by Sam Allard
PD sports guru Terry Pluto (the precious chap pictured to your right) published 20 predictions for the 2013 Cleveland Indians in this morning's paper. And folks, they were pretty lame. Pretty non-assertive there, Terry! I mean a few of them weren't even predictions.
I've decided to include my own predictions below to establish a sort of opposite extreme, and to keep Mr. Terry Pluto accountable.
Matter of fact, to that end, I'd like to hereby challenge Mr. Terry Pluto to a PREDICTION BATTLE. Please comment below on what the awards/punishments should be in this epic prediction battle. No award is too extravagant nor punishment too severe. This prediction battle will rock the greater Great Lakes sports media landscape.
For example, re: punishments, I'm thinking that if more of my predictions come true, the PD should be required to publish a photo spread of Terry Pluto in every historical Cleveland baseball uniform to date. If more of Pluto's predictions come true, I will subject myself to a punishment equal in humiliation and public exposure. I await your creativity with eagerness and terror.
Off we go:
1. PLUTO: Nick Swisher will hit 24 homers, drive in 88 runs and the fans will love the guy. In other words, he’ll have his typical Nick Swisher season, making it nine years in a row of at least 20 homers.
1. @SceneSallard: Nick Swisher will hit 29 homers, drive in 99 runs and fans will hate him during what will be two significant slumps.
WINNER: Terry Pluto; Pretty daggone close, thanks to a Swisher late-season surge.
2. PLUTO: By June, only one of these three will still be in the rotation: Scott Kazmir, Brett Myers and Zach McAllister. While all the attention has been on Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez at the top of the rotation, the bottom three also worry me. Kazmir hasn’t won a big league game since 2010. Myers was in the bullpen last season. McAllister is 6-9 with a 4.47 ERA in 26 big league starts and still has a lot to prove.
2: @SceneSallard: Zach McAllister will be the Indians' leader in wins this year. Bam! I said it. He'll go 16-9. Myers will be a bust. Kazmir's abdominal strain will turn into an abdominal cyst or intestinal smear and he'll be cheering for his team from various specialty units in the Cleveland Clinic. BUT I LOVE KAZMIR AND I WANT SO BADLY FOR HIM TO SUCCEED.
3. PLUTO: Carlos Carrasco will be the first starter promoted from AAA as he is throwing 92-95 mph. He’ll be an asset to the Tribe.
3. @SceneSallard: Carlos Carrasco will be the first starter promoted from AAA. Ho-hum. Big deal.
4. PLUTO: The Indians will have at least nine different pitchers start games as they continue to look for help in the rotation.
4. @SceneSallard: The Indians will have at least 1,000 pitchers start games as they continue to look for help etc. (That's a gimme, Terry. I am literally handing you prediction #4 in the name of comedy.)
WINNER: Pluto; just barely.
5. PLUTO: Mark Reynolds will hit 30 homers, the first Indian to do so since Grady Sizemore (33 in 2008). It may take 180 strikeouts, but he’ll still do it.
5. @SceneSallard: Be serious, Terry. Mark Reynolds will not hit 30 homers. He will be behind Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall and Carlos Santana in total HRs.
6. PLUTO: Cody Allen has good stuff but didn’t have an especially good spring. He could be one of the first sent to the minors, replaced by someone such as Matt Capps.
6. @SceneSallard: Weak-ass prediction there, Terry. Will he be or won't he? I say Matt Capps comes up and becomes a staple in middle relief.
7. PLUTO: Matt Capps will pitch somewhere in the majors this season and help a team. Daisuke Matsuzaka may pitch in the majors somewhere, but won’t be effective. Both open the season at AAA Columbus.
7. @SceneSallard: Another weak-ass prediction, Terry. How about some specificity? I say Daisuke Matsuzaka will start two games for the Tribe and his ERA will test the limits of standard scientific notation.
WINNER: Pluto; though @SceneSallard's was way more fun.
8. PLUTO: By June, Drew Stubbs will be slumping and used mostly against left-handed pitchers. Swisher will play right field vs. right-handers, with Reynolds at first base. The Tribe will do DH by committee.
8. @SceneSallard: Drew Stubbs will surprise you. He'll be consistent at right field, bat in the upper .270s and provide key RBIs at the bottom of the batting order. Reynolds will be our primary DH and won't generate big-time numbers at all, but he'll try really really hard.
9. PLUTO: Michael Brantley will hit at least 15 homers, and continue to prove that he’s a valuable player.
9. @SceneSallard: Michael Brantley will continue to prove that he's a valuable player, but I put him in the 12-15 HR range. I couldn't agree more about his value though, Terry. Brantley's key. He won't stay at the 5-spot in the batting order all year though.
WINNER: Neither, although @SceneSallard had the right idea. Brantley was incredibly consistent, but only hit 10 HRs.
10. PLUTO: I worry about Jason Kipnis. Not because he had batted only .233 after the All-Star break. But because he had an elbow injury much of the spring.
10. @SceneSallard: Weak-ass prediction again, Terry. What are you even predicting? If it's that Kipnis will struggle, then I'm on board. I say Kipnis barely eclipses .250. He'll get frustrated and start swinging for the fences. He and Reynolds (and Santana) will be vying for the strikeout crown.
WINNER: Neither; thank goodness.
11. PLUTO: If Kipnis struggles, the Indians have Mike Aviles, who has played 144 games at second in the majors. He’s a career .277 hitter and batted .317 in 38 games in 2011 for Terry Francona in Boston.
11. @SceneSallard: Weak-ass prediction, Terry, and I don't mind telling you again and again. Give me something to disagree with! Francona likes Aviles, so he'll see some time as an infield utility personality, but won't be a significant piece of the puzzle unless injuries wreak havoc.
12. PLUTO: Cord Phelps will have a strong year at AAA. If Ryan Raburn flops (a real possibility), Phelps will take his place as a utility man.
12: @SceneSallard: RABURN WON'T FLOP.
WINNER: @SceneSallard; Really happy about this one.
13. PLUTO: Lonnie Chisenhall will hit at least 15 homers with 70 RBI.
13. @SceneSallard: I say Chisenhall has a breakout year. I go 18 homers with 82 RBI. He'll move up in the lineup and be a major contributor.
WINNER: Neither; yikes, not even close.
14. PLUTO: Masterson will win 12-15 games with an ERA under 4.00. He will look more like the Masterson of 2011 (12-10, 3.21) than the Masterson of 2012 (11-15, 4.93).
14. @SceneSallard: Ehhhh. Masterson will continue to be pretty inconsistent, which means I'm not expecting any major statistical improvement or regression. Our emboldened offense should give him a bit more run support, but I put him at 13-13 with an ERA in the 3.9-4.1 range.)
15. PLUTO: Michael Bourn will play superb defense in center, steal at least 35 bases, but you’ll wish he hit a little more.
15. @SceneSallard: Bourn is the MAN. He'll steal 40+ bases, make spectacular plays in center, and will score more runs than anyone on the team. He's not a power guy, but that's not why he's here.
16. PLUTO: Bryan Shaw will emerge as one of the key guys in the bullpen thanks to his consistent 95 mph fastball.
16. @SceneSallard: Nah.
17. PLUTO: Chris Perez will have another strong season as a closer. He’ll also become frustrated about something, and start talking about the front office, attendance or who knows what — and it will annoy some people.
17. @SceneSallard: Chris Perez' twitter feed will become one of the most followed in all of professional baseball. He will be an All-Star again and compete with Jim Johnson for most saves in the American League.
18. Trevor Bauer will be pushing for a spot in the rotation by July 4. Danny Salazar will open the season at AA Akron, but be pitching for the Tribe by the end of 2013.
18. @SceneSallard: Bauer will inevitably get some starts, but he won't make an impact this year. He'll have a couple nights when he gets absolutely lit up by a big opposing offense and that'll hit him hard, poor fella. He's not yet emotionally prepared for the tribulation that awaits. I'm predicting some exotic decisions re: hairstyle.
19. PLUTO: Asdrubal Cabrera will not be traded as the Tribe will win enough games early in the season to at least dream about the playoffs.
19: @SceneSallard: THE INDIANS WILL BE SECOND IN THE AL CENTRAL AND WILL WIN ONE OF THE AL WILDCARD SPOTS. TAKE THAT, TERRY! TAKE THAT!!!
WINNER: @SceneSallard; CALLED IT, BABY!
20. PLUTO: And that will happen because Ubaldo Jimenez will join Masterson in the 12-15 victory club, as he will keep his ERA around 4.00 thanks to throwing more strikes and pitching with some poise and confidence.
20: @SceneSallard: Ubaldo will have stretches of lights-out pitching. He will win 4 games straight at one point and the public will announce his Return to Greatness. He'll be third in wins though, behind McAllister and Masterson.
WINNER: Pluto; @SceneSallard was way too high on McAllister, but we respect his enthusiasm.
LET THE TALLYING BEGIN, TERRY! LET THE TALLYING BEGIN!