2008 American League Pennant Futures Odds and Picks to Win the AL Pennant

2008 American League Pennant Futures Odds
by Badger of Predictem.com

If you havent checked out my analysis of the 2008 World Series
future odds, you can go to that article by clicking here.

Now lets break it down even more by eliminating the 16 National League teams in the discussion and talk about the futures odds for
the 2008 American League Pennant. All of the future odds listed in
this article can be wagered on at Bovada Sportsbook.

THE TOP TIER

Boston Red Sox 11-to-5
New York Yankees 11-to-4
Detroit Tigers 3-to-1
Cleveland Indians 5-to-1
Los Angeles Angels 7-to-1

Ive already analyzed these five teams in my World Series futures
article, but Ill go over each teams chances again briefly.

The Boston Red Sox are once again the favorites because they return,
virtually intact, everyone from last years team that won it all, so
why not start there again. With new blood (CF Jacoby Ellsbury, LHP
Jon Lester and RHP Clay Bucholtz) giving the Sox added boost and
youth, the BoSox should be able to make up for the loss of Curt
Schilling for a prolonged period.

The Yankees new manager, Joe Girardi, will have a veteran lineup to
pin their hopes on (Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Jorge
Posada, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi,
etc.), but its the Yankees pitching that hasnt been good enough in
recent years to get them back on top in the American League. Pitching
is a huge question mark again this year. The Yanks are asking rookies
Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to stabilize an aging
rotation, a tall task for vets in the NY media market, yet alone for
rookies.


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The Detroit Tigers added the most pieces in the off-season (3B Miguel
Cabrera, LHP Dontrelle Willis, SS Edgar Renteria and OF Jacque
Jones), but they didnt address their bullpen problems. Setup man
Joel Zumaya is hurt and out till who knows when, and closer Doug
Jones was brought back, but who is going to get it to him in the
seventh and eighth innings? The Tigers are just going to try and out-
score everyone, which will work until they run into solid pitching in
the playoffs.

The Indians are hoping that they can get into the post season this
year the same way they did it last year: with solid offense, timely
pitching and no mistakes. That may be a tall order though, as they
will have to deal with a vastly improved Tigers team in their
division this season. Clevelands middle infielders (SS Jhonny
Peralta, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera), and young outfielders (Shin-Soo Choo
and Franklin Gutierrez) will need to perform at high levels. The
addition of RHP Masahide Kobayashi makes the Indian bullpen stronger
too, but the starting rotation is still too weak after the top two guys.

The Angels have a loaded outfield with Vladimir Guerrero, Garret
Anderson, Gary Mathews and new free-agent acquisition Torii Hunter,
but they will need a young infield (Howie Kendrick, Brandon Wood,
Casey Kotchman) to mature quickly. RHP John Lackey is solid at the
top, but the rest of the rotation (Jon Garland, Jered Weaver, Ervin
Santana) still has a lot to prove with No. 2 starter Kelvim Escobar
already hurt.

DUE FOR A BREAKOUT

Seattle Mariners 10-to-1
Chicago White Sox 12-to-1
Toronto Blue Jays 15-to-1
Minnesota Twins 30-to-1
Oakland Athletics 30-to-1
Tampa Bay Rays 30-to-1

Seattles acquisition of LHP Erik Bedard (along with free-agent
additions RHP Miguel Batista and RHP Carlos Silva) gives the Mariners
the best starting pitching staff in a weak AL West Division. The
Mariners need something, anything from 1B Richie Sexson or they wont
score enough runs to get into the post season.

Chicagos addition of SS Orlando Cabrera and OF Nick Swisher will
help an offense that was last in the AL in batting average and runs.
The Sox will also need rebound seasons from Paul Konerko, Jermaine
Dye and Jim Thome. The White Sox bullpen added good setup men in
Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel, but with Mark Buehrle, Jose
Contreras and Javier Vazquez as the only proven starters in the
rotation, will the bullpen even be needed.


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Toronto will have a healthy Vernon Wells and the addition of two
former St. Louis Cardinals in SS David Eckstein and 3B Scott Rolen to
give the offense more pop. But if the Blue Jays have any hope of
breaking through in the toughest division in baseball (i.e. get past
the Red Sox and Yankees), they will need more pitching then just ace
Roy Halladay and injury-prone starters A.J. Burnett and Gastavo Chacin.

Ironically, it could be the Tampa Bay Rays (yes, they dropped the
Devil part of their nickname) that give the Blue Jays a run for third
place in the AL East this year. If ace lefty Scott Kazmirs elbow is
more than just tender, you can forget it. But if the Rays starters
can just get the ball to the bullpen with a lead, the additions of
Troy Percival and Dan Wheeler will help Al Reyes close games. Theres
also a rumor that Barry Bonds will join the team to DH. If it becomes
reality, and its a big if, the Rays could actually hang in the
division race past Memorial Day this year.

Minnesota is getting drilled in the media and by fans by dumping
Johan Santana in the off-season, but they didnt have much choice.
They did add a nice outfielder in Delmon Young to go along with Joe
Mauer and Justin Morneau in the 2-3-4 spots in the lineup. But if LHP
Francisco Lirianos arm is still sore from surgery last season, they
Twins will be forced to use Scott Baker as their opening day starter.
Yeah right, who is Scott Baker? Exactly.

Oakland sold off just about every functioning piece of a team that
barely won 75 games last season anyway, so why not start over. GM
Billy Beane might not be done trading either (Joe Blanton?, Huston
Street?), as I hear the As have some used baseballs on the market
for cheap prices. Seriously though, prospects like OF Carlos
Gonzalez, LHP Gio Gonzalez and 1B Daric Barton are going to be real
good someday, just not likely this year.

LONGSHOTS

Texas Rangers 40-to-1
Kansas City Royals 50-to-1
Baltimore Orioles 80-to-1

Texas continues to try the same formula every season, win with
offense and little or no pitching, and it hasnt worked yet so why do
they keep trotting out the same crew? The Rangers added OFs Josh
Hamilton and Milton Bradley to bolster the offense, but they added
pitchers, er well, I guess that Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla
are good enough. Same story, different year for the Rangers.

The Royals are getting better, honestly. They are still a few
miracles away from contending, especially in the now loaded AL
Central. They added a big bat to the heart of the order in OF Jose
Guillen, but it wont seem like much come midseason. Gil Meche was a
bright surprise last year, but the Royals dont have much after him
(Brian Bannister, Zack Greinke, Brett Tomko) so they really dont
stand much of a chance.

Baltimore is in full rebuilding mode following an off-season where
they traded away their best player (SS Miguel Tejada) and their best
pitcher (LHP Erik Bedard). OF Adam Jones and potential closer George
Sherrill are nice pieces acquired in the Bedard deal, but retreads
like Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff and Matt Albers was not nearly enough in
the Tejada deal. The Orioles will be the Tampa Bay Rays for the next
few years.

POSTSEASON PICKS

Short - I like the Detroit Tigers as the best bet among the
favorites. Their lineup is loaded, even more than the Yankees and Red
Sox, and if their pitching stays healthy I think they can match 1-2-3
starters with both Boston and especially New York. At 3-to-1, they
are worth a small wager in my opinion.

Middle My middle of the road team is not really middle of the road
per say, but I like the Cleveland Indians here. If the Indians can
just get through their division, they proved last year they can win a
short divisional series in the playoffs. I like the way they play,
and I like the makeup of the team, I just dont think they will have
enough to slip past Detroit, Boston or the Yankees. But at 5-to-1
they are a solid bet and not a huge stretch by any means.

Long - My long shot pick this year is the Seattle Mariners. They
should contend in a weak AL West because Im not sure the Angels will
have enough pitching. The Mariners will RELY on pitching to get them
there. Once in the postseason, if they can just scratch across a few
runs each game it could be enough to win the pennant. At 10-to-1 they
are a worthy shot.

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