Bay Area Surpassing Tinseltown in MLB

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

A'S/GIANTS OFF TO GREAT STARTS HALO'S/DODGERS STRUGGLE EARLY

We've heard for years that the NoCal teams are behind the eight ball when it comes to competing with the SoCal teams.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and LA Angels of Anaheim have a much bigger population base, deep pockets, the lure of Hollywood, beautiful weather, a "nightlife" scene, and starlets sitting in box seats.

The San Francisco Giant and Oakland A's have a smaller population base, less money, little celebrity contact, cold and often windy weather, and typically empty box seats unless it's fireworks night or something.

Tinseltown has money. The Bay Area has "Moneyball," the book written by Michael Lewis about how the Oakland A's had to use brains to survive and thrive because of their small market handicap.

For many years, NoCal held its own in the battle for California supremacy. Oakland and the LA Angels were both perennial playoff contenders in the AL West. Oakland with young talent they eventually would lose to bigger cities. The Angels with a mix of homegrown talent and acquisitions. Over in the NL, San Francisco had Barry Bonds during the steroid era...and whoever had Barry Bonds during the steroid era was going to be competitive.

Recently though, it looked like the tide had been turning toward Tinseltown.

  • Oakland fell on some hard times as other franchises learned the fundamentals of statistical evaluations. The A's used to have an edge over EVERYONE. Suddenly, they only had an edge over the dumbest teams. More smart general managers were on the look for value players, making it harder to gather them all in one place!
  • San Francisco saw the Bonds saga come to an end, and they didn't have much of a backup plan for when that finally happened.
  • The LA Dodgers finally got serious about building a champion, bringing Joe Torre in to run the dugout, and spending to get Manny Ramirez on the roster. It's kind of a disgrace that the Dodgers haven't been the "Yankees of the NL" through recent history. Recent success suggested that was on the way.

*The LA Angels had created a mini-dynasty. They became the perennial champ of the AL West when Oakland fell on hard times. And, they weren't winning by default. They were a true AL powerhouse.

That was the story through last year. Heading into the 2010 season, there was a general sense that things were regressing to the mean, but that the Tinseltown teams would be the better sides.

LAS VEGAS "SEASON WIN" PROPS
LA Dodgers 85 wins
LA Angels 84 wins
San Francisco 83 wins
Oakland 79 wins

Remember that 81 wins is a .500 record at 81-81 over a 162 games season. The Dodgers and Angels were supposed to drift back toward .500 after division titles. San Francisco and Oakland were supposed to be in the neighborhood of .500 and on the fringes of pennant races in uncertain divisions.

Quickly...

  • The Dodgers were supposed to fall back because of the mega-distraction that a divorce among the husband and wife owners was going to cause. That and the fact that Manny Ramirez eventually wears out his welcome had many experts soured on Dodger hopes in 2010.
  • The Angels were supposed to fall back because the talent going out in the offseason wasn't offset by the talent coming in.
  • The Giants were supposed to be a threat, but not a champion because the offense was still expected to be horrible.
  • The A's were seen as being out of options. They weren't smarter than everyone else any more, and their short-term attempts to buy aging talent others had given up on wasn't working out.

Though we're only a week and a half into the new season. The early red flag indicators are suggesting some surprises:

  • The Dodgers started the season with a very shaky road trip, dropping four of six to Pittsburgh and Florida, two probably non-contenders this year. Actually, a doormat and a non-contender most likely! That's a VERY poor start because your top of the rotation guy pitches twice in the first six games.
  • The Angels had a disastrous start to the season, dropping five of their first seven games AT HOME! They drew Minnesota and Oakland, and were favored to win all seven games! Again, that includes two appearances from the top of the rotation. Things may be MUCH worse than expected this year in Anaheim.
  • The Giants stormed through Houston in their opening series. Houston is horrible, so that may not mean much. They then took two of three from an Atlanta team that's supposed to make a run at Philadelphia in the NL East. Then they followed that up with an easy win Monday Night vs. Pittsburgh. San Francisco needed to fix its offense. Early evidence is showing clear improvement. Their rotation is stellar. If those guys stay healthy, and the offense can just approximate league average, the Giants become a very clear playoff contender.
  • The A's suddenly looked like their old selves, with young pitchers mowing people down and the offense doing enough to win. They had to be very pleased to see Justin Duchsherer thriving Monday Night in Seattle. He pitched 7.1 scoreless innings against a divisional rival. Oakland surely missed having him all of last year. If he finds his past form, it's like having a Cy Young contender fall in your lap!

Great starting pitching and average "everything else" can talk you a long way in a sport that has a lot of parity outside the richest franchises. They can take you PAST the richest franchises in their rebuilding years. Looks like the Tinseltown teams are in turmoil. Maybe Boston is too as they've gone to a new defense and pitching approach. It's a short list of superpowers this year...NYY, Philadelphia, St. Louis....that could be it. Eight teams make the playoffs...and NoCal is making an early statement that they've got a great shot to be in the mix.

Here at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK, we're going to be paying very close attention to this. We've found over the years that Vegas oddsmakers take FOREVER to adjust to improvements from these mid market and smaller market teams. They're priced like .500 caliber teams (as you saw in the projected win totals) even when they're winning 95 games. Remember the profits backing Oakland showed during their "Moneyball" years? It was truly moneyball for Vegas bettors!

Or in short:

  • The Tinseltown teams are very likely to be overpriced this year, as they have been dramatically so far.
  • Oakland and San Francisco are likely to offer value as long as their best pitchers stay healthy. That's always a big if in this sport. Right now, they're healthy!

Keep an eye these NoCal teams as they finish out their current series with Seattle and Pittsburgh respectively. This weekend they'll be facing Baltimore and the LA Dodgers respectively. The renewal of that Giants/Dodgers series could tell us a lot about how the NL West is going to play out this year. Oakland's series in Anaheim sure seemed pretty informative!

As we mentioned last time, we're about to hit a stretch here in the NOTEBOOK where we focus heavily on the NBA playoffs. We'll be previewing action every day that there's games because legal betting interest is highest in that sport from mid-April through mid-May when the schedule starts to slow down a bit. We can't wait until mid-May to tell you about what's happening with these California teams! That's why we made it a point of emphasis today.

Be aware that our staff of handicappers, scouts, sources, Wise Guy connections, and computer programmers won't be taking baseball off. We have experts who specialize in that sport. They'll still be posting big play winners every day. We'll only be able to talk about that in passing while previewing nightly what's happening with LeBron, Kobe, the Magic, the Spurs, the Celtics, and everyone else making headlines in the NBA. If you're a baseball fan, you really owe it to yourself to SIGN UP NOW by calling 1-800-323-4453.

We do have a great combo package if you're interested in both sports (plus a Triple Crown bonus option in horse racing!). Also, game day selections and packages can be purchased here at the website if you want to try things out for a few days online. BIG JUICY WINNERS ARE ALWAYS JUST A FEW CLICKS AWAY!

Our Wednesday card is HUGE because of the split sessions and the regular season finals in the NBA:

Daytime: Six Major League games, including Brewers/Cubs, Angels/Yankees, and Red Sox/Twins (big early games!)

Nighttime: Nine Major League games, including Mets/Rockies, Diamondbacks/Dodgers, and A's/Mariners

NBA: Fourteen (14!) games on the final night of the season, with playoff positioning at stake. Among the highlighted matchups: Cavs/Hawks, Bucks/Celtics, Spurs/Mavericks, Bulls/Bobcats, and Suns/Jazz.

It's like a college football Saturday for goodness sakes!

LET'S GO MAKE SOME MONEY!

22
Nov

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