Dave’s Free Play, Friday 3/28/14

  • March 28, 2014

The Detroit Tigers gave Miguel Cabrera the key to what amounts to a virtual Fort Knox yesterday and the immediate fallout was predictable. It’s too long for too much and it’s a bad value move by the Tigers. I can’t argue that point, as it’s a valid one. But it’s also being made by those who apparently aren’t aware that this is the real game of baseball, as opposed to an auction league where one has to operate on a budget.

Let’s get a clue, people. These teams have an amazing amount of money at their disposal. The Tigers are not going to stop earning a profit because they’re paying Miguel Cabrera colossal cash for the next several years. If they didn’t do this contract, chances are someone else would have once Cabrera reached free agency. And they don’t want Miguel Cabrera playing for anyone else.

Let’s just say for argument’s sake that Cabrera gets old at age 35. That means the Tigers get another five big years out of one of the best hitters the game has seen. That’s pretty good. If he falls apart at that point, so be it. The Tigers will have to pay him way more than he’s worth for at least a few extra years. Of course, there’s no guarantee he hits the age wall at 35. The way Cabrera swings the lumber, he might just keep smashing for another decade, in which case no one in Detroit will be complaining about the duration and the dollars.

I’m not sure what the naysayers on the Cabrera contract are suggesting as an alternative. If they offer him five years, he probably turns it down. Hell, they just threw a huge pile of cash in front of Max Scherzer and were very quickly told to take a hike.

I just don’t get the beefing about spending excess money on the proven superstar, while basically ignoring the really terrible contracts that exist. I can run down literally dozens of those. Joe Blanton will get $7.5 million this year from the Angels, and he’s not even good enough to be on their roster. Edwin Jackson got about $50 million from the Cubs for four years. He’s at his very best an average big league pitcher, and he’s usually not at his very best. I can go on and on with these examples, but I’ll assume the point is made.

Here’s what it comes down to. Everyone has money. The Houston Astros turned the greatest profit in franchise history last year and they again lost more than 100 games. The Miami Marlins are banking a fortune and spending as little as they possibly can. But hey, at least the Astros and Marlins aren’t saddled with any brutal long term contracts for players who might outlive their usefulness. Instead, they’re paying peanuts to guys who basically have never had much usefulness.

The Cabrera contract might be too long and too large, but it beats the alternative when there really isn’t an alternative.


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No chance on the Thursday comp as Baylor was run over by Wisconsin. Free plays have really been back and forth thus far in 2014, but the all-time record since starting this blog is 433-331. That’s nearly 7K net profit for a $100 bet on each one, so I’m not going to beef about a three-month stretch of just breaking even. Tonight’s play is a Big Dance battle that should be a beauty.

03/28 06:55 PM  CB   (877) MICHIGAN STATE (878) VIRGINIA

Take: (877) MICHIGAN STATE -2

There wasn’t a great deal of suspense with the quartet of Thursday night Sweet 16 hookups. The only game in doubt late was San Diego State-Arizona and even that was pretty well decided by the final minute, with only the spread winner still in question.

I expect a different story to unfold tonight. I can see at least three of the four games this evening going right to the wire. One of those could well be the clash between Michigan State and Virginia.

My call here is at odds with my number on the game. I have Virginia as the slightly better team on the math, and they’re the underdog. Normally, that would be a virtual automatic take for me. But for whatever reason, the numbers haven’t been especially reliable this post-season, and I don’t think they’ll pay off here, either.

The big key for me is the Izzo factor. This isn’t a knock on Tony Bennett. Virginia is a legit number one seed and Bennett has to be high on everyone’s Coach of the Year rundown. But Tom Izzo is about as good as it gets when it comes to the big games, and he’s at it again this season.

The Spartans literally limped to the regular season finish line, losing seven of their last 12 games. But they’ve since rattled off five wins in succession, and they’ve done so in dominant fashion. Michigan State has gotten healthy after enduring an endless string of injuries, and they’re playing even better than when they rolled to the 18-1 start.

I will certainly not be even mildly surprised if Virginia wins this game. No one should, as a matter of fact. The Spartans have been sent home in this round in each of the last two years and the Cavaliers might do so again. But I’m of the belief that Izzo has his team peaking right now, and when that has been the case in the past, fading Michigan State has been a losing proposition. I’m going with the Spartans to get it done tonight.