Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 Major League Baseball Predictions

The 2017 Major League Baseball season gets under way with three games on Sunday, April 2, 2017, and then the rest of the league gets started the following day on Monday, April 3rd. Like any other baseball season, 2017 should bring some surprising names to the game leaving people asking "Wait, where'd he come from?" and some teams with surprising records leaving people asking, "Wait, where'd this team come from?" This year, Major League Baseball is applying some new rules to the game. Most of these rules have to do with speeding up the game. While some of the rules make sense there also some that I question. I'm not going to list all the new rules here but you can read them by clicking here. New rules aside, I am looking forward to the 2017 season and here are my predictions.
* - denotes Wild Card winners.

Josh Reddick 
American League West
Texas Rangers  (90-72)
Houston Astros (87-75)
Seattle Mariners  (82-80)
Los Angeles Angels (75-87)
Oakland Athletics (72-90)

After years of losing, the Houston Astros have come away with some excellent top draft picks to compete in the AL West. Not only do they have guys like George Springer and Carlos Correa, but they've also added Brian McCann and Josh Reddick. I still can't get used to seeing Josh Reddick in anything but an Oakland A's jersey. However, the Astros success will come down to their pitching. Can 2015 NL CY Young Award winner, Dallas Keuchel, rebound after a rather disappointing 2016? So why do I have the Texas Rangers finishing in first? The answer is home field advantage. Their ballpark is quite the launching pad for home runs. Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli should drive in plenty of runs for the Rangers. The Seattle Mariners could be one of the surprising teams in 2017 but I'm not sure if it will be surprisingly good or surprisingly bad so I just stuck them in the middle. Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano will set the pace for how well the Mariners do in 2017. The Los Angeles Angels will be relying heavily on the comeback of starting pitchers, Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs, from injury problems. How much longer can Albert Pujols keep things going in terms of being a run producer? My beloved Oakland Athletics have a promising future, especially with an announcement of a long overdue new stadium coming soon, but the 2017 season will be a long one. Oakland's ace, Sonny Gray, has been sidelined with an injury to start the season after injury problems last year too and it wouldn't surprise me if there is surgery for him in the near future.

Edwin Encarnacion
American League Central
Cleveland Indians (95-67)
Kansas City Royals (90-72)*
Detroit Tigers (86-76)
Chicago White Sox (76-86)
Minnesota Twins (69-93)

The Cleveland Indians will come into 2017 hungry as they came so close to winning it all last season. The addition of Edwin Encarnacion and his parrot holding arm to their lineup will definitely help their chances. The pitching staff will be once again led by Corey Kluber but this could also be the year that Trevor Bauer has a breakout season. The Kansas City Royals have to overcome the tragic death of starting pitcher, Yordano Ventura, but their roster still has plenty to offer. Adding Brandon Moss and Jorge Soler should just mean more runs on the board for the Royals.  What will Justin Verlander have in store for the 2017 for the Detroit Tigers? Will Kate Upton have something to say when this season ends as well? The Tigers offense still has middle of the order punch but it takes Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez a while to get around the bases. The Chicago White Sox have Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, but not much else to be excited about these days. Starting pitcher, Jose Quintana, is likely to be traded by the All-Star break for Chicago.  The Minnesota Twins are relying a lot on youth to carry them in 2017. How much will Byron Buxton and Max Kepler be able to provide the offense? The pitching staff is nothing to write home about so I won't even write about it here.

Chris Sale
American League East
Boston Red Sox  (97-65)
Toronto Blue Jays (88-74)*
Baltimore Orioles (84-78)
New York Yankees (77-85)
Tampa Bay Rays (76-86)

Even with David Price sidelined to start the season, the Red Sox pitching staff is pretty strong especially with the addition of Chris Sale to the rotation. On offense, Andrew Benintendi is getting all the headlines as being a must-watch rookie in 2017. The Toronto Blue Jays still have a heavy hitting lineup and should compete. They've added Kendrys Morales to a lineup that was already pretty strong. Marcus Stroman pitched well to get the USA the championship in the World Baseball Classic, but will it have a negative impact on his season with Toronto? The Baltimore Orioles starting rotation has a lot to prove especially Kevin Gausman, who was named their opening day starter. Their offense will provide plenty of runs though with Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo. The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays will battle for last place in the division. Should the Yankees really have reacquired Aroldis Chapman? Will there be that many games for him to save? Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury will need to get on base a lot to keep this Yankee team in contention. The Tampa Bay Rays are a team I really want to see succeed but don't seem to have enough to contend in the AL East. Chris Archer is the  ace of the pitching staff for sure and Kevin Keirmaier is arguably one of the most exciting players in the majors.

Nolan Arenado
National League West
San Francisco Giants (93-69)
Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71)*
Colorado Rockies (85-77)
Arizona Diamondbacks (80-82)
San Diego Padres (73-89)

It should be a close battle for first place until the end of the season between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants addresses their closer problems by obtaining Mark Melancon during the offseason. If he can provide the needed help then there is no reason the Giants shouldn't find themselves in first place at the end of the season. Another key to the Giants success is starting pitcher, Jeff Samardzija. He wasn't horrible last year but he has shown before that he can be better. Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers obtained Rich Hill in a trade with the Oakland A's. Hill had a surprisingly good season. Was this for real or was it a fluke? Shorstop Corey Seager is definitely for real and Dodgers fans will continue to enjoy watching him play. The Colorado Rockies may be surprise team to compete this season. They have the offense without a doubt. Nolan Arenado has proved he can hit in any ballpark. The Rockies also added Greg Holland to their bullpen. Holland is coming off Tommy John surgery so it'll be interesting to see if he will take over the closer role he once dominated with Kansas City. The Arizona Diamondbacks will hover around the .500 mark for most of the season. Zack Greinke can't pitch every game of the season. A lot is going to be expected out of new manager, Torey Lovullo. His first order of business should be to tell Fernando Rodney how to wear his fucking hat. The San Diego Padres will carry a pretty young roster with perhaps the best defensive catcher in the game in Austin Hedges. Hedges can guide the pitching staff but he definitely can't control them. The Padres look to Jered Weaver to help solve some of their pitching woes.

Jason Heyward
National League Central 
Chicago Cubs (96-66)
St. Louis Cardinals (93-69)*
Pittsburgh Pirates (86-76)
Milwaukee Brewers (73-89)
Cincinnati Reds (68-94)

The National League Central is going to be exciting to watch this season as the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals battle for the top spot. What makes this even more interesting is Dexter Fowler, who helped guide the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series title since 1901 last season, is now a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. To fill the void left by Fowler, the Cubs will need Jason Heyward to rebound from a dismal 2016 season. The Pittsburgh Pirates will do their best to keep pace with the Cubs and Cardinals but could end up trading Andrew McCutchen at some points during the season. Josh Hader is a pitcher to keep an eye on for the Milwaukee Brewers. Hader is a left-hander with the ability to strike out a lot of batters. Ryan Braun will likely be among the league leaders in intentional walks received. The Cincinnati Reds are a completely different team going into 2017 and not in a good way. They are definitely in a rebuilding stage. Aside from Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton, there isn't too much to be excited about this season. 

Max Scherzer
National League East
Washington Nationals (95-67)
Miami Marlins (87-75)
New York Mets (85-77)
Atlanta Braves (72-90)
Philadelphia Phillies (62-100)

The Washington Nationals success is based on how good their starting pitchers pitch. It also depends on how healthy those pitchers happen to be too. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg start off the rotation but let's not forget that Gio Gonzalez has also been an All-Star pitcher before too. Many critics say Bryce Harper had an off year last season. If the Nationals can put all the pieces together this season then look out. The Miami Marlins are an intriguing team. I think this team may play inspired and with heavy hearts after the loss of their pitching ace, Jose Fernandez, late last season. Christian Yelich will continue to see his star rise and Giancarlo Stanton will continue to hit mammoth home runs. As is the case with Washington, the New York Mets chances will rely on their starting pitching staff. Can the Mets return to their 2015 form? How many more games can David Wright play at 3rd base and be effective? The Atlanta Braves might as well play in Florida themselves since they decided to sign old farts Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey. However, they do have top prospect, Dansby Swanson, ready to take over at shortstop. The Philadelphia Phillies will suck. Howie Kendrick will likely be their lone All-Star then he'll cross his fingers in hopes that he will get traded. 

Wild Card Games
Kansas City Royals over Toronto Blue Jays
St. Louis Cardinals over Los Angeles Dodgers

Division Series
Kansas City Royals defeat the Boston Red Sox (3-2)
Cleveland Indians defeat Texas Rangers (3-1)
Chicago Cubs defeat St. Louis Cardinals (3-2)
Washington Nationals defeat San Francisco Giants (3-2)

Championship Series
Kansas City Royals defeat Cleveland Indians (4-2)
Washington Nationals defeat Chicago Cubs (4-3)

World Series
Washington Nationals defeat Kansas City Royals (4-1)

AL MVP - Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
NL MVP - Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
AL CY YOUNG - Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
NL CY YOUNG - Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -  Jharel Cotton, Oakland Athletics
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -  Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

Monday, June 13, 2016

Everyone Deserves a Reason to Smile

This world is a messed up place. It is hard to comprehend why so many bad things happen to people who don't deserve it at all. I'm not talking about bad things like getting fired from a job or getting suspended from game 5 of the NBA Finals. I'm talking about the kind of stuff that happened in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend. It happens way too much and it makes me absolutely sick.

This is why I try to stay away from the news. The bad stuff always gets the headlines. However, it is almost impossible to avoid the news completely. It is all over my Twitter feed, it is all over Facebook,
and even if I just want to check my e-mail, a terrible news story pops up there too. 

Why do all these mass shootings happen and so often? I wish I knew. Is it because we don't have gun control laws in America? Is it parenting? Is it the media? Is it the combination of all of these things? A lot of people will have their opinions and usually once people hold an opinion about something they rarely change their opinion. (of course, that's just my opinion.)

America. It is supposed to be the land of the free, right? Why does it feel less and less that way? People are living in more fear now than ever before. People are afraid to fall in love because they are afraid they may lose that person they love. People are afraid to travel because they fear a terrorist attack. People are afraid to live and it just makes me sad.

Since my heart surgery in September, I haven't done many comedy shows. I just wasn't feeling the desire. I've done like 1 or 2 shows per month this whole year. I was taking a step back from comedy to reflect on how lucky I am to be alive and experience different things.  That desire to do comedy is back now. The desire to make people laugh, to forget the pain... and to live. Everyone deserves a reason to smile and I want to help make that happen. 

I will be at the Blue Lagoon in Santa Cruz on June 23rd at 8:30pm for a free show. I will be announcing more shows soon as well so stay tuned to my website for info. 

Tell those you love that you love them. And come election time, please be sure to vote. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 Major League Baseball Predictions

The 2016 season starts in just one week and I like usual I am looking forward to another exciting season. This year, the start of the regular season on  Sunday, April 3rd, features three games instead of the normal one game like in the past. The rest of the teams begin action on Monday, April 4th. If you're an avid baseball fan like me and are looking for a new cell phone provider then you may want to join T-Mobile. This year, T-Mobile is offering anyone who joins their network between April 3rd and April 10th, MLB.TV Premium for the full season for free. (If you are already a T-Mobile member, you also get this deal). More info here

My predictions for the 2016 baseball season are as follows...(* denotes Wild Card team)

Yu Darvish
American League West
Houston Astros  (89-73)
Texas Rangers (85-77)
Seattle Mariners (81-81)
Los Angeles Angels (79-83)
Oakland Athletics (70-92)

After years of being in the cellar and obtaining top draft picks, the Houston Astros showed what doing well in the draft and developing talent can do last season. Reigning Rookie of Year, Carlos Correa, could very well be an MVP candidate in his first full season for Houston. While Cole Hamels is now the ace for the Texas Rangers, if they want to take down Houston, they will need Yu Darvish to be able to return healthy from a Tommy John surgery operation last season. His return is expected in May 2016. The Seattle Mariners lucked out when Hisashi Iwakuma failed his physical when the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to sign him as a free agent. The Dodgers then backed out of the deal and the Mariners then brought Iwakuma back. The Los Angeles Angels have arguably the best baseball player in the game in Mike Trout and the addition of Andrelton Simmons in a trade with the Atlanta Braves should help their defense. The Angels main concern has to be their starting pitching. CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver both need to find ways to be consistently good if they want to succeed. The Oakland Athletics, my favorite team in any sport, will likely finish in last. After Sonny Gray, the A's don't have much in terms of starting pitching. They spent 6 Million for Rich Hill after he played in just 4 games in 2015 with hopes he'd be a starter. He has struggled for most of the Spring. Josh Reddick should find himself on the All-Star team this season but then likely get traded soon afterwards. I hope they prove me wrong though.

Byron Buxton
American League Central
Kansas City Royals (91-71)
Detroit Tigers (88-74)*
Cleveland Indians (82-80)
Minnesota Twins (81-81)
Chicago White Sox (76-86)

The Kansas City Royals will continue to bolster an amazing bullpen as they make their run to defend their World Series Championship. Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis return to anchor the bullpen. Joakim Soria also returns to the team after originally starting his career with Kansas City. The Detroit Tigers should rebound after finishing last in the division in 2015. It seems that Justin Verlander may be looking once again like the Verlander everyone knows him to be. The addition of Jordan Zimmermann to the pitching rotation won't hurt either. Justin Upton provides extra protection in the lineup for Miguel Cabrera so now they just have to hope Cabrera can stay healthy. The Cleveland Indians didn't make many moves during the offseason and I don't expect them to make much of a move in the standings. Last year they finished in third place with an 81-80 record. The Minnesota Twins are relying a lot on a star from Korea in Byung-ho Park and a highly touted prospect, Byron Buxton. Buxton has been a highly touted prospect even though he hasn't played a full season in a while due to freak injuries. It won't surprise me to see him injured again this season.  The Chicago White Sox made a lot of moves in the offseason acquiring guys like Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. Their biggest move though may have been involving this kid which turns out to send the morale of the team in a downward spiral. Robin Ventura's days as a manager may also be numbered. 

David Price
American League East
Toronto Blue Jays (92-70)
Boston Red Sox (86-76)*
New York Yankees (82-80)
Tampa Bay Rays (79-83)
Baltimore Orioles (75-87)

The Blue Jays lineup is ridiculously good. I don't see any reason for it to be worse in 2016. The question is whether or not the young Marcus Stroman can anchor the staff for a full season. I also think Jesse Chavez will be an unsung hero for this team, both out of the bullpen and as a spot starter. The Boston Red Sox acquired an All-Star starter in David Price and an All-Star closer in Craig Kimbrel. These two additions should help Boston get back into the playoffs as long as Pablo Sandoval doesn't eat them! The New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees. They are still considered an old team yet somehow keep winning. Aroldis Chapman was acquired to be their new closer but will be suspended for 30 games due to domestic violence claims against him. The suspension could prove quite costly for the Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays have the worst stadium in all of baseball but won't end up with the worst record. Corey Dickerson was a nice addition which should provide some more pop and the Rays are hoping Evan Longoria can get back on track too. The Rays starting pitchers will do well but the bullpen will not fare as well. The Baltimore Orioles paid a lot of money to keep DH/1B Chris Davis in an Orioles uniform and even though he did pitch in relief in a game in 2012 and got the win, the Orioles are going to wish they spent that money toward more pitching instead. 

Zack Greinke
National League West
San Francisco Giants  (90-72)
Los Angeles Dodgers (87-75)
Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78)
San Diego Padres (78-84)
Colorado Rockies (66-96)

A lot has been said about the San Francisco Giants and their offseason. They acquired starting pitchers  Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija as well as outfielder Denard Span. A lot of their success will depend on how well Cueto and Samardzija do too as they had sub-par 2015 seasons. The Giants would also like to have a healthy Matt Cain in 2016. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost one of their All-Star starting pitchers, Zack Greinke, when he signed with division rival, Arizona Diamonbacks. The loss of Greinke will keep the Dodgers from reaching from first place. The addition of Greinke is a nice move for Arizona but it will be interesting to see if he can pitch well at home as Arizona is known as a hitters ballpark. The San Diego Padres were the talk of baseball after the offseason they had after the 2014 season. They failed to provide results after so many expectations. This year they won't have any expectations and still fail to provide results. The Colorado Rockies have Nolan Arenado so they got that going for them. Carlos Gonzalez's days with the club are numbered and manager Walt Weiss may be out of a job soon too. 

Dexter Fowler
National League Central 
Chicago Cubs (95-67)
St. Louis Cardinals (92-70)*
Pittsburgh Pirates (90-72)
Milwaukee Brewers (70-92)
Cincinnati Reds (62-100)

The National League Central race was close last season between the top three teams and should be close again this year too. The Cubs won 97 games last season and finished in 3rd place! The Cubs obtained two players who were Cardinals before in Jason Heyward and John Lackey. Those additions, plus the return of Dexter Fowler (who turned down more money elsewhere to return) should help the Cubs take first place. The St. Louis Cardinals season will depend a lot on the health of two players, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Mike Leake should thrive pitching for St. Louis. The Pittsburgh Pirates will go as far as Andrew McCutchen carries them. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will also continue to blossom. The Milwaukee Brewers signed Chris Carter and he could tire out Bernie Brewer as Bernie will slide down the slide in left field when Carter hits a moon shot home run. Bernie may then also pass out from drinking when Carter strikes out more than 100 times. The Cincinnati Reds may very well be the worst team in majors. They got rid of talent but did not add anybody Major League ready. Brandon Phillips, who always seems to have a smile, may find it hard to smile this year. 

Clockwise - Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom,
Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler
National League West
Washington Nationals (93-69)
New York Mets (91-71)*
Atlanta Braves (71-91)
Philadelphia Phillies (69-93)
Miami Marlins (66-96)

Dusty Baker makes his return to managing a Major League team and takes the Washington Nationals to a Division Championship but no further.  The New York Mets welcome the return of a healthy Zack Wheeler and it only makes their rotation better. Yoenis Cespedes will excite the fans again as long as he isn't too lazy to pick up the baseball. The rest of the National League East will stink. The Atlanta Braves are clearly in a rebuilding mode. Ender Inciarte may bring some excitement with his speed to the Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies won't feel much brotherly love from their fanbase. Ryan Howard may very well ask to get traded to a contender. Don Mattingly, now manager of the Miami Marlins, proves that he cannot in fact, manage.  But hey, Ichiro Suzuki should get his 3,000th career major league hit for the Marlins this season. 

Wild Card Games
Boston Red Sox defeat Detroit Tigers
New York Mets defeat St. Louis Cardinals

Division Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Boston Red Sox (3-1)
Houston Astros defeat Kansas City Royals (3-2)
Chicago Cubs defeat New York Mets (3-2)
San Francisco Giants defeat Washington Nationals (3-1)

Championship Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat Houston Astros (4-2)
Chicago Cubs defeat San Francisco Giants (4-3)

World Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat Chicago Cubs (4-1) - Sorry Cubs fans...  

AL MVP: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
AL CY YOUNG: David Price, Boston Red Sox
NL CY YOUNG: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: AJ Reed, Houston Astros
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR:  Brad Ausmus, Detroit Tigers
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants