Dave’s Free Play, Monday 3/23/15

  • March 23, 2015

The New York Mets have been pretty much irrelevant recently. But there’s renewed hope emerging from a 2014 season that flashed some upside. Here’s my breakdown on the ’15 entry and what might be expected from a franchise looking to become a player following a run of losing campaigns.

The best news for the Mets is the return of Matt Harvey. Expectations are supposed to be tempered for any pitcher just off Tommy John surgery, but it’s tough not to get revved up about Harvey picking up here he left off. This guy is a tremendous talent, and if you like baseball, even if you can’t stand the Mets, you have to be rooting for Harvey to get right back to his dominant form. He’s a fierce competitor and he’s a blast to watch. It’s early, but the early returns are extremely positive.

If Harvey is good to go, it transforms the Mets staff, and that’s even with the injury to Zack Wheeler. There’s no question the loss of Wheeler is damaging, and the Mets probably don’t have a true #2 starter. But Jon Niese is a decent southpaw, and in spite of a lousy spring to date, Bartolo Colon should be adequate. Dillon Gee had been slated for residence in the bullpen, but if he’s the #5, there are plenty worse options. Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are talented prospects and Steven Matz is climbing the ladder impressively. With Wheeler, possible a very high end rotation. Without him it’s still a staff that I think can be above average.

I like the Mets bullpen. I’m not sure who emerges as the long haul closer, but there are a bunch of good young arms in this relief corps. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the NL version of the Royals. But I don’t see any glaring issues with what the Mets have for the crucial late inning work.

I expect improvement from the Mets offense. David Wright is perhaps not on track to be a Hall of Fame member, as was thought to be the case a few years ago. But he’s still well above average. David Murphy gets good grades at 2B and Wilmer Flores is a breakout candidate at SS.

Juan Lagares is a great center fielder and his offense is getting better. Michael Cuddyer won’t duplicate his Rockies numbers but he can still play and some mechanical tweaks appear to have Curtis Granderson on track to at least get back to a respectable level. I’m evidently just not ever going to be sold on Lucas Duda at first base, and the Mets depth chart is not exactly laden with stars.

Overall, this is not a team that I can foresee making a playoff push. It’s just not a complete entry at this point. Therefore, I’d have to lean Under on the win total option, but not by enough to justify a bet. I’ll slot the Mets into third place in the NL East and I’d look for another season right in the .500 neighborhood.

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First time I’ve had to write this in a while, but I had a very bad week. The year to date numbers are still palatable and I’m ahead a tick this month, but the tournaments have not been good at all for me. That obviously needs to change, and my task is to start making better reads, and I don’t mean tomorrow or the next day.

Baseball is almost always my most profitable sport, and there’s a pretty simple reason for that being the case. It’s a numbers game and with the right implementation of the data that matters, it’s the best bet in the book as far as garnering consistent value is concerned. It really comes down to just that. If you can get +140 on a game where the true line is perhaps +120, it’s a play. On any one night or week, the results are random. Over the course of 162 games, I’ll submit they aren’t. Consistently find the value and the bottom line will be in black ink.

Find out about how my program works and get any questions you might have answered by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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Horrific read on Virginia yesterday as they were clearly the wrong side against Michigan State. It wasn’t just the fact the Cavaliers couldn’t throw the hit water from a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. I thought Sparty played with more energy and confidence and Izzo outreached Bennett by a mile in the process. As much as I like Bennett, I am becoming convinced he’s a system coach and those guys are too inflexible to win at the highest level. An NBA look tonight for the free play.

(605) BOSTON CELTICS  at  (606) BROOKLYN NETS

Take: (605) BOSTON CELTICS +4

As far as anything pertaining to the NBA title is concerned, this game between the Celtics and Nets has no meaning. But for two teams just on the outside looking in as far as getting to the playoffs goes, this is a very big basketball game. Boston  and Brooklyn are just off the #7 and #8 seeds right now. A win in a head to head meeting such as this one is very meaningful.

The Celtics are on a three-game losing streak following the Sunday OT loss to the Pistons. The Nets have won their last two to gain some positive momentum. But I’m not sure how much momentum means to a losing team. If they were able to consistently build on plus results, they wouldn’t be a losing team. In fact, I think one can make a better argument that short winning streaks might actually signal a sell sign as these teams have a tough time avoiding quick regressions.

That thought also comes into play as far as Boston goes. They’re not good, but perhaps the biggest reason the Celtics are still in the post-season hunt has been their ability to avoid long losing skids. A quick check shows Boston is 6-2 this season playing off a three-game loss streak.

The fact Boston played OT on Sunday while the Nets were off will be reflected in the betting number being slightly adjusted here. The oddsmakers will frequently add a point to a rested home favorite hosting a visit that played the extra session the prior day. But I’ll hope that it’s a bit misplaced here. One thing that’s certain is that the Celtics don’t have a problem playing without rest. In fact, that’s really when they’ve been at their best this season.

Marcus Smart will be back in action tonight for Boston following his one-game suspension for hitting an opponent. Smart has played better lately and is showing signs that he’s starting to figure things out. I mention Smart here not because he’s a difference maker at this point, but it sure looks to me like Boston has a better rotation with him on the floor, and that he was missed Sunday against the Pistons.

I think the key tonight is the bench for Brooklyn, which has been on fire the last two games. If that takes place again tonight, I’m probably up a tree here. But on paper, that’s not really a likelihood and the Nets have simply not shown a particular ability to string together more than a couple of good games at a time. Brooklyn has enjoyed ten two-game win streaks this season. They’re only 3-7 trying to make it three in a row.

This figures to be a battle, and it’s one I feel could go either way. It is, for all intents and purposes, a playoff game of sorts for the two rivals. The situation, based on past performance this season, favors Boston and I don’t think the Celtics are a bad option catching more than one possession tonight.