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Submitted by Jim Hurley’s Network on Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM

THE MLB REPORT: WHO WILL BE THE SECOND-HALF MONEY-MAKERS & MONEY-BURNERS?

MORE MLB NEWS & NOTES INCLUDING A PLEA FOR MORE OFFENSE

By Jim Hurley:

Folks, it's absolutely one of our favorite sports times of the year ...The Major-League Baseball post-All-Star Game break - remember there's no games till tomorrow (Friday) -- provides us all a few moments to take in a deep breath and think of what lies ahead in terms of which MLB teams are gonna pile up the profits and which ones will bury their backers.

Okay, so we're not always right on these things - but then who is? The bottom line here is you know there will be MLB teams that get on major runs, roll up multi-game winning streaks and "cash out" while the flip side says the proverbial bottom line won't be so good for a few teams that sink deeper into the standings and cost their "fans" lots of loot.

So, without further ado, let's forecast a "money-maker" and a "money-burner" in both the National League and the American League here in the unofficial second half of this 2015 Baseball Season.

OUR NL MONEY-MAKER ...

MIAMI (38-51) - Okay, so things have been quite bleak for the gang in South Florida as injuries/dissension have wracked this NL East squad but keep in mind the Marlins are just minus 24 in the oft-important runs differential category despite playing just .427 ball and the eventual return of OF Giancarlo Stanton (27 HR and 67 RBI) plus the true return-to-health of RHP Jose Fernandez will give the Marlins a major boost and we'll look for this club to rev it up the second half of this season. The Marlins may be some 10 games back of the second wild card berth (and 11 games back of NL East-leading Washington) and - from all appearances - out of post-season contention but there's good young pitching here, there's speed and power and even novice manager Dan Jennings figures to hit a few hot streaks in July/August/September. Gut feeling? The Marlins - based on $100 per-play wagers -- will be plus more than a "grand" in the season's second half but if Stanton and/or Fernandez suffer any other summertime injuries than we might back down a bit.


OUR NL MONEY-BURNER ...

CHICAGO CUBS (47-40) - Ever hear of the idea that things tend to "even out" in Baseball? Well, we have these here-and-now Cubs in mind as Joe Maddon's maiden voyage with this franchise has been a so-far, so-good journey but consider the North Siders are 28-20 in one-run games/extra-inning games and, well, we believe things will "even out" as we expect more close-and-late losses for a Cubs team that only ranks 11th in the league in runs scored (and just seventh in the NL in home runs with 77). Consider that Chicago's only 19-19 against fellow NL Central foes and this second half of the season will feature more than half of the Cubs' games versus divisional rivals and so laying home prices to not only St. Louis and Pittsburgh but the other "also-rans" here figures to be problematic plus there's that ago-old issue in Chitown of having to play so many day games still that the heat/rigors of the summer figures to wear down this team that really hasn't been in any sort of pennant/wild card chase in a long while.
The prediction is the Cubs will be an under-.500 team in the season's second half and thus they'll cost their game-by-game backers a pretty penny.


OUR AL MONEY-MAKER ...

TORONTO (45-46) ... Wish we would have a definitive answer as to whether or not the Blue Jays would be swinging a deal (or two) for a starting pitcher but whether the North-of-the-Border crew imports an innings-eater starter or not, we believe the Jays will be a force in the second half of this year. Thanks to a high-octane offense - one that leads the AL with a plus 82 in the runs differential - that boasts 115 home runs (third-best in the league) and 486 total runs (best in the bigs), this Blue Jays team is "never out of a game" and the fact is this deep lineup starring All-Star Game 3B Josh Donaldson and OF Jose Bautista makes pitching staffs work ultra-hard in every outing and Toronto figures to wear down and wear out a few pitching staffs in the dog days of summer. Look for the Blue Jays to bang out lots of nice-priced underdog wins in AL East road affairs - get yourself a starter (or two) and we'd be inclined to suggest Toronto might be the biggest money-maker in the bigs the next two-plus months.


OUR AL MONEY-BURNER ...

HOUSTON (49-42) - Historically, we here at Jim Sez have tended to "rain on the parades" of teams that overachieved in the first halves of baseball seasons and so the Astros fit the bill here. First off, Houston already may have prematurely started a second-half skid with that six-game losing streak in the week leading up to the All-Star Game while losing three games in Cleveland (after winning the first game of that four-game set) and then dropping three in a row in Tampa Bay where the 'Stros were the slight betting favorites both last Saturday and Sunday. There's surely lots of great stats involving the Astros including being first in the AL in home runs (124) and fourth in the league in both runs scored (395) and team ERA (3.58) but the down side to expecting a 90-plus winning season from the franchise is apparent lack of depth in the starting rotation and - as is the case with the Cubs - true inexperience when it comes to playing your best in big games in August/September. Look for Houston - just 21-26 on the road thus far in this 2015 campaign - to shrink in many upcoming divisional road games and you also won't be finding us at the front of the line when it comes to playing the 'Stros as hefty home favorites, even in the games started by All-Star Game starter LHP Dallas Keuchel (11-4 with a 2.23 ERA and 114 Ks to 34 BB) and surprising RHP Colin McHugh (9-5, 4.50 ERA). Add it all up and even with lots of young stars in everyday lineup positions - such as SS Carlos Correa and OF George Springer - the prognosis is the Astros will be a second-half-of-the-season money-burner and you likely won't be making moolah in the games started by Keuchel (yes, Las Vegas finally is catching up to him in the prices).

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 the baseball winners. Plus, the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on August 9th with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Minnesota Vikings - can't wait, right?

In other MLB News & Notes ...
Okay, so did you agree with the list of the Four Greatest Living Players that was revealed this past Tuesday at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati?

The top living legends - as voted on by fans - Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays - got our Jim Sez "thumbs-up" but in case you were wondering who we would have named as our next four then we'd say Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver and Pedro Martinez ... like it? ...

Finally, lots of folks in/around MLB want more offense pumped back up into the game - as we speak the Chicago White Sox (292 runs scored) rank as the lowest-scoring team in the bigs - and here's two quickie suggestions as we head into the second half of this '15 season:

First off, make sure the umps stop calling the ankle-high/calf-high pitch as a strike - hey, we don't wish to watch four-hour games either but plenty of hitters (from what we've seen) really have gotten jobbed by the low strike this year;

Secondly, it's high time all/most managers "activated" the running game. Folks, can't tell you how many times this year in New York Mets games that the team's TV analyst Keith Hernandez has implored manager Terry Collins to hit-and-run more and - surprise, surprise - when Collins does hit-and-run it seems to work more often than not. Memo to MLB managers: Get runners in motion more and you'll defeat some of those ugly shifts and open up more big inngs.

Quite sure of that!

NOTE: Get more MLB plus College Football and NFL Notes too in the next few editions of Jim Sez.