Updated World Series Odds Post Free Agency

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2013

Updated World Series Odds Post Free Agency

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    With two notable exceptions, there's very little remaining in the free-agent market.

    Of course, adding either center fielder Michael Bourn or starting pitcher Kyle Lohse would improve the odds of the team(s) who they ultimately sign with, but by-and-large, the rosters teams sit with today are the rosters which teams are heading into the season with.

    At least on paper, which teams have the best shot at making a deep playoff run that results in a World Series victory?

    Let's take a look

No Chance

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    Houston Astros: 200/1

    When your most significant offseason addition is a 36-year-old first baseman who hasn't finished the season with a batting average over .230 since 2009, you've done little to improve your team's World Series chances.

    Carlos Pena will give the Astros some pop in the lineup and a smooth glove at first but make nowhere near enough of an impact to change the team's fortunes.

    With essentially the same team who played in 107 games in 2012 as members of the NL Central, the newest members of the AL West have a far better shot of losing 100 games again than sniffing a .500 record or run to the World Series.


    Miami Marlins: 200/1

    Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison and Ricky Nolasco remain standing amid the ruins of what was once a talented, underachieving team—one stripped of nearly anyone of value in owner Jeffrey Loria's latest screwjob, er, "cost-saving moves with an eye towards the future."

    The notable free agents who Miami signed, left fielder Juan Pierre and third baseman Placido Polanco, are both far past their prime, and their impact on the team's fortunes in 2013 will be minimal at best.

    While Miami does have some young talent who will get a chance to play everyday—catcher Rob Brantly and second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria the most notable—the Marlins will be battling Houston for the worst record in baseball in 2013 and not contending for the World Series.


    Chicago Cubs: 100/1

    The addition of innings eater Edwin Jackson and Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa will help, as will veteran outfielder Scott Hairston. The signing of Scott Baker, who missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, was a shrewd move that could pay dividends as well.

    While there's a light at the end of the tunnel, as the team is heading in the right direction, don't expect anything more than baby steps to be taken in 2013. The Cubs will travel the long road back to becoming contenders once again.

    Colorado Rockies: 100/1

    Since going 17-9 for the Rockies in 2007, Jeff Francis has gone 20-39 with a 5.02 ERA, allowing 652 hits over 544 innings of work. Re-signing Francis was the team's big free-agent move this winter.

    While the lineup has plenty of talent, the old adage, "Pitching wins championships," is something that has been lost on the front office.

    While the team wisely abandoned the ridiculous four-man rotation (that was really an eight-man rotation) for the more traditional five-man approach, the team lacks the big-time pitching to contend for the NL West or a wild-card berth in 2013.


    Minnesota Twins: 100/1

    Relatively quiet on the free-agent front, Minnesota was quite busy on the trade market, dealing away two-thirds of its starting outfield (Denard Span and Ben Revere) in separate deals for one current member of the starting rotation (Vance Worley) and two future members (Trevor May and Alex Meyer).

    With a solid lineup and improved pitching, the Twins will be better in 2012—but it's hard to see them contending for a playoff spot with a still-questionable starting rotation. And, the best prospect in their system, third baseman Miguel Sano, is still a year away from making an impact.

The Real Long Shots

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    Cleveland Indians: 75/1

    The Indians made waves in free agency, signing right fielder Nick Swisher, starting pitcher Brett Myers and slugging first baseman Mark Reynolds, a trio of veterans who will unquestionably help the Indians in 2013.

    But the starting rotation remains a mess, with the terrible Ubaldo Jimenez, the underachieving Justin Masterson and the relatively unproven Zach McAllister all returning from 2012.

    Not even the addition of a pitching prospect the caliber of Trevor Bauer is enough to overcome the ineffectiveness of the team's starting rotation and get Cleveland back into contention in 2013.


    New York Mets: 75/1

    I absolutely love the signing of starting pitcher Shaun Marcum, who will solidify an already solid starting rotation in Flushing, despite trading away the team's ace and the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, R.A. Dickey.

    Catcher Travis d'Arnaud is a future All-Star behind the plate and the key piece in the package that the Mets received in exchange for Dickey, who along with future ace Zack Wheeler, leads the next wave of youngsters who'll make an impact on the Mets' fortunes.

    Unfortunately for New York,it plays in a division with the supremely talented Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, and the Mets simply haven't added a big-time bat to pair with David Wright, who the team needs to get back into contention.


    Pittsburgh Pirates: 75/1

    Signing catcher Russell Martin to a two-year deal was a great move by the Pirates, as the pop in his bat and his game-calling ability behind the plate will be a major upgrade at the position. But he's not the big-time bat who the Pirates needed to pair alongside All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

    Francisco Liriano, once his contract situation is settled, will be a "name signing" and nothing else. A mediocre pitcher at this point in his career, Liriano will show flashes of brilliance but ultimately deliver mediocre results.

    It won't be until top-pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon arrive in the Steel City that the Pirates will finally go from part-time contenders to a full-time gig.


    Seattle Mariners: 75/1

    The Mariners desperately tried to land Josh Hamilton via free agency but ultimately had to settle for the veteran duo of Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez. 

    Active in the trade market with the acquisitions of 1B/OF Michael Morse and DH Kendrys Morales, Seattle has a wealth of young pitchers who are quickly moving through the system. Also, Felix Hernandez remains one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

    While the offense will score more runs and pick up more wins in 2013 than it did in 2012, the problem for Seattle is that aside from the Houston Astros, it remains behind the rest of the AL West in terms of talent—and that dooms the Mariners to another season of being non-contenders.


    San Diego Padres: 75/1

    Re-signing Jason Marquis and handing out a bunch of minor league deals to players like Freddy Garcia and Jeff Suppan might give the Padres starting rotation depth, but San Diego still lacks a bonafide ace who can shut down the opposition every fifth day.

    GM Josh Byrnes has done an excellent job of stockpiling position players with upside, and the youth movement that started in 2012 continues in 2013, as second baseman Jedd Gyorko figures to be the latest full-time addition to the major league roster.

    San Diego has tweaked the dimensions of Petco Park, moving in and lowering the outfield walls—something that is both a blessing and a curse. While the Padres should see a boost in their power numbers, so will the opposition.

    With flyball pitcher Edinson Volquez leading the rotation, that doesn't bode well for the Padres in 2013.

Not Quite There Yet

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    Arizona Diamondbacks: 50/1

    Adding Brandon McCarthy to a starting rotation that already featured Trevor Cahill, Ian Kennedy and Wade Miley was almost a necessity simply to keep pace in a NL West that has two phenomenal rotations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    The signing of outfielder Cody Ross made trading All-Star right fielder Justin Upton a little less painful, and Martin Prado, the key piece of the deal that sent Upton to Atlanta, provides a solid bat and solid defense at third base.

    But it's hard to see the Diamondbacks coming out of the AL West as playoff contenders with the improved Los Angeles Dodgers and defending World Series champions, the San Francisco Giants, still a step ahead of them in the division.


    Chicago White Sox: 50/1

    The White Sox added a pair of solid players via free agency in third baseman Jeff Keppinger and reliever Matt Lindstrom. And the team did well to re-sign starter Jake Peavy, who along with Chris Sale, is one of the best starting pitching duos in the American League.

    But longtime catcher A.J. Pierzynski is gone, replaced by 26-year-old Tyler Flowers, who throughout his four years with the White Sox, has yet to show that he can hit major league pitching.

    The lack of offense and experience behind the plate, along with failing to address the second base situation—where Gordon Beckham continues to frustrate with his lack of production—puts the White Sox on the fringe of contention.


    Baltimore Orioles: 45/1

    Baltimore added to its pitching depth in free agency, signing Jair Jurrjens (who I think will be a solid contributor), but he's far from a sure thing. The Orioles also re-signed left fielder Nate McLouth, who posted a .777 OPS in 55 games for the team in 2012.

    But the loss of Mark Reynolds and his run production is a big one that hasn't been adequately addressed.

    Chris Davis, a defensive liability, is now forced to play the field every day. Meanwhile, Wilson Betemit, who is best utilized as a versatile weapon off of the bench and doesn't have great power, is the everyday designated hitter.

    The Orioles' defense is weakened, their bench is thinner and replicating 2012's success seems unlikely.


    Kansas City Royals: 40/1

    The Royals might have overpaid to re-sign starter Jeremy Guthrie, but they vastly improved their playoff chances by landing the front-line starter they desperately needed in James Shields.

    Wade Davis, who came over from Tampa Bay along with Shields and Ervin Santana, give the Royals solid depth in the rotation. And they are backed up by one of the best bullpens in baseball.

    It all comes down to whether the Royals' core of young talent in the lineup, namely Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, can take the next step in their development, giving the team the extra nudge it needs to officially re-enter the world of playoff contenders.


    Milwaukee Brewers: 40/1

    Veteran left-handed relievers Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez were bought in to shore up the weakest part of the team, but the Brewers are still on the fringe of the playoff race in the National League.

    With one of the most potent lineups in baseball, Milwaukee should be able to compensate for the time it will be without first baseman Corey Hart, who will miss the beginning of the season due to a knee injury.

    But the starting rotation, after staff ace Yovani Gallardo, is talented but largely unproven.

    Marco Estrada, Michael Fiers and Wily Peralta all had varying degrees of success in 2012 and don't have a lengthy track record of success. And veteran Chris Narveson, who missed nearly all of the season after surgery to repair his rotator cuff, is mediocre at best.

    Adding someone like Kyle Lohse would certainly improve these odds significantly.

15. Boston Red Sox (35/1)

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    While the Red Sox had an awful 2012 season, this is still a very talented team who people would be wise not to sleep on.

    Ryan Dempster joins a starting rotation that features Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, two talented pitchers coming off of terrible seasons.

    I'm not a fan of the Shane Victorino signing, and whether Mike Napoli's hip issue will become a problem during the season remains to be seen, but Boston's lineup remains a potent one.

    With Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and a full season of Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox are capable of atoning for any pitching woes in the early innings.

    The rest of the contenders in the American League are as strong if not stronger than they were last season, so it's still an uphill climb for Boston.

    But the Red Sox are much closer to being back in the thick of things than people would like to believe.

14. Oakland Athletics (30/1)

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    Oakland addressed the fluid situation at shortstop by signing 30-year-old Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, shoring up the left side of the infield. And it kept veteran pitchers Bartolo Colon and Pat Neshek in the fold as well.

    The Athletics rotation and bullpen are solid, so Yoenis Cespedes will look to build on a successful rookie campaign, as he sits in the heart of a talented, albeit largely unproven lineup.

    And the A's shocked the world by winning the division in dramatic fashion last season, so it's hard to count them completely out.

    That being said, the rest of the AL West (except Houston) has improved, so repeating as division champs or making the playoffs at all has gotten significantly tougher.

13. St. Louis Cardinals (25/1)

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    The only significant move the Cardinals made this winter was the addition of veteran left-handed reliever Randy Choate, who gives skipper Mike Matheny a second lefty option out of the bullpen.

    Kyle Lohse is gone from the rotation, and while he's still a free agent, a return to the Cards doesn't appear to be in the cards. 

    The thing about St. Louis is that every year, people have doubts about one thing or another. I just wrote yesterday how I think Carlos Beltran will be a disappointment in 2013, which was probably a mistake.

    Every year we count the Cardinals out, and every year they wind up in the thick of the playoff race.

12. Tampa Bay Rays (22/1)

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    Tampa Bay simply doesn't get involved with big-money free agents, which explains why lackluster first baseman James Loney was the biggest name they brought in from outside the organization.

    While unproven, the acquisition of outfield prospect Wil Myers, on paper at least, finally gives Tampa Bay a potent bat to pair alongside third baseman Evan Longoria, who must prove that he can stay healthy and on the field.

    Ben Zobrist remains one of the most underrated players in all of baseball, and Tampa Bay's pitching staff remains incredibly talented and deep, even after trading away James Shields and Wade Davis to acquire Myers.

    Like St. Louis, every season Tampa Bay is considered on the fringe of contention. Yet every season, there it is at the end of the regular season, right in the thick of it all.

11. Philadelphia Phillies (20/1)

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    Expected to be one of the more aggressive teams on the free-agent market, Philadelphia's free-agent spending spree never materialized: Outfielder Delmon Young, back-of-the-rotation starter John Lannan and reliever Mike Adams were the team's big signings.

    The team addressed third base and center field via the trade market, landing Michael Young and Ben Revere, respectively, but none of these are the high profile players many expected the Phillies to make a run after.

    To be sure, the window for the Phillies, as presently constituted, is closing. From Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, much of the team's core is on the wrong side of 30.

    Keeping that group healthy is obviously key to the team's success, but this group certainly has another run at a World Series title in the tank.

    Unfortunately, the Braves and Nationals are greatly improved, making it a bit of an uphill climb for Charlie Manuel's club.

10 (tie): New York Yankees (15/1)

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    Ushering in a new era of financial responsibility, the Yankees focused on keeping their own free agents in the fold instead of the big-ticket items available on the market.

    Starters Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda return as does Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. Veterans Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner and Matt Diaz were bought in as complementary players.

    Youkilis has easily become the most important signing out of the bunch, due to Alex Rodriguez' injured hip and new PED scandal.

    But the Yankees aren't without holes.

    Starting catcher Russell Martin is gone, leaving either the unproven Austin Romine or career backups Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli to handle the everyday duties, as is Nick Swisher and his routinely high on-base percentage.

    There's a very good chance that 2013 is the last season that this group of players is together, and you can't rule out how that can motivate people. With the Yankees not lacking for talent or experience, you simply can't count them out despite the improvements that the competition has made.

10 (tie): Texas Rangers (15/1)

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    There's no way around it: Texas had a rough offseason.

    Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli left as free agents, and the team hasn't replaced its production in the middle of the lineup. Also, the front line starting pitcher the team sought to add didn't arrive.

    Joakim Soria could be a solid signing, but coming off of the second Tommy John surgery of his career, you really don't know what to expect from him once he returns. He very well could be a non-factor out of the bullpen in 2013.

    Despite a rocky offseason, the Rangers remain one of the better teams in baseball—one who has the talent to make another run at a World Series title.

8 (tie). San Francisco Giants (12/1)

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    The Giants found a combination of players who worked, so all the defending World Series champions did this offseason was keep the band together by re-signing Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.

    San Francisco still has one of the premier pitching staffs in all of baseball, and while a lot of things had to go right for the Giants to win it all in 2012, this team is talented enough on its own to win it all without some of that luck.

    But getting out of the National League is significantly more difficult than it was last season.

8 (tie). Cincinnati Reds (12/1)

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    Re-signing reliever Jonathan Broxton was a no-brainer with the team's decision to move Aroldis Chapman from the ninth inning to the first. And adding corner infielder Jack Hannahan was a shrewd, under-the-radar signing.

    The big news in Cincinnati, aside from Chapman's move to the starting rotation, was the trade that landed leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo.

    An on-base machine, Choo's presence should lead to a more potent Reds offense than we've seen in past seasons, but whether the corner outfielder can handle center field on a daily basis remains a question.

    The Reds remain a step above the rest of the NL Central heading into the season. As for the rest of the National League, they'll definitely be in the mix to play in the Fall Classic.

6 (tie). Los Angeles Angels (10/1)

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    Adding the biggest bat on the market for the second consecutive season has a way of making you one of the favorites to win the World Series.

    There are some questions about the back-end of the starting rotation (Joe Blanton), but have you seen that lineup?

    Mike Trout. Josh Hamilton. Albert Pujols. Mark Trumbo.

    With a perennial Cy Young contender (Jered Weaver) leading the way and one of the most explosive lineups in all of baseball, the Angels have a great shot to come out of the American League.

6 (tie). Detroit Tigers (10/1)

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    Torii Hunter is still an extremely productive player, both at the plate and in the field, and he is a major upgrade in right field.

    Starter Anibal Sanchez returns as well. And while the Tigers overpaid to keep him, he was outstanding down the stretch and in the playoffs for Detroit, who has one of the best starting rotations around.

    The Tigers were last year's American League champions, and when you've got Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder still playing at the top of their games, your team always has a legitimate shot to win the World Series.

4. Washington Nationals (8/1)

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    Washington's trade for center fielder Denard Span was an excellent move, while the addition of closer Rafael Soriano improves what was already a solid bullpen.

    Keeping Adam LaRoche in the fold was the right move to make despite it forcing the team to trade Mike Morse, who simply had nowhere to play.

    With one of the game's best starting rotations and the phenom Bryce Harper entering his second season, it would be a major shock to not see Washington make a World Series run in 2013.

3 (tie). Los Angeles Dodgers (5/1)

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    After taking on more than a $250,000 million in future salary at the end of last season, the Dodgers' new ownership group went out and signed the best pitcher on the market, Zack Greinke, to bolster an already formidable starting rotation.

    Now with Greinke and Clayton Kershaw atop the rotation, the Dodgers' pitching staff is as impressive on paper as the lineup, having an All-Star caliber player at nearly every position.

    If the Dodgers don't make a deep playoff run in 2013, chances are it'll be someone besides Don Mattingly leading the team into the 2014 season.

    It's put-up-or-shut-up time in L.A.

3 (tie). Toronto Blue Jays (5/1)

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    No team in baseball took a bigger step towards a World Series title this winter than the Blue Jays, who are the clear-cut favorites to represent the American League in the World Series.

    Already with a solid lineup, the additions of Emilio Bonifacio and Jose Reyes only make the group more dynamic. If they can get anything productive out of PED cheat Melky Cabrera, that's a major bonus but not a make-or-break deal in the scheme of things.

    More impressively, the Blue Jays' starting rotation is now as good as any in the game, with R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle joining holdovers Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.

    Toronto saw an opening in the American League, and it has decided that now is the time for it to make a run at another World Series title.

    It has as good a chance as anyone in the American League to achieve that goal.

1. Atlanta Braves (5/2)

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    With the signing of B.J. Upton and he trade for his brother Justin, the Atlanta Braves head into the 2013 season with the game's best outfield (offense and defense taken into consideration), the game's best bullpen and one of the best starting rotations around.

    As far as I'm concerned, this is the team to beat in 2013.