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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'm Not a Political Comedian But I Still Have Opinions

I don't consider myself a political comedian by any means but that definitely doesn't mean I don't have opinions about certain things that happen in the world. In a blog that I wrote almost two years ago after a shooting took place in Orlando, Florida, I said that I generally try to avoid the news because most of the news is bad.

As a comedian though and someone who uses social media to network with other comedians, there is no real way for me to avoid the news. So here we are again, another shooting massacre took place. This time at a high school in Florida. A 19 year old has killed 17 students.

Shootings like this are becoming so commonplace now that I barely read about it online or heard about it on the news. It is like the world is saying "What else is new?"

Exactly nothing. Shootings happen then people tweet about all their thoughts and prayers (including our President) but that doesn't solve anything at all. The President also tweeted that this particular shooter was mentally disturbed and people knew that and it is their fault for not reporting it to the authorities. Oh okay, blame everyone else. That's real cool.

I'm not saying it will be the solution to every shooting ever, but how about we finally put a ban on guns? What?!?! Yeah, I said it. Listen, the same discussion happens after every fucking shooting lately, but nothing is ever done. Sure, let's blame other people, let's blame the parenting, let's blame the educators. I get that it isn't the gun that shoots people and it is the person that is shooting the gun. It may be an automatic rifle but it isn't that automatic. And you are exactly right, I get what you're saying.

We've now gone through enough of these I think, where we can't rely on people to change, but we need to enforce a change.

Please spare me the argument about the 2nd Amendment stating we have the right to bear arms. That was written in 1791. Get yourself out of the  past. Guns are way more powerful now than they were back then. So argue for the 2nd amendment all you want. But things change. Your mom may still say she is 21 years old but we all know that she really is not. (I'm sorry, mom)

So again, life is precious. Tell those you love that you love them and cherish every moment. I understand the world seems like a scary place right now, but don't let fear get the best of you. Live your life because it is the only one you have.

If you're in the need of good laugh now (shameless plug time) then you can come see me at Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View on Saturday, February 17th at 8:30pm. The show is produced by Kevin Wong. It is a free show but it will be a full house so get there early.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

It is Funny but I'm Tired of The Joke

I recently experienced something that rarely happens with my comedy bits. I had a bit that was still relatively new, that was getting laughs, but I got tired of telling the joke rather quickly.

At first, I decided, that since it was still getting laughs that I should still proceed with doing the bit. However, I felt like I was lying to myself when I did. Why should I do something that I don't want to do?

Finally, for the first time this last Thursday at a show at Matching Half Cafe in San Francisco, I dropped the bit from my routine. It felt amazing! The joke I told instead ended up bombing, but I didn't care. I felt relieved.

Tomorrow, comedy returns to 88 Keys Cafe in Morgan Hill. This is the monthly showcase that I produce. We skipped January because it would have been closed to the New Year's holiday. I have a great lineup of comedians scheduled to perform so it should be a great night.