Just about half of the 2012 season is in the books, and the entire league is set to go on hiatus at the beginning of next week for the Midsummer Classic. Here's a look at what some of the hottest and coldest teams did over the course of last week heading into the halfway point of the regular season.
Chicago Cubs (5-1, $432): Sure, the Cubs might have cost their betting backers nearly $1500 overall, but any time this club can get some positive pub, we have to pounce on it! After rattling off a 5-1 week, Manager Dale Sveum's squad is no longer the bottom feeder on the money earned list. With the trade deadline fast approaching, look for more key cogs in the Minors to get their call up to the "bigs" to join fellow call-up - Anthony Rizzo - on the playing field. Chicago is expected to have a number of its veterans plucked from its line-up in hopes of making teams with playoff aspirations that much better, so this stretch of recent hot play could carry into next week's festivities.
On The Docket: Chicago will close out its first half of the season away from Wrigley Field - Atlanta/New York - where its won just 10 of its 39 overall games played to date (-$1443).
Pittsburgh Pirates (4-3, $254): Make it four out of five series wins for the Buccos who split their four-game series at Philadelphia before going into St. Louis and taking it to the Redbirds last week. In doing so, Manager Clint Hurdle's squad now sits just a game in back of the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central pennant race and a game in back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Wild Card race. Unfortunately, the team's catalyst offensively - Andrew McCutchen - suffered a wrist injury on Saturday and could be held out this week for precautionary measures.
On The Docket: Now the best bet in all of baseball ($1432), the Pirates will look to finish the first half of their 2012 campaign strong with seven-games set to go against Houston and San Francisco at home where they're 23-13 overall ($1048)
Miami Marlins (4-2, $207): The month of June was daunting to say the least for Manager Ozzie Guillen and the Marlins who tallied just nine wins in 27 tries, but the Fish closed it out strong winning each of their final three games before getting out to a 1-0 start in July after putting the finishing touches of a three-game home sweep on the division rival Phillies. If the Marlins are to stick to their season long "MO" of excelling every other month like they've done over the course of the first half of the season, the NL East standings could have a much different look to them come the first of August.
On The Docket: Miami will look to build upon its current 10-8 record versus NL Central opponents and 16-18 record away from Marlins Ballpark in Milwaukee and St. Louis over the next seven days.
Honorable Mentions: Texas Rangers (5-2, $144), New York Mets (4-3, $75)
Tampa Bay Rays (1-6, -$573): The AL East was once one of the more competitive divisions in all of baseball, but ever since the Yankees claimed the top spot a couple weeks back, the Rays have come up short on the scoreboard more times than Manager Joe Maddon would have liked. Since June 20th, Tampa Bay has earned just three wins in its 12 overall games played, and because of it, sits in front of only the Toronto Blue Jays within the division a lofty 7.5-games in back of New York. News of Evan Longoria's rehab setback seems to have taken the wind out of this teams' sails heading into the break.
On The Docket: The Rays could eat into their deficit with three scheduled to go against the Yankees at home (22-18, -$249) before turning their attention to the Indians on the road (19-20, $138).
Los Angeles Dodgers (1-6, -$541): It was another brutal week for Manager Don Mattingly's Dodgers who lost their grasp of the NL West lead at the beginning of it in dropping all three games to the hated Giants at AT&T Park. That bitter sweep was followed up with another series loss after the Mets took three of four and handed the home team two more shut out defeats before avoiding the sweep in Sunday's finale; LA was shut out in five of its seven overall games played! Thankfully, Matt Kemp has stated he'll be back following the All Star festivities.
On The Docket: The final week of the first half of the season could be a make or break one for the injury ravaged Dodgers who will host the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds before traveling to the desert to battle the recently surging Arizona Diamondbacks; LA's won 17 of its 29 overall games played within the division, but has only won one of its L/6.
Baltimore Orioles (1-5, -$467): Since the very first week of the season, Manager Buck Showalter's Orioles have shown the ability to hit with the best in the league, but the starting pitching staff left much to be desired. That is still precisely the case now with the team launching the fourth most home runs in the league (99), while also getting just 33 quality starts from the starting staff (#26). Though Nick Markakis looks to be on the comeback trail off the DL and Jim Thome's bat came over in a weekend trade, changes must be made in the Orioles' starting pitching department - currently sit six-games out - if they're to once again become a playoff hopeful.
On The Docket: The Orioles will hit the west coast to battle the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels in hopes of improving upon their impressive 20-16 road record that's reeled in a healthy $1089 return for their investing supporters.
Dishonorable Mentions: Houston Astros (2-5, -$335), Philadelphia Phillies (2-5, -$322)