, with roughly equal money on both sides. If the current odds fail to produce that, then the book will increase the price to bet on the team everyone likes and make the unpopular team cheaper. Sometimes the market also moves as the result of a new development, such as an unexpected lineup or an injury report, but most moves come from the bettors. Moves can happen quickly due to large bets from big players or gambling syndicates (also known as steam moves), and they can come gradually as the public weighs in on the game.

As a bettor, you need to decide when to bet in addition to what to bet on and how much to risk. As an aspiring sharp bettor, you doubtless have good reasons for liking the team you want to back, and by placing a bet, you’ve concluded that the team has value at the current price. Whatever reasons you might have, chances are that other people share those same opinions. They will bet on the same team, and together you will often make the price to bet your team more expensive. Even instinctive handicappers will tend to pick up on the same things that other instinctive handicappers do.

If the closing line for the game is the market’s best guess as to what the fair price is, you’re more likely to see value in those teams that are currently cheaper than what their closing price will be, while you’ll be less likely to find teams priced higher than their closing price attractive. Thus not only are the teams you like going to get more expensive over time, but the ones that will get cheaper are exactly the ones you’re most likely to avoid due to the price! The earlier you bet, the more value you are likely to find. This extra value can turn losing players into break even players and turn break even players into winners.

That said, there are three good reasons not to use overnight lines. The first reason is that overnight it is harder to shop around for the best price because many books have not yet posted their odds. If your only outs are at books that charge full commission or ‘juice’ for wagering and you must lay -110 to bet (wager $110 to win $100) then this is a strong reason to wait, you should only bet early when you feel your edge is large.

However, in baseball many books offer a ‘dime’ line, and if you use Pinnacle Sports you pay only -105 to wager, even on totals and Runlines. For moneylines in MLB, the Pinnacle Sports book offers the best value, using a -104 line set all the way to -188. Baseball is almost impossible to beat without access to at least a dime line and ideally you should keep multiple dime lines available to shop around for the best price.

The second reason you might skip overnight lines is size. The overnight limits are smaller because books know that their lines frequently offer value and their volume will come closer to the start of the game; some books don’t offer overnight lines at all to protect themselves.

Most bettors are not big enough for this to be an issue on major sports. The Pinnacle Sports book lets you bet $10,000 on MLB moneylines overnight and $5,000 on runlines and totals. That is enough for all but an elite few, but even the $500 overnight limits at most sportsbooks are enough for the majority of customers.

The third reason you might skip the overnights is timing. Most bettors don’t want to plan that far in advance, preferring to see the results of today’s games, collect other information and do more handicapping. Others simply want to concentrate on watching games and relaxing once the games begin, and don’t want to be distracted with thoughts of tomorrow. If you’re a casual bettor trying to maximize the value of your bankroll, make sure overnight betting agrees with you. As you get more serious about your betting, it will become more important to get the best value.

Unless you are predicting that your team is likely to get cheaper, line shopping the next day is rarely as valuable as the overnight lines. Thus, all serious players should bet overnight to maximize their advantages.

We like it when players bet overnight for the same reason: You get value, but we get to sharpen our line. In an earlier column, we referred to the sharp overnight bettors as the “Hundred Dollar Geniuses” and this label fits many overnight players. The secret is that you don’t have to be a genius to be an overnight winner, just a solid bettor.

When you focus in on a game and give it your full attention, you’re paying more attention to it than anyone at a sportsbook can afford to pay on that one game. Out-thinking the market is far more difficult than out-thinking a soft early number. Why bet into a sharp line when you can bet into a soft one?

A final note is that many players seem to want the opposite, and this can be baffling. Often we’ll see players wait until we raise our limits, then bet an amount far less than the old limit. Our best guess is that these bettors want to know they’re getting a fair price and not get tricked or feel foolish. They want a solid line.

But why would you want to make it as hard as possible to find value? That circled game doesn’t mean the book is setting a trap – it means the book is afraid that if you bet into the game, you’ll be a winner.

RELATED LINKS :
See the bookielabrat.com review of PinnacleSports bookmaker
Or visit PinnacleSports now.

Spanish Cash Splash

July 19th, 2007

Newly-crowned Spanish champions Real Madrid and runners-up Barcelona are spending up large this summer – a cool 100 million euros (130m dollars) between them – to secure dominance of the La Liga next season.

Valencia have not been far behind them as they too seek to be a force to be reckoned with.

Real’s shopping List:

Real have acquired German international defender Christoph Metzelder (ex Dortmund) and Pepe from Porto. Javier Saviola also joins Real but on a free transfer from Barca. Spanish international forward Roberto Soldado is recalled having been on to Osasuna.

New coach Bernd Schuster is also trying to secure a transfer for Jose Antonio Reyes, who was on loan last season from Arsenal, as well as bag winger Arjen Robben from Chelsea.

Michel Salgado and Ivan Helguera are likely to leave Real as Fabio Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos, Metzelder and Pepe in the central defensive positions mean they will gain little if any time on pitch.

Alvaro Mejia is already set to join promoted Murcia for two million euros, and the club are as yet without bidders for misfit Italian striker Antonio Cassano.

Barca’s additions:

Barca have signed four players to date after agreeing to sign Argentine international Gabriel Milito from Zaragoza for a reported 20 million euros.

Barca also spent 24 million euros on Thierry Henry, though it remains to be seen if he can fit into a forward line already comprising Samuel Eto’o, Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho.

French defender Eric Abidal from Lyon was signed for 15 million euros and Ivory Coast youngster Yaya Toure also joins.

Barca sporting director Txiki Begiristain explained: “We have fulfilled our objective of strengthening the team and now we have to work on who is leaving so we can end up with the desired squad on August 31 (season starts).”

French midfielder Ludovic Giuly, who won the Champions League with Barca in 2006, has agreed to join AS Roma for an initial 3.2 million euros, rather than the six million the Catalan club hoped for, though another 1.2 million could come if he helps the club qualify for the Champions League.

Barca also wish to sell Santi Ezquerro to former club Athletic Bilbao, along with Brazilian Thiago Motta and Maxi Lopez, a striker who spent last season on loan with Mallorca.

Valencia signings:

Valencia have gone with youth in signing 21-year-old defender Alexis and 23-year-old striker Javier Arizmendi along with German keeper Timo Hildebrand, 28, from Stuttgart, with 37-year-old Santiago Canizares now in the twilight of his career.

Coach Quique Sanchez Flores is set to offload defenders David Navarro, Asier del Horno, formerly of Chelsea and Curro Torres as he plots an improvement on last year’s third place.

UEFA Cup winners Seville have signed up Mali midfielder Seydou Keita from French side Lens and taken Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz on a year loan from Chelsea.

 

Click to visit Gamebookers.comFor more up to date football and other sporting news visit Gamebookers.

ML Baseball – look for the second half surge

July 15th, 2007

Jim Feist - top baseball handicapperSECOND HALF SURGES

By Jim Feist

The first half of the 2007 baseball season is in the books. There were surprising winners, such as the Brewers and Indians, a surprising managerial resignation in Seattle (Mike Hargrove), and some surprising flops with the Cardinals, White Sox and Yankees.

With the surprises out of the way, here’s a look at some teams that might be active at the trading deadline and primed to make a second half surge.

Cubs: The first week of June the Cubs were a bit of a laughingstock at 22-31. After all, they were the biggest free agent spenders, bringing in Alfonso Soriano, manager Lou Piniella, and pitchers Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly. Hopes were high, but they struggled badly out of the gate.

At the mid-point Chicago was 40-40, playing much better baseball. Piniella brought up kids from the minor leagues like Felix Pie and Angel Paganto to inject some speed into the order, and continued shuffling what had been a disastrous bullpen. His moves paid of, as the Cubs went 18-9 to get to .500. The pen still needs arms, so don’t be surprised if they shop outfielder Jacque Jones for some relief help.

Mariners: It isn’t often you find coaches leaving in the middle of a season with a winning record, but that’s the case in Seattle. Manager Mike Hargrove has had enough and simply walked away. It was unusual in that the Mariners have been hot, winning 10 of 11 games. John McLaren, the bench coach under Hargrove, took over as the Mariners’ new skipper last week.

The good news for the new manager is that this team is playing well, hot on the heels of the first place Angels in the AL West and alive for a Wild Card spot. The offense is balanced and third in the AL in hitting, while the pitching has gotten a huge boost from young Felix Hernandez and a deep bullpen. Sports bettors take note: No team has been better against southpaws, going 15-6.

Twins: It was expected to be a rebuilding year for the young Twins, who saw the retirement of starter Brad Radke and the loss of young ace lefty Francisco Liriano, who is recovering from surgery and won’t be able to pitch until 2008. When you looked at the starting rotation in April (Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson) you saw that this team had no chance in 2007.

Yet, the payroll strapped Twins continue to impress and overachieve. Ace Johan Santana has lights-out stuff, Carlos Silva and Boof Bonser have thrown well, along with young Scott Baker. The offense is productive despite several injuries and they are second in the AL in steals.

D-Backs: How is Arizona doing it? Fifth-worst in the NL in runs scored, third-worst in batting average. Ahh, pitching, of course. Veteran Randy Johnson was not brought in to be the savior, which is a good thing. He’s battled injuries, missed several starts and has been basically a 5-6 inning starter.

Yet, he’s been very effective in limited action, Brandon Webb is an ace, while Micah Owings and a deep bullpen anchor a staff that is fifth in the NL in pitching. With all that pitching, notice that the D-Backs started 25-13 under the total on the road.

Angels: Here’s a team that’s not going to go away. Third in the AL in pitching, a great bullpen, first in the American League in hitting and steals. Throw in aggressive manager Mike Scioscia and a loaded farm system, and the Angels have plenty of pieces in place for a strong second half.

Vladimir Guerrero and newcomer Gary Matthews Jr. can slug the ball, while four players have over 9 steals in Matthews, Chone Figgins, Reggie Willits and Orlando Cabrera. The rotation has four talented horses in veterans John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, and kids Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana.

A’s: The AL West has been very competitive in 2007, but Oakland has a recent history of second half surges. They need to upgrade an offense that is third-worst in the AL in runs. Yet, if pitching is the key to second half surges, the A’s are loaded, ranked No. 1 in the AL, led by ace Dan Haren, Chad Gaudin and Joe Blanton. While most teams will be shopping for pitching before the trade deadline, the A’s will be looking for bats and have arms to deal, a nice plus.

RELATED LINKS :

Get Jim Feist’s free ML Baseball picks at Gooners Guide to Betting.

You can read more from Jim Feist – and get access to his premium paid sports betting picks at his site ::

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress