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Strange and Bold MLB Predictions, 2019 - by Brian Phillips

The best day of the year is here! Opening Day! The Pencilstorm staff will be hunkered down at the world famous Bier Stube on High in time for 1 pm first pitch. Last year they had free hot dogs too!

Before the 2019 season unfurls itself over the next six months allow me to get some strange and bold predictions down:

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks

Three years after a World Championship the 2004 D-Backs won just 51 games. The 2019 Arizona club won't be quite that putrid, but they won't win more than 65 games either.

Atlanta Braves

Weary of his weak bat the Braves bench and then demote Dansby Swanson by June in favor of Johan Carmargo.

Chicago Cubs

With his bum shoulder healed Kris Bryant returns to his MVP form hitting over .300 with 32 plus bombs and 110 plus RBI.

Cincinnati Reds

Often compared to Joey Votto for his superior plate skills, a healthy Jesse Winker logs an all-star campaign and ends up with across the board better numbers than the Reds' first baseman.

Colorado Rockies

With his new plate approach Ryan McMahon hits his way to an NL Rookie Of The Year award.

Los Angeles Dodgers

A broken down Clayton Kershaw only makes 10 starts for the Dodgers.

Miami Marlins

Trevor Richards makes 33 starts and finishes top 10 in Cy Young voting.

Milwaukee Brewers

Realizing Mike Moustakas is a terrible second baseman the Brewers rush #1 prospect Keston Hiura to the show by mid summer.

New York Mets

Oft injured outfielder Yoenis Cespedes does not play in a single 2019 game.

Philadelphia Phillies

Shifted to death, and spooked by his mega contract, Bryce Harper is booed mercilessly when he finishes April hitting .160.

Pittsburgh Pirates

His efforts to elevate the ball paying off, Josh Bell launches 27 home runs.

San Diego Padres

With an exciting influx of great young talent and behind newly signed Manny Machado, the Padres contend into September for a playoff spot.

San Francisco Giants

The Yankees see Greg Bird injured again, and Luke Voit is exposed with every day at bats. New York swings a deal with the Giants to acquire Brandon Belt for prospects. Belt hits 15 home runs for the Yankees in August and September.

St. Louis Cardinals

In the thick of the playoff hunt the Cards realize they can no longer afford to have Dexter Fowler in the every day line up. Fowler is DFA'd and Tyler O'Neill becomes an outfield regular.

Washington Nationals

While Bryce Harper struggles all season young phenom Juan Soto is in the running for NL MVP.

American League

Baltimore Orioles

The Vegas over/under is 59.5 at last check. This club will win no more than 40 games.

Boston Red Sox

Going into the season without an established closer the Sox turn to David Price by the All Star break.

Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez has a better year than Vlad Jr and wins the AL Rookie of the Year.

Cleveland Indians

Finding themselves 5 games back of the Twins at the deadline the Tribe ship Corey Kluber to the contending Padres for outfield prospects.

Detroit Tigers

For the Tigers it's a long year, but a mostly healthy Miggie makes one last run at a batting title.

Houston Astros

Justin Verlander misses two months after injuring his back having sex with wife Kate Upton.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals run so much Billy Hamilton is only third on the team in steals as he loses playing time with his continued struggles at the plate.

Los Angeles Angels

A shell of his former self and with Justin Bour enjoying a surprisingly productive season, Albert Pujols is DFA'd and asked to take a position in the front office. Refusing that offer he is traded to the Cardinals for a single A relief pitcher.

Minnesota Twins

The surprising Twins win the AL Central by five games over the Tribe and then lose four straight to the Astros in the division round. A healthy Justin Verlander pitches a shut out in game one.

New York Yankees

Miguel Andujar's defense becomes such a liability that the Yanks ship him back to triple A and acquire Kyle Seager from the Mariners.

Oakland Athletics

Never able to get their ragged pitching staff right the A's finish third behind the Astros and Angels.

Seattle Mariners

In a wholesale sell-off Seager isn't the only one traded. Edwin Encanarcion and Jay Bruce are also dealt for prospects.

Tampa Bay Rays

Fueled by young stars Blake Snell, Brandon Lowe and Willie Adames along with a career year from Tommy Pham, the Rays take the second wild card and shock the Red Sox in the wild card game.

Texas Rangers

Joey Gallo reaches a new career high in batting average by hitting .212.

Toronto Blue Jays

With the collective bargaining agreement looming and players concerned about a possible salary cap, Vladimir Guererro Junior signs a ten year $200 million dollar deal with the Jays.

Tribe Musings - by Scott Goldberg

For me there are basically two types of Cleveland sports fans: 1) This is the year--no matter how bad the last two decades have been (Browns—lately, Indians—‘60’s and 70’s) or how many tragic failings (Indians—lately, Browns—the fumble, the drive), this is the year we reach the mountaintop (for the Indians that means win the World Series, for the Browns that means finish above .500); and 2) This team will definitely break my heart.  There are the rare fans that can combine the two, but I have generally been in category 2 since the year Sports Illustrated put Joe Carter and Corey Snyder on the cover of its baseball preview issue circa 1987?? Geez, I am old. 

This year feels like when you ate that carry-out even though you probably should have thrown it out sorta year.  Gone are the bats of Encarnacion, Brantley, and Alonso, and bullpen arms Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.  I'll admit I'm not going to miss Encarnacion--his numbers look good, but it always felt like his homers came when we were already up 5 runs and struck out when the game was on the line.  It also feels like Miller and Allen's best years are behind them--like 2016 when we should have beat the Cubs in the f-ing World Series.  Brantley is going to have a big year.  Hidden somewhere in the middle of the Astros lineup, he probably ends up having champagne poured over his head as the Astros win the World Series.  Alonso seemed to have a lot of big hits, but my guess is the return of Carlos Santana will be about a wash at first base. 

Other than bringing Santana back, the Indians have done little to improve their roster.  The theory seems to be that the AL Central is so weak that they need to do little to solidify their position at the top of the division.  This gives the Tribe the luxury to find out if some of their young players are ready to be every day contributors or go out mid-season and find a piece or two for the playoffs.  I trust the front knows stuff I don't about the make up of this team, but I thought the half burrito in the fridge from last week was still good and I was wrong, very wrong. 

Lindor and Kipnis won't be available opening day.  And although, the Indians survived most of last year without Kipnis (and could again this year), we need Frankie.  It's not just his bat (he is a fantasy stud) or his glove (at least above average--he's no Omar), but mostly it's his smile.  He is the leader of the team along with Tito and makes sure everyone is loose and having fun.  He is a joy to watch and it's clear his joy is infectious for both his teammates and the fans.  Then this week Jose Ramirez gets carted off the field.  Thankfully, the injury seems minor, but the Indian’s prospects change in a heartbeat if Jose isn't in the lineup. 

The bright spot should be starting pitching.  Apart from the Tribe shopping Kluber and Bauer this offseason (what the hell was that about) and Bauer's dissatisfaction as to how he was treated in arbitration, the rotation looks to be perhaps the best in baseball.  Let's just hope Tito can save them so they have something left for the post-season.  The bullpen was shaky at best last year, doesn't feel like they added much to improve, but my sense is they won't be any worse than last year. 

Couple of guys I see stepping up this year: Leonys Martin and Greg Allen.  Not totally sure why I feel this way, but tried to pick them up late in my fantasy draft and missed on both, so that tells me others might be thinking the same thing.  

 

It's spring--let the games begin.  Go Tribe.  Oh, and did you here the Browns got Odell….

 

Big $'s Thoughts on Kareem Hunt Signing and NFL Policy

(Big $ is a member of The North Coast Posse, who cover the Cleveland Browns beat for Pencil Storm.)

The last thing the world needs right now is another blowhard dissertation on the Cleveland Browns’ signing of Kareem Hunt. However I've got a computer, some time and a platform, so the world is out of luck.

So without climbing to a moral high ground or retreating behind an orange & brown wall of Homer-ism, here are some thoughts:

1.) This was inevitable and we should have all been prepared for the signing. Literally, this was easier to prognosticate than LeBron's move to Los Angeles. Browns General Manager John Dorsey is the guy who gave Hunt his shot in the NFL and has the base relationship that would allow for taking the risk. Dorsey has also set a precedent for working with players with issues of this nature. Do some research on Tyreek Hill and you'll see Mr. Dorsey has been around this block before. Lastly, Kareem is a Cleveland guy, so it was natural that the Browns would be a potential destination. All in all, once K.C cut him, Kareem in Cleveland was not an "if" scenario but a "when."

2. Referring to the third point above, being back in his hometown may not serve as a benefit. As more information comes out, it becomes evident that Kareem Hunt has - at the very least - lifestyle issues. One can surmise that some things probably followed him around Willoughby, which led to a high school player of his caliber settling on a MAC school. (I promise you, no one wants to play on Tuesdays if they don't have to.) Changing people, places and things are essential to kicking any habit: addiction, anger issue, etc. Surrounding himself with the same crowd - which couldn't keep their professional athlete buddy from flushing his future down the toilet at the hotel - could hinder any real change.

3. Lastly, the NFL is actually getting worse at addressing the epidemic of its players committing violence against women. The league is absolutely paralyzed by Commissioner Roger Goodell's control issues and has decided no real plan is an adequate response. Well NFL, it’s your lucky day. I like gambling on your product so much that I will offer you this plan to help save the day. (author's note: I’d also prefer that women quit getting physically and mentally terrorized as well.)

Big $’s Plan

Step 1:  Upon determination that a player has been involved in a physical altercation with a woman they are immediately entered into an intensive six- week cognitive behavioral therapy program to address anger issues, decision making, alcohol & drug concerns and any other issues contributing to the delinquent behavior. This program will be administered and monitored by an independent agency, who will determine person-centered plans of action for each offender. During this six weeks the player cannot participate in any NFL or team activities. The player's progress and commitment will be watched closely by the agency delivering the services. If they feel adequate progress is being made, the player can graduate to step two.…..

Step 2: At this time, the player can resume team activities/ practices etc,. However, they cannot play in games for four more weeks. While re-engaging into the team culture the player will continue to participate in daily activities led and monitored by the independent agency. If satisfactory progress is made, the player can return to games after the 10 week process.

Step 3: While the player returns for weeks 11-17 of the season, he will continue weekly meetings with the agency to ensure they are ready for full release. The agency can grant full release as they see fit.

This process is fully independent of criminal punishment and cannot be negotiated. It is fully expected that some players will not be able to fulfill the commitment,and the independent agency can suspend players from the program at their discretion. Said players would then have to re apply again after a year's time.

Obviously this is a rough skeleton, but if you're reading this Roger, I can very easily fill in all necessary details.

Well, that's enough on that, back to scouring mock drafts...…..