The Rundown: 22 Wild MLB Predictions, Frazier Potential Breakout Candidate, Cubs Pound Sox, Umps Will Be Mic’d Up
“Open up my head and let me out, little baby.” – Dave Matthews, So Much to Say
The Cubs have one Cactus League tilt left and there are just two days until baseball kicks off its new season, so it’s time to make a few MLB predictions. Two weeks ago I provided 22 Cub divinations for your perusal, and many were debate-worthy. I’m hopeful that what follows will likewise stir the syrup just a bit.
By the way, if you’re heading to Wrigley Field on Thursday, you’ll find me in the left-field bleachers freezing my hiney off. I’ll be the guy simultaneously sipping a cold beer and a hot chocolate and I’ll probably be at Murphy’s Bleachers as soon as the fans finish singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
But enough of my yappin’, let’s get down to brass tacks with 22 predictions for the 2022 season, shall we?
- The Royals will win the World Series after making the playoffs as the final Wild Card team in the league’s inaugural official expanded postseason. They’ll beat the Mariners in the ALCS, then knock off the Brewers, who will advance by beating the Braves, the lowest NL seed, in the NLCS.
- Because the 79-83 Royals will win the World Series, the game will lose 95% of its primary demographic (57-year-old white males), who still can’t fathom a single Wild Card team, let alone a half-dozen of them.
- One NL manager will muck up the DH rule by forcing a relief pitcher to take an at-bat, thus losing a game that will cost him the final postseason seed and a shot at 77 wins.
- In a year where 85% of the teams will still be in contention for a playoff berth at the trade deadline, Jed Hoyer will frequently check with his carrier to see if his phone still has service since it won’t be ringing as often as he’d like.
- The only Wrigley Field sellouts will be when Dead & Co. comes to Chicago in late June. Fans will see Tom Ricketts walking around in a tie-dye shirt telling Dead Heads it’s always been his goal to create the perfect ballpark experience for America’s middle-aged hippies and their grandchildren.
- The Padres will corner the market on starting pitchers in the same way Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthorpe III cornered the frozen orange juice concentrate market in 1983.
- One American League player will be named Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award winner, and MVP. His name is Jack Leiter.
- The Rays will finish last in the AL East and GMs will want to go back to spending like a 16-year-old who just earned his first paycheck. Then they’ll think about the Mets, who will finish dead last in the NL East, and change their minds.
- Carlos Correa will ask the Twins if he can opt out of his contract by June 1. Minnesota will trade him to the Dodgers or Padres, just because they eventually get everybody anyway.
- Yu Darvish will be traded to Texas, where Rangers fans will have completely forgotten he once pitched for the team. Obvious Shirts will make a fortune in the Dallas market selling “Yu Who?” t-shirts.
- The Rangers will win 100 games and lose in the Wild Card round. Is it still called the Wild Card round?
- The Rockies will trade Kris Bryant to the Dodgers or Padres, just because…see No. 9.
- Some GM will think he is “one Frank Schwindel away from winning the whole damn thing,” and then he’ll trade for Anthony Rizzo instead.
- Rob Manfred will try to outlaw the save as a statistical category, saying that even he “could get three outs with a three-run lead.” When the MLBPA rejects that proposal, Manfred will push to move the pitching rubber back 10 feet in save situations only.
- Baseball owners will blame higher prices on inflation, even though demand has decreased over the last few years. By the way, baseballhall.org offers a class on the cost of being a fan.
- As Ricketts tries to build a professional sports empire, he’ll try to buy the Derby Dolls, only to suffer social media backlash because an old email from his father stating the Cubs “often play like girls” is leaked by a disgruntled employee.
- A precipitous drop in no-hitters from last season will cause fans of boring 1-0 games to protest outside the league offices in New York because of the universal DH rule. Most will be aged 57 or older and many will have oxygen tanks and/or walkers as they violently loot every business on the Avenue of Americas.
- Not a single fan will watch Home Run Derby X. Manfred will double down and up the field to eight light-hitting retired big leaguers in 2023. Nico Hoerner will announce his candidacy for the 2031 event.
- Shirtless, champagne-drinking Max Scherzer will be this year’s hottest Halloween costume once the ace wins another ring after he is traded to the Royals in late July.
- Because Javier Báez signed with the Tigers, Isaac Paredes will become baseball’s version of Ray Finkle. (Ed. note: Paredes was traded to the Rays as part of the Austin Meadows deal. Laces out, Dan!)
- Tony La Russa, Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter, and Joe Madden will star with Christopher Walken in a movie about old dudes doing spring break things in some exotic location while attracting a bevy of young, buxom women. Jim Riggleman will provide occasional comic relief and Bruce Springsteen will provide the soundtrack.
- Angels outfielder Mike Trout will sneak into the Dodgers dugout after the two teams play their rivalry series, thinking he has no other chance of playing postseason baseball, even with expanded playoffs.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs believe they have a potential breakout candidate in Clint Frazier (subscription to The Athletic required).
- Justin Steele has been named the team’s No. 2 starter and will be followed in the rotation by Marcus Stroman.
- The Cubs assigned right-handed pitchers Jonathan Holder and Robert Gsellman, left-handed pitchers Steven Brault and Stephen Gonsalves, and infielder Ildemaro Vargas to Triple-A Iowa, bringing their roster down to 31 players.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago believes that Jason Heyward deserves to be a lifetime Cub because the right fielder “could have outsized value in ‘showing the right way’ to the next generation of Cubs position players.”
- Manager David Ross said the goal this year is to get to the World Series.
- A new report indicates that a Cubs game at Wrigley Field is the most expensive experience in Major League Baseball.
- Vice-president of player personnel Jared Banner believes the Cubs farm system is underrated, while Brennen Davis is excited to see the team’s next core start to develop.
Odds & Sods
Let the kids play!
baseball players are just grown-up children 🤣 pic.twitter.com/drhFRUWlHv
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 4, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“I’m like evil, I get under your skin like a bomb that’s ready to blow.” – AC/DC, Shoot to Thrill
- Nick Madrigal obviously read my comparison to Dustin Pedroia and personally thanked me with a three-run bomb in yesterday’s 15-9 win over the White Sox.
- Willson Contreras hit his second home run of the spring.
- Ian Happ had three hits and a mammoth tater of his own on the August-like Arizona afternoon.
- Seiya Suzuki was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
- Reliever Ethan Roberts was handsomely rewarded after another pristine outing.
Spring Training News & Notes
Paredes has been traded by the Tigers to the Rays along with a competitive balance pick for slugging outfielder Austin Meadows. Detroit is quietly building an offensive juggernaut.
All players will wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson for games played on April 15, but this year they will all be colored Dodger blue.
The Mariners announced Monday that Julio Rodriguez has made their Opening Day roster after posting a .419 Cactus League average with three home runs and eight RBI.
The league announced that umpires will be wearing microphones for use during on-field reviews.
MLB also announced that this season’s trade deadline will be August 2 at 6pm ET. The later date is due to the delayed start of the season, which also pushed the final game back one week.
The Red Sox placed Chris Sale on the 60-day IL with a right rib stress fracture, so he’ll officially miss at least the first two months of the season. Tyler Danish will take his place on the roster.
Sale said he “knows for a fact” that the Astros weren’t the only team illegally stealing signs in 2017.
If you can’t root for Roberts after this, you have no soul.
Cubs RHP Ethan Roberts got emotional when manager David Ross told him that he made the Opening Day roster 🥺
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 4, 2022
They Said It
- “I might have cracked the door at times while I was with the Yankees, but I never really pushed it open. So I’m trying to push open that door so I can have an opportunity that will last. I’m not trying to be someone who has a great spring training and can’t follow it up with a great season. I’m trying to show them that the stuff I’m doing now can last and I’m hopefully a guy they can lean on in the future.” – Frazier
- “This is life-changing for me. This is insane. I’m just at a loss for words. Yeah, it’s hard to put it into words. I don’t know what to say, but it’s just something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time.” – Roberts
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
New Frontier by Donald Fagen – A new era in Cubs baseball starts in two days. We’ve got provisions and lots of beer, right? We’re gonna need ’em.