Three World Series Sleepers
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - Can you feel it? The weather is warming up on the East Coast, and while it might be just temporary, it definitely brings thoughts of Florida and Arizona.
Those are the sights of baseball's spring training and it's never too early to take a look at some of the sleepers to win the World Series.
One of the things you can't sleep is on moves that were made in the offseason. You can't go too crazy based on major moves because if that was the case, the Angels, Yankees and now Dodgers would win the World Series every year. Boston won the World Series last season and their best move was acquiring DH/C Mike Napoli, OF Shane Victorino, reliever Koji Uehara and getting rid of Bobby Valentine as the manager. That didn't cost a lot of money, but then again, the Red Sox still had a top 10 payroll.
Here are some of the sleepers to look out for in the 2014 season with their latest odds from Bovada.
Washington Nationals: (2013: 86-76, 12-1 odds to win World Series). Washington is coming off a disappointing season as they did not live up to expectations. Part of the problem was injury issues as young OF Bryce Harper was limited to just 118 games though he did still hit 20 home runs. The Nationals signed RHP Doug Fister, who will be their fourth starter in a loaded rotation. That's great news for new manager Matt Williams, who gets his first shot at manager. They also strengthened their bench with the addition of OF Nate McLouth, who stole 30 bases for the Orioles last season.
Oakland Athletics: (2013: 96-66, 20-1 odds to win World Series). Oakland is coming off a great season and while they had some losses, they still have most of their nucleus back including Sonny Gray, a potential ace starter. Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily are quality starters all under 25. They also add Scott Kazmir, who rejuvenated his career with Cleveland. Oakland gave him $22 million over two seasons, which is a real risk for a pitcher who pitched just one game between 2011 and 2012. They lost closer Grant Balfour, but they add Jim Johnson, who had over 100 saves in the last two seasons with Baltimore. The hitting is a concern though the addition of Craig Gentry and a healthy Josh Reddick should help.
Seattle Mariners: (2013: 71-91, 28-1 odds to win World Series, 14-1 to win American League). The Mariners made the biggest pickup of the offseason with the signing of 2B Robinson Cano (10 years for $240 million). A better bet may be to win the American League because this would be a huge turnaround. Lloyd McClendon takes over and has experience with Pittsburgh from 2001-05. Cano (.314, 27 HR, 107) is one of the best hitters in the game and now has the challenge of hitting in Safeco Field, one of the more difficult places to hit. The Mariners have a potentially-dominant rotation led by Felix "the great" Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are potential elite starters, while Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Mauer have good stuff. Corey Hart did not play last year and could provide power at first or the outfield along with Logan Morrison, who arrives from the Marlins. But the addition of Cano should make an average lineup a lot better.
There are still some moves that will be made during spring training so remember to continue to stay on top of every transaction. The more you know, the better chances you'll have of being successful in beating the books this season in baseball.