BATTER UP!

Feb 6, 2007 2:42 AM

In just three weeks, major league baseball starts exhibition season. One month to figure out who will be this year’s Detroit Tigers.

Maybe it will be the Kansas City Royals, who at times were on par with the Detroit team that lost 106 games during the 2003 campaign. The Royals opened at 200/1 last October to win the World Series and have since dropped to 125/1.

The longest shot on the board at Caesars Palace is Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays actually rose from 200/1 to 225/1 in the four months following the 2006 World Series, won by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Oddly, neither the Cards nor the AL champion Tigers are among the top five favorites to make to the 2007 World Series. St. Louis opened at 7/1 and climbed to 10/1. The Tigers went from an opening 6/1 to a current 7/1.

Boston and the NY Yankees are 4/1 co-favorites to win the world title, according to the latest futures odds at Caesars. The Cubs are next at 9/2, followed by the 2005 World Series champ Chicago White Sox at 5/1. The other single-digit odds contenders are the NY Mets (7/1) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (9/1). Minnesota and Philadelphia are grouped with St. Louis at 10/1.

If bettors are looking for teams that made a run last year only to fall a little short, some NL possibilities include Florida at 22/1, Cincinnati 28/1 and Atlanta at 35/1. Some AL hopefuls include Toronto at 20/1, Seattle 50/1 and the aforementioned Royals.

With the Super Bowl just concluded, it may seem a bit premature to even consider baseball. But, that’s when you can get the greatest value for your buck if the foresight is there to forecast a worst to first move to match Detroit.

The odds are slightly different at The Plaza, where only four teams rank in single digits to win the World Series. No surprise to see the Yanks head the list at 4/1, followed by the Mets (7/1), Tigers and Red Sox (each 8/1). The Cardinals are 12/1, an excellent buy for a defending world champ.

"If (Roger) Clemens winds up with the Yankees, which I think he will, they definitely become the team to beat," said Mike Colbert, sports book manager at The Plaza. "As far as futures, we get a lot of bets on Milwaukee (50/1). I think Colorado (50/1) is an improving team."

Colbert also acknowledged that the best time for futures wagering is now.

"After March Madness, baseball heats up," he said. "Those baseball fans looking for bargains should definitely do so now before the talk heats up."

 

DIVISIONAL ODDS

c/o The Plaza

AL

Central: Tigers 7/5, White Sox 9/5, Twins 4/1, Indians 6/1, Royals 40/1.

East: Yanks 1/2, Red Sox 5/2, Blue Jays 6/1, Orioles 40/1, Devil Rays 75/1. West: Angels 5/6, A’s 9/5, Rangers 5/1, Mariners 10/1.

NL

Central: Cards 8/5, Cubs 9/5, Brewers 5/1, Astros 6/1, Reds 8/1, Pirates 40/1.

East: Mets 2/5, Phillies 7/2, Marlins 10/1, Braves 12/1, Nationals 40/1

West: Dodgers 7/5, Padres 3/1, Giants 7/2, D’backs 5/1, Rockies 8/1.