2008 National League Pennant Futures Odds and Picks to Win the NL Pennant

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

If you havent checked out my analysis of the 2008 World Series
Futures Odds
, or my breakdown of the 2008 American League Pennant Futures Odds
race, you can view those articles by clicking on the links.

If you have read those previews, then this may be a little redundant.
But lets move on.

Lets take a deeper look at the Senior Circuit and see whos who in
the race for the 2008 National League Pennant. All of the future
odds listed in this article can be wagered on at Bodog. (Bodog Site Review).

WHY PLAY FOR IT, ITS OVER ALREADY

New York Mets 2-to-1

When the Mets finalized the deal to land pitcher Johan Santana from
the Twins, they instantly became the favorite in the National League.
Judging by the 2-to-1 odds, most baseball bookies think so too. But lets
hold on just a minute.

Santana goes to the front of a rotation that is good (John Maine,
Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez, Pedro Martinez), but old and injury
prone. Pedro and Hernandez are one pitch away from being shelved for
a prolonged period. Plus, Im not so sure Carlos Delgado and Moises
Alou are the players they used to be anymore. Are the Mets good and
do they figure to be in the pennant chase? Absolutely. Should we just
crown them now? Absolutely not.

THE BEST OF THE REST

Chicago Cubs 6-to-1
Arizona Diamondbacks 13-to-2
Los Angeles Dodgers 7-to-1
Philadelphia Phillies 9-to-1
Colorado Rockies 10-to-1
San Diego Padres 11-to-1
Atlanta Braves 12-to-1
Milwaukee Brewers 12-to-1

The Cubs won the weak NL Central last year, then were swept out of
the playoffs by Colorado. But they return just about everyone from
last years team, so hopes are high for the Cubbies faithful. How
quickly rookies Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome develop, whether or
not OF Felix Pie ever turns into the player he is at AAA, and how
well the backend of the rotation holds up after Carlos Zambrano and
Ted Lilly are all huge factors for the Cubs in 2008. Oh yeah, who is
going to close, Kerry Wood or Bob Howry?

The D-Backs added RHP Dan Haren from the As to team with Cy-Young
winner Brandon Webb to form one of the best one-two rotations in the
NL, if not thee best. But they dumped closer Jose Valverde to do it,
which means it will be closer by committee, which never seems to work
out well. All of the D-Backs young stars (Steven Drew, Justin Upton,
Mark Reynolds, Chris Young) played well last year, but can they put
it together for another run without a sophomore slump among them.

The Dodgers faded toward the end of last season because they lacked
offensive firepower to stay with the D-Backs and Padres. So the
Dodgers went out and got Andrew Jones in free agency to add more pop,
then paid heavily to add Japanese import RHP Hiroki Kuroda to an
already stacked rotation. More importantly, the Dodgers snatched
manager Joe Torre from his two-day unemployment to try and bring his
winning ways to the West Coast. Torre wont have the same stacked
lineup to trot out every day, but in the NL he wont need too,
especially with Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Esteban Loaiza, Kuroda and
Chad Billingsley as your rotation.

Philly will once again need to rely on the National Leagues most
potent offense. With Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley setting the table
for Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Pedro Feliz, scoring runs will not
be a problem in tiny Citizens Bank Park. Their pitching staff on the
other hand has major issues. Cole Hamels and Brett Myers sit at the
top of a rotation that needs cheese-throwing Jamie Moyer to be a No.
3 starter. Brad Lidge was brought in to be the closer, but hes out
for most of spring training with a bad knee. Too many pitching
questions in my book.

Colorado was a great story making it all the way to the World Series
last year with an incredible September and October run, but they
wont sneak up on anyone this year. With Troy Tulowitzki, Todd
Helton, Matt Holiday and Garrett Atkins in the heart of the order
they are solid offensively. Its the pitching (Kip Wells, Josh Towers
and Mark Redman as your 3-4-5 starters) that will need to have back-
to-back career years to get even close this season.

San Diego was one game away from making the postseason last year, so
Padre management didnt do a whole lot in the off-season because Im
sure they didnt think they had to. That was mistake. The Padres
actually got older in the off-season, adding Jim Edmonds, Tony Clark
and Randy Wolf, but Im not so sure it helps really. They also picked
up a pitcher by the name of Mark Prior, you may have heard of him. If
Prior somehow can actually pitch, the Padres pitching (Jake Peavy,
Chris Young, Greg Maddux) staff could be good enough to carry what I
think will be a weak offense.

Atlanta brought back lefty Tom Glavine to team up with John Smotz,
Tim Hudson and possibly Mike Hampton to potentially form one of the
oldest rotations in baseball. Mark Kotsay and Yunel Escobar will be
asked to fill the offensive holes left behind when Andrew Jones and
Edgar Renteria left town. How quickly they can do it, or even IF they
can do it, will go a long way toward determining how far the Braves
can go in the NL East.

The Brewers core of everyday players includes studs like Prince
Fielder, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Rickie Weeks and NL rookie of the
year Ryan Braun. When their youth showed and the Brewers faded in the
final weeks last year, they decided to bring in some veteran help by
acquiring Mike Cameron and Jason Kendall. A solid starting pitching
staff anchored by Ben Sheets (in a contract year, so he NEEDS to stay
healthy) should be good enough and a revamped bullpen (Salomon
Torres, David Riske and Eric Gagne) that will hopefully not breakdown
could get the Brewers past the Cubs and into the postseason since 1982.

THE REST

St. Louis Cardinals 16-to-1
Houston Astros 20-to-1
Cincinnati Reds 20-to-1
San Francisco Giants 40-to-1
Washington Nationals 50-to-1
Florida Marlins 65-to-1
Pittsburgh Pirates 65-to-1

St. Louis still has stud Albert Pujols and the moxie to make a good
push, but whos going to pitch? Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder and new
acquisition Matt Clement are all still rehabbing injuries and wont
be ready till midseason. They dont even have an outfielder with more
than 380 at-bats in one season. Looks like its rebuilding time.

Houston went out and got SS Miguel Tejada and 2B Kaz Matsui for extra
offensive firepower, but now the entire left side of the defense
(with 3b Ty Wigginton and LF Carlos Lee) is an error waiting to
happen. Plus, other than Roy Oswalt, the Astros dont have anyone
that throws the ball on a consistent basis.

Cincinnati is another team that just doesnt have the pitching to
matchup with the big boys in the NL. New manager Dusty Baker will get
them to play hard, but with an aging Ken Griffey and all-or-nothing
Adam Dunn the Reds offense might struggle at times too. The Reds
signed closer Francisco Cordero as a free agent, but how can he save
games if he never gets handed a lead? Just not enough horses, period.

For the first time in a long time Barry Bonds wont be hitting third
for the Giants. The bigger question is, who will? Without Bonds and
Pedro Feliz the offensively challenged Giants are even more
offensively challenged. Youve got to score runs to win. The Giants
will have a hard time doing both this year.

The Nationals open a new park, Nationals Park, this season and thats
a good thing because it will keep fans coming out to watch the team
play. Offensively the Nationals will be competitive (Nick Johnson,
Lastings Milledge, Ryan Zimmerman, Paul Lo Duca), but when your No. 1
starter is an often-injured John Patterson, you know youre in
trouble. Just like all of the teams in this category no pitching.

Does Florida or Pittsburgh even try to win? Florida gave away their
two best players in the off-season, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle
Willis. But at least they did something. Pittsburgh did absolutely
nothing to a team that won just 68 games last year. Enough said.

PICKS

Short Assuming you dont want to just put it all on the Mets and
walk away, my short team is the Arizona Diamondbacks. At 13-to-2, I
like their chances a little better than the Cubs. Better starting
pitching is the key, although trading a closer that saved 47 of your
90 wins last year will come back to bite them.

Middle Im going with the Los Angeles Dodgers here at 7-to-1. Their
pitching staff is stacked top-to-bottom. When Jason Schmidt is your
No. 5 starter, you are stacked. Im still not impressed with their
offense, but I think they will have just enough to get by. Plus,
having Joe Torre pushing buttons in the playoffs gives them a huge
advantage.

Long - My long shot to win the NL pennant is the 12-to-1 Milwaukee
Brewers. The Brewers are still one of the youngest teams in baseball,
so a five to 10 game improvement in the win column is not much of a
stretch. That puts them ahead of the Cubs in a weak NL Central, and
we all watched what the Rockies did last year once you get into the
postseason. All the Brewers need is a chance.