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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM



By Jim Hurley:

So, you tell us … who’s really “dropped the ball” so far in this here-and-now 2014 Major-League Baseball season?

No doubt you have your own strong opinions – and that’s great – but we’re here today in this Jim Sez column to back up our analysis with cold, hard facts/figures as just about every MLB team has reached or soon will reach the 81-game mark thus getting ‘em halfway through this season.

The Jim Sez staff decided to dust off the MLB spring training notebook and take a look at the “over/under” wins totals for all 30 baseball teams and this is what we’ve uncovered in terms of the biggest busts so far …

BOSTON (38-44) – Sure, we know the Red Sox were not likely to repeat the magic of last year’s World Series-winning team but just past the halfway point of this ’14 season here’s the Bosox with fewer than 40 wins while their over/under wins total was listed as 88.

In other words, a Boston team that ranks 12th in the American League in runs scored and 10th in home runs – yes, we watched DH Daid Ortiz club that mammoth three-run blast at Yankee Stadium on Sunday Night Baseball! – will be playing chase all summer long and you wonder just how long the likes of Ortiz and 1B Mike Napoli (game-winning dinger in 2-1 triumph over the Yankees last Saturday night) can keep shouldering all the offensive weight.

Gut feeling is you may see Boston go on some kind of tear – like 10-of-12 or 13-of-18 – sometime in July or August but unless the Sox add a bat and maybe even a legit leadoff hitter, it could be a long and sour summer in/around Cap Cod!

SAN DIEGO (35-47) – Raise your hand if you really thought these Padres were gonna be a .500-type team this year … well, the number-crunchers in Las Vegas posted San Diego’s win total as 79 or 79 ½ (close enough to .500, right) and yet these offensively inept Pods have never gotten off the ground though they did avert a weekend sweep at the hands of Arizona thanks to Sunday’s 2-1 win.

Folks, we’re not comparing the aforementioned Red Sox with the Padres but do note the striking similarities in terms of offensive ineptness: Bud Black’s club ranks 14th in the National League in team batting average (.213), 15th in runs scored (240) and 11th in home runs (55) and please take note that SD’s leading home-run hitter is OF Seth Smith who has all of eight dingers this season.

Yes, this is a Padres team that was no-hit last Wednesday by San Francisco RHP Tim Lincecum and followed that “effort” up by scoring a grand total of four runs in the above-mentioned three-game series against the Diamondbacks. Whoa!

Maybe you held out hope that the Padres could be a high 70s, low 80s win team (we didn’t) and now just to “cash” and get to 80 wins this NL West crew must go 45-35 the rest of the way … ain’t happening, boys and girls!

In other MLB Weekend News …

Hey, just what the Los Angeles Angels needed – another closer who couldn’t get the job done!

The weekend began with the Angels swapping ineffective closers with the Pittsburgh Pirates – RHP Jason Grilli (an All-Star on the NL roster last year) went west for righty Ernesto Frieri – and here was Sunday’s rubber game match between the Halos and the host Kansas City Royals and low and behold there’s Grilli starting the bottom of the ninth inning in a 4-4 game:

First, Grilli strikes out KC’s Billy Butler, then Alex Gordon is hit by a pitch and then catcher Salvador Perez reaches on an error by SS Erik Aybar – so maybe the hard-throwing Grilli can rare back and get a K or maybe even an inning-ending double play but instead Omar Infante singles to left with a walk-off hit and the Grilli debut with the LAA is a major flameout.

Hang in there, Mike Sciosacia! …

It’s not as if there’s been a whole lot of four-game series in San Francisco between the Giants and the Cincinnati Reds but – for the record – Cincy’s four-game sweep at AT&T Stadium this past Thursday-thru-Sunday marked the first time since the 1972 Reds won a four-game set in San Fran and Sunday’s 4-0 win featured RHP Homer Bailey tossing 6.2 innings of no-hit ball before Buster Posey’s single derailed any/all hope that Bailey could toss his third career no-hitter.
But how about this factoid:

The Reds now have won their last five consecutive series overall and are 6-0-1 in their last seven series en route to this current 43-38 mark and bettors know that this past weekend you were able to take prices with RHP Johnny Cueto (+ 113) and with the aforementioned Bailey (+ 107) in two of the four games against the Jints and suddenly this club has turned into a major money-maker after torching most backers the first two-plus months of play.

And don’t look now but Reds’ CF and leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton has been perking up his once-sorry batting average and he’s now stolen 34-of-40 bases and seems on the way to a 75-steal campaign at this stage of things.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Plus, the Football Season isn’t that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August – can’t wait!

It’s summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks starting today with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals … and check out our quickie pointspread ditties too:

JACKSONVILLE – Last year’s Jaguars missed the NFL Playoffs for a sixth straight season as Gus Bradley’s club finished 4-12 SU (straight-up) and 6-10 ATS (against the spread).

The Jags are sticking by their “story” that veteran QB Chad Henne will start off the season as the starter with #3 overall pick Blake Bortles (UCF) in the learning mode but that may change later this summer when you consider that last year Henne threw 13 TDs and 14 INTs and the Jags scored more than 24 points just three times in their 16 regular-season games.

Pointspread Note – The Jags are just 4-12 ATS overall at home these past two seasons.

NEW YORK GIANTS – You have to go all the way back to the 2004 season to find the last time the Giants suffered through a losing year prior to last season’s disappointing 7-9 SU mark and that just so happened to be head coach Tom Coughlin’s first year on the job in Gotham City (a 6-10 season, by the way).

If this Giants team is gonna turn the beat around then a whole lot is riding on draftee WR Odell Beckham Jr. who immediately steps in for Hakeem Nicks (Indianapolis) who underachieved big-time last year while hauling down just 56 balls for 896 yards and we underline no TDs.

If the QB Eli Manning-to-Beckham tandem is an instant hit, the Giants should be poised to make it back into the post-season (or at least be in the playoff hunt come Week 17) and did you realize that this NFC East crew has failed to make it to the playoffs in four of the past five seasons?

Pointspread Note – Believe it or not, the Giants are just 3-7 versus the vig in their Week One games in the 10 years under Coughlin.

ARIZONA – Last year’s Cardinals were one of those rare NFL teams that won 10 games and still didn’t make it to the post-season and second-year boss Bruce Arians is convinced that if this 2013 ‘Zona bunch has another twin-digit win season in ‘em, then G Jonathan Cooper must be a big part of the action.

Cooper was a 2013 first-round pick who broke his leg and missed the whole ’13 season and – so far – Arians and Company isn’t exactly encouraged by his comeback.

The left guard has yet to regain his strength and his confidence and so this summer will be a big stage for the former North Carolina blocker who must – soon enough – prove he can go forward and not backward in his recovery.

Pointspread Note – Last year’s 10-5-1 ATS mark was Arizona’s best single-season spread record since the Super Bowl season of 2008 when the Redbirds finished 13-7 ATS overall (and that included a perfect 4-0 ATS mark in the post-season).

NOTE: More NFL team-by-team quick hitters in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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