Phillies and Red Sox increased their World Series odds at the Yankees’ expense

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At the beginning of the offseason I posted Bodog.com’s gambling odds on each team winning the World Series in 2011, so now that we’re about halfway through the offseason and most of the major free agents have signed I thought it would be interesting to re-examine the same odds for all 30 teams.

First, here are the teams Bodog pegged as improving their World Series chances since November 2:

               OLD      NEW
Phillies       6/1      7/2
Red Sox       10/1      9/2
Tigers        35/1     28/1
Mets          40/1     35/1
Brewers       65/1     40/1
Nationals     80/1     65/1

Not surprisingly, the Phillies’ addition of Cliff Lee and the Red Sox’s additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford significantly improve their odds. Detroit added Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit while re-signing Magglio Ordonez. Milwaukee traded for Zack Greinke. Washington signed Jayson Werth. And … well, I’m not sure what the Mets really did to improve their odds, other than hiring Sandy Alderson as general manager.

Next, here are the teams Bodog pegged as decreasing their World Series chances since November 2:

               OLD      NEW
Yankees        4/1      6/1
Giants        10/1     12/1
Twins         16/1     18/1
Cardinals     14/1     20/1
Rays          14/1     20/1
Rangers       16/1     20/1
Rockies       18/1     20/1
Braves        18/1     22/1
Reds          20/1     25/1
White Sox     22/1     25/1
Dodgers       22/1     30/1
Padres        20/1     35/1
Cubs          30/1     35/1
Astros        65/1     75/1
Orioles       75/1     80/1
Mariners      70/1    100/1

A much longer list, which makes some sense given that Philadelphia and Boston were already among the favorites and significantly improved their odds. Bodog initially had the Yankees as the clear favorites to win the World Series at 4-to-1, but now they’re behind the Phillies and Red Sox at 6-to-1. Surprisingly the Rangers’ odds didn’t get that much longer despite losing Lee, but the Padres’ odds got much worse after dealing Gonzalez.

And finally, here are the teams with the same World Series odds they had on November 2:

Angels        25/1
Marlins       35/1
Athletics     35/1
Blue Jays     50/1
D-Backs       80/1
Indians       80/1
Royals       125/1
Pirates      150/1

Apparently trading Greinke doesn’t change anything for the Royals when no one would have ever bet on them winning the World Series in the first place.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.