Sunday, March 17, 2019

2019 Major League Baseball Predictions

The 2019 Major League Baseball season gets underway this week when the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners square off with a 2 game series in Japan. They will play at 2:35am  PST on Wednesday, March 20th and Thursday, March 21st. After their series in Japan, they will return to North America and play some more exhibition games. The season will then get underway again for them and everyone else on March 28th. 
It has been another strange offseason for Major League Baseball that still has many free agents that can be impact players still without a team. Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez, are just some of the players without a team at the time of this blog being posted. 
Given the information that I do have though, here are my predictions for the 2019 season...
(* denotes Wild Card team)

Matt Chapman
American League West 
Houston Astros (96-66)
Oakland Athletics (90-72)*
Texas Rangers (81-81)
Los Angeles Angels (78-84)
Seattle Mariners (69-93)

The Houston Astros should find themselves as the first place team in the AL West again with most of their roster from 2018 returning. They are led by a strong starting rotation that includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. They've added Michael Brantley to their outfield which should only help them improve. The Oakland Athletics surprised a lot of people in 2018 when they went 97-65 before losing in the AL Wild Card game to the New York Yankees. As was the case last season, the Athletics question mark is their starting pitching. Last year, they acquired Mike Fiers in a trade and he re-signed with the team during the offseason. Going into 2019, their starting rotation is still plagued by some injuries, but we may see phenom prospect, Jesus Luzardo make his debut. Matt Chapman should continue to impress at the hot corner and continue to get even better. The Texan Rangers have quietly improved themselves during the offseason with some smaller acquisitions. Asdrubal Cabrera and Jesse Chavez are a couple of the new faces to join the Rangers. It'll be weird to see Texas without future Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre, at third base as he retired following the 2018 season. The Los Angeles Angels are hopeful that Tommy John surgery won't prevent 2018 Rookie of The Year, Shohei Ohtani, from being a DH, since he won't be able to pitch. The Angels are hoping their gambles on former All-Star pitchers, Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey, will give them enough pitching strength to carry the team. The Seattle Mariners appear to be in a rebuild mode for 2019. Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion are new additions but could find themselves traded by midseason if the team is not performing well.

Carlos Santana
American League Central
Cleveland Indians (93-69)
Minnesota Twins (87-75)
Detroit Tigers (80-82)
Chicago White Sox (79-83)
Kansas City Royals (71-91)

The Cleveland Indians have one of the better starting pitching staffs in the Majors with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer leading the way. Shortstop Francisco Lindor will keep getting better as a hitter. Cleveland welcomes back Carlos Santana, after he spent 2018 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Another Carlos, Carlos Gonzalez, just signed a minor-league deal with the Indians yesterday. He could also make an impact on their roster. The Indians may want to add some bullpen depth though. The Minnesota Twins go into 2019 without Joe Mauer on the team for the first time since 2003, as the Twins star retired after 2018. Jose Berrios will look to improve on his All-Star season as the ace of the Twins pitching staff. Nelson Cruz signed as a free agent to serve as Minnesota's DH and provide some power.  Miguel Cabrera was limited to 38 games for the Detroit Tigers last season due to injuries. Cabrera enters the season with 465 career home runs and Tigers fans hope he can provide more than the 3 he did last season. Battling the Detroit Tigers for third place will be the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were said to be in on Manny Machado over the offseason but were unable to lure his to the South Side. They did, however, sign his brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso. That's not the same. Speedster Billy Hamilton joins the Kansas City Royals in 2019 as he looks to regain his spark from when he first arrived in the Major Leagues. The Royals received bad news when they found out their catcher, Salvador Perez, would be out for the season due to Tommy John surgery. The Royals knew that would be a big hit to the team so they signed gold glove catcher, Martin Maldonado. to a one-year deal. While that is a good signing, it probably won't be enough.

CC Sabathia
American League East
Boston Red Sox (97-65)
New York Yankees (94-68)*
Toronto Blue Jays (80-82)
Tampa Bay Rays (78-84)
Baltimore Orioles (61-101)

Boston Red Sox's number one question coming into 2019 is whether or not they will have one pitcher be their closer or whether they'll have multiple pitchers take on the role based on the scenario. Craig Kimbrel was their closer in their Championship 2018 season, but as stated previously, he remains unsigned. Dustin Pedroia missed all but 3 games in 2018 and claims he is good to go for 2019 even though he has only played in 4 games so far in Spring Training. CC Sabathia announced he will retire after the 2019 season with the New York Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton had a decent first season for the Yankees but probably not as big as Yankees fans were hoping. He will try to make the Bronx fans even happier in 2019.  Troy Tulowitzki was let go by Toronto even though he was still under contract and New York picked him up for a cheap price. Tulowitzki, coming off an injury plagued season, is now a Comeback Player of The Year candidate. The Toronto Blue Jays probably won't make much of a playoff push but should improve on last season's record. Marcus Stroman is the team's number one starter, but could be traded by the July 31st trade deadline if the team is struggling. The Blue Jays are also entering the season without a veteran catcher on the roster which may be concerning for the pitchers. Tampa Bay had a nice 2018 as Manager Kevin Cash implemented the "opener" strategy. The strategy was hit or miss, but the Rays will miss Sergio Romo, who played a big role on the team. Cy Young Award Winner, Blake Snell, hopes to continue his success in 2019, otherwise it could be a long season for Tampa Bay. The good news for the Baltimore Orioles is they won't lose as many games as they did in 2018. The bad news is they will still lose a lot. Chris Davis will still suck.

Ian Kinsler
National League West
Colorado Rockies (91-71)
Los Angeles Dodgers (86-76)
Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77)
San Diego Padres (79-83)
San Francisco Giants (76-86)

The National League West should be a fairly tight division in 2019. There isn't one team that really blows away any of the competition. The Colorado Rockies should have enough to finish in first place though. Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story lead a powerful lineup that should produce a lot of runs. The Los Angeles Dodgers might be the first-place favorite here if the health status of Clayton Kershaw wasn't in doubt. Walker Buehler seems to be the real deal though so it isn't all bad news for the Dodgers' rotation. Will Max Muncy be able to produce the way he did in 2018 or was he just a one-year wonder? The Arizona Diamondbacks play at a hitter-friendly ballpark but will likely give up more home runs than they hit. They will need to rely on small ball to produce runs on the board. One guy who is good at hitting is Zack Greinke, who is also their star pitcher. The San Diego Padres shelled out 300 million dollars to sign Manny Machado to a 10-year deal. While it will improve the ballclub, even Machado knows not to expect much in his first season with the team. Machado said that the Padres should be able to make a push for the Wild Card which proves he has no expectations of winning the division. It might be different though if he hustled? San Diego also acquired Ian Kinsler who provides veteran leadership. San Diego should be a force to be reckoned with in another season or two as they have a lot of good up and coming prospects. The San Francisco Giants didn't do much in terms of changes to their roster. San Francisco's success will be determined by how healthy the pitchers remain. Will Johnny Cueto even be a factor? He is currently on the 60-Day Injured List. They did acquire starter Drew Pomeranz, so that should help ease the pain a little bit. How much longer will they let Buster Posey play catcher with the younger Aramis Garcia knocking on the door?

National League Central
Andrew Miller
Milwaukee Brewers (98-64)
St. Louis Cardinals (93-69)*
Cincinnati Reds (83-79)
Chicago Cubs (81-81)
Pittsburgh Pirates (74-88)

The Milwaukee Brewers won the Central last season by one game. In 2019, it should be a little easier to win. It certainly won't be a cakewalk though. If it was a cakewalk, Jesus Aguilar would probably eat it all. Christian Yelich looks to lead the Brew Crew further into the playoffs in 2019. They return with one of the nastier bullpens in the game, highlighted by Josh Hader. Adam Wainright is no longer the number one starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Miles Mikolas now holds that claim after winning 18 games in 2018. Will he win 19 in 2019? That would be weird.  The Cardinals surprised many people when they traded for first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, during the offseason. Many people feel that the Cardinals didn't give up much to get him either. The Cardinals will look to Andrew Miller to be one of the leaders in the bullpen. The Cincinnati Reds should be in the playoff race most of the season. They welcome a lot of new additions in 2019 including Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Sonny Gray. Gray currently projects as their number one starter though and he hasn't pitched like one for a while. The Chicago Cubs will be the best fourth place team in the majors. The Cubs have a lot of talent so this is just a hunch on my part. They will be one of the surprise teams in an opposite direction. Jon Lester will get the call again to start for the Cubs on opening day. Utility man, Ben Zobrist, is in the final year of a four year contract and it wouldn't surprise me if this season with the Cubs is the last season of his career. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a young pitching staff that will look to surprise people in 2019. The starters are led by Jameson Taillon, who won 14 games last season. Their outfield has some exciting players with Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco. 2019 might see the firing on Manager Clint Hurdle.

National League East
Rhys Hoskins
Atlanta Braves (92-70)
New York Mets (87-75)*
Washington Nationals (84-78)
Philadelphia Phillies (81-81)
Miami Marlins (66-96)

The Atlanta Braves had a great 2018 season and should only get better in 2019. They added former MVP, Josh Donaldson, on a one-year, 23 million dollar deal. They are hoping that deal pays off for them in the end. They have two of the more exciting younger players in Ronald Acuna, Jr., and Ozzie Albies. The Braves also brought back a familiar face in Brian McCann. Some Braves fans are crossing their fingers that they end up bringing back another familiar face in Craig Kimbrel too. The New York Mets may have had the most exciting offseason of any team. New players to the 2019 squad include Jed Lowrie, Robinson Cano, and Edwin Diaz. There is no doubt the Mets have a great starting pitching staff when healthy. The Mets might sneak up on some people. The Washington Nationals may not have Bryce Harper anymore (who signed for the rest of his life with the Philadelphia Phillies) but they should still fare better than Harper's new team. Max Scherzer shows no signs of slowing down and continues to pile up the strikeouts. Anthony Rendon might be the most underrated third baseman in all of baseball. The guy that should benefit the most on the Philadelphia Phillies from acquiring Harper is Rhys Hoskins (or is that Magneto in the photo?) The Phillies also signed Andrew McCutchen for some outfield help. The best thing about the Miami Marlins in 2019 is their new jerseys! Unfortunately, they still have the worst manager currently in baseball in Don Mattingly. Drew Steckenrider, who had 5 saves in 10 opportunities in 2018, is currently slated to be the team's closer. Yikes. 

Wild Card Games
Oakland Athletics defeat New York Yankees
St. Louis Cardinals defeat New York Mets

Divison Series
Boston Red Sox defeat Oakland Athletics (3-2)
Cleveland Indians defeat Houston Astros (3-1)
Atlanta Braves defeat Colorado Rockies (3-2)
Milwaukee Brewers defeat St. Louis Cardinals (3-0)

Championship Series
Cleveland Indians defeat Boston Red Sox (4-2)
Milwaukee Brewers defeat Atlanta Braves (4-3)

World Series
Cleveland Indians defeat Milwaukee Brewers (4-1)

Season Awards
AL MVP -  Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
NL MVP - Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
AL CY YOUNG - Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
NL CY YOUNG -  Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -  Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Troy Tulowitzki, New York Yankees
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR -  Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Random Things That Pop Into My Head

Every now and then, a random thought will pop into my head which I think is funny.
As a comedian, that is to be expected. However, sometimes I know the joke will only work in that moment and not at a comedy club the following week. So my jokes for these such moments usually wind up being shared on my Facebook page.  Some examples are below:

This post was made shortly before Christmas -

This post was made the day before the New Year -

This post was made on New Year's Day -

I made this post when I went back to my day job for the first time in 2019 -

I was walking by a Sport Clips (a barber shop where they have TVs
to watch sporting events while getting your hair cut) and this thought
entered my head -

I was on my way home from a show in Pacifica and this conversation
entered my head.The convo never happened but I was thinking of the
glass half empty, glass half full question and this was my response for
the perfect answer -

Feel free to add me as a friend on Facebook if you'd like to see more posts like above. If you do send me a friend request, please send me a message saying you saw this blog though, otherwise I may not add you. Also, it is another way to stay up to date regarding my upcoming shows.

Friday, March 23, 2018

2018 Major League Baseball Predictions

We are less than a week away from the 2018 Major League Baseball season getting underway. What is nice about the beginning of the 2018 season is that every team in the majors will be opening the season on the same day, March 29th. In recent years, this has not been the case, with a couple teams playing the night before anyone else got around to playing. While making predictions for what is going to happen during the course of a season is never easy, this time around it seems even more difficult. As of this writing, there are still a lot of available free agents on the market that have yet to sign with a team. Jose Bautista, Greg Holland, and Matt Holliday are just some of the players who have not yet signed with teams and could end up having a big impact somewhere. Baseball continues to tinker with rules in an effort to speed up games. This year, they have enforced a rule which limits pitching mound visits to 6 per game per team. This does not include visits where a pitcher is being replaced. I'm not sure this rule change makes much of a difference in speeding up games, but it is there nonetheless. They are testing some different rules in the Minor Leagues this year which I think are stupider and I hope they never make it to the Major League level. If you're interested in reading up on the Minor League Rules for 2018, you can do so here. With that being said, here are my predictions for the 2018 season.

Gerrit Cole

American League West
Houston Astros (100-62)
Los Angeles Angels (80-82)
Texas Rangers (78-84)
Oakland Athletics (74-88)
Seattle Mariners (73-89)

Coming off their 2017 World Series Championship season, the Houston Astros shouldn't have any problems winning the division again. In 2018, they'll not only have a full season from Justin Verlander but they've also added Gerrit Cole to their rotation. The Los Angeles Angels have made some great additions including third baseman/shortstop Zack Cozart, second baseman Ian Kinsler, and Pitcher/DH Shohei Otani. The Angels definitely have an offense that should be able to score runs. Japanese import Otani will help drive fans to the ballpark but they can't expect him to do everything, even though he will try. The Angels pitching staff has too many question marks. The Texas Rangers have a couple of power hitting corner infielders in Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo, both of whom will continue to enjoy playing in hitter friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington. Visiting players will also enjoy hitting there too though. The Oakland Athletics might hit more home runs than any team in the division with Khris Davis, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman leading the way. Olson and Chapman are also very skilled defensively and first base and third base respectively. The pitching for the Athletics has too many holes though. Kendall Graveman, their opening day starter, would probably be the 4th or 5th man in many other rotations. The Seattle Mariners brought back 44 year old fan favorite, Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro's action this spring has been limited due to injuries and it'll be interesting to see if he can even remain with the team for the entire season. Last season, Felix Hernandez pitched under 100 innings for the first time since 2005. The Mariners will need Felix to have a rebound year if they're going to have any shot at contending.

Salvador Perez
American League Central
Cleveland Indians (93-69)
Minnesota Twins (85-77)*
Detroit Tigers (80-82)
Chicago White Sox (78-84)
Kansas City Royals (72-90)

The Cleveland Indians will stop using the Chief Wahoo logo in 2019 but should wind up winning the division again with the logo in 2018. Corey Kluber once again leads a talented pitching staff. Shortstop Francisco Lindor just keeps getting better and better. Top prospect, Francisco Mejia, may also play a role at catcher at some point during the season. The Minnsota Twins teams that ended up surprising a lot of people in 2017 shouldn't be as surprising this season. Fernando Rodney is slated to be the Minnesota Twins closer. He may be subject to giving up some crooked numbers but the Twins hope it is only his hat that is crooked. Why did I pick the Detroit Tigers to finish in third place? The answer is Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire is back managing in the division he used to manage in and will be chasing his former team, Minnesota, while doing so. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez can still hit and together should combine for 90 singles that should have been doubles. The White Sox have themselves a pretty young squad so should be hungry to compete. James Shields will look to return to his former "Big Game James" days as he gets the opening day nod for the White Sox. In the bullpen, they have Aaron Bummer. If you're a Sox fan when you read the box score and see his stats, you sure hope it won't be A. Bummer. The Kansas City Royals have lost a lot of their star power from recent seasons and will have a hard time competing in 2018. If nothing else, Salvador Perez will continue to be a joy to watch as one of the best catchers in the game.

Chris Archer

American League East
New York Yankees (94-68)
Boston Red Sox (88-74)*
Toronto Blue Jays (81-81)
Baltimore Orioles (78-84)
Tampa Bay Rays (69-93)

The New York Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton to their lineup by making a trade with the Miami Marlins as Derek Jeter tries to bring another World Series to New York. With Stanton in the lineup along with slugger Aaron Judge, there will like be a lot of number fours ordered by pitchers this year. I don't mean pitchers will be asking for ultimate cheeseburgers either. They will be ordering intentional walks. The Yankees pitching staff looks strong to start the season. Personally, I'm interested in seeing what kind of season Sonny Gray can put together with a full year in New York. Signing JD Martinez was the Boston Red Sox counter move to the Yankees getting Stanton. Can David Price remain healthy and provide the pitching staff with help beyond just Chris Sale? The Toronto Blue Jays might squeak into the playoffs, but it isn't likely. Justin Smoak had a breakout season in 2017. Can he sustain that power that got him 38 home runs last season or will he go back to being the 14 home run Smoak from 2016? The Baltimore Orioles signed starter Alex Cobb just this week because they really don't want to finish last in the division. With J.J. Hardy gone, Manny Machado moves back to his original position at shortstop for the Orioles. The question surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays this season will be whether Chris Archer gets traded or not.

Johnny Cueto
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers (96-66)
Arizona Diamondbacks (86-76)*
Colorado Rockies (81-81)
San Francisco Giants (77-85)
San Diego Padres (73-89)

As long as Clayton Kershaw remains healthy, the Dodgers should wind up first in their division again in 2018. Kershaw has shown no signs of slowing down this spring as he has posted an ERA of 0.00 in 14.2 innings pitched. It will be interesting to see how Matt Kemp fares in his return to Los Angeles. The Arizona Diamondbacks will be without starter Shelby Miller at least half the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. They will miss Steven Souza, Jr. to start the season as well, but hope to have him back in time to make a run at the playoffs. The Colorado Rockies will try to improve off their great 2017 season and return to the playoffs. Ryan McMahon may collect some Rookie Of The Year votes. Their starting pitching is questionable but they definitely have the offense especially since they decided to re-sign Carlos Gonzalez. The San Francisco Giants initiated some big trades during the offseason in acquiring veterans Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to bulster their lineup. Today, it was learned that starter Madison Bumgarner will be out for a while with a fractured hand. Starter Jeff Samardzija will also begin the season on the disabled list. The Giants hope veteran Johnny Cueto can carry the staff in their absence. The San Diego Padres signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to a big deal during the offseason but the Padres are a team that is definitely in rebuilding mode.

Joey Votto
National League Central 
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
Chicago Cubs (88-74)*
Milwaukee Brewers (80-82)
Pittsburgh Pirates (75-87)
Cincinnati Reds (71-91)

It should be a close race between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs once again in 2018. The Cardinals have added a bat in Marcell Ozuna. The pitching staff looks like it could be dominant and it is promising to see that Adam Wainwright has had a good spring. The Cardinals look like they will be turning to Luke Gregerson to be their closer in 2018, a spot he hasn't always had the best success. The Chicago Cubs have a nice starting rotation depending on which Yu Darvish ends up playing for the Cubs. The Cubs decided to sign Darvish instead of bringing back Jake Arrieta. Leftfielder, Kyle Schwarber, has lost weight and may wind up having his best season yet if his spring stats are any indication. The Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain and traded for Christian Yelich in the offseason to help their outfield. Like many other rotations though, the Brewers have a lot of question marks. Chase Anderson is currently set to be the ace of their staff. With McCuthchen getting traded to San Francisco, the Pirates acquired Corey Dickerson from the Tampa Bay Rays to try and fill the void. The Pirates will rely on Ivan Nova to be the staff ace. It looks like the Pirates will be missing the playoffs again. It could be worse though. They could be the Cincinnati Reds. Aside from seeing Joey Votto play, the Reds will not be that exciting. Billy Hamilton will continue to steal bases but could also find himself getting traded.

National League East
Ender Inciarte
Washington Nationals (91-71)
New York Mets (84-78)
Atlanta Braves (80-82)
Philadelphia Phillies (76-86)
Miami Marlins (61-101)

After the Houston Astros, it can be argued that the Washington Nationals have the best starting rotation in the majors. Offensively they have a good group as well. Ryan Zimmerman will look to have another monster season similar to last year. Dave Martinez will try his hand at managing the Nationals, who have shown they aren't afraid of firing managers who do not take the team where they expect. The New York Mets would have an amazing starting rotation if everyone would just stay healthy. They added Jason Vargas in the offseason to try and help the depleted staff. Then Vargas fractured his right hand so he's fitting in nicely. The Mets should score runs with a lineup that includes Jay Bruce, Adrian Gonzalez, Yoenis Cespedes, and Todd Frazier. The Atlanta Braves are slowing getting better each year. Ender Inciarte has been terrific in center field and as a leadoff hitter for the Braves. Dansby Swanson will look to improve on his rookie season. The Philadelphia Phillies aren't fooling anyone with their signing of starting pitcher Jake Arietta. They also added Carlos Santana during the offseason. Rhys Hoskins was a nice story for the Phillies last season but they still have a ways to go. Finally, you have the Miami Marlins. It would be a surprise if they don't finish with the worst record in all of baseball. I feel the Marlins were on their way to building something special prior to the death of Jose Fernandez so it sad to see them dismantle this way. Outfielder Lewis Brinson may provide some excitement.

Wild Card Games
Boston Red Sox over Minnesota Twins
Chicago Cubs over Arizona Diamondbacks

Division Series
Houston Astros defeat Boston Red Sox (3-1)
New York Yankees defeat Cleveland Indians (3-2)
Chicago Cubs defeat Los Angeles Dodgers (3-2)
St. Louis Cardinals defeat Washington Nationals (3-2)

Championship Series
Houston Astros defeat New York Yankees (4-2)
St. Louis Cardinals defeat Chicago Cubs (4-3)

World Series
Houston Astros defeat St. Louis Cardinals (4-1)

Season Awards
AL MVP - Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
NL MVP - Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
AL CY YOUNG - Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
NL CY YOUNG - Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers 
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Jonny Venters, Tampa Bay Rays
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Aaron Boone, New York Yankees
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs