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The first month of the 2012 MLB regular season is just about in the books with some surprising teams on the uptick. We’re going to be taking a look at the three most lucrative and costly teams with every passing week, but remember, the regular season is an arduous one with every team going through numerous cycles; play accordingly.

Money Makers

Tampa Bay Rays (5-1, $457): The biggest money earners this past week reside in St. Petersburg, FL where Joe Maddon’s Rays have gotten out to a tremendous start to their 2012 campaign. The final week of April started off with a home sweep of the struggling Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. David Price set the tone of the series with a complete game 5-0 shut-out win in Game 1 and it was followed up by Jeremy Hellickson’s third win of the season in Game 2. The Rays pulled the sweep in Game 3 after Brandon Allen came off the bench and hit a walk-off two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth. Tampa Bay then went into Arlington and took two of three from the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers.

On The Docket: Tampa Bay returns home to play its next six against the AL West representative Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s; Tampa’s 5-1 its L/6 versus division, but it was the only one the Rays owned a losing record against last season (16-18).

Baltimore Orioles (5-1, $419):
Raise your hand if you saw this coming! If your hand is up, you’re either a bold faced liar or you somehow managed to grab ahold of Biff’s Sports Almanac from “Back to the Future.” Regardless, you can’t help but be impressed with what manager Buck Showalter and his staff has done to revitalize this defunct baseball franchise since taking over last season - and the club hasn’t been doing it with smoke and mirrors either! Baltimore’s pitching staff ranks 7th in the league with a 3.06 ERA, and the offense has flexed its power stroke launching the third most HRs overall (30). Last week, they swept the Blue Jays at home before taking two of three from the A’s; the last coming in an exhilarating walk-off fashion.

On The Docket: It’s litmus test week for the O’s who must travel to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park over the course of the next seven days; venues they check in a combined 12-28 in their L/40 combined visits.

Los Angeles Dodgers (4-2, $216): Could the Dodgers be this year’s version of the Arizona Diamondbacks? Sure, LA didn’t bring up the rear of the NL West last season in winning 82 games, but they have that “can’t do anything wrong” mentality about them right now – the same mantra the D-Backs played with in cruising to the NL West pennant a short year ago. Though Matt Kemp has gotten out to an unreal start, the key to the Dodgers early season success has been on the heels of its starting pitching staff and bullpen. LA’s 15 quality starts through 22 games ranks fifth, while the pen has already combined for nine saves between Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen.

On The Docket: The Dodgers moved to 10-2 at home last week with the sweep of the Nats, but now it’s back to the road to face the division rival Rockies and recently surging Chicago Cubs.

Money Burners

Detroit Tigers (1-5, -$598): It was a sobering week for Tigers fans to say the least! Manager Jimmy Leyland’s squad started off the week with a shocking sweep at home against a Mariners squad that had a perfect game thrown at them heading into the series opener and proceeded to give up a combined 21 runs throughout the series. That was followed up by dropping two of three at Yankee Stadium – Verlander looked mortal giving up seven hits (2 HR) and four ER in the 7-6 Game 1 loss. The Tigers have been erratic offensively (#19 with a .243 batting average), and that paired with a pitching staff that possesses a 4.27 ERA (#24) finds them a .500 ball club heading into May.

On The Docket: Detroit will get to reassert itself within the division this week with games scheduled to go versus Kansas City and Chicago, which is a good thing considering they went 50-22 in 2011 and stands 4-2 this season vs. division rivals.

Miami Marlins (1-5, -$555): Manager Ozzie Guillen’s stay in Miami has gotten out to a rocky start with the Fish struggling and him already serving a five-game suspension due to his Fidel Castro remarks. The Marlins once again bring up the rear of the NL East and are the only member of that division yet to tally double-digit wins to date. The squad possesses just one win against divisional opposition in eight tries, and after closing out its four-game series with the Diamondbacks Monday afternoon, will have to hit the road for nine straight games – Miami has won just two of its 11 games as a visitor so far (-$690).

On The Docket: Miami’s 3.24 runs per game average (#26) and .225 batting average (#27) don’t look to be getting much better with them invading AT&T and Petco Park this week – two of the toughest run producing ballparks in the Bigs!

Minnesota Twins (1-4, -$310): The Twinkies might be hitting for a better average this season (#6 at .266) with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau fully healthy, but the results have largely been the same with the squad once again bringing up the rear of the AL Central. When you average just 4.00 runs per game yourself (#17), it’s extremely hard to win games when your pitching staff owns a collective 5.69 ERA – the absolute worst mark in the league. Manager Ron Gardenhire has gotten just four quality starts from his starting pitching staff, and though the bullpen is playing better than the league averages in OBP, SLG, and OPS allowed, it’s barley been called upon to win a game with Matt Capps coming through in all four of his save opportunities.

On The Docket: Minnesota will travel to the left coast to match wits with the Angels and Mariners over the course of the next week. It’s just 16-35 its L/51 on the road having gone 5-5 its L/10 in Angel Stadium (averaged 5.5 RPG) and 4-6 its L/10 in Safeco (averaged 2.2 RPG).

Rogers: Thursday's Tip Sheet
Akins: Diamond Trends - Thursday
Rose: Who's Hot - NL Edition
A's acquire Lester, Gomes for Cespedes
Twins pick up Milone from A's for Fuld
Dodgers nip Braves for 5th straight win
Scherzer wins 13th, Tigers dump ChiSox
Jays beat Red Sox, complete road sweep
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Money Leaders
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Antony Dinero + 8568
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Bruce Marshall + 3259
James Manos + 2542
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Dave Cokin + 1448
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Kevin Rogers + 1364
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Bruce Marshall + 946
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