After one of the most thrilling National League seasons in recent memory – and one that featured the rise of several unlikely franchises such as the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies – the 2008 National League season promises to be even more exciting than last year’s roller coaster ride that enthralled fans from coast to coast.
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This MLB preview will look at the 2008 National League Odds for each team while also giving the BetUS.com MLB betting community a brief glimpse into how each team should fare heading into what promises to be an outstanding – and highly-competitive baseball season all the way around.
With spring training games scheduled to start before we know it, haste makes waste so let’s get started.
2008 Odds to Win the National League
New York Mets Odds +200
The NY Mets went a very respectable 88-74 last season to finish in second place in the NL East but their 2006 season will always be remembered for their near historical collapse in which the Philadelphia Phillies passed them down the stretch to win the National League East – just before the San Diego Padres finished them off in a one-game playoff to knock them out of the postseason altogether. After obtaining overpowering lefty Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins, the Mets may have established themselves as the team to beat in the National League in 2008.
Los Angeles Dodgers Odds +750
The LA Dodgers went 82-80 last season to finish in fourth place in the NL West but brought in fabled former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre to lead this proud franchise back to the promised land. Though it certainly won’t happen this season, I will go on record right now to say that it is only a matter of time before Torre gets the Dodgers back in the postseason – and possibly into the World Series.
Chicago Cubs Odds +450
The Cubs went 85-77 last season to win the NL Central – and could be even better in manager Lou Piniella’s second season in the Windy City. BetUS.com MLB bettors should know that the Cubs have quietly put together a solid pitching staff that has at least five legitimate starters and likely six should one falter.
Colorado Rockies Odds +900
The Rockies caught fire down the stretch to finish at 90-73 before going on to overpower the Arizona Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies to reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Though the Rockies will have the majority of last season’s familiar faces back in 2008, Colorado could be hard-pressed to repeat its magical run from last season.
Philadelphia Phillies Odds +650
The Phillies beat out the Mets in the National League East last season with one of the most historical late-season runs in MLB history. Despite Philadelphia’s stellar season in 2007 – and the fact that the last two NL MVPs are on their roster, (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins), Philadelphia will enter 2008 with the same problems that have plagued the franchise since it won its first and only World Series waaaaay back in 1980 – a lack of quality pitching.
Arizona Diamondbacks Odds +800
The Diamondbacks went 90-72 to win the NL West last season despite being just the fifth team in Major League history to reach the postseason despite being outscored by their opponents over the course of the regular season. Say what you want about the Diamondbacks, all I’m going to say is that the young and hungry D-Backs were one of the most successful wagering teams, (along with the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox) for me last season in what was by far, the most successful MLB handicapping season of my career – and with the same everyday lineup back intact, the D-Backs could surprise again in 2008.
San Diego Padres Odds +1000
The Padres went 89-74 last season and lost a one-game playoff to the Rockies to miss out on the postseason altogether – just one game behind the Diamondbacks and Rockies in the NL West but have added several key veteran players, pitchers Randy Wolf and Mark Prior and centerfielder Jim Edmonds who they think can out them over the top in 2008.
Milwaukee Brewers Odds +1000
The Brewers recorded a decent 83-79 record last season as young first baseman Prince Fielder had a breakout season with 50 long-balls. Milwaukee’s terrific lineup however, will only go as far as the team’s mediocre pitching staff takes it.
Atlanta Braves Odds +800
The Braves went 84-78 last season and made several changes, including bring back former longtime starter Tom Glavine as well as watching former annual Gold Glove centerfielder Andruw Jones bolt for better-paying pastures. While the Braves could have the makings of a formidable rotation this season, there are still more question marks than answers in the ATL.
St. Louis Cardinals Odds +2000
The Cardinals went an uninspiring 78-84 last season and are clearly a team in transition at the moment despite manager Tony LaRussa’s vehement denials to the contrary. With veterans Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and David Eckstein all gone, the Cards will be hard-pressed to reach the 78 victories they picked up last season.
Houston Astros Odds +3000
The Astros went 73-89 last season but will be hard-pressed to reach that number of victories in 2008 with so many question marks up and down their roster that the team resembles the infamous ‘Riddler’ of Batman fame. The Astros are counting on far too many young players to know exactly what to expect no matter what the team says. J.R. Towles is supposed to take over for veteran Brad Ausmus at catcher while young Michael Bourn is penciled in to start in center field. A mediocre Ty Wigginton, Kaz Matsui and aging Miguel Tejada may not help much either.
Florida Marlins Odds +5000
The Marlins went 71-91 last season but will be going with an extremely young team in 2008 while depending on unproven players like Cameron Maybin, Josh Willingham, Dan Uggula, Dallas McPherson and Mike Jacobs. If the Marlins win 70 games this season, it could be a miracle.
Cincinnati Reds Odds +3000
The Reds went 72-90 last season but manager Dusty Baker could be in serious need of some Pepto Bismol by midseason with question marks in centerfielder, Ryan Freel, shortstop Alex Gonzalez and catcher David Ross, three players who have yet to hit .300 in their respective careers.
San Francisco Giants Odds +4000
The SF Giants went a pitiful 71-91 last season but could surprise this season with a veteran outfield featuring hard-nosed centerfielder Aaron Rowand and corners, Dave Roberts and Randy Winn, not to mention a veteran group of infielders such as Rich Aurilia, Omar Vizquel and Ray Durham. The Giants pitching could also surprise in 2008 with Barry Zito getting more acclimated to the National League and young guns, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Noah Lowry all looking like they are ready to take another step toward stardom.
Pittsburgh Pirates Odds +5000
The Pirates went an atrocious 68-94 last season and are sorely in need of the likes of legends like Willie ‘Pops’ Stargell and Dave Parker. The Pirates have plenty of questions with youngster Nyjer Morgan slated to start in centerfield along with Jose Bautista at third base and Ronny Paulino at catcher, not to mention the multitude of pitching problems that could plague this team once again in 2008.
Washington Nationals Odds +5000
The Nationals went 73-89 last season and while I like their everyday lineup very much this season, any team that is rolling out a pitcher that went 4-5 last season as their number one starter, has serious pitching problems. Unless the Nats can somehow find some legitimate big league starters, they will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.