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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 12:38 AM

There’s been a lot of attention paid in the last few days to the disappointing starts for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels. Bobby Valentine may not be able to keep his job for very long. Albert Pujols has an early dry spell after signing a monster contract. Big  market teams…big media coverage.

There are other teams that are also struggling out of the gate though. Handicappers have to pay attention to all 30 teams if they want to pick winners. Be sure you’re on top of ALL the fade opportunities that are out there at the moment.

We’re going to rank the biggest “bad” surprises to this point in the 2012 baseball season.

 

*Los Angeles Angels

There are teams with worse records right now than the Angels, but this has to be the biggest disappointment considering all the hoopla about the team after a huge offseason. They improved the pitching staff, AND brought in the most dominant hitter in the sport. The betting markets tabbed the Halo’s for 92.5 in the regular season win estimates, better than Texas, and trailing only the New York Yankees in the American League and the majors. That 6-10 record you see in your morning newspaper standings wasn’t something anyone had expected. And, now, a road series at tough Tampa Bay awaits. Let’s note that Los Angeles has played 10 home games and six road games…making things even worse. It’s too early to talk about our favorite Wins Minus Home Games Played stat. That -4 is very poor this early in the season.

 

*Kansas City Royals

This isn’t a team that’s been on many people’s radars. But, the Royals WERE supposed to be much better this year. Betting markets had them near .500 as a full season estimate (though the smart money was betting the Under…now it’s clear why!). It’s not uncommon to see 10-game losing streaks in the dog days of summer when bad teams throw in the towel. They shouldn’t happen early in the season to teams who were enthusiastic out of the gate. Maybe you believe other collapses are bigger surprises. To us , this is the biggest “unreported” bad surprise of the new season.

 

*Boston Red Sox

Hiring Bobby Valentine seemed like a reach at the time. The only people who didn’t think it was a dumb move were the guys doing the hiring. Well, now they’re stuck with an updated version of Titanic here in the first two weeks of 2012. Team chemistry is still horrible. Veterans are taking longer than expected to get up to speed. The pitching staff is in disarray. We weren’t fans of this hiring, but we’re not suggesting that everything is Valentine’s fault. The problems were in place before he got there…and his managing style is not something that makes sense for a veteran team in turmoil. Give him youngsters who respect authority, and it will be a few years before they tune him out. Many Red Sox veterans never tuned him in.

 

*Chicago Cubs

It’s fitting that the Cubs sit so closely to the Red Sox in this listing. Those two teams have been linked off and on over the years in a variety of ways. Right now, it’s Theo Epstein who has moved to Chicago after helping build champions at Fenway. BOTH teams are in trouble because the Red Sox power base decided they deserved credit rather than Epstein on one hand, and because the Cubs are just now fixing what’s been broke for many years

That being said, the Cubs were supposed to win more than a quarter of their games. A poor 4-12 start came despite a home friendly schedule…which continues this week with St. Louis in town. Chicago can’t win even though 13 of their first 19 games will have been in the true friendly confines. Vegas predicted about 73-74 wins for the Cubs. This rough start makes even 68 seem unlikely.

 

*San Diego Padres

A few similarities here between the Padres and the Cubs, as a team that was supposed to struggle anyway has been even worse than expected despite a home friendly schedule. The Padres are 5-12 entering tonight’s series with Washington, even though 11 of those 17 games have been at home. The ratio will be 14-6 in favor of home games before the Padres go to San Francisco this weekend.

Things could get really ugly for San Diego this season. It looks like the other four teams in the West are going to have a decent shot to play around .500 ball or better. The unbalanced schedule will allow all of those teams to beat up on the Padres! At least the Cubs will have a chance to play Houston and Pittsburgh a lot.

It’s true that extremes tend to regress to the mean. For all we know, all five of these teams are about to go on tears that will enable them to get back to respectability in short order. It’s easier to play .250 ball over 16 games than it is 162. We’re not anticipating any 42-120 records this season. We will be using the following guidelines in the near term for the five teams under discussion today:

*Los Angeles: monitor closely, get ready to ride the Angels at affordable prices when Pujols finally heats up. Bet against the weakest starters in the rotation until Pujols starts bashing dingers.

*Kansas City: assume the worst until they do something that suggests any other approach.

*Boston: bet against them vs. quality, particularly with any struggling starting pitcher. Bet the Overs when Boston faces mediocre pitching or worse.

*Chicago Cubs: assume the worst until they show improvement.

*San Diego Padres: assume the worst and look for spots to bet Unders in their great pitchers’ parks.

We may be stepping out aggressively in games involving these teams Tuesday Night. Games we’re most focused on in the Majors Tuesday:

New York Yankees at Texas

Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay

Boston at Minnesota

San Francisco at Cincinnati

Atlanta at Los Angeles Dodgers.

The NBA is getting a bit dicey this week because playoff teams are getting ready for the quick start to the postseason this weekend. We do have some games on the schedule Tuesday Night that will have our on-site sources digging deep for betting edges. Phoenix and Utah will go head-to-head in a battle for survival that will be televised nationally by TNT (make note of that update in your handheld schedules). Also of interest Tuesday:

Miami at Boston on TNT

LA Clippers at Atlanta

You’ll be seeing a lot of Miami and Boston in the coming weeks, though the brackets may not have them destined to play each other this year. Atlanta will be Boston’s first round opponent, so you can scout that series tonight. Will the LA Clippers make headlines this postseason? The way they’re playing lately, that’s a definite possibility.   

You can always purchase JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK’s top plays in baseball and basketball right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about our service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

We outlined five bad surprises in MLB today here in the NOTEBOOK. We’ve already scoped out at least three more that we believe will be big stories in the coming days. Our customers will be making BIG MONEY when we attack those pending slumps. Remember, there aren’t any bad surprises when you sign up with JIM HURLEY. It’s just day after day of BIG JUICY WINNERS!

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