Regular season in baseball really begins this Wednesday

Apr 3, 2012 3:01 AM

The regular season in baseball really begins this Wednesday in Florida – after two games in Tokyo last week – as the Cardinals play the Miami Marlins in their new stadium.

I covered the NL a few weeks ago and now I will take a little look at the AL division by division.

EAST

Same old story different year. The New York Yankees are the favorites and for good reason. The addition of Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda to the pitching staff gives them Philadelphia Phillies-type depth. The real battle will be for second place. Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto all have a legitimate shot.

Manager Joe Maddon of the Rays gets the most out of his low priced roster. New Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine seems more concerned with the Yankees rivalry than solving the problems from last season. The Blue Jays can move up from their .500 season and challenge while Baltimore Orioles will have another season of frustration.

WEST

This division may be the most exciting in the Majors this year. The Los Angeles Angels add Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, while Texas Rangers have Yu Darvish. These two teams will battle head-to-head the entire season. Seattle and Oakland will be a distant third and fourth. The Mariners are trying to get to .500 and the A’s are rebuilding in their famous "Money Ball" fashion.

CENTRAL

The battle will be for second. Detroit should have no problem winning this division, especially with the addition of Prince Fielder, the return of Miguel Cabrera, MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and closer Jose Valverde. Look for Cleveland and Kansas City to be improved from past years. Bad times for the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota.

BETTING PLAN

There are strategies in betting on baseball and if you stick to them you will have a nice little bankroll for the football season.

Two of the most important tried and proven ways:

• Follow the streaks.

• Avoid teams -155 or higher.

I like to play a team that has won at least three straight games and is now facing a club coming off a loss. I will stick with that team until they lose. I will also do the opposite and play against a team that has three straight losses if facing a club coming off a win.

I do my best to stay away from teams that are priced at -155 or higher when making a straight bet but will use those teams up to -180 when playing parlays and round robins if able to subsidize my bet with an underdog.

I also will always take a team getting +1½ runs at even money or better, but the books have caught up with that play as these have become few and far between.

My bet of preference is a round robin using four teams making four 3-team parlays with at least one underdog in the mix and two if possible. For a saw buck this bet cost $40 and can generate a nice little score.

Riding the streaks is a must and during the long season there will be one or two teams that go on a 10-game winning streak. If you can single out one of these teams you could parlay a $20 bill into some big bucks.

Rule 1: Keep all of your tickets as scores could be wrong, they could have pitching changes. If you bet a total it could be a refund. Double check all scores and pitchers the following day.

Keep tabs on your bets, wins and losses to see how your are doing and map out a betting strategy according to your bankroll. It’s a long season!

I will keep weekly updates on the trends and pass them along in upcoming columns. In the early going, good pitchers will be on a pitch count so the first five inning bet is a good one that is a must use in April.

BASEBALL OPENING NIGHT

Cards at Marlins (ESPN, 4 PT): Miami opens its new stadium and unveils a new club with the addition of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell. They moved Hanley Ramirez from shortstop to third base with Ozzie Guillen in charge. Josh Johnson will be the opening night starter coming off an injury year.

St. Louis will answer with Kyle Lohse as its starter and a lineup without Albert Pujols. Miami would love to set the tone beating the champs in the new ball yard in front of the sold out house. Parlay: MARLINS, OVER 3½ (5-inning run total).