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National League Central Spring Training Betting Preview

National League Central Spring Training Betting Preview

National League Central Spring Training Betting Preview

Spring training is here and now is the time to brush up on some of the offseason moves of each baseball team. Let's take a look at the National League Central where Houston has left for the American League and the Cincinnati Reds are the favorite. Cincinnati is 14-1 to win the World Series and 6-1 to win the National League Pennant. St. Louis is 9-1 to win the National League Pennant and 20-1 to win the World Series. The odds listed below are from Bovada.

National League Spring Training Capsules

Chicago Cubs

2012 record: 61-101, fifth place in the NL Central

Against the Money Line: $-2568

Manager: Dale Sveum, second season

World Series Odds: 75-1

Key Additions: RHP Scott Baker, RHP Scott Feldman, OF Scott Hairston, RHP Edwin Jackson, C Dioner Navarro, RHP Hector Rondon, OF Nate Schierholtz, RHP Carlos Villanueva.

Key Subtractions: 1B-OF Bryan LaHair, RHP Chris Volstad. 

Key Questions: The Cubs are still rebounding and hoping that RHP Matt Garza is healthy coming off an elbow injury that limited him to 18 starts. They signed Scott Baker coming off Tommy John surgery last April. He probably won’t be able to pitch until May. Kyuji Fujikawa could push Carlos Marmol for the close job. He had 220 saves in 12 season with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.

Key Players: At right field, Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston signed as free agents and will likely platoon at right field. INF Anthony Rizzo hit 15 homers in just 337 at bats after coming up from the minors and could hit close to 30 in a full season. 

Cincinnati Reds

2012 record: 97-65, first in the NL Central

Against the Money Line: $1813

Manager: Dusty Baker, sixth season

World Series Odds: 14-1

Key Additions: OF Shin-Soo Choo, INF Jason Donald, 3B Jack Hanahan, LHP Manny Parra.

Key Subtractions: SS Didi Gregorius, C Dioner Navarro, RHP Ryan Madson, 3B Scott Rolen

Key Questions: The Reds bounced back from an awful season to live up to their potential. The big question is at first where Joey Votto is coming off a knee injury that plagued him in the second half. He missed 48 games before returning in September, but lost most of his power and ended up with just 14 homers last year. Aroldis Chapman (39 saves) will be moved to the starting rotation and could be dominant.

Key Players: The Reds acquired a talented outfielder in Shin-Soo Choo, who moves to center field after coming over from Cleveland. He’s been exclusively playing right field though he came up with Seattle as a center fielder in the minors. He’s also expected to be the lead-off hitter the Reds have been lacking. Jonthan Broxton moves back to the closer role. Before he struggled with arm issues, Broxton was an All-Star closer.

Colorado Rockies

2012 record: 64-98 fifth place in the NL West

Against the Money Line: $-1936

Manager: Walt Weiss, first year

World Series Odds: 75-1

Key Additions: RHP Wilton Lopez, RHP Chris Volstad, 1B-3B Ryan Wheeler.

Key Subtractions:RHP Jeremy Guthrie, LHP Matt Reynolds, RHP Alex White.

Key Questions: The rotation is always a concern with the Rockies. They registered a major league-worst 5.81 ERA , so it can’t possibly get worse. LHP Jorge De La Rosa missed most of last season recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, while right-handers Jhoulys Chacin (chest) and Juan Nicasio (knee) should be back at 100%. They also need SS Troy Tulowitzki to last a full year. A groin injury limited him to just 47 games last year.

Key Players: 1B Todd Helton (.238) is coming off hip surgery and is now 39. His days of playing every day could be over. Jordan Pacheco is the top candidate at third base and hit .309 as a rookie but hit just five home runs in 475 at-bats.

Milwaukee Brewers

2012 record: 83-79, third place in the NL Central

Against the Money Line: $-918

Manager: Ron Roenicke, third season.

World Series Odds: 40-1

Key Additions: LHP MIchael Gonzalez, LHP Tom Gorzelanny.

Key Subtractions: RHP Livan Hernandez, RHP Kameron Loe, RHP Shaun Marcum, OF Nyjer Morgan, LHP Manny Parra, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, C Yorvit Torrealba, RHP Jose Veras.

Key Questions: The Brewers traded Zack Greinke last year to the Angels. The rotation now is very thin after Yovani Gallardo.

Key Players: Yovani Gallardo is an excellent pitcher, coming off a 16-9 season (3.66 ERA). 2B  Weeks (.230, 21 HR, 63 RPI) struggled last year with an ankle injury but a strong second half showed he’s back to good health. 1B Mat Gamel will replace Corey Hart (30 HR), who is out in the first few weeks due to having knee surgery in mid-January. Gamel is also coming off knee surgery and was expected to be a big part of the team’s future (.229, 6 HR).

Pittsburgh Pirates

2012 record: 79-83, fourth in the NL Central

Against the Money Line: $-258

Manager: Clint Hurdle, third season

World Series Odds: 50-1

Key Additions: C Russell Martin, RHP Mark Melancon.

Key Subtractions: C Rod Barajas, RHP Kevin Correia, RHP Joel Hanrahan.

Key Questions: The Pirates need to find a right-fielder. Jose Tabata had a disappointing 2012 when he hit .243 with three homers in 103 games. He was sent back to AAA for six weeks at midseason. OF Travis Snyder has all this power potential but hits just one homer in 50 games after the trade. The leadoff hitter is also a question mark as Starling Marte did a decent job last year, hitting .257 with five homers and 12 steals, but had just a .300 on-base percentage. 

Key Players: CF Andrew McCutchen offers power (31 homers), batting average (.327) and speed (20 steals). He could bat lead off but they need his bat in the middle of the lineup. Russell Martin (21 homers) adds a power bat from the New York Yankees and will have no problem re-adjusting to the National League having spent five years with the LA Dodgers. P Gerrit Cole was the number one pick in 2011 and should make his major league debut after starting his season out at Class AAA this year.

St. Louis Cardinals

2012 record: 88-74, second place in the NL Central

Against the Money Line: $-918

Manager: Mike Matheny, second season.

World Series Odds: 20-1

Key Additions: IF Ronny Cedeno, LHP Randy Choate, INF/OF Ty Wiggington. 

Key Subtractions: 1B Lance Berkman, RHP Kyle Lohse, RHP Kyle McClellan, 2B/OF Skip Schumaker.

Key Questions: The Cards lost Chris Carpenter for the season and Jaime Garcia is coming back from a shoulder injury. So pitching depth is important. RHPs Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller showed potential last year in short stints. Second base is also a concern as Daniel Decalso is more of a utility guy who provides solid defense but hit just .227 last year. Rafel Furcal is also recovering from elbow surgery that ended his season in September. 

Key Players: OF Matt Holliday hit .295 last year with 27 homers and 102 RBIs. That’s impressive considering Albert Pujols was gone in free agency. David Freese (.264, 20, 79) continued to provide power at third while OF Carlos Beltran (.269, 32, 97, 13sbs) showed he could still play at 35.

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