Against all odds and the advice of many virologists, the 2020 MLB season is finally underway. Whether that's a good idea in the midst of a pandemic is beside the point because it's happening. Baseball is back, albeit in a much stranger fashion than anyone could have imagined when spring training began in February (which may as well have been 1923). With a 60-game season looming and a bunch of bizarre rule changes in effect (universal DH, runner starting on second base in extra innings, expanded rosters, and more playoff teams), the season is set to be the most unpredictable in years. You know who else is stoked about the season finally starting? Musicians. There's always been a romanticism between artists and baseball that makes perfect sense. Thus, we've summoned a panel of baseball experts to predict how this most strange of seasons will go and asked for their scorching hot takes on the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. Of course, it wouldn't be baseball with an asterisk involved and this season will be the ultimate asterisk. Since some of these interviews were done before the pandemic, predicting a season that almost never was, an * denotes that interview was conducted prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. (Editor's note: Mookie Betts signed a historic 13-year, $365 million contract extension with the Dodgers on July 22. The interviews were conducted prior to that taking place) Patrick Carney, Black Keys * Cleveland Indians Alisa Capistrano What's your prognosis for the season? Do you think they can keep it together for one more run? Honestly, as a baseball fan, there's two things that really make it really difficult for me to be truly excited about, like, what's coming up about fit into a 162-game season. A team like the New York Yankees can be $100 million over the luxury tax and the Indians are struggling whether or not to keep Francisco Lindor on the fucking team. It's so infuriating it's completely fucked up. There's a lot of smart people in the organization and they're always going to be good. I'm hoping that they can get through the years if they continue to grow and keep Lindor. The pitching staff is always the last five, six years is just pretty fucking incredible. So the fact that Kluber has left who I liked to watch, every time I watched him in person he lost. I liked Bauer too but he cuts his fucking finger on a fucking drone and fucking cost us the World Series! That's why he's not the team anymore. But I do love Clevinger and Bieber. So though that's your I guess that's your reasonable hope for the season that the ceiling is a wildcard or division winner? If all goes poorly, what are they like an 85 win team? They're going to be over .500 that's for sure. I think between 85 and 95 depending on things. Who's your player to watch this year? I love watching Clevinger. I think Bieber is really fun to watch too, but Lindor is the most fun player to watch in all of baseball. Playoffs? I think they can get to it, yeah. Even if it's just the Wild Card. Once that happens, you never know. They can get to the World Series. World Series prediction? Indians vs. Dodgers, though I'd like to see the Cubs get back up there. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? The Astros are fucking disgrace to fucking baseball, every single player that was on the team. I think that they should lose the fucking pennant. I think they need to be dissolved as a franchise. The players union is so strong about players getting paid or anything, but they could break the rules and how are teams like that are playing by the rules ever going to fucking compete? I think the players should be fucking banned for a year. There's no reason they shouldn't be kicked out. Ben Gibbard, Death Cab for Cutie Seattle Mariners Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images So what's your prognosis for the team this year? Is this gonna be another rebuilding year? I mean, the way I see it is this: If the Mariners are gonna make the playoffs for the first time in 20 years (or almost 20 years) it's gonna be during this weird fucked up season. Like it's gonna be a situation where a bunch of guys on the Astros go down or they decide to bow out of the season because of family pressure or just the desire to stay safe. The Mariners squeaking into the playoffs, playing the young kids, and it's a playoff berth or it's not really a playoff berth. I don't have any true prediction for the team. And I think they'll probably hover around .500 but .500 in a 60 game season is — this entire thing is an anomaly. They'll probably play more games in spring training than they're gonna play this entire season, which, the whole thing's just insane. How do you think Jarred Kelenic is going to do this year? Is he going to play in the big leagues this year? I imagine they might. They might have to play him and maybe Julio Rodriguez. Only because they're not getting any reps because there are no minor leagues right now. I would love to see it. I have no idea how the logistics of service time everything is playing with this season. What are your reasonable hopes for them? What do you think the ceiling and floor is for the team? I just think this season has to be looked at as a perfect opportunity for a team like the Seattle Mariners who had zero chance of making any impact in a normal 162 game season this year. But now the team has this opportunity to just say fuck it, and really run a lot of guys out there that you know, they might have hesitated in doing so in a longer season for fear and you run the risk of you know them losing confidence or you know setting back the development. But at this point like yeah run Justin Dunn there, like run Justus Sheffield out there. Let Kyle Lewis play center field every day. Let some of these guys who are you know are young and just starting to develop give them a shot to see what they would think what they're made of. A season like this is really beneficial to a team like the Mariners because we didn't have any expectations for them anyways. So if they go you know 20-40, it's like at least the brutality of watching a season like that's gonna be over pretty quickly. It's not as if I got to suffer through a whole season of watching other teams do well while you continue to flounder. Who's your player to watch? Kyle Lewis. He came up with the last season and just was hitting bombs. And you know, granted, you guys have to be suspect of any player that comes up in September and starts crushing. You have to be suspect of any productivity in September, but at the same time, I mean, this is a dude who we were all excited about when he got drafted. He was injured for a super long time, and he's kind of coming up a little bit later than I think people thought he might. But he's big and strong and fast, and he seems like a really good dude. I'm just excited to see what he does in the 60 games. I feel like we have all teams really need a young star and we haven't had anybody In a long time, that was a homegrown player who really became like a became an all-star and like a league-wide kind of impact player. The last one was Felix Hernandez over a decade ago. The Mariners have done an absolutely piss poor job of developing players for going back in the last decade. I think that would get a lot of fans excited. What's their record going to be? I think they're gonna win 33 games. Playoffs? I think they will sneak in on a Wild Card and I think they will because the season is going to be so Goddamn weird. Not because they're good. They're not going to be a good team. But just because it just seems like that would be the most of the Mariners thing to happen right now. If you're like looking at the history of Seattle Mariners and all the weird shit that has happened to them, this will be it. This would fit the narrative of this team that they make the playoffs this year. World Series prediction? Rays vs. Dodgers and I think the Dodgers are going to finally win one. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what do you think happens to them this year? Well, there is no team that is benefiting more from this pandemic than Houston. Going into the season, obviously, we're all just, at least I was, I cannot wait for these fuckers to show up in every stadium in America and just get brutalized. Like, the signs are going to be amazing, and the abuse these guys are going to get is going to be unprecedented, and in my opinion, entirely warranted. But now they get a total pass that they get to play an empty stadium all season. Let's just say if we're back to playing baseball, with crowds in 2021, which I don't believe for one second, but let's say that we're gonna be able to do that. It's either going to be diminished crowds, or people are gonna be so happy to be at a baseball game that they're not going to care about something that happened two years before. So I think that those dudes are not getting get their true come up as deserved this year and, you know, that's like number 10,835 and a list of things I'm sad about in this pandemic, but it is on the list. Steve Sladkowski, PUP Toronto Blue Jays Courtesy of Steve Sladkowski (Editor's note: Canada won't let the Blue Jays play any home games, so it remains to see where Toronto's club plays its home games) What's the prognosis for the team this year? Interesting word choice! My hope is that no-one involved in the insanely irresponsible MLB plan — players, umpires, or the employees of teams & stadiums that do not have a choice to opt-out — will find themselves afflicted by COVID-19. Anything on top of that, including the win-loss tally of the Toronto Blue Jays, is a secondary concern and feels borderline needless to speculate on. How do you feel about the front office? Are things on the rise or is this another rebuilding season? I think it was a bad idea for the Jays' front office to lobby the Federal Government of Canada for an exception in order to play games in Toronto. The idea that baseball teams will be traveling to different cities in both the United States and Canada should be deeply fucking troubling to anyone who has been paying attention to the realities of COVID-19. Plus, what’s the point of traveling to different cities to play for no fans? It’s stupid and unnecessarily risky. From a pure baseball perspective, I’m glad that the Blue Jays paid their draft pick Austin Martin and that the decision to move Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. to first base has come several years earlier than expected; coupled with the Ryu signing that will shore up the rotation, I hope the Jays are trending upward. However, again, these baseball comments are a secondary concern to public health and human safety. What are your reasonable hopes for this ridiculous season? What's the ceiling/floor? The beauty of sports fandom, especially at the beginning of a season, is that it’s completely reasonable to say that your team could win a championship and no-one can say you’re wrong. So the ceiling is the World Series (which shouldn’t be played)! And the floor is another fairly high draft pick! But the most reasonable hope is that everyone comes to their senses and realizes that North American sports, like every other industry that involves live events, should pump the brakes on 2020. Who is your player to watch this year? If baseball must be played (it shouldn’t), I’m looking forward to seeing the progress made by The Young Sons of Former Big Leaguers: Vlad, Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. Playoffs? For the Jays? Probably not. But if a 60-game season is really going to happen, why the hell not? The Jays will win it all, baby! A small sample size season is chaos incarnate! Record prediction and why? 21-39, because they’re still young and learning to play together. And because the outfield is a mess. What's your World Series matchup? COVID-19 over Common Sense in seven games. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? We absolutely need to torch baseball’s unwritten rules that will lead to Astros batters probably getting hit with baseballs. Legalize steroids and sign-stealing without computers, but keep the garbage-can jokes coming because these suckers should be roasted forever. Greg Graffin, Bad Religion Milwaukee Brewers Bad Religion/Epitaph Records What's your prognosis for this year? I can't fault any of the things. They had too many good players last year so they had to get rid of some, I guess, because again, they don't have all that much money. So two years ago, as you may remember was when they made their run deep into the playoffs and then last year, Yelich got injured and they lost in the Wild Card Game and they should have beaten Washington in that game. Their pitching looks good. Even retaining the big players, how do you see the team bouncing back from that Wild Card heartbreak? I think there will be no bounce back. They'll actually be probably the top contending team if these guys play to their level. I see they picked up Justin Smoak as an infielder and he's good too. they've got all the young guys who are developing, they've got them back. They've just gotten better. And then their outfield, they got really strong offensive players. But I think they've got one of the best lineups in baseball. So I don't think it's gonna be a bounce back. I think it's gonna be firing on all cylinders, whereas at the end of the season last year, they were not firing on all cylinders. What are your reasonable hopes for this season? The ceiling seems pretty high, but what's the floor? The floor for the Brewers is...this is tough because I haven't done any real comparison. I think about the Cubs and the St. Louis and the Brewers, the Brewers have always been an underdog in their division. But they've finally secured I think, the top spot, the dominant team in that division. So it's really an interesting time that the Brewers should be the dominant team in that division even though those other two teams have limitless money, limitless prestige, and a limitless fan base. That's what's so exciting when I say, I think their floor is no lower than second place in their division. So obviously, I'm picking them to win the division. What's your prediction for their record? Let's say 40-20. They're that good. Who's your player to watch? I think Ryan Braun is key. Because when he does well, he's still kind of a father figure on the team. Everyone else rallies around him, even though he keeps to himself. So there's a lot depending on him and because of his age, he's fragile. So you have to, you just got to watch him and hope for the best. And, you know, he has one of the best pure swings in baseball still. Playoffs? I'm feeling very good that they'll at least get to a Wild Card position. But I'm hoping they can win the division right out outright. World Series prediction? Yankees vs. Brewers. I've got the Brewers winning in five. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what do you think happens to them this year? Once they get once the game starts it comes down more to the mechanics of the team. And if they've got the same roster, I think they're gonna be hard to beat. I think what it's gonna prove is that the so-called cheating scandal wasn't really a scandal. It probably didn't help them as much as the stories made it out to sound like it helped them because if you look at how they won it was pretty much pure baseball. Batting. It was batting fielding it wasn't a deep strategy, but based on intelligence. Steve Harwell and Paul Delisle, Smash Mouth * San Francisco Giants Ron Xepo What's the prognosis for the team this year? Brand new manager and brand new GM. We watched Bruce Bochy for more than 10 years and he has a certain style especially when it comes to everyday lineups. We were used to more "set lineups" and with Bochy, the lineup changed daily and we grew to like it because we won three championships. Not sure what to expect from Gabe Kapler. We are definitely in a rebuild mode but we have proven players in some key spots and our pitching staff could be stronger than expected. Johnny Cueto came to camp in the best shape of his life and looking forward to seeing how our buddy Tyler Beede progresses. How long do you think it will take for them to get back in contention? Heck you never know, could be this season. But ideally, I think we have to give this new regime a solid two to four seasons. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? I think the goal is to be competitive, entertaining, and show they are moving in the right direction. Who is your player to watch this year? Want to see how Mike Yastrzemski comes back after his very solid season last year where he hit 20HR's and just played very solid baseball. Want to see how Kapler utilizes him. Other players to watch are Abiatel Avelino, Jaylen Davis and Heliot Ramos. A player to keep an eye on is SS/2B Mauricio Dubon both in the field and at the plate. His approach at the plate reminds us of A-Rod, but about 80 pounds lighter. This will be a big test year for former MLB Catcher Ivan Rodriguez's son Derek Rodrigues on the bump. He's shown flashes of brilliance and this will be the season to put it all together. We are happy our boys Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval are back together. A wild card player is Chris Shaw, this dude has as much power as anybody in the game. The problem is he's a first baseman and the Giants have him in the outfield. The dude can straight out mash! We are also looking forward to seeing rookie catcher Joey Bart on the big team this year. The Giants could def move Buster Posey to first base if they feel Joey will give better at-bats than Brandon Belt. They also should consider the wear and tear they've put on Posey through all the playoff and World Series games he's been through. Playoffs? Don't see it for 2020 but ya never know. The question remains, do we have the offense to compete with the big boy teams like the Dodgers? Record prediction? Most likely the Giants look like 10 games under 500 team but again, ya never know. They could surprise some folks but will have to show they can hit the ball and with some pop. What's your World Series matchup? Astros vs. Dodgers (Astros win it all!). What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? We are all huge Dusty Baker fans and the Astros picked the best guy to come in and control the crap that is coming at the Astro players. MLB either should have suspended all Astro offensive starters 1 full season. They didn't so now it's the MLB's duty to keep the Astros players safe. I say an automatic warning to all opposing pitchers be issued before every game in the 2020 season. Otherwise, it's gonna get ugly because Dusty does not back down and he protects his players like no other manager in baseball. Josh Epstein, JR JR * Detroit Tigers Courtesy of JR JR What's the prognosis for the team this year? It’s not looking too good if we’re being honest. We are kind of in a “trust the process” moment. Will it get better before it gets worse? It could get “Cleveland Indians in the film Major League” bad this year. How long do you think it will take for them to get back in contention? Four years from this April. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? Reasonably I hope that a few of the young prospects actually get experience and start to live up to potential. Picking baseball prospects seems more like gambling at the dog track than any other sport. Who is your player to watch this year? Riley Greene seems like he has a good shot at being an above-average player. Hopefully, he sticks in the big leagues. Playoffs? LOL. Record prediction and why? 44-117 because it’s a little worse than last year — which was pretty bad. What's your World Series matchup? Dodgers vs Yankees (Coastal elites take note!). What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? I think that the Astros are emblematic of that which plagues all of society. Cheating has become normalized and it’s making competition less interesting. Let’s hope they descend into mediocrity this year. Greg Dulli, Afghan Whigs Los Angeles Dodgers Courtesy of Greg Dulli What's the prognosis for the team this year? Do you think the team is hitting the wall or just the victims of unfortunate luck? The Dodgers were already an exceptional team. Adding Mookie Betts made them scary. This is a big year for Mookie! Do you think the Dodgers can keep him? Was it worth it to pick him up? How do you see this strange season shaking out? I believe they got him to keep him. When you can get a guy of his caliber, you do it. Who is your player to watch this year? Why? Brusdar Graterol. Throws 101 heat and a wicked slider too. Future closer. Playoffs? NL: Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Braves, Padres. AL: Yankees, Twins, Rays, Astros, White Sox. Record prediction and why? 44-16. Because they're that good. What's your World Series matchup? Dodgers over the Yankees in 6. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? They're a great team. Didn't need to cheat to win. The pandemic lets them off the hook. It'll be hard to throw at guys with no fans in the stands. Gonna have to hope for a Reds/Astros World Series so Trevor Bauer can try to hit Bregman before he gets kicked out. Steve Earle * New York Yankees Courtesy of Steve Earle What's your prognosis for the team this year? But I am like always at this time of year. I'm like, we're going to the World Series. We're gonna win every year. That's my prediction every year. I said all year last year that what we needed was some sort of different training regimen than we had. It's like, there's an entitlement that 27 world championships, you know, gives you that that they really expected and it's always World Series you're in and I think that's unfortunate sometimes. I mean, I expect this in the sense that like if somebody asked me, you know, hey, what are we going to do this year? I'd say the same thing I always say: we're going to the World Series this year. And if we don't, I'm a pretty good loser it would be insane not to be with this many world championships. Who do you think is the player to watch this year? I'm really interested in seeing what happens with Jordan Montgomery. It's looking like we're going see a couple of other guys in his level simply because we, you know, Severino is gone. DJ LeMahieu was the guy who saved our asses last year and he'll probably do it again this year. There's a couple of guys that could probably come up this year. I don't know. I think we're at least in as good of shape as we were last year. Do you see the Yankees taking the AL East at the bare minimum? I don't know who else would challenge them. The Red Sox are fucked – I hate seeing that because it's the greatest rivalry in baseball — but I don't see how they recover from losing Betts and everything else they're in. I think we've kind of pretty much got this division pretty much one town. We're at least as good as we were last year. Record prediction? Probably 100 wins, that's good enough for home field. What's your World Series prediction? Yankees vs. Dodgers. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? I'm not a fan of throwing at the batters on purpose. But it does happen, it's reality. I feel bad for everybody but this isn't the first time. I don't think this started this culture started with the Astros. I think it came there with certain players and then moved around the league and I don't want to get into that too much. This is a player's driven thing. The players should have paid something for this, that bothers me. This is cheating. Aidan Devaney, Nation of Language * Kansas City Royals Courtesy of Aidan Devaney What's the prognosis for the team this year? Will it get better before it gets worse? The Royals will win more games this year than last because Salvador Perez is back (he was out the 2019 season after receiving Tommy John surgery, which always sounds fake whenever somebody says it out loud but is 100% a real surgery). How long do you think it will take for them to get back in contention? Likely two years minimum before the Royals are back in contention. Who is your player to watch this year? Salvy is the player to watch. He's the heart of the team. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? Reasonable hope is for 70 wins. The ceiling is probably a .500 season, and the floor is 68 wins. Playoffs? Playoffs, not this year but fingers crossed for next!! What's your World Series matchup? This year's world series?? Yankees/Dodgers. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? Highly likely that the Astros will set a record for the most batters hit by pitch. :) Joey Santiago, Pixies Los Angeles Dodgers Courtesy of Joey Santiago What's your prognosis for them this year? I think their starting pitchers are awesome. The short season will help because they'll be fresh and they're an older team. So it will be to their advantage and they got a great bullpen now. And they got Mookie Betts! It's a big year for Mookie, with him being a free agent at the end of the season and all. How do you see the season shaking out for him with just 60 games in Los Angeles? Was it worth the risk of trading for him? I think so. The guy has got speed and we needed a right fielder since Puig left last year. We have a real soft spot for Puig. Who would you rather have, Puig or Betts? We just loved Puig. You know, we have a soft spot for him for the way he left Cuba and came here. He was a beloved figure here and I happened to like his shenanigans. What are your hopes for this season? What do you think the ceiling and the floor for the Dodgers is? I can't really expect any more. But just for my own heart, they do have a chance at the World Series. Kershaw just has to be Mr. October. He might just be getting tired at this point I can't really say, but Kershaw has pretty much disappointed. Playoffs for the Dodgers? Oh yeah, they'll definitely make the playoffs. Record prediction? They always win two out of every three games so that would be like winning 43-45 games. What's your World Series prediction? Dodgers vs. Yankees. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? See, when I played baseball as a kid, we'd try to figure out the signs. I don't know, hopefully, the Dodgers show some class, and just brush them aside and not try to hit them. Just don't aim at the head. I don't want anyone hurt. Scott Ian, Anthrax New York Yankees Courtesy of Scott Ian What's your prognosis for this season. Is this the year they finally break the 10-year drought? I know a little bit of what's going on. I know they're playing 60 games. I know they've added like New York street stickball rules to the games this year. It's hard for me to take this seriously as baseball if that's what they're going to do. I have a hard time even taking this season seriously, and much like the Yankees' World Series victory in 2009 when it turned out A-Rod was on steroids. I have publicly talked about this on social media over the years saying that I don't even count that trophy. I don't count that year. That's how I feel about this year. I don't care. I'm not gonna count the season that doesn't go into my record books. So whether or not they break it, they can win. It's not gonna mean anything to me. If the Yankees win the so-called World Series of 2020 based on what they're doing. Maybe 10 years from now if this is the way they keep things I'll adapt. I feel like the whole thing deserves the biggest asterisk ever put next to a stat. How do you think Gerrit Cole is going to do? Big money pickup. Is he the frontline starter the Yankees need? Of course and it always scares me whenever someone like this comes to New York because there's obviously a pretty long track record of guys who were fucking aces or stars elsewhere and then they come to New York and they underperform for whatever the reasons. Of course, I hope for the best. I think a true ace, a true animal out there on the mound, it doesn't matter what team you're on it doesn't matter what stadium you're pitching, it doesn't matter who's in the crowd. Just go out there and do your job. What are your reasonable hopes for this asterisk season? What do you think the Yankees' ceiling and floor is? The expectation is that Judge and Hicks are both going to be in the starting lineup obviously because of all of the delays because of the pandemic. If baseball would have started at its normal time, they would have been out for half of the season. Like I love Judge but could the guy he's been out more games that he's played. It's like the guy literally, like gets out of bed and he breaks a rib. If you got both of those guys starting and Vogt at first base (who I think is the best first baseman in the entire American League), they should do really well. Who's your player to watch this year? Certainly Judge because he barely played last year, same with Stanton — another good purchase . But for me, the guy to watch is Judge or Cole probably. Judge, offensively, is probably the most important guy. Record? 45-15, why not? Of course, that being said, and having seen it as a Yankee fan so many times before, watch them come out of the gate 3-12. Playoffs? In a 60-game season, any team can get hot. I guess in one exciting way, it definitely leaves the possibilities for the smaller market teams to excel because they don't have to deal with the normal 162 games stretch where the odds are at some point, the reality of their lineup is going to kick in and they'll start playing at the level that people expect them to. But in a 60 game season, you know, someone could get high and win 25 out of 30 unexpectedly. So I'd say yes that it's a safe bet that the Yankees make the playoffs in this format. What's your World Series prediction? The petty, holds-a-grudge side of me it's not even the World Series so much as I would love the Yankees to beat the Astros to get to the World Series. Because then I can then be the first one to say yes suck it and so what if I said there's an asterisk, now it counts! They quickly escalated to my most hated team — even over Boston — and they're the new Red Sox for me. I can't even hate Boston so much anymore that there's nobody left on that team that I even really know the players. Whereas the Astros in their cheating ways, I would love to see them go down. As a baseball fan. I'd love to see Yankees vs. Dodgers. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what do you think happens to them this year? If it was a normal, 162-game season, I think it would have come and gone pretty quickly. In this weird 60 game thing, where I think even maybe in some of the players' minds, they might be feeling the same way as a lot of the fans like, well, this is you know, basically what is this? This isn't even a real season. Well, let's wait till '21. So I have the feeling the Astros are going to get extra shit because guys aren't going to be too worried about what happens to them. If they get kicked out of a game or suspended or fined, or whatever, in this 60 game season that we're about to start. I don't think guys are going to be too worried about the consequences of their actions. Am I saying that I think it's right to throw the ball at somebody's head? No. But I do think they are going to catch some shit. I mean, you know, baseball grudges run deep and there is that old school kind of a tradition in baseball that goes way back to, sometimes revenge plays out on the field in these ways. Ira Kaplan, Yo La Tengo New York Mets Mariano Regidor/Redferns What's your prognosis for the season? I want to make it clear by not even knowing when the season started this year is that I don't really pay attention until the season starts. I'm not interested in the way I once was. But at this point, I almost feel like my team is my fantasy baseball team. Which is the case, the Backward Ks kind of named after Carlos Beltran from the 2006 playoffs. I don't know if it weren't for Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, I might stop watching the Mets altogether. Not even deGrom, Alonso and the rest of their young stars? I know the team from last year so I know them. With Alonso, You wonder what the guy is going to be like if he hit a bunch of home runs right off the bat and if it wasn't really going to last. Then I realized this is real. Of course, deGrom is the greatest. I mean, I say this, I express my lack of interest as someone who will probably watch every single game. It's more I think it's not so much my level of interest, but my level of involvement. I really have become kind of a cranky old sports fan befitting my age. The thing like the Wilpons has genuinely robbed the fun of paying attention to baseball. Like the whole Beltran thing. The Mets are the only team that can get caught up in a scandal they had nothing to do with. That's been another interesting thing during the pandemic, as they've been showing the old playoff games. And it was interesting to me to confirm how much more fun those broadcasts are to watch. I'm not that interested in going to games anymore, at certainly at Citi Field, because it's just I feel like it's baseball so much designed for people who don't like baseball to try to keep them interested. Any thoughts, though, on this season? I am serious about not paying attention until the season starts and in fact, probably from Beyond the Booth I've heard some of the names of the people that they picked up, although I can't remember them. They've disappointed us before that's for sure. Who is your player to watch? DeGrom. It's so exciting just to watch him. When he used to have long hair, Georgia was walking on the street one day and recognized him from the back. I think he was on his bicycle I wouldn't get excited by that he's with his wife and child and he just rode passed and turned around, smiled at her and gave a thumbs up. Do you have an early World Series prediction? Nope. Only that there will be one. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? I haven't really thought about it, but I think that's one thing about the shorter seasons is going to be in their favor. If somebody throws at them get suspended for a start, that's a lot more significant than it normally would be in a full season. I think they have to have some guys in the bullpen I guess with the expanded rosters. They can afford to have the guys the relief pitchers they're just a throw at somebody and get suspended. Kay Hanley, Letters to Cleo Boston Red Sox Angie Shaw/@DJAngieC What's the prognosis for the team this year? Worried? I feel like a chump even answering this question because my answer will be nullified 100 times before this runs but here goes: Even if we weren’t living in the upside-down, with Cora jettisoned and shallow pitching staff in a … um, rebuilding phase, my expectations are pretty meh. Propelled by a promising array of bats, they could at least win the wildcard but get knocked out of the ALDS pretty quickly. That is my expert analysis as a singer in a rock band and writer of cartoon music. How does the team rebound from trading Betts? It’s right field how fucking hard could it be? JUST KIDDING. I love Mookie and it hurts my feelings knowing that he’s not on the roster when maybe it didn't need to be that way. However, we have survived more upsetting trades. I mean, look at how the Jon Lester thing worked out! Oh, wait… On the bright side, my 21-year-old daughter Zoe Mabel is in fangirl heaven with her top baseball crushes, Mookie + Joe Kelly playing ball down the street from us at Dodger Stadium. Do you trust the process of the regime or is the lack of spending infuriating? Trust is a very strong word that I do not believe applies to the relationship between Sox fans and the front office. I will say that I like Sam Kennedy a great deal and that in my opinion, Chaim Bloom walked into an already challenging job and got kneecapped by a global pandemic. As far as I’m concerned, everyone gets a mulligan for this season. As for spending, I like the low cost, low profile approach to team-building. I am a true Bostonian. What are your reasonable hopes for this season? I was pretty skeptical that MLB was going to be able to pull off even this very truncated season so the fact that I’m watching Sox/Jays game right now means my hopes have already been exceeded. My hope is to just enjoy it. Listening to Joe Castiglione call games on WEEI is my favorite sound in the world. Seeing baseball being played at empty Fenway fills me with such comfort and longing that I swear to god I will never be mad about the wave or "Sweet Caroline" ever again. Probably. What's the ceiling/floor? I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan. There is no floor. Who is your player to watch this year? It’ll be interesting to see if and to what extent Alex Verdugo makes the Betts/Price trade look un-stupid Rafael Devers - big bat, fun to watch. Andrew Benintendi - do or die season for immensely talented + lovable player who just hasn’t been able to deliver on that superstar promise. YET. What's your World Series matchup? I’m not a renegade here. Dodgers vs. Yankees. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? Fuck the Astros. Michael Franti San Francisco Giants Brett Mazurek What's the prognosis for the team this year? Look, I’ve thought the Giants would win the World Series every season since I got my first orange and black hat when I was seven years old, so you might be asking the wrong person to prognosticate on this crazy 60-game adventure we’ve entered into. But with all the fresh young talent we’ve got, we could win a few games just off of the naïveté of a few guys who’ve never been told rookies suck by opposing fans because there won’t be any fans to say anything. We could win a couple more just off the fact that no one has a home-field advantage. I’m saying the Giants are squeaking in as an upstart Wild Card team!!! It's a big year of transition for the Giants, how will they do with all the new faces, and without Bochy? Bochy is by far our biggest loss. He was the glue in late innings, he was the inspirational father figure for our young players, and he was also the manager who allowed every player to grow their hair and beards out and not give a crap if our starting pitchers smoked weed on their time off before anyone else did. And for that, we won three rings in five years!!! You just can’t replace that. Gabe Kapler has stepped in at the helm, and in the first game, he already drew the Twitter ire of one Donald J. Trump by supporting his players who took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. He’s shown he believes in his team, and if some young guys can buy in and play better than they actually are, we are gonna be competitive every afternoon. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? Admittedly my wildcard prediction above might be a stretch for 2020, but this is a short season with no fans, and that means if a team gets hot for a month it could make them playoff contenders. So who knows? We for sure won’t suck. The entire league has a lot of young talent that are wanting use this season as a springboard to bounce some quarantine lazy veterans off of every line-up card in the league, so my money is on young talent stepping up big time this season...and young talent is what we have. Who is your player to watch this year? Why? The Panda, Pablo Sandoval. He’s back after a year off to take care of his elbow. He’s a leader and a fun guy to watch on any at-bat. I’m looking for him to be the guy who shows our youngsters what it takes to win in the majors and surprise everyone with a juicy slugging percentage, and the short season is going to limit the wear and tear on his body. If we do manage a playoff spot, he’s got multiple seasons of experience there and can carry a team on his shoulders with big at-bats in crucial moments. Record prediction and why? 34-26. I just have a feeling without the added fan pressure, our young guys are going to swing the bat like they’re playing backyard whiffle ball and start some highly entertaining new rally rituals that the TV broadcasts are going to be desperate for when there’s no 12-year-olds catching foul balls in their snow cone cups in the bleachers. The younger the team, the more highlightable the off-field shenanigans will be. And like it or not, that shit brings teams good luck! We are gonna get some offensive production that we haven’t seen in years. What's your World Series matchup? The Astros losing Gerrit Cole to the Yankees is insurmountable. I’m going with the Yankees and Braves in the Series. Everyone’s money is gonna be on the Dodgers in the NL (but as a Giants fan, I could never utter such nonsense). What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? Baseball loves “Jeters” and hates cheaters. Josh Klinghoffer, Pluralone New York Yankees Courtesy of Josh Klinghoffer What's the prognosis for the team this year? Is this the year you guys break your 10-year hex? Well, perhaps we’re once again starting “healthy." That’s an odd thing to say these days. I was thinking it was looking that way. We’ve (“we’ve”, HAHA!) come so close the past few years. This season is such an unknown. How's Gerrit Cole gonna do? What are your hopes for him? I really felt that he would settle into the pinstripes well. I felt he’d be effective straight away, now again, how are we to know what to expect from these guys during this strange period. I think he’ll be good though, at least for a bit. Hopes are to stay healthy and be a solid ace, ALL YEAR. Now that’s half a year. What are your reasonable hopes for this ridiculous season? I guess my only real hope, more than either of my teams doing well (I like the Dodgers too, I know.), is that we don’t have a major health crisis. Some outbreak of the virus that infects loads of people on and with a team. I almost have no real interest in this season. Of course, I’ll watch and be excited to see baseball, but a 60 game season? What??? If either of my teams wins, it won’t feel that special, apart from being I guess somewhat unique of a title to be discussed in What's the ceiling/floor? Ceiling: Playoff baseball Floor: Major outbreak/injuries Record prediction and why? I’m only thinking of these numbers now and laughing to myself. .500 ball is 30-30. I don’t even know what to say. What's your World Series matchup? Yankees vs. Dodgers!!! COME ON!!!! What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? It’s a shame, the whole thing. My two teams, arguably, suffered the worst. I don’t know. They should be ashamed of themselves and not feel like they really did it. It’s funny that Cole is in the Bronx now. My Dad showed me a great little quote of Bart Giamatti saying that cheaters should be punished to the fullest extent. I tend to agree. DJ Bonebrake, X Los Angeles Dodgers Courtesy of X What's the prognosis for the team this year? Do you think the team is hitting the wall or just the victims of unfortunate luck? The Dodgers have a great team this year. I'm sorry David Price isn't pitching, but I understand why. Protecting your family comes first. Any team that makes it to the World Series is both playing well and is having good luck. Only two teams out of thirty make it to the World Series! This is a big year for Mookie! Do you think the Dodgers can keep him? Was it worth it to pick him up? It will be his biggest truncated year to date. He's a great player I think he's going to help the team a lot... How do you see this strange season shaking out? It's going to be a different game without the fans. This year is going to have an exhibition game feel to it. I worry that players will test positive for COVID-19 and the whole thing will be shut down. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? I hope that the players are safe and that the games distract us from reality for a few hours. I worry that players will get sick and the season will end prematurely. Best case scenario, the Dodgers win the World Series at home in front of 50,000 cardboard cutouts. (The Dodgers are offering personalized cardboard cutouts displayed in the stands for a couple of hundred dollars.) Who is your player to watch this year? Why? Edwin Rios, if he's in the final lineup. He's a power hitter and a good fielder. Playoffs? The usual suspects and some Wild Cards thrown in. Record prediction and why? 38-22. Just going by last season. Dodgers won close to two out of three games. What's your World Series matchup? Dodgers vs. Red Sox. But I'm always wrong! What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? The title should have been taken away from the Astros. One of the reasons MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave for not stripping the Astros of their World Series title was that it had never happened before in baseball and that he considered himself a "precedent guy." So now it has happened and a precedent has been set. No punishment for cheating is the new tradition. It's unfortunate that fans won't be able to publicly scorn the team this year. They deserve it! Benny Horowitz, Gaslight Anthem * New York Yankees Courtesy of Benny Horowitz So what are your reasonable hopes for this year? What's the ceiling and floor? I mean, the reasonable hope is a World Series title. And I think it's fair to say when you add like, you know, arguably the best or the top three pitchers in baseball to 103-win team Yankees have a one and a decade, which is strange for them, and you know, the Cole thing is kind of lining up with the CC thing where it's like, you know, we brought this big guy in when there was a drought and spend all this money so I think even if the Yankees start to stumble, they're probably gonna start making moves and really scramble this year is all in I can't see it being anything else but all in. The floor? I really don't see them not making the playoffs. It's data optimistic I think it would take like a real, real, serious turn of events like just devastating injuries to that team for them to not make playoffs. Who's your player to watch this year? I try not to put too much credence into spring but Jordan Montgomery is coming off Tommy John surgery. He looked great, you know, about 18 months ago before he had it, you know, kind of a young kid with a strong arm and like a lot, a lot of tools. I mean, beautiful curveball, and when he came back and what I've been seeing in spring, he's thrown a little bit harder. Seems like he diversified his arsenal a little bit. So I think right off, you know, there are questions about the staff permitting, I think Montgomery's pretty locked in to like the fourth rotation spot and I expect him Again, you know, you could say health permitting for any player, but you know, I think he's gonna be a big surprise. Playoffs? I think the Yankees are in one of those positions where like say towards the end of the season like Tampa is on a great run and they have like 101 wins and you know the Yankees are a couple of games behind but still firmly in a playoff spot or something like that. You know, maybe they back off because the injuries but yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and say, division winner. Record prediction? I'm thinking about 105 wins, and it's just, you know, basically compensating the current slew of injuries with the progression of some younger players and the players they brought in. A couple of games better than last season. World Series prediction? Yankees vs. Dodgers, of course. I thought about this long and hard about like, going out and just making like a bold prediction for fun, but I'm just looking at that Dodgers roster and I'm like nope. What do you think happens to the Astros this year? It's been pretty well stated that, you know, their lack of contrition going through this process is really making it a little harder to digest. You know, if they all took like the Andy Pettitte approach. This is like, take it on the chin and moved on, I think everything would be going a little better. The one contention I have about all of it is, I've heard from a couple of sources dare I say that baseball, gave the immunity in order to be able to tell the full story. It's obviously like a little late in the game for you know, giving people game penalties at this point. see the types of players on that roster and they seem like players who really enjoy being well like so I do think the kind of vitriol and the stuff they're going to see in opposing stadiums and stuff this year it's, it's gonna bother him and I think they're gonna have a weird year and I don't think they're gonna be great. Richard On, O.A.R. Washington Nationals Courtesy of Richard On What's the prognosis for the team this year? How does it feel to FINALLY breakthrough? There’s a lot of doubters, but with a 60-game season you definitely can’t count them out. I mean everyone counted them out last year when they were 19-31, but then the jaws started dropping. Everything started falling into place and next thing you know they are going to their first World Series. I remember feeling so defeated after the Astros smashed them in Games 3, 4, and 5 thinking it could be the end. I shot Zim a text of good vibes that night and he texted back, “You just gotta believe”. The man and his club were so damn confident even after losing three in a row. Two days later they force game 7 and the rest is history. Surprised at your pal Ryan's decision to sit out? How does that impact the team in this ridiculous season? Ryan is a family man first. He has a newborn and family members who are at high risk. I’d opt out of a tour if it put my family at risk so nothing but respect for his decision. Even with the absence of Zim and Ross their starting lineup and pitching are still strong. Turner is healthy, Soto is only better, Strasberg and crazy eyes Scherzer. I can’t wait. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? Of course, I hope they successfully defend their title or at least a strong run in the playoffs. Who is your player to watch this year? Soto for sure! He’s young, full of energy, and a hammer at the plate. Playoffs? Absolutely. Record prediction and why? 38-22 feels good. What's your World Series matchup? Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? Honestly, I thought it was pathetic. You’ve got professional baseball players, the very best in the world, agreeing to participate in a sign-stealing operation because their managers asked them to? This isn’t Karate Kid where the sensei tells you to sweep the leg. These are grown professional athletes who knew right from wrong. I thought the players should have been held accountable along with management. To the extent of what punishment I don’t know, but they should not be considered the 2017 champions. Brian Burkheiser, I Prevail Detroit Tigers Courtesy of Brian Burkheiser What's the prognosis for the team this year? Can't get much worse, right? Don’t count the Tigers out too fast... With only 60 games this season, anything is possible! I expect Gardenhire to lead the boys to a respectable record and have some prospects turn into real big leaguers. The past few years have been rough, but with one of the best farm systems in the game, I feel confident we are not too far off from being back. Mize, Manning, Greene and newly acquired #1 pick Spencer Torkelson... the future is bright! Is Cabrera done? Do you feel like the Tigers are as far away as their record indicates? Confidence in the front office? No way. Miggy was tearing up spring training before the pandemic hit, and looks to be in the best shape of his career. I think he has taken this season very seriously and will come out with a chip on his shoulder to prove those wrong who say he’s fallen off. I expect him to get over the .300 mark this year. For the front office, it hasn’t been pretty recently, but with some great draft classes, and free-agent signings like C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop, I like the mixture of vets and young guys. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? Any other year, I would view this as another rebuilding season. However, I truly think the 60 game season will create some drama. Last year, after 60 games, Washington was only 27-33. Without 162 games, I expect some surprises to make it into the playoffs. For the Tigers, the ceiling is being in contention for a playoff spot headed into the last 10 games. The floor... well... hello, Kumar Rocker. Who is your player to watch this year? Michael Fulmer. Fulmer won AL ROY in 2016 and has finally recovered from his Tommy John surgery. If he can stay healthy, he is the no. 1 on this staff. Can't wait to see him back on the mound again. Playoffs? The homer in me wants to say yes, so I will. Yes. Record prediction? 33-27. Thinking this team will get over .500 is wishful thinking, but they have the pitching talent to keep games close. If my bold prediction were to come true, we’d need some bats to really step up. What's your World Series matchup? Brewers over Yankees in six games. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? As a huge Justin Verlander fan, I was very happy to see them win a ring a few years back after we traded him. However, I think most, including myself, will be rooting for a big down year for the Astros. I think they miss the playoffs. JB Brubaker, August Burns Red Philadelphia Phillies Courtesy of JB Brubaker What's the prognosis for the team this year? Worried? I wouldn’t say I’m feeling worried, but I’m not feeling particularly optimistic. I wasn’t feeling optimistic before COVID-19 hit. With the shortened season and new schedule, I think the mountain the Phillies have to climb is that much harder. They are in one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball and they’re not one of the best teams so not a great recipe for success. It will be interesting to see how new manager Joe Girardi handles the ball club. This is a big year for Bryce Harper. How long does he have til the Philadelphia phans turn on him? I’m a big Harper supporter. The Harper signing was a huge deal for the franchise and I’m willing to give him a longer leash. The guy was 26 last year. He just signed an astronomical contract with the loftiest of expectations. Then he moved to a pretty tough city when it comes to the fans and our critical opinions. On top of that, he became a new dad. That’s a lot of stress on a young man. Thinking back to myself at that age, I would’ve imploded. He didn’t have a horrible season by any means, but the salary and performance didn’t quite add up. This year is already a wash in my opinion. The sample size is so small it’s hard to take much from what happens in the next 60 games. If Harper has a disappointing 2021 season, I believe it’s fair to sound the alarm. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? I think the ceiling is a playoff birth. I don’t think this team has a chance to win a World Series, but in 60 games, anything could happen. The floor…yikes. I could see things getting pretty ugly. The schedule is just so brutal that they could easily lose a ton of games. The expectations, in my opinion, are a .500 season. A middle-of-the-pack team that no one is talking about come September. I’d love to be wrong! Who is your player to watch this year? Why? I’m interested to see what starting pitcher Zack Wheeler can do. As an avid fantasy baseball player, he’s been on my radar since he was in the Mets minor league system. He’s had a bit of a bumpy road since his first-round draft selection in 2009, battling back from Tommy John surgery in 2009, and dealing with various other arm injuries. His talent isn’t up for debate though, and when healthy he’s shown flashes of brilliance. The Phillies signed him to a five-year deal this offseason. They desperately need consistency in their rotation and Wheeler will slot in behind Aaron Nola as the team's number two pitcher. I’m hoping Wheeler can produce a 3.50 ERA or better with at least a strikeout per inning. He’s been a workhorse in the past, regularly going seven innings, so he could be an arm that gives the bullpen a break when they need it. Playoffs? I really don’t think so. Like I said before, anything can happen in a 60-game season so maybe the team will click and sneak in as a wildcard team. I think a division title is a pipe dream. There are just too many question marks on the roster, and I don’t think they did enough in the offseason to improve their bullpen, which was a huge liability last year. Record prediction and why? 27-33 I hope I’m wrong, but the division is too tough and the team showed last year that they’re going to struggle to be consistent both at the plate and on the mound. I think they’re going to need to have a couple of guys from their farm system excel in order to break through as a real contender in the next few years. What's your World Series matchup? Yankees versus Dodgers. The battle of the two biggest media markets. It will be a ratings smorgasbord. I think the Yankees are just loaded everywhere. Their lineup is so deep, their bullpen is lights out, and their rotation has big upside. The Dodgers are a similar story with even more potential at starting pitcher. They have multiple guys in their bullpen who most teams would love to have in their rotations. I think their arms carry them to an NL pennant. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? What the Astros did is pretty bad. I know all the teams do whatever they can do bend the rules and get an advantage, but the Astros crossed the line and they’re going to pay for it. If you’re on the Astros, you'd better wear your pads when you come to the dish, especially early in the season. I think they’re going to be pummeled with pitches early and often. I imagine this will result in tensions running high and some bench clearing moments. Pete Yorn New York Yankees Courtesy of Pete Yorn What's the prognosis for the team this year? Is this the year you guys break your 10-year hex? I really don’t see them losing more than 10-15 games all season. Talent-wise - they are loaded and they’ll run away with the division and should have the top seed in the playoffs. How's Gerrit Cole gonna do? Sink, swim, crumble? What are your hopes for him? Cole is the perfect Yankee. I’m excited for opening day when he will face Max. I have a feeling that could be the only game he might not win all year. I know that’s crazy, but he’s that good. After Houston knocked us out, we were rooting so hard for the Nats last year. It was such a great story and sort of helped us get over the walk-off loss to Houston. Who is your player to watch this year? Player to watch - this is finally the year of The Judge. He goes off this year. Fast start and he won’t fade. What are your reasonable hopes for this ridiculous season? What's the ceiling/floor? World Series. What's your World Series matchup? Yanks vs. Atlanta. Yanks in 6. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? My thoughts on the Astros - they will get beamed a ton, but they will be right there in the end. Kenny Hensley, The Head and the Heart Los Angeles Dodgers Courtesy of Kenny Hensley What's the prognosis for the team this year? Do you think the team is hitting the wall or just the victims of unfortunate luck? I think the Dodgers are as well-positioned for another World Series run as ever with the addition of Mookie and keeping most of the OG roster. This is a big year for Mookie Betts. Do you think the Dodgers can keep him? Ir is a huge year for him! If he has another solid year, which is expected? He'll have nine-figure offers being thrown at him from all sides. Can only hope that he finds a fit here in L.A. and has more reason to stay after winning a WS. Cant bail on a back to back opportunity. Was it worth it to pick him up? How do you see this strange season shaking out? 100% worth it. End of the day the Dodgers didn’t lose much and picked up one of the best. Along with Price! Which I think is an even bigger necessity for our team. Unfortunately, he won’t be playing for us this year. Still think we’ve got a solid shot with all this extra rest for our pitchers. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? It's so hard to say! So many teams start off on fire and crank out a ton of wins during the first 60 games and then hit a wall and slump the rest of the season. Will be interesting for sure but looking at our team and our division? I think Dodgers will have a commanding lead heading into playoffs. Double-digit W/L lead. Who is your player to watch this year? Why? I just can’t wait to see how Mookie blends in with the rest of our squad. For me, as obvious as it is, that’s my guy I’m most excited to watch. Also super curious to see how Bellinger comes out after his MVP season. Hopefully no slump! Playoffs? For the Dodgers, definitely. Record prediction and why? 45-15. Will be the best Dodgers season ever as far as percentage goes. Mainly because of the shortened season and so many divisional games against lousy teams. What's your World Series matchup? Dodgers vs. Yankees. Dodgers in 6. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? I've got plenty to say about this but will keep it short. That loss stung and still does hurt as much as any sports loss I’ve experienced. With all the news breaking it softened the pain a bit. Feels like we didn’t win on the field, but didn’t lose to the Astros at the same time. Is what it is. Just hope we can win one with these guys while we have the chance. Brian Baker, Bad Religion * New York Mets Bad Religion/Epitaph Records What's your prognosis for this year? Well, playoffs I mean, just period playoffs hashtag LFGM. I mean, there's no question We're looking at a pitching situation that has such unbelievable potential. DeGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. Without a doubt, deGrom has won two consecutive Cy Young awards. So he wants to win the World Series. I mean, I'm at a loss for words for him because I'm just so impressed with the way he goes about the job, it's so intimidating. I think Stroman, he's cool and I like that he's short. I was incredibly bummed out by the bullpen last year. On the other side, obviously I love Alonso, but I love McNeil. I mean, the only thing I don't like about McNeil is that I don't get Todd Frazier anymore. And Conforto, I think he's going to blow up. I mean, this was just there's too many positives starting this season. And I don't know anything about Luis Rojas. But, you know, he's not I just don't know enough about him. Everybody's young and no offense to Phil Regan either. What do you think about this whole manager situation how only the Mets can get involved in a scandal that they had nothing to do with. It's nice that they're handling it right away, they at least stopped the bleeding instantly. And I don't understand. I don't know the inner workings, but I'm impressed that they didn't drag it out. They were 100% in on Beltran and had to pull and there was no hesitation to do so. It was a rare sign of decisiveness. What are your reasonable hopes for the season? What's the ceiling and floor? I think the floor is winning 83 games. I don't think that there's going to be some catastrophic issue here. And I think and feel it's playoffs. I really do. I don't think there's any other option than this. It's .500 ball or close to it, or the playoffs you just have this much talent and also, this much energy, plus the team is for sale! Who is your player to watch this year? It's Conforto. He's just about to be a marquee player. And my hope is that he continues on this trajectory. I think that this guy can hit 40 home runs, and I think that he can bat .300. I think he's could beat the all-around player and also, he's a nice guy. Record prediction? The short form is that I see a playoff team. And the reason I see a playoff team is I see playoff players. This is just setting up to be the best Mets year since 2015. World Series Prediction? Impossible to tell. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? The simplest explanation is the right one: Suckers for cheating. There's guys banging on clocks and I don't know about the wired buzzer. It's going to be a very hard year for them. We all know that professional sports aren't exactly what they seem. So there's a difference between bending a rule with something under your hat it's gonna make a ball move versus just blatant cheating to me. It's shitty. I think they're going to get booed every time they go on the field and I hope they do poorly! Riley Breckenridge, Thrice * Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Courtesy of Riley Breckenridge What's your prognosis for them this year? I know that being cautiously optimistic is about as good as I can do. The Rendon thing is exciting but they didn't address their pitching, which is like their most glaring need. Dylan Bundy isn't the answer to their pitching woes and neither is Julio Tehran. They've just been stuck in this perpetually mediocre level with the best player in baseball on their roster. What about Shohei Ohtani? Him coming back and having that bat in the lineup is awesome. I'm eager to see what type of Shohei Ohtani we get back post-Tommy John surgery. And I always worry about the risk of reinjury, but it's exciting to have him back. Joe Maddon is back, though. That should improve things. I don't buy into that at all. When he was with the Rays, I think he had a thing going and then as time went on, and he moved on to the Cubs, this might be a little bit of my distaste for the Cubs showing but I don't know this, the schtick just got super tired to me. And there were other organizations that were like jumping in on the like analytics train and being pretty progressive about how they handled things on and off the field and I think there's something to be said about Maddon being a player's manager and lets guys be who they want to be and not being a micromanager, but I don't think he's like some genius. I don't think he's gonna turn this team from like, 86 wins, into a 98-win team. They're always operating like it's five years ago at all times. What about Anthony Rendon and his new 10-year deal? It's insane. I feel like with the Angels' luck, he's going to blow out a knee sliding into second or something in the second week of the season. Maybe I'm not optimistic about this season. Record prediction? 86-76. Playoffs? No. Cheating or not cheating, the Astros are amazing. Even though they're gonna have some trouble because people are going to be heckling them and probably throwing at them and making it hard to focus on baseball. I think they are a lock to win the division or when the Wild Card. Then the A's are going to be in the mix. You can pencil the Angels for third or fourth in the AL West. World Series prediction? Yankees vs. Dodgers, no brainer. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? They're still really good. I'm sure it helps. A lot. I mean, I know it helps a lot to know which pitches coming. I mean, I know it helps a lot to know which pitches coming. Barring injury, the AL West is theirs to lose. I'm thinking that fans and players alike are going to make their life as much of a living hell as it possibly can be. Mark Guiliana (David Bowie, Meshell Ndegeocello) Los Angeles Dodgers Courtesy of Mark Guiliana What's the prognosis for the team this year? Do you think the team is hitting the wall or just the victims of unfortunate luck? I’m optimistic! Assuming everybody stays healthy, which is quite the assumption given the current climate, this team is pretty stacked. The recent news of David Price choosing not to play is a blow for the pitching staff, but I think for this shortened season, and with less time to prepare than usual, the pitching duties will be more evenly distributed between starters, middle relievers, and closers. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? I wouldn’t say that the Dodgers have suffered from unfortunate luck in these last few playoff runs, it’s just that they simply weren’t playing their best baseball when they needed to. (*The one major exception would be facing the cheating Astros in the World Series…that one still stings.) Who is your player to watch this year? I very much look forward to seeing Mookie play and I’m hopeful that he will produce out here on the West Coast the same way he had been in Boston. I honestly don’t expect them to keep him (so much money!), but I sure hope they find a way to do so. What are your expectations? I expect the Dodgers to win at least 35 games, maybe as many as 40. I could see them getting into the playoffs without an issue but is that when they will be playing their best baseball? That is absolutely when the starters will need to step up and deliver. I’m a big fan of Walker Buehler and I hope he can continue to set the tone for the rest of the staff. Who is your player to watch? I will try not to go too obvious with my player to watch, Corey Seager. I really like the way he plays and I think he’s a glue guy — someone that when he is playing great both in the field and at the plate can really inspire the rest of the team. What's your World Series pick? As a New Jersey native living in Los Angeles, my dream World Series matchup for every year is Dodgers vs. Yankees, and I think this is one of those years where it could happen… let’s see! What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? Due to all the COVID regulations, it seems as though bench clearing brawls are out of the question — lucky them! I don’t want to condone violence in any way, but the Astros cheated and they should be held accountable… Isn’t that what the unwritten rules of baseball are for? Pokey LaFarge * Chicago Cubs Courtesy of Pokey LaFarge What's your prognosis for them this year? It's kind of frustrating. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer built an amazing farm system of position players. But they haven't been able to position players haven't matured and become all-stars. But they weren't able to develop pitching. And since they were able to develop the team with the farm system, you know, those guys are all young, and they're cheap and they're cost-controlled, but they're a big market and had tons of money to go out and get free-agent pitching. But no free agent pitching doesn't always work out. And you spend tons of money. So now we're kind of saddled with these, these older aging pitchers that aren't at the top of their game. And we don't have the money to go out and get anybody else. And we don't have any pitchers that we've developed through the farm system that can come in and supplement them. These offensive players, these young guys that have come up with a system, hopefully, they don't regress and make the adjustments they need to make in order to be competitive because we set the bar pretty high to make them as Cubs fans. We just wanted one World Series but now that we have one with one another one before the window closes. What are your reasonable hopes and what's the ceiling/floor for them this year? Well, that's the thing. I mean, the idea of the Cubs changed and you're no longer a lovable loser. Jed and Theo and Tom Ricketts have changed that culture. We went to the playoffs in 2015, 16, 17, 18, and that's never happened in Cubs history and is a huge disappointment, not making it to the playoffs last year. I think people are just hoping that that get to the playoffs, and I guess when we get to playoffs anything can happen. I think people are a little frustrated with our pitching staff. I don't think we have a pitching staff that can compete with, say the Nationals or the Dodgers or the Mets. Who is the player to watch this year and the Cubs' case, it could be the manager? I think everybody was ready to move on from Joe . Things move quickly these days. Since they won World Series in '16, they've regressed every year. They had to act now and change. I don't know I think David Ross will be OK. He knows the culture he played for the team. He was in the front office since he retired. I think if you just hope that everybody stays consistent. I think Willson Contreras, the catcher, I hope he keeps his bat at the level that it's been the last couple of years but also improves defensively. He's got a rocket arm. He's got a lot of passion in the lineup, but he's one of the worst pitch framers in the league. Kris Bryant, we all hope that he plays better. Playoffs? I would probably say our best bet for making the playoffs this year would be winning our division. The Wild Card could be too tough to get. What's your record prediction for the season? I really want us to win 90 games. But I don't see the team doing that. So I'm going to say about 88 games. Can you make run in the playoffs winning 88 games? You certainly haven't been able to in the past and I don't know that you will be able to this year. I just don't think we had the pitching staff. I just don't think we have the pitching staff and the big thing is our bullpen is completely different from last year. A lot of unproven arms. So I'm gonna be conservative. World Series prediction? Dodgers vs. Yankees as a safe bet, but as a secondary pick, either the Twins or the A's versus the Dodgers. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? I think cheating is a part of sports, trying to get an advantage on your opponents. But what the Astros did absolutely crossed the line. The fact they got a plea bargain with MLB, not getting any disciplinary action in exchange for ratting out their coach and the GM. I mean it's really, really sick. Chingy St. Louis Cardinals Jamie Squire/Getty Images What's the prognosis for the team this year? It's an interesting year for the Cards — they don't seem as powerful as years past but aren't going away. Who is your player to watch this year? Right-handers Jack Flaherty and Carlos Martinez, left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim Wainwright, Dexter Fowler, and Paul Goldschmidt. Playoffs? PLAYOFFS YES THEY WIN IT ALL!! Record prediction and why? With smaller season who knows what the record will be but I think Cards win because they do great early. What's your World Series matchup? If it’s possible, Cardinals vs. Yankees! Who would not tune in to watch these monumental teams go toe to toe? What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? Astros have great organization and they for sure will be one of the teams to watch this season!! Honus Honus, Man Man Philadelphia Phillies Dan Monick What's the prognosis for the team this year? Worried? The offense has the potential to be terrifyingly dominant but the pitching has a lot of question marks. What me worry? This is a big year for Bryce Harper. How long does he have til the Philadelphia phans turn on him? He’s confident, more mature, coming into his own. He’s a big personality/performer and I don’t think he’ll disappoint this season. Dude loves the limelight. Philly is a tough city and can see through just about anyone’s bullshit super quickly but as long as he keeps working and pushes through any rough patches they won’t turn on them. Or…they’ll throw double-D batteries at him until he’s run out of town. Can go either way really. What are your reasonable hopes? What's the ceiling/floor? Girardi is a winner and knows how to right just about any ship. World Series is the ceiling and the floor. Who is your player to watch this year? Why? Spencer Howard. He’s a stud. Just hope they don’t leave him in Lehigh too long. And when he hits the roster full time, I hope he doesn't go out partying with Gritty in his spare time. Playoffs? Duh. Record prediction and why? 33-27. Gotta think positively. What's your World Series matchup? Phillies vs. Yankees. What are your thoughts on the Astros and what happens to them this year? I’m from Texas and grew up a Nolan Ryan fan (whatever team he was on was my team) but as far as the Astros go, they should be banned for a few years. Such a disappointment. Really bummed me out and I think the Dodgers totally got screwed out of a pennant.