Philadelphia sports fans have a longstanding reputation as being tough, passionate and as intense as it gets. They’re going to have a challenge maintaining even a passing interest in the 2015 edition of the Phillies.
This has a chance to be a really bad baseball team. The 73-89 2014 record wasn’t good by any means, but even just equalling that mark seems like a long shot at this point.
There’s not much question where the fault lies here. The Phillies front office has been incompetent. There’s just no way to sugar coat it either. And from what I’ve seen since the conclusion of last season, I think it’s fair to say things are not getting any better.
The likely Phillies lineup is unimpressive. Ryan Howard has shown some life this spring, but one can’t help but think wear and tear will impact the veteran 1B as the campaign rolls on. Chase Utley is still a quality 2B, but his best days are likely done. Cody Asche is a little better than replacement level at 3B and Freddy Galvis could well be the weakest starting SS in the game. Carlos Ruiz is a very solid backstop, but he’s also not getting any younger.
The outfield is well below average. There’s always hope that Grady Sizemore gets back to his pre-injury days, but that’s probably not going to happen. Ben Revere can be fun to watch, but at best he’s a poor man’s Juan Pierre. Dominic Brown has gone from blazing prospect to just a shade above replacement level. The bench is middling at best and probably less than that.
The rotation is a mine field. Cole Hamels is a legit ace, but I’m not sure he wants to be with the Phillies at this point and that could negatively impact his performance. The Cliff Lee injury means we’re looking at Aaron Harang as the #2, and what appears to be a Quad-A group manning the last three spots. About the only plus on the staff is the bullpen. So maybe the Phils will have a decent chance to protect their late leads, but that’s not much to hang one’s hat on.
There are surprises and disappointments every year in baseball. I don’t see much possibility of the former here, and in fact, there’s a really good chance this team could be even worse than the projections suggest. Even at 67.5, I see the Under as the only way to play and I can absolutely see the Phillies losing 100 games this year.
No way around it, my college tournament action has not been sharp. I’ve coughed back the substantial early March profits and an now barely in the black for the month, which is very disappointing. My Wednesday produced a 1-3 result, and while there has been some tough end game luck in this negative run, the reads just haven’t been good.
The good news is the NBA continues to do pretty well, and all remaining plays from the Association are included with my 2015 MLB Package. It’s not exactly a secret that baseball is my best sport as far as net profits are concerned, and I honestly believe I’m getting better as the years go by thanks to all the great data that’s now available. Find out about how my program works by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. All correspondence is confidential, no info is shared with anyone, and the only one who sees the info is me.
Good work by Brooklyn with the win at Charlotte, so a modest 3-0 free play run right now.
I don’t see anything among the four Thursday NCAA games that I will be willing to risk a full unit on, and rather than give out an opinion I already know I won’t be backing for my usual wager size, I’ll instead go with a Friday matchup for today’s comp.
(883) UTAH vs. (884) DUKE
Take: (884) DUKE -5.5
Let’s get the obvious out of the way here. Duke will be public chalk in this game and that’s not something that thrills me from a wagering standpoint. But while I’m one who prefers to go against the grain when I can, if I think the popular favorite is the right side, I’m generally going to go ahead and play it regardless.
Larry Krystkowiak has done a truly phenomenal coaching job at Utah. He took over a program that has absolutely bottomed out and getting the Utes to this level so rapidly is nothing short of incredible. Make no mistake, there’s nothing fluky about Utah. They’re balanced, they’re big and they’re legitimate.
However, I’m liking this Duke entry more and more. It really has become a true addition by subtraction scenario for the Blue Devils. Since Coach K decided to give Rasheed Sulaimon the boot, Duke has become a better basketball team. They’re 14-1 since his departure and that record has been achieved against some very talented opposition.
My key for this game is not in the numbers. Fact is, I think I could use the math to build a case for the underdog if I was inclined to. My take is that Duke is playing such good offense right now, I believe they can get good looks and cash in regularly, even against a very tough Utah defense. If that happens, I don’t see Utah keeping pace for 40 minutes.
I’ll also toss in the moment as a potential factor. I’m certainly not going to say with any degree of certainty that Utah gets overwhelmed by the pressure that comes with playing in the Sweet 16. But I think it’s a possibility. Duke has been prepping for this moment all season, and I will speculate that this could be an advantage for the Blue Devils.
Is this as strong an opinion as a typical regular season game where I can implement all kinds of variables? Nope. That’s one of the things that, at least for me, makes the post season less of a certainty than the regular season. The numbers are razor sharp and the spread is frequently a coin flip right to the finish. So yeah, there’s a grain of salt recommendation here. But I’m seeing Duke as the winner here and while the line is surely no bargain, I prefer the Blue Devils minus the points.