Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 4/24/14

Everyone who enjoys a good laugh got one last night if they happened to be watching the Michael Pineda Show at Fenway Park.

Pineda will be facing a lengthy suspension following his expulsion from last night’s Yankees/Red Sox game. The impressive to date comeback for Pineda is going on hold thanks to the “discovery” of a foreign substance on the right side of his neck. Pineda, supposedly because of the cold weather, thought he needed a better grip on the baseball because he didn’t want “to hit anybody” and and decided pine tar on his neck was a good idea.

This was so obvious Inspector Clouseau could have solved the case without a misstep along the way. The same cannot be said for umpire Gerry Davis. The pine tar was visible to everyone watching the game, yet this umpire, in order, checked Pineda’s glove, his arms and his back and kept coming up empty. At one point I was half expecting Davis to conduct a prostate examination to see if Pineda was hiding the pine tar there. After all, Davis did have a glove on his hand, and well…anyway, that thankfully didn’t happen. Davis did however, remove said glove off his hand with his teeth, and then began dabbing his finger on Pineda’s neck. Then he rubbed the substance on his thumb, and subsequently gave Pineda the thumb, ending the evening for the Yankees starter.

This was unintentionally one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a long time at a sporting event. But I can’t imagine anyone in the Yankees organization is finding this hilarious right now. The team is strapped for starting pitching as it is, and now Pineda will be absent for at least one, perhaps two starts. Plus, Pineda had been warned by manager Joe Girardi and his pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, to avoid using the substance after it was determined he’d used pine tar on his hand the last time he faced Boston. Pineda got away with it in that game, but wasn’t about to get lucky again this time.

Let’s understand that pine tar gets used constantly by big league pitchers. But they don’t make it as conspicuous as Pineda did here, or in many cases it’s actually the catcher who ends up applying the substance.  But what Pineda did was way over the line, particularly since there had already been a warning issued to Yankees management by Joe Torre to make sure there was no repeat of the April 10 incident. I’m not buying the Girardi explanation that he didn’t know anything about it, nor apparently did anyone else in a Yankee uniform. If that’s actually the case, those people need to wake up.

Anyway, the Pineda Show was a hit in my household and was good for an extended laugh. Just imagine how uproariously funny this might be if the Yankees end up missing the playoffs by one or two games this season, and those turn out to be losses in games a suspended Pineda was supposed to have pitched.

————–

Another solid result for me on Wednesday, although the loss by the underdog Marlins was frustrating, though nonetheless probably deserved. Once again, the genius of Mike Redmond at work here, as he continues to insist on implementing that inane sacrifice bunt. 0/3 with this ploy on Wednesday against the Braves. You’d think he might catch on at some point, but I wouldn’t bank on it. My other two plays got there, as both the Reds and Indians earned victories.

MLB is sitting at +22.6 net for the season (that includes +1.9 on a few exhibition games), so everyone on my subscriber list seems to be reasonably happy right now. If you’re up for joining me, my packages are available using the “Buy Now” feature on this page. The best option on that menu is the April Baseball Special, which is a full 30-day run of all my  plays , with a nice guarantee built in. Get all the info by emailing me at cokin@cox.net or just sign up today to get started.

—————

The Wednesday free play on the Reds paid off, and I’ll stay in the National League for today’s comp. By the way, daily free plays are now sitting at 61-49 for 2014 and 450-339 since I started them a couple of years ago.  That’s a little better than 57% on almost 800 plays, making the daily comp one of the better return on risk investments you’re likely to find, especially since there’s no actual investment.

04/24 11:20 AM  MLB  (905) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS  (906) CHICAGO CUBS

Take: (905) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS +107

Happy Anniversary to Wrigley Field, which had quite the celebration of 100 years of memories yesterday. Of course, the current Cubs just had to pick this day to screw things up as they’ve done so many times in those 100 years. The Cubbies blew a 5-2 ninth inning lead in falling 7-5 to the struggling Diamondbacks. No one seemed too disappointed, with the exception of some little guy in the stands who was crying over the defeat. Better get used to it, kid.

This was a desperately needed pick me up for Arizona, as the Snakes are having a miserable time of it and things just got worse as they’re now going to be minus slugging Mark Trumbo for quite some time thanks to a stress fracture. Murphy’s Law is not just following the Diamondbacks around this season, it’s downright stalking them.

Rookie Mike Bolsinger gets the start for ‘Zona in today’s series windup. He’s not a high level prospect, but sometimes rookies don’t need to be to do reasonably well. Once whatever the book on Bolsinger is becomes familiar to big league hitters, he’s probably going to be headed out of the rotation and either off to the bullpen or back to the minors. But Bolsinger might have a chance to steal a couple of wins, and I think there’s a good chance he can notch one today.

Edwin Jackson is making the start for the Cubs. Jackson actually seems too be getting worse overall, which really isn’t shocking as there are lots of miles on that arm. The veteran righty has yet to go past the sixth inning and while he’s had some rotten luck with a bloated BABIP of .403, I’m really not seeing a silver lining in the Jackson cloud.

Actually, I don’t see the starting pitchers being the ones involved in this eventual decision. The forecast I’m seeing says it’s big wind blowing out on Thursday at Wrigley, and if that’s the case, this will get decided by the bullpens. The Diamondbacks don’t have what anyone is going to tag as an elite reliever corps, but it’s better than what the Cubs can counter with.

Even minus Trumbo, in what is yet another tough break for the Snakes, they at least have a little positive momentum going their way off the nice comeback yesterday afternoon. The idea of Jackson being even a small favorite considering what I’ve seen from him is thoroughly unappealing. To be honest, so is the prospect of backing Bolsinger and a team that has won just six games. But this is a game I think the Diamondbacks have a decent chance to win, so I’ll shade that side today.

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 4/23/14

The daily grind of trying to pick winners doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. It gets even better when I get to cheer for someone and get paid off in the process, although it’s strictly coincidence when it happens. But exactly that happened Tuesday night as the Padres won in extras at Milwaukee. Chase Headley snapped the deadlock with a massive blast in the top of the 12th inning, and Huston Street knocked down the Brewers in order to protect the win.

That was the financial part of the deal for me. The fan portion got to cheer on a local Las Vegan as he did a great job in what was his first really big leverage spot and ended up as the winning pitcher as well. Hats off to Donn Roach, as the LV native and Bishop Gorman grad notched his first Major League win.

Full disclosure, I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence when Bud Black handed Roach the ball. His first few outings this season had been a little spotty. And here he was having to face the heart of a Brewers lineup that has been making life miserable for far more experienced big league pitchers in the early going.

But Donn Roach showed veteran poise pitching out of a mild jam in the 10th inning and then rolling through the Brewers in the 11th. Moments later, Headley hit the moon shot about 45o feet, Street did his thing, and I’m guessing there was quite the celebration taking place among Roach friends and family members here in Las Vegas.

This is a really cool story for a kid who wasn’t a favorite to make the 25-man Padres roster at the start of spring training. But he showed Tuesday night that the organization made the right decision and Donn Roach is now a Major League winner!

——————

Tuesday could not have been better for me. 4-0, +4.5 with the aforementioned Padres getting there along with the Marlins, Blue Jays and a first five play on the Angels. The free play on the Royals did noir make my final card, but that won as well.

The start to the season has been just about all I could hope for, and the fact I’m actually winning extra inning games is a stunner, but a good one. That April baseball special is still on the table. 30 days of all my MLB plays, guaranteed net profit of at least five units. For all the details, just email me at cokin@cox.net or simply subscribe today by utilizing the “buy now” feature on this page, and then select April Baseball Special from the drop down menu. Note that all correspondence is strictly confidential, as no names or info are sold, traded, bartered on anything else.

—————-

Pretty easy winner with the Tuesday free play, as Danny Salazar again fell prey to the big inning and the Royals ended up rolling the Indians. I’m not sure what Cleveland is going to do with Salazar moving forward, as he’s really scuffling. But that’s for another day. Meanwhile, I’ll flip to the National League for today’s comp.

04/23 04:05 PM  MLB  (957) CINCINNATI REDS  (958) PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Take: (957) CINCINNATI REDS +105

If you’d have told me prior to the start of the season that I’d have an opportunity to get Charlie Morton as a dirt cheap home favorite against Alfredo Simon, I’d have likely jumped at the opportunity to fire on the Pirates. But the early portion of the season has seen Simon emerge as a shockingly effective starting pitcher for the Reds, while Morton is really struggling for the Bucs.

The problem with Morton is simple enough to figure out. He’s a ground ball pitcher whose ground ball rate is way off what it’s supposed to be. Morton cannot survive without getting the bouncers. His 2013 breakout was fueled by a 62% ground ball rate. So far this season, he’s hovering around 50%. If you look at his annual charts, Morton at that rate is a run to the bat rack guy for hitters. Part of Morton’s problem appears to be tied to a velocity drop. Whether this a physical or mechanical issue doesn’t matter to me. The bottom line is that as long as the Pirates righty isn’t generating those ground balls, he’s a candidate to get hit pretty hard.

Simon is still throwing pretty much the same arsenal he’s always featured, but he’s throwing more two-seam fastballs and cutters than in the past. Roughly 60% of his offerings have been either of those two pitches. The main thing for Simon is that he’s throwing strikes, and when a pitcher isn’t beating himself, it’s far more of a challenge for the hitters. Simon is also getting a little lucky, as his BABIP is a very low .197. So there’s probably a regression of sorts coming for Simon, just hopefully not tonight.

I have to think I’ve got the more confident guy here with Simon pitching what amounts to the best baseball of his career, while Morton is trying to find the formula that worked so well for him last season.  One might argue those scenarios apply to the two teams as well. The Reds have warmed up with the sticks and they’re starting to win some games following a rough opening to April. But the Pirates are having some problems lately, and even their vaunted bullpen has been a little shaky of late. The Bucs might be succumbing a bit to the highest expectations they’ve had in a generation, and they aren’t playing well at all right now.

I think the price is about where it ought to be for this game, so it’s not a great value spot. But I’ve got go with pitcher vs. go against for the present time and the visitors are in better team form to boot. I’ll grab the small dog odds and tab the Reds to notch another win tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 4/22/14

Growing up in New England, I was fortunate enough to attend several Patriot’s Day Red Sox games at Fenway Park. I can’t give you an exact number of times I was at the Fens for the annual holiday game, but it was definitely double figures. However, I never had much interest in distance running and while I appreciated the historical significance of the Boston Marathon, it was never a big deal to me.

That all changed last year thanks to the cowardly acts of terrorism that cost three people their lives and inflicted physical and emotional pain on countless others. This year, I followed the pre-race coverage as much as I possibly could, and like millions of others across the country, whether there in person or cheering from afar, celebrated the spirit of all the participants with a great deal of pride.

Those who know me well are aware that I’m not big on tradition and with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s, I often have to be reminded when there’s a holiday and which one it happens to be. I’m also not what one would call a flag waver. But today was an exception to that rule.

The fact that the Boston Marathon returned bigger and better than ever was huge. The fact that an American, Meb Kefleghizi, was the winner made it even better.  But more than anything, congratulations are in order for all the marathoners and the organizers of the event as well. Great job by everyone involved, and all in all, a day where the phrase “proud to be an American” really rang true.

—————–

For the first time in ten days, I ended up with a losing record in baseball. It was just a small loss, thankfully, as I won my last couple of plays and ended up coughing back just a shade more than one unit. There’s still more than a week remaining on the April calendar and while I’m happy with the results so far, I’d like to finish the month with a real flourish.

There’s also just over a week remaining to take advantage of the monthly special. That consists of 30 days of my MLB with a guaranteed profit to boot. Email me at cokin@cox.net for all the info, or just use the “buy now” feature on this page. Be sure to select the “April Baseball Special” from the menu and you’ll be ready to roll.

——————-

The Padres came up one run short as the Monday free play. I’ll focus on an American League hookup for the Tuesday comp.

04/22 04:05 PM  MLB  (917) KANSAS CITY ROYALS  (918) CLEVELAND INDIANS

Take: (917) KANSAS CITY ROYALS +100

Danny Salazar has stuff that can best be described as being “electric”, and he’s one of the more exciting pitching prospects in the game. There is little doubt among those who know pitching that the Indians rookie has a chance to be an elite starter. But right now, it’s fair to say that Salazar is a work in progress.

There’s bound to be a breakout at some point for Salazar. He’s too talented for this not to happen if he stays healthy. But the kid is struggling out of the 2014 gate. He’s definitely getting the swings and misses. But he’s also having trouble with his control and Salazar isn’t exactly getting much good luck, either. Whenever I see a .405 BABIP, I know there’s a correction coming. But the walks are a different story, and those free passes are exacerbating the luck factor.  And that’s why, while his 7.71 ERA is not a true indicator, the metrics numbers also are leaving much to be desired.

James Shields will throw for the Royals tonight, and he’s busy being James Shields. He might be slightly miscast as a staff ace, but Shields is a dynamite #2 who can chew up innings with the best of them, and almost always gives his team a good chance to get a win. Shields comes into tonight’s battle in typical solid form, and while a good Cleveland offense figures to challenge him, I’m expecting another quality start from the veteran righty.

If you watched the Monday game, you know that it should have been a lot wider than a one-run game. The Royals didn’t do much with the sticks in this game against Zach McAllister and the Cleveland pen. Meanwhile, the Tribe was ripping shots all over the park, but could never pull away thanks to some really sensational Kansas City defense.

I see the fact the Royals were still in the game as an indicator of the type of baseball they’re playing right now. They’re winning their share of games in spite of having virtually no home run power, and they’re excelling in the field, which is the most frequently overlooked aspect of the game.

Tonight, the pitching advantage has to go to the Royals. Certainly Salazar has the stuff to change all that in a hurry, but he’s going to have to prove it first. Shields, on the other hand, is close to automatic to go deep into the game and put together his usual quality start. While the teams are separated by just a half game in the currently congested AL Central, the eye test says the Royals are playing a better brand of baseball than the Indians right now. I can’t see Salazar being even small chalk against Shields, so I’m compelled to side with the KC side tonight.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 4/21/14

I get it. The replay decisions in MLB thus far have been taking a bit too long. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting older and am not in a rush for anything to happen fast at this point, but an extra minute out of my life to wait for a decision on a close play is not the most aggravating thing on the planet. I understand that this is the short attention span, immediate gratification era. But if it takes a little longer than it seems it should to make these decisions, and if the system isn’t quite right just yet, I can live with it. Getting the calls right is what ultimately matters.

The arguments against replay challenges fall on deaf ears here. A decision that had a huge impact on the Mariners/Marlins game on Sunday is really all I need to illustrate why this procedure is necessary. The play in question was on a bases loaded force play attempt at home plate in what at the time was a 2-1 game with Seattle leading. Garrett Jones hit a ground ball to first base, which Justin Smoak bobbled a bit, but he tried to nail Christian Yelich at the plate. Home plate umpire Ed Hickox called Yelich out, so it’s two outs, bases loaded and the Mariners still ahead.

The call by Hickox was clearly incorrect. This one wasn’t really that close, and even before the play had been reviewed, there were high fives being handed out to Yelich in the Miami dugout. Sure enough, even though it took perhaps more time than it should have, the bad call was reversed and the game was tied. The Marlins then scored another run on a sacrifice fly and held on to win the game by a 3-2 margin.

I’ll point out this decision worked against me. If the wrong call stands, there’s a great chance I cash my Mariners ticket. But this was the essence of why replay works, even if it doesn’t work as quickly as it hopefully will eventually. An incorrect call that would have had a major impact on which team won and which team lost was wiped out and justice prevailed. And I just don’t see what the argument that can possibly be.

—————–

2-1 on Sunday with the aforementioned Mariners play the only negative. My early season MLB results have been very strong, and I’m on a current run of nine straight days without a true red figure, though there were a pair of splits where a negligible amount was lost.

The April Baseball Special is on the table for the remainder of the month, and includes a net profit guarantee of at least five units, based on one unit per play. The package covers 30 days from the date you subscribe. Complete details on the guarantee as well as how my plays are sent out if you email me at cokin@cox.net. To sign up, simply use the “Buy Now” tab and select “April Baseball Special” from the menu.

Note that the plays are almost exclusively one unit each. If you’re looking for exciting star ratings and really cool titles for games, you probably don’t want to work with me. I’m boring as far as the marketing game is concerned. Someone on Twitter mentioned that it’s unlikely CNBC will be featuring me on a show similar to “Money Talks” (which I’ve not seen, so really have no comment on). Too bad, as if they wanted to do a companion piece, I was thinking that “Bullshit Walks” might be pretty good.

—————-

The Yankees put together a somewhat improbable four-run outburst in the 12th inning to defeat the Rays as Sunday’s free play. (Note that I will probably be focusing on the Rays in tomorrow’s blog, as I have some observations on the team that might be of interest.) Tonight’s comp is a go with on one of the hottest hurlers in the game.

04/21 05:10 PM  MLB  (959) SAN DIEGO PADRES  (960) MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Take: (959) SAN DIEGO PADRES +105

If you’re looking to ride a red hot pitcher, Andrew Cashner is about as good as it gets right now. The hard throwing Padres righthander is overmatching hitters for the most part, and it’s simply not a fluke. Cashner has gone from potential to proven and is establishing himself as a legitimate top of the rotation stud for the Friars.

His opposite number here is taking some positive strides as well. Wily Peralta has the arsenal to become a star. Big mid-90′s heater and a nasty slider. I don’t know if Peralta is going to be more than a better than most mid-rotation guy but there’s no question he can be a consistent big league winner if he gains consistency. That’s been the pothole for Peralta so far in his major league career. Very tough when he’s got his command, but unable to bet by when he’s a little off. Experience should remedy that in time, but I’m not ready to put the stamp of approval on Peralta just yet.

Anytime a play on the Padres is being considered, that popgun offense is always a factor. It’s why, in spite of pitching numbers frequently projecting great value on the Padres, it’s rarely easy to pull the trigger on this team. But Cashner puts the Padres in a different situation. At this point, it’s a cinch to argue there’s no pure value whatsoever on playing the Padres when he pitches. Here’s a great example tonight. The Brewers are a red hot team to start the season, they’re obviously vastly superior offensively to the Friars, and they’re at home. Yet Milwaukee is barely favored. From a team standpoint, this is a serious underlay.

But Cashner is one of those very few pitchers who, at least for the time being, overrides everything else. There’s no way I want to try to beat this cat right now. Plus Peralta, while he’s been impressive in his last two starts, is not exactly the model of consistency and it’s possible that even the Padres can get something going against him tonight.

As for Cashner, opposing hitters are a woeful 19/111 against him so far, with a pair of doubles and one homer. Kinda tough to post crooked numbers against that set of stats. I think the San Diego ace is about as go with as it gets presently, so I’m siding with the Padres tonight, even at the less than glorious price.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 4/20/14

“Lot of debate on people liking certain sports over the other. How about people dig what they dig and shut the hell up?” That was my favorite tweet of the entire day on Saturday from one of the guys I follow, in this case my friend @WesReynolds1.

Wes hit the nail right on the head. I can’t tell you many people have looked at me like I have some kind of communicable disease when I’ve mentioned that I preferred watching exhibition baseball to other sports, even though the games in the other sports are more meaningful. I’m already bracing myself for criticism when I fail to watch even one minute of the upcoming World Cup.

It’s as if one is committing a criminal act if they don’t follow the flock and watch what they’re apparently supposed to watch. The World Cup will be a perfect example. Yes, it’s a huge international event and hundreds of millions worldwide will be watching. I won’t, because soccer holds no interest for me. I’m absolutely not knocking anyone who loves the game. It’s just not my personal preference.

I also won’t watch professional wrestling. I’d rather watch a rerun of a “Perry Mason” show from the 1950′s where I already know who the guilty party is than ten seconds of the WWE. But that’s just me. If you enjoy pro wrestling, go for it and have yourself a great time.

The bottom line is that people arguing over what we’re all supposed to watch is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sports, news or entertainment. Watch what you want and lay off barking at anyone who doesn’t think along the same lines.

And I’ll extend this to the political arena. I don’t think there’s anything that infuriates me more than people telling me how I should think. Well, actually there is one thing that makes me even more furious. That’s people who end up standing on one side of the aisle simply because that’s what they’re being told they’re supposed to do. Make up your own mind and stick to your own beliefs. End of sermon.

——————–

2-1 Saturday with the Cardinals and Brewers winning, while the Giants got shut down nicely by the Padres and Eric Stults, who pitched a beautiful game for the Friars. Six winning days and two splits over the last eight MLB slates, so it’s good right now.

Join me for all my plays with my April Baseball Special that’s going to be in effect through the end of the month. The package covers a full 30 days and includes a guarantee. Details available, just email me at cokin@cox.net. Or simply buy now by utilizing the “Buy Now” tab on this page and selecting “April Baseball Special” from the drop down menu.

—————-

Ryan Braun played the role of hero as he rallied the Brewers to victory against the Pirates as the Saturday free play. I’m heading to the AL East for the Easter Sunday comp, and by the way, Happy Holidays to all!

04/20 10:40 AM  MLB  (919) NEW YORK YANKEES  (920) TAMPA BAY RAYS

Take: (919) NEW YORK YANKEES +115 (added to card at +125)

It’s the windup of what has been a series of blowouts between the Yankees and Rays. The Pinstripes roared out of the starting gate with a 10-2 romp on Thursday. But the Rays have responded with two slaughters by a combined 27-6 the last couple of days. Needless to say, this set has been a bonanza for Over bettors, and we might get another load of runs today. But I’ll focus on the side for the Sunday free play.

While I’m very reliant on doing the math to isolate the best value on a daily basis, the eye test is always of importance to me. In this particular game, there’s really nothing much to choose on the numbers. But off what I’ve observed, I simply see one of the pitchers having an edge today and I’m going to ride that to what will hopefully be a win.

Cesar Ramos is getting another start for the Rays, and that ought to be good news for the Yankees. Ramos is a fringy lefty. I can see him as a situational southpaw out of the pen, or better yet, the last guy in the pen who eats up some innings in a game that’s lopsided. I don’t see Ramos as a starting pitcher. His stuff is marginal, he sure doesn’t miss many bats and his control is shaky. Ramos is clearly a stopgap for Tampa Bay right now. He’s in the rotation simply because injuries have depleted the staff.

On the flip side, I see Vidal Nuno as a guy with a little potential. I don’t see the lefty as a stud, but he’s a guy who is able to locate three pitches and when someone throwing from the southpaw side can do that, carving out a rotation spot is not at all far fetched. Nuno is never going to blow anyone away with his high 80′s fastball. But he’s also a guy who has shown a knack for throwing strikes and that means he isn’t likely to beat himself.

The Yankees should also have an offensive edge here. They’ve hit lefties reasonably well thus far, something that cannot be said about the Rays. On the other hand, if this is close late, Tampa Bay has the better bullpen. But following two really ugly losses, I expect the Yankees to come out ready to play today, and I prefer Nuno to Ramos. Getting the plus sign on the betting line clinches the opinion for me, and I’ll side with the Yankees to notch the getaway day win.

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 4/19/14

Mike Redmond has no blanking idea what he’s doing and I don’t know how he’s the manager of a Major League Baseball team. Sorry if that seems harsh, but I would consider the maneuvering he did in what turned out to be a Marlins win on Friday night to be among the worst strategic decisions I’ve ever seen in any sport. And I’ll add at any level, including Little League as far as baseball is concerned.

Bear in mind the Marlins won this game, and I’m not pulling a sour grapes routine as I was on the Marlins, so the result was great for me. Here’s the scenario and a rundown on what took place.

4-4 bottom of the ninth and the Marlins start their turn at bat off with a Reed Johnson single off Mariners reliever Yoervis Medina. Next up is Christian Yelich and naturally, he’s bunting. Note that while I am adamantly anti-sacrifice bunting for the most part, I can accept it here. Get the winning run to second base with the two best Marlins hitters due up next. If there’s a right time to sac bunt, it’s here. Yelich lays down a beauty and it’s a bit mishandled by the Mariners. Result, single. Runners at first and second and no one out. Here’s where Redmond completely screwed things up.

Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton are the next two hitters. There is zero chance Redmond orders another bunt here, right? If Ozuna lays down a perfect bunt and moves the winning run to third base, he guarantees an intentional walk to Stanton, by far the most dangerous hitter in the lineup.

Obviously, or I would not be writing this piece, Ozuna is sent up to bunt, which is not just a bad move, not just a wrong move, it’s freakin’ insane! He’s even still got the bunt on with the count at 3-1. Ozuna, who is more a power guy, lays down a lousy bunt and Yelich is thrown out at third. Mission (whatever the #$^% Redmond’s mission was here) not accomplished.

In an incredible stroke of good fortune for Miami, the Seattle 3B bobbled the ball on the transfer and following a replay ruling, the on field call was reversed. So in spite of Redmond’s monstrously awful managing, it’s bases loaded, no one out. Stanton, who would not have gotten to even swing the bat once had Ozuna successfully sacrificed, crushes a Medina pitch and it’s a walk off grand slam.

So the Marlins won the game, but they did so only because of a failure to negotiate a play they should never have have attempted and a phenomenally fortunate instant replay reversal. The reality is that Mike Redmond made the worst possible decision, one which left even the Marlins own broadcast team aghast.

I said on more than occasion last season that I thought Redmond was getting overmatched, and part of this opinion was based on his constant desire to give away outs with that inane bunt. But he outdid himself here. The idea of having his second best hitter give himself up, and then watching as the opposing team removes the bat from his best hitter is unfathomable.

It’s one thing when a manager makes moves that don’t work out. Part of the game, and that’s true in any game. But when a manager displays that he simply doesn’t have the slightest blanking clue as to what he’s doing, he shouldn’t be managing. End of story.

———————–

1-1 for me on Friday, with the Marlins winner and a loser on the Tigers. Shame on me for stubbornly refusing to play a big chalk piece on the Rangers. This was a great spot to fade the White Sox and the hapless Felipe Paulino, and I didn’t do it.

Nevertheless, baseball is sailing along nicely, and it’s a good time to be riding my plays. My April baseball special is available on the “Buy Now” menu you’ll find on this page, and that includes a minimum net gain of five units over the next 30 days. Email me at cokin@cox.net for all the particulars.

—————–

Wrong side by a mile with the Tigers as the Friday comp. I’ll try to beat what appears to be an ailing lefty for the Saturday free play.

04/19 04:05 PM  MLB  (955) MILWAUKEE BREWERS  (956) PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Take: (955) MILWAUKEE BREWERS -110

No need for a really in depth analysis here. I’m going against Wandy Rodriguez. The Pirates lefty doesn’t appear all the way back from his elbow issues, and he’s getting lit up.

Rodriguez did at least show a bump back up with his fastball velocity last start, but it’s not much of a heater right now, and Wandy isn’t surviving without it. Three more bombs out of the park in that most recent start, and make no mistake, this is a big potential problem for the Bucs.  I’m assuming the Pirates are keeping a close eye on Brandon Cumpton, who is off to a really strong start at Indianapolis, and Jeff Locke will be a consideration if he gets it together down on the farm. Meanwhile, Rodriguez gets another start and the Bucs are keeping their fingers crossed that the tick up in velocity last start is some kind of positive sign moving forward.

I’m going to have to be convinced before I get off the anti-Wandy bandwagon. He’s had all kinds of gopher ball problems with the Brewers he will likely be seeing tonight. Matt Garza will throw for Milwaukee, and he’s probably the shakiest element regarding this call. Garza is a good pitcher, but I’ll have to admit I’ve had problems on occasion getting on the right side of his form.

The bottom line for me is that unless I get priced off a game Rodriguez is pitching, he’s an auto-fade for me until he corrects his form. I’m counting on that not being the case tonight, and I’m siding with the Brewers.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 4/18/14

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you realize you haven’t. Witness the bizarre happenings in last night’s Blue Jays-Twins game. I thought I was watching bad little League baseball as the Twins put together a six-run “rally” to finish off a doubleheader sweep.

This was a 5-3 Toronto lead when the Twins came to bat against Steve Delabar in the bottom of the eighth frame.  Here’s a rundown of what then took place.

Walk, Walk, Sac bunt. Pitching change for Toronto at that point as they bring in closer Sergio Santos for what is supposed to be a five-out save. Didn’t quite work out that way.

Walk, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, stolen base, walk, wild pitch, stolen base, walk, walk. Four runs in on nothing but walks and wild pitches with the sac bunt the only ball in play. By this time, J.A. Happ had relieved the beleaguered Santos and Happ finally gave up an actual base hit as Jason Kubel singled to drive in two more runs.

Final tally, six runs on eight walks, three wild pitches and one hit. Like I said, this is something I’ve never seen  and likely never will again.

And that’s the reason I watch. One never knows what’s going to happen. It’s why sports is the real reality TV.

—————–

2-1 with my Thursday plays, so the baseball heater is still on. My loser was the underdog Indians, while the Rangers won and the Under Red Sox/White Sox was a cinch. I’m in a nice zone with the bases right now. +16.15 in MLB already. That’s where almost all my focus will be until exhibition football arrives. I might toss in a little NBA or NHL, but to be candid, I’m just not getting it done in those games, and this is about winning money, not playing because the games are important. So if you purchase anything I’ve got, it’s going to be almost all baseball. In other words, if you’re looking to buy a playoff package, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

The April Baseball Special is for 30 full days, and includes a guaranteed minimum profit. Email me at cokin@cox.net for all the details, or simply head to the “Buy Now” feature on this page and select the special from the drop down menu.

—————–

The latest daily free play winning streak ended last night as the White Sox lost to the Red Sox. Let’s sase about starting a brand new run with tonight’s comp.

04/18 04:05 PM  MLB  (915) LOS ANGELES ANGELS  (916) DETROIT TIGERS

Take: (916) DETROIT TIGERS -112

No one will ever accuse Jered Weaver of not knowing how to pitch. Talk about a guy who is finding a way to still get hitters out, in spite of almost not being able to break glass at this point. Weaver was never a flame thrower, but as the innings and years have piled up, he’s now strictly a soft tosser. Yet Weaver is still going to find ways to win games for the Angels, and he might never fall into the easy fade category.

Nevertheless, Weaver is not at this juncture an ace. He has enough savvy and locates well enough to get wins, and there will still be the sporadic shutdown showing when he has everything working. But Weaver is also now in that danger zone as  a pitcher. When he makes a mistake in the strike zone, it gets hit, and usually quite hard. From an odds standpoint, the adjustment in Weaver prices is taking place. It’s not like the guy who post the lines aren’t aware of the transformation, and Weaver is being priced accordingly. So this play is  not about bargain hunting. It’s simply more a case of this being what looks like a tough matchup for the righty, and one where the Tigers might be able to do some damage.

Detroit will counter with lefty Drew Smyly, who has now been deemed ready to resume a regular spot in the Tigers rotation. I’ll admit to some misgivings about Smyly in this role. He’s basically a two-pitch guy right now, although he’s throwing three different fastballs along with a breaking ball. Whether he can get it done long term with this arsenal is unknown, but for the time being, Smyly should be fine. It’ll also help that most of the hitters he’ll be facing will have had limited exposure to him, and that usually is an advantage for a southpaw pitcher.

Smyly should be revved up for his first start since September of 2012. The lefty has been stretched out to some extent with there-inning efforts in his two most recent outings. I doubt Smyly goes more than five innings or so here, but I’m expecting a good result. After that, it will be up to the Tigers bullpen, which is not currently an area of great strength. But the good news for the Motowners is that even an average pen is superior to the arson squad Mike Scioscia is being forced to work with. The Halos relievers are collectively terrible at this point and that puts a ton of pressure on all the starters to work deep into games.

Detroit’s patience at the plate should pay dividends tonight. Look for the Tigers to try to inflate Weaver’s pitch count with lengthy at bats. At the same time, Weaver is one who needs to nibble with his array of pitches and I fully expect him to be done by the seventh inning, and that’s if he’s on his game to begin with.

The Tigers haven’t exactly been crushing the ball, and I have to give the Angels the offensive edge. But in this spot I prefer Smyly to Weaver, and if it’s close late, the home team has an advantage as well. The price is not great, but it’s also not unreasonable. I’ll side with the Tigers to get this series off on the right foot with the win tonight.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 4/17/14

The major sports leagues remain constant in their condemnation of legalized gambling. It’s the same old story about the integrity of the game, and the concern about the terrible impact widespread betting would cause. We’ve heard this song over and over. So someone explain to me how sports gambling challenges the integrity of the game, but a team clearly throwing a game doesn’t.

I don’t have a problem with what too many NBA teams did virtually all season long. They lost games on purpose. Perhaps the most blatant examples came on the final couple of night of the regular season. The Brooklyn Nets decided they’d be better off with a lower seed for the playoffs and intentionally lost their last two games.

But I do have a problem, and a big one at that, with this practice somehow being acceptable while gambling is going to compromise the integrity of the game. Someone will have to explain to me how throwing a game is somehow okay and doesn’t bring the integrity of the league into question.

To me, the single best argument for legalized wagering was on display all season in the NBA, and it peaked over these last couple of games with what the Brooklyn franchise did. This league needs to shut up about its ludicrous concerns about the negative impact gambling would have when some of its teams are literally fixing the outcome of games. Sorry, but there’s simply no other way to tag what we all just saw.

—————-

2-2 in baseball on Wednesday night. A bit unlucky with the Astros, but very fortunate with the Red Sox. I also was on the short end of a 1-0 Braves win, but had the righter side with Johnny Cueto and the Reds.

I’m probably not going to be doing much with the NBA playoffs. My focus is on MLB right now, and to be honest, the hoops turned for me in March and haven’t been very good. So I’ll mostly be sticking with what’s working and that’s baseball.

Get all my plays by selecting one of the available options on the “Buy Now” tab on this page. The best deal is the April Baseball Special, which includes a guarantee. I’ll be happy to furnish all the details if you want them, just shoot an email to me at cokin@cox.net.

—————

Free plays are rolling, with the Giants coming through on Wednesday. Tonight’s comp is on one of the American League hookups.

04/17 05:10 PM  MLB  (971) BOSTON RED SOX (972) CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Take: 9972) CHICAGO WHITE SOX -116

The Red Sox managed to rally for a 6-4 extra inning win over the White Sox on Wednesday night. But this was anything but easy, and the plain truth is the Red Sox were very fortunate to win.

The Boston offense is asleep right now and they’re not exactly playing stellar defense, either. Two errors got the Chisox on the board early, and as for the Red Sox attack, it was pathetic last night. White Sox pitchers issued a whopping 15 walks, but no one on the Red Sox could get good wood on the ball for virtually the entire 14 innings. In the end, the Red Sox cuahg a massive break when the White Sox ran out of pitchers and had to turn to reserve utility man Leury Garcia.

It gets no easier for Boston tonight as they have to take on Chris Sale. The deceptive southpaw is throwing it very well once again this season. Jon Lester is also dealing to start the campaign, and he should be tough on the White Sox. But the edge here has to go to Sale. The offensive advantage also belongs to the Pale Hose, especially considering how tame the Red Sox bats are currently.

The fly in the ointment is if this is close late and ends up in the bullpen. I don’t think there’s a weaker relief corps in the majors than that owned by the White Sox. But with Sale on the mound against a reeling attack, I can only see the home team here, especially with the price being very reasonable. I’ll side with the White Sox win the series rubber match.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 4/16/14

The 2014 season might still be in its infancy, but the first rumblings of a manager on the hot seat are now underway. Kirk Gibson might well be very close to at least being in the uncomfortable category in Arizona.

The Diamondbacks are easily the biggest flop out of the ’14 starting gate. Nothing has gone right for the Diamondbacks from the get go, as they took a major hit in spring training when Patrick Corbin, their likely number one starting pitcher, was lost for the season. It’s simply been getting worse ever since.

The Snakes can’t pitch at all. The starters have been subpar, the bullpen has been shaky and I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that Gibson has not been making the right moves at the right time on this count. This is not a new observation from this observer, as I’ve commented several times that I’m not a great fan of his in-game decisions, particularly on the pitching front.

Worse than the pitching has been what I consider to be a general malaise surrounding this team. I’m not in Phoenix, and I don’t see every Diamondbacks game. But off what I have been able to witness, it just seems to me like this is a flat baseball team. If that’s indeed the case, blame has to fall to some extent on Gibson. True enough, it’s incumbent on the players to make sure they’re mentally sharp. But you can’t fire all the players, and if this team is dragging from the neck up, it’s not unfair to pin at least some of the blame on the skipper.

Gibson has never been regarded as a great strategist, at least not by me. Great player, absolutely. Inspirational guy, you bet. But like many star players who have tried their hand at managing, they don’t always get that same over the top commitment from their players, and I’m starting to think that’s in play here.

The season is barely started, and it’s tough to envision anything happening at least this early. But the Diamondbacks are heading to LA this weekend for a divisional set with the Dodgers and another bad result could have the Snakes almost buried in the NL West race.  This team needs to start putting something together soon, or the chatter on Gibson is only going to get louder.

——————

I’m on a pretty good tear in baseball right now. Four straight solid days, including three consecutive sweeps. So it’s clearly a very good time to be riding my stuff. That April Baseball Special is still there for the taking, and includes a decent guarantee. The “buy now” menu on this page is the best way to get on, and if you’ve got questions or want more info, please contact me directly at cokin@cox.net.

——————–

The Tuesday free play was a winner as the Athletics ended up on the right side of a wild 10-9 decision against the Angels. I’ll stay on the west coast tonight with a look at the rivalry battle between the Giants and Dodgers.

04/16 07:15 PM  MLB  (913) LOS ANGELES DODGERS  (914) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Take: (914) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS -110

It really doesn’t get much better than Dodgers/Giants when it means something to each team, and the Giants got a leg up on this series with a dramatic extra inning win on Tuesday night. The two teams managed to squander numerous scoring opportunities throughout the game. I think it’s fair to suggest we could be seeing offense tonight as it’s not exactly a marquee pitching matchup, but the oddsmakers have already adjusted for that with a high total for a game in San Francisco.

I’m a bit more interested in the side tonight as Paul Maholm takes on Ryan Vogelsong. This is a pretty rare matchup, as even this early in the campaign, one does not see many games where both starting pitchers have ERA’s of 8.00 or higher, as is the case tonight.

Maholm’s bloated ERA is pretty legit. The veteran lefty is simply not fooling anyone for the most part. The swing and miss is basically not even in the mix for Maholm and if everyone is making contact, it’s generally going to produce some jams and some runs. The Giants have shown some sock against southpaws thus far and they should be able to do some damage here against Maholm.

Ryan Vogelsong has not been good by any means, but some of his statistical issues are a product of some bad luck. Vogelsong has been stung by an inflated .414 BABIP and that number figures to correct. The K rate, even in an admittedly minuscule sample, is nevertheless encouraging. I’m not suggesting Vogelsong is going to be regaining the form he displayed a couple of years ago when he became a deserving All-Star. But there are at least a few indicators that offer hope that he can be an acceptable back of the rotation contributor for the Giants.

The Giants are clearly treating these early battles with the Dodgers with a legitimate sense of urgency. That was evident in true series played at Chavez Ravine and I thought it showed last night as well. With Vogelsong owning an advantage over Maholm, home field and some positive momentum, along with a price that’s easily acceptable, I’ll make the case for the Giants to garner another victory tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 4/15/14

This is usually a gambling oriented piece to some extent. But today I’ll offer what is strictly a fan’s view on what I feel are the best ballparks to watch a big league game. I’ve actually been asked this a few times over the last week, so here’s my take on the topic.

First off, as I’m a native New Englander, everyone seems to assume I’m putting historic Fenway Park at the top of the list. Sorry, but the Fens isn’t even close. It’s a beautiful field, and the proximity of the seats to the action is second to none. But the truth is that, history and nostalgia aside, it’s not a great place to watch a game. The seats are uncomfortable, many of them are literally not facing in the right direction, and unless there’s been a dramatic improvement in the food over the last decade and change, the best thing you can order at Fenway is reservations to an actual restaurant away from the ballpark. But it’s still a great spot for a Red Sox fan.

It also needs to be noted I have not been to PNC in Pittsburgh. From what I’ve been told by more than a handful of friends, it’s awesome, and an absolutely great place to take in a game. PNC is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit.

I’ll just comment on the parks I’ve actually been to, and here’s my rundown.

AT&T in San Francisco is tremendous. The Big Phone has it all.  Okay, the weather is not the greatest, but wearing a jacket is not big deal if necessary. Beautiful facility, great food, and one of the best baseball atmospheres around. Sight lines are perfect from what I’ve experienced. If I were to ever move from Las Vegas simply for baseball reasons, San Francisco would get strong consideration as the destination.

I love Petco Park in San Diego. There’s a bias here as it’s my favorite city, but it’s also a really nice ballpark. Great location as well. Driving to the stadium is not necessary, loads of other ways to get there. Pre and post game amenities are second to none, as the Gaslamp is literally footsteps from the park. Three or four jaunts from LV to SD each summer is mandatory for me.

Angels Stadium is actually very nice. Traffic was less of a hassle than I had assumed prior to my first visit. Good atmosphere for the most part, although there have been a couple of visits where the crowd seemed more interested in virtually anything other than the actual game, and that can be a mild irritation. But overall it’s a thumbs up for Anaheim.

Chase in Phoenix is okay, but nothing special. I really dig the spring training scene in the Phoenix metro area, as one can pretty much catch two games every day if so inclined. Very easy to navigate from one facility to the next. As for the regular season, nothing really negative on Chase, but no wow factor either. If I were grading on a five star scale, I’d give this park three stars.

Chavez Ravine. I guess this was once a jewel of a stadium, but now it’s just kind of old and it’s also in the middle of absolutely nothing. Traffic is the pits. I’ll leave it like this. As much as I like going to MLB games, I have turned down free tickets, and I’m talking good ones, to Dodger Stadium. If I lived in LA, I’m sure I might feel differently. But I don’t, and I won’t, so I’d say the won’t go (to Dodger Stadium, that is) is a pretty strong favorite for me. Time for the franchise to build a new stadium and hopefully, someplace where there’s something to do other stand in traffic before and after the game.

And then there’s the Slop. Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the Rays. Wow.  There is no question in my mind that whoever designed this monstrosity was high on bad drugs at the time.  I’m not going to blame the Rays attendance woes solely on this stadium, but it sure isn’t a plus for the franchise. It’s the worst big league park I’ve ever been to. It’s also the only major league venue I’ve visited where I was able to hear one fan taunting members of the visiting team, and this despite the fact I was on the complete opposite side of the field. Seriously, there is nothing big league about Slopicana. It needs to go, and so do the Rays.  Maybe to Montreal, based on the exhibition game crowds that showed up this spring.

Clearly, loads of parks I’ve not been to and probably will never get to. But there’s my rundown of the ones I’ve taken in. Shoot me some of your favorites or maybe worst choices on Twitter!

————-

Back to back diamond sweeps, and a little good luck sprinkled in on Monday night with the Padres.  I’m sure not going to complain about stealing one, and if you followed my travails in the recent college hoop conference tournaments, it’s fair to say I’ve got a few more coming.

The April Baseball Special is still available, and that covers a full 30 days with a guarantee. Shoot an email my way at cokin@cox.net if you want the details, along with a detailed explanation of how my deal operates. You can also purchase any of my current packages by utilizing the “buy now” feature on this page.

————

The price on the Nationals got a little rich for me, so the Monday comp didn’t make the cut on my personal card, but nevertheless I was naturally pleased with the result. I’ll head to Anaheim for tonight’s free play.

04/15 07:05 PM  MLB  (977) OAKLAND ATHLETICS (978) LOS ANGELES ANGELS

Take: (977) OAKLAND ATHLETICS +100

The Angels rally monkey was apparently on the other side last night. It was the division rival A’s that came from behind this time to snare a 3-2 road win. That Halos bullpen has been a problem in the early going, and I’m not sure that’s going to be changing anytime soon.

The Angels are hoping Garrett Richards can get them even in this series with a win tonight. Richards is being talked about as a breakout candidate this season, and he might well be just that. But there’s one fly in his ointment that is going to have to get straightened or that hope is simply not likely to be fulfilled.

Richards has to cut down on the walks. A 6.0 BB rate is not going to sustain good numbers across the board. Richards is definitely generating more swings and misses this season to date. It’s impossible to find fault with that 9.7 K rate. But walks eventually start resulting in runs. They haven’t as yet, but chalk some of that up to a  minuscule .148 BABIP for Richards. That figure is not going to hold up.

The numbers that catch my eye on Richards are his xFIP and SIERA, respectively. Much truer indicators of what a pitcher is really accomplishing, and through his two starts to date, Richards sits at 4.02/4.41. In other words, that sparkling 0.75 ERA is costume jewelry. Looks like the real thing, actually isn’t.

Dan Straily has also had a little good fortune, but not to the extent of Richards. Straily is not much more than a middle of the rotation guy in my estimation, but I see him as a pitcher who will generally be good enough to carve out quality starts that earn his team a decent chance to garner a victory.

The offenses here grade out close to even, although I’d give a slight edge to the home team. But I like the Oakland bullpen by a significant margin if this gets decided late. But for me tonight’s key is the starting pitching, and I’m seeing Garrett Richards being a bit overvalued at this point. Given Oakland’s ability to win on the road where they’re already 6-1, I like the idea of getting even money or better tonight and I’m siding with the Athletics.