Dave’s Free Play, Friday 10/23/15
To the surprise of nobody, Don Mattingly is out as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The move was evidently mutual, which apparently means Mattingly didn’t want the job anymore, and the Dodgers hierarchy wasn’t going to beg him to stay.
Mattingly was a decent enough soldier, as he willingly went along with the front office’s shift to more of a reliance on analytics. I actually thought he did his best work with the team this season. It’s not Mattingly’s fault the higher ups never addressed what appeared to be the team’s biggest flaw going into the season, namely the bullpen.
Mattingly won’t have any trouble finding a new managing gig if he wants one. The Marlins have made no secret of the fact they like him and with the experience he’s now got under his belt, Mattingly might not be a bad choice for a struggling franchise that needs new leadership in the dugout.
As for the Dodgers, I have no inside info to share on who the frontrunner might be, but I’d agree with oddsmakers that Bud Black is the favorite. Black has a great relationship with Josh Byrnes going back to their days together with the Padres, and I’d like to see what Black can do with a truly talented roster, which he didn’t have in San Diego.
Other names being floated are former Dodgers star Tim Wallach and ex-Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke. The latter is a very strong advocate of sabermetrics, and that could be very appealing to upper management. There’s also some buzz that the Dodgers might go the unorthodox route for the new hire, but I’m not exactly sure what that means.
One thing is sure. Whomever gets this job will not enjoy much of a grace period. When a team is spending money like the Dodgers do, the honeymoon duration is as brief as it gets. But with as much talent as there is on hand, the new Dodgers skipper should be well positioned to make a serious pennant run in his first year at the helm.
Winners with both Appalachian State and Temple on Thursday night, but an NHL loss with the Panthers. No beefs with the early pucks though, as I’m 6-2 out of the gate. As for the football, the Mountaineers were a snap and the Owls were probably a little lucky as they didn’t play all that well. In any event, a nice little profit for the evening.
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The Thursday free play was on a Saturday college game. I’m also in action with one of tonight’s college offerings, and I’ll go with that one as the free play for the day.
313 UTAH STATE at 314 SAN DIEGO STATE
Take: SAN DIEGO STATE +5
This MWC hookup is an interesting game to break down as there isn’t much question as to which team is stronger, but the situation would seem to favor the home underdog.
Utah State is rolling and it’s clear the Aggies are a better team with Kent Myers under center. The sad truth is that the once dynamic Chuckie Keeton was not looking like his old self coming back from another tough injury. Keaton ended up gong down yet again, and Myers has stepped forward and proven his solid efforts as the replacement QB last season were not a fluke. Fact is, Myers has been really good and he was even better than that last week as Utah State annihilated Boise State.
It’s that romp over the Broncos that I believe comes into play when analyzing this game. That was without a doubt the big game on the Aggies slate this year and off what one might call a perfect game, I think this could be a prime spot for at least a mild letdown on the part of Utah State. The obligatory cautionary note is that the Aggies might not regress a bit off that game, as there’s never a guarantee that will happen. But it’s at the very least far from a great spot for Utah State.
San Diego State is now playing its best football of the season to date. That is not even a mild surprise as head coach Rocky Long has been one of the better guys when it comes to improving his teams as the season progresses.
The Aztecs are not much offensively. Donnel Pumphrey is definitely a star. But San Diego State is a grind it out team with the football. They’re not dynamic and they absolutely must avoid turnovers to have a real chance at the upset tonight.
My main factor on the data is the SDSU rushing defense, which has been outstanding. This will seem repetitive, but when I can find dogs that are adept at shutting down opposition running games, I’m generally going to have at least a passing interest in backing them.
On the power ratings, I make this game right on the betting number when including the SDSU home field edge. So the play here is more situational than anything else. Even good teams often bounce off a spectacular effort and considering how huge that game last week was to Utah State, I think they’re a candidate to slip a bit here. If that happens, San Diego State will be well positioned to have a real chance at the mild upset. I’ll side with the Aztecs plus the points tonight.