The big chill?

Apr 17, 2007 6:45 AM

The major story in baseball over the first two weeks has been the weather and the numerous games that have been postponed as a result of rain, snow, cold weather or a combination.

There will be major rescheduling problems in many instances because of baseball’s stupidity in arranging the early April schedule. The obvious course would have been to have teams play the first two weeks of the season in warm weather climates or domed stadiums. But even if that solution would have been met with protests from teams having to start on the road season after season, there has always been a common sense alternative.

If early April games are to be played in cold weather climates, at least make sure the matchups involve teams that are scheduled to meet at that same site again later in the season! Several series over the first few weeks involve teams making the one and only visit to a cold weather city all season, creating logistical problems for later rescheduling.

The New York Yankees are at the center of two of the early season headlines. Expected to have problems with starting pitching, the Yanks have placed both Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano on the 15-day disabled list. Starter Chien-Ming Wang is also on the DL, but is making progress in his rehabilitation and could rejoin the rotation towards the middle of next week.

At the same time the oft criticized Alex Rodriguez is off to a blazing start and is arguably the MVP of the season’s first two weeks. Given the state of the Yankees rotation, A-Rod might need to keep up his pace if New York is to reach its 13th straight postseason.

Only Atlanta has yet to lose on the road and Pittsburgh has yet to win at home.

A successful long term strategy for profits will include playing on the worst teams in the most favorable situations, while wagering against the best in most vulnerable situations. Look to play on bad team’s aces and against top team’s fourth and fifth starters.

Here’s a preview of four series this weekend.

Cards at Cubs: Although Yankees v Red Sox and Giants v Dodgers grab the headlines when it comes to rivalries, the Cardinals v Cubs rivalry has been one of baseball’s most fierce for more than a century. The Cardinals franchise has by far had the greater track record of success. Both offenses are off to slow starts with the major sluggers (St. Louis’ Albert Pujols and Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano) yet to hit their strides.

Pujols did have a two homer game this past Sunday. Both teams have major concerns with their pitching, although the Cardinals have to be pleased with new starters Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper. Ace Chris Carpenter is currently sidelined. Chicago’s ace Carlos Zambrano has not been sharp in his early season efforts.

Preferred picks: Wainwright, Looper or Kip Wells as a PK or underdog. UNDER 9 or higher.

Braves at Mets: Atlanta took two of three from the Mets in New York. The Braves starts the week with the best record in baseball and have shown signs their bullpen woes of a season ago have been resolved. As such Atlanta will challenge the Mets for the lead in the NL East all season. Both teams have solid lineups that can take advantage of shaky pitching.

John Smoltz anchors the Atlanta rotation and Tim Hudson appears poised for a return to his Oakland form. Both Smoltz and Hudson are playable as underdogs in this series as is lefty Chuck James. For the Mets the two starters to back as underdogs would be Tom Glavine and John Maine.

Preferred picks: UNDER 8 or higher if any of these five starters face one another. Otherwise, OVER 9 or lower, especially in starts by New York’s Orlando Hernandez or Oliver Perez and Atlanta’s Kyle Davies or Mark Redman.

Yanks at Red Sox: "The" rivalry is renewed once again as the Yankees and Red Sox meet for the first time in 2007. The Yankees strength has been offense and the weakness is that starting rotation. Boston’s strength early on has been pitching, while the offense has been slow to develop consistency.

The Red Sox may well be favored in all three games depending upon who opposes New York’s Andy Pettitte. In fact, the Yanks’ best chance at a win will be in Pettitte’s start, likely Friday night. Otherwise Boston should be moderately priced favorites in starts by Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The prices may be kept low due to the potency of the Yankees’ bats.

Preferred picks: Yankees as a dog in Pettitte’s start. Boston -140 in the other two games. OVER 9 or lower in all starts. The Yanks should have some success against Boston’s better starters. The Sox should also have success against the Yanks’ patchwork rotation.

Mariners at Angels: Seattle starts the week as the only team above .500 in the AL West. Granted, the Mariners are just 5-3 but does appear to be an improved ball club. Perhaps no pitcher has had a better start to the season than Felix Hernandez. His domination at Boston was a thing of beauty when he out-pitched Dice-K. Ex Angel Jarrod Washburn gives the M’s a very solid one-two punch at the top of the rotation.

The Angels are deep in pitching with Bartolo Colon set to rejoin the staff any day. John Lackey is an emerging ace and Ervin Santana is outstanding when pitching at home. Lefty Joe Saunders also has potential. The Angels are not a strong offensive team, meaning low scores.

Preferred picks: UNDER 9 or higher in any matchup. SEATTLE -125 if Hernandez throws and Washburn is an underdog. ANGELS -130 favorite or underdogs facing anyone besides Hernandez and Washburn.