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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 12:48 PM

If early betting is any indicator, we’re going to see a lot of interesting action this month whenever the new-look Miami Marlins take the field. Oddsmakers are showing respect to this team because of all the media hype. Many sharps we’ve talked to think that even more respect should be shown to this team because of the offseason changes that were made.

We don’t normally focus on just one team here in our VSM market reports. We focus on a big day in the NFL or NBA, or a big weekend during March Madness. But, we’ve decided to make an exception because of this unique situation…particularly since Miami opens the TV season Wednesday night on ESPN against St. Louis. A team outside the Boston-New York-Philadelphia nexus is getting important market respect. YOU need to know why!

First, let’s run through the evidence that the market respects this team quite a bit right out of the gate:

*Miami opened as a pricey 175 favorite Wednesday over St. Louis with Josh Johnson against Kyle Lohse. St. Louis is the defending world champions! Oddsmakers anticipated support for the Marlins…and they’ve been right. As of press time, we haven’t seen this line drop at all. Some places have nudged higher.

*In the earliest numbers that went up for Thursday action (some sportsbooks posted Thursday very early since there’s only one Wednesday game)…an opener up around 170-175 for the Reds and Johnny Cueto was bet way down to the 150 range over Miami and Mark Beurhle. Note that Miami is in the ridiculous position of having to play a day game in Cincinnati after a night game in Florida…yet early sharp action was on them anyway.

Also worth noting, many of Thursday’s pricey favorites were bet down with underdog money. That DIDN’T happen in Wednesday Night’s St. Louis/Miami game, which is defacto support for the Marlins. Sharps didn’t want any part of the Cardinals.

We’ve been talking with sharps quite a bit in recent days so we could guide you in the right direction once baseball got started. Here are the keys to their respect for this Miami team at the moment:

*The acquisition of Jose Reyes was huge. Shortstops who can hit are rare. Reyes hit .336 for the Mets last year. This is a high impact player entering his peak years.

*The hiring of Ozzie Guillen has a chance to work out great because he does have a history of results. He’s a manager who can make a bad team good. Maybe you don’t trust him to think clearly with a championship on the line. He can take a 72-90 team to respectability, and that’s what Miami was last year.

*We already mentioned Beurhle. He thrived under Guillen with the White Sox. There’s no reason to anticipate any significant struggles as he switches leagues. Many sharps LOVE betting on lefthanders right after they switch leagues too because it takes awhile for hitters to get any sort of read on them.  

*Carlos Zambrano is an overlooked gamble that has little downside and possibly a lot of upside. He melted down with the Cubs, and became a negative. Right now he’s got the fifth spot in the rotation, and he has a chance to be A LOT better than most team’s fifth option. If the new environment is too his liking (which is very likely given the climate and his new manager), the Marlins are going to have a scary-good rotation.

Can Miami jump from 72-90 all the way to the playoffs? It will be tough to catch powerful Philadelphia, who won 102 games last year, in the NL East. But, a Wildcard is surely in reach. That’s going to take 88-90 victories most likely. The market is pricing Miami like a playoff contender early on. Sharps aren’t betting in a way that disagrees with that assessment. Be sure you’re watching the line moves in these first few trips through the rotation. There may be no bigger story in the markets this April than what’s happening with the Miami Marlins.  

VSM will be your home for baseball winners from the best brains in the handicapping business from Wednesday’s first pitch all the way through the World Series. Be sure you check the home page every day for details on big play opportunities. And, remember that many early season games are on weekday afternoons. That means you need to take care of business EARLY, and use proper money management over split two-a-day legal wagering sessions.

More market news coming up late this week or over the weekend. Make a commitment in 2012 to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp!

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