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Hot and Cold Baseball Teams

   by Matt Fargo - 05/28/2009

The baseball season is in full swing and Matt Fargo will be examining teams that are hot and teams that are not and how they can make us some money. This week he takes a look at some hot teams that may be providing some good value to play on in the upcoming schedule.

Cleveland Indians 20-28 -8.65 Units

Backing a team that is eight games under .500 and calling it a possible “hotâ€쳌 side may seem brainless but this is the best time to play such teams. The talent is there for the Indians to get back into the race in the American League Central and we certainly know that with the poor record, we won’t have to put down big prices. We knew the division was going to be wide open this season and while the Tigers are leading the way right now, it isn’t by much. Cleveland is sitting in last place, 7.5 games back as of Thursday morning so no one will be giving it long looks anytime soon.

The offense for the Indians has been the strength as they are batting .272 which is ninth best in baseball and their 5.4 rpg are good for a tie for fifth most in three bigs. The problem obviously is the pitching. Cleveland is allowing 5.6 rpg which is third worst overall thanks to a team ERA of 5.50 which is ahead of only the lowly Nationals. Carl Pavano, Fausto Carmona and Anthony Reyes have 28 combined starts and all have ERA’s over 5.50, yet they are a combined 8-9 showing the offense has been there when needed to avoid losses. The bullpen is actually performing better than last season but still needs to improve.

Following its series with Tampa Bay, Cleveland hosts the Yankees over the weekend and we all know we will get some great prices on the hometown team. Following the New York series, the Indians travel to Minnesota and Chicago next week which are two big early season division series against two teams that are also having their struggles. Being on the road, Cleveland will see some underdog prices and that is where we can make some money. The win over Tampa Bay where the Indians overcame a 10-run deficit looks to have given the squad a huge lift that we can ride going forward.

Chicago Cubs 23-22 -4.45 Units

The Cubs are another team that has been a money-burner through the first third of the season as they enter Thursday just a game over .500. The good news for Chicago backers is that no team is running away with the National League Central so even though it endured an eight-game losing streak, it is still in the thick of things. The Cubs are definitely the biggest underachieving team in baseball right now but the turn will come. Losing tends to bring out the best in above average teams and that is still where the Cubs reside.

With the likes of Alfonso Soriano, Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, it is hard to fathom that the Cubs are the fifth worst hitting team in baseball, batting just .248 as a team. Even with the averages down, there is a lot of power and run production yet Chicago is averaging only 4.6 rpg. Ramirez is on the DL and other players will pick things up so we should see greater production going forward. The pitching is middle of the pack with a 4.45 team ERA but the ERA’s of Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ryan Dempster are up a combined 5.31 from last season and that is definitely concerning.

A weekend series with the Dodgers highlights the baseball schedule and this is definitely an important one for the Cubs. The Dodgers are the top team in the National League right now so Chicago wants to show it belongs, more so for itself than anything else. With the strong Dodgers start, Chicago should see some very reasonable prices despite being at home. The Cubs then travel for nine straight games to begin June as they have three-game sets against the Braves, Reds and Astros. The price favors the road teams and that means we will get some excellent value with Chicago in the coming couple weeks.

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