World Series Extravaganza

So, we are mere hours away from a MOMUNENTAL clash of titans in the War on the Jersey Turchampsnpike (“Turnpike Tussle,” maybe?).  Forget being a fan of either team, this is going to be great for the baseball fan.  These two are clearly the two best teams in baseball, and they have styles of play that create excitement for the casual fan AND intimate strategy for the serious fan.  I almost wish I wasn’t a Phillies fan, so that I could enjoy this each game without my every nerve being shot for four straight hours…ALMOST.

But, let’s be honest, it is absolutely phenomenal to root for this Phillies team.  They are exciting; they play hard on every play from Spring Training to the World Series (as noted by Raul Ibanez when he got here); and, they are just flat-out good.  The defending champs (and, yes, Boot, the greatest team in the history of the National League–more on that later, probably after the Series) VS the greatest sports franchise in the history of North America.

So, let us get down to it, with this World Series Extravaganza, with random notes, things to look for, and overall analyses of everything I can squeeze into this post.  I’ve been working on this for the better part of three days, so it might be a bit long.

sabathia burnettLet’s start by discussing the pitching staffs and the interesting decisions that await these managers.  First, we’ll take a look at it from the New York point of view.  If I was Joe Girardi, the easy decision would be to throw Sabathia in Games 1, 4, and 7.  He has proven that he can pitch and pitch well on three days’ rest, and you have to feel good about your chances whenever he takes the mound.  If I were Girardi, I would think to myself:  “It is completely reasonable to expect a guy who went 19-8 this year and 3-0 in the playoffs to win two out of three starts.  And, it is also completely reasonable for a team that went 89-52 in games not decided by Sabathia, to go 2-2 in this series without Sabathia.  By those seemingly conservative calculations, the Yankees should win this series, right?”

But, there is another question for Girardi.  Like I said, the easy decision is using Sabathia three times.  But, after making that decision, I do not think it is obvious that they will only use three starters.  If I were a Yankees fan, I would be very concerned with both Burnett and Pettitte on short rest, which means that a three-man rotation puts Games 5 & 6 in serious doubt.  Burnett is a time bomb with a terrible mental makeup.  Pettitte is aging, who has only really pitched his absolute best on MORE than regular rest this year.  The Phillies are too good of a team to throw out serious question marks in two games.  Which is why, if I were Girardi, I would definintely pitch Sabathia in 1, 4, & 7.  I would pitch Burnett and Pettitte in 2 & 3, but I would throw CHAD GAUDIN in Game 5, and then, bring Burnett back for Game 6.  Yes, Gaudin is a huge question mark, much along the lines of Burnett or Pettitte on short rest, but at least you only have one game with a question mark, instead of two.  This is almost an automatic decision if the Phils hold Lee until Game 5 (unless of course the Yanks are up against elimination) because you probably don’t beat Lee at home, anyway, so might as well have a rested pitcher in Game 6 to either clinch the series or send it to Sabathia for Game 7.

Now, over to the Phillies decisions.  There is a lot of talk surrounding throwing Lee three times.  He has never pitched on three days’ rest, but that certainly does not  mean that he cannot be effective.  He is the ultimate gamer and a cut-throat competitor, so I think he probably has the makeup to do it but has just never been in the situation where it was warranted.  All that being said, I think that that decision (unlike the Yankees decision on Sabathia, which is almost unconditionally a good idea) will be completely based on the results of the first two or three games.  If the Phils are up 3-0, they hold off.  If the Yanks are up 3-0 or 2-1, Lee pitches.  If the Phils are up 2-1, then it’s a game-time decision, depending on a lot of different factors.

The next questions are about the other games.  They have announced that Pedro will throw in Game 2 in The Bronx andpedro Hamels will pitch Game 3, at home.  This does several things.  One, it gets Pedro pretty fired up.  Two, it allows Hamels to avoid the hostile New York crowd and pitch in the comforts of home.  However, there are some small baseball things (that I mentioned on the podcast) that lean slightly in the favor of Hamels pitching Game Two.  One, Game Two has the DH, so throwing a right-hander gives the Yankees almost a free pass at using their regular DH, Hideki Matsui.  And, then, with Hamels on the mound without the DH, the Yanks can feel confident just sitting Matsui against the lefty.  Second, in Game 3, with Hamels on the mound, there will be more left-handers sitting on the Yankees bench for pinch-hitting roles (including Matsui), which puts more emphasis on the Phils left-handed bullpenners, like Eyre and Happ (unless he’s a starter).  Also, it is generally theorized that it is best to throw left-handers in Yankee Stadium because of the short right-field porch, but I don’t think this matters because Pedro has always held his own against LH hitters, while Hamels has actually struggled with the curveball against lefties this postseason, giving up several long home runs to left-handed hitters.  All in all, I have come around and agree with the Pedro decision.  If, god-forbid, the Yanks take both in New York this week, I’d actually feel more confident with Hamels to get us back in the series than Pedro.  I think Hamels is one of those guys that “needs to be needed,” if that makes any sense.

Also, this presents some interesting options for the whole series, actually,  I hope there is no real thought given to throwing Pedro on three days’ rest.  With that said Games 4 through 7 are all up in the air, giving Charlie options, depending on the results of the first three games.  Lee could come back for 4 & 7, if needed, or he could just pitch 5.  Pedro would be available for either 6 or 7.  Hamels would also be available for 7.  Then, you have Blanton and Happ.  One would pitch 4 or 5 (whichever game is not throw by Lee).  And, then, whoever does not pitch between Blanton and Happ would be available for either 6 or 7, depending on many, many factors, not the least of which, how effective Pedro and Hamels were the first time around.

Okay, all this talk of pitching leads me to conclude, undoubtably, that Game One tonight is about as important as a first game could possibly be.  Let’s think about this.  If the Phils win Game One, they go up 1-0.  Then you can realistically assume they can split the next two (either Pedro vs. Burnett in Yankee Stadium or Hamels vs. Pettitte in a ROCKING Bank).  That gives them a 2-1 lead.  Looking ahead for a minute, you have to give the Phillies a pretty big edge in Game 5, no matter what decisions the managers make on the pitching staffs.  The Phils would either have a fully-rested Lee or Blanton/Happ.  The Yanks would have to decided whether to throw the easily-rattled AJ Burnett on short rest or go to the completely unknown Chad Gaudin.  If it’s Lee, it’s a HUGE advantage for the Phils at home, and even if it’s Blanton/Happ, I still think the Phils have the edge against a short-rested Burnett (on the road) or Chad Gaudin.  So, assuming the Phils have a decided edge in Game 5, we look back to Game 4.  Though the Yankees would be have the edge if it’s Sabathia vs. Blanton/Happ, it’s no more than a toss-up if it’s Sabathia vs. Lee.  And, given all the above assumptions, the Yankees would have to win this game, on the road, or face three straight elimination games, including Game Five, which we just explained would be a big advantage for the Phils.  So, if the Phillies can take tonight’s game, the Yankees almost have to win both 2 & 3 or they face some trouble. 

In fact, the only game in which you can honestly say one team will have a decided pitching advantage, looking ahead, is Game Five, in the Phillies favor, at home.  So, these “toss-up” games are even more critical for New York. 

All that being said, I think it goes without saying that, regardless of pitching decisions, it is IMPERATIVE that the Phillies do not go back to New York needing both 6 & 7 for the title.  Personally, I am worried about going back there at all, but it would require a monumental feat to go there needing both games to repeat.  So, at the very least, the Phils either need a split tonight and tomorrow at The Stadium or sweep all three at The Bank this weekend.  Basically, they probably need to win the best-of-five to have a legit shot at the best-of-seven.

ibanezNow, the question turns to the DH.  The Phillies have basically announced that they are going to DH Ibanez and play Ben Francisco in LF against Sabathia tonight.  That makes a TON of sense to me.  As Doogan mentioned on the podcast, there is something to be said in using a guy who has DH’ed before in his career.  It is definitely a hard thing to get used to.  You can imagine how, if you’ve never done it before and don’t know how to mentally and physically prepare for at-bats without playing the field, you could see DH’ing as just four pinch-hitting appearances on the same night.  But, Ibanez has done it before–and been very good at it–so he knows what to expect; he knows how to prepare his body and not let his mind fall out of the game.  Yes, the Phillies won Game One last year with a minor-leaguer at DH, but it’s certainly not ideal.  (And, yes, that will probably be my last gratuitous slap at Chris Coste.  I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on him, as he was on The Team That Changed My Life, so he can’t be that bad, right?  …for a light-hitting, poor-throwing minor league catcher.  Okay, that is my last one…probably.)

Game Two’s DH decision is going to be a little trickier for the Phils against AJ Burnett.  There appear to be three options, all with different pros and cons.  One, is to just throw Francisco back out there in LF, even against the RH.  This option would benefit the team defensively and allow Ibanez to DH again.  The other two options would be to use one of the left-handed hitting bench players, Matt Stairs or Greg Dobbs.  This would, obviously, put Ibanez back out in LF (a step down from Francisco, but has been pretty solid out there).  Normally, I would say that Dobbs is the guy because, as I talked about on the podcast, Stairs, at this point in his career is really only useful in one situation–when you need a home run.  And, obviously, if he’s in the starting lineup, you cannot choose the position in which he hits.  Dobbs, on the other hand, is much more of a complete hitter, at this point, so it makes more sense for him to be in the lineup and get 3 or 4 at-bats.  However, Stairs presents a very interesting option against Burnett because he is patient hitter who crushes fastballs ahead in the count into the netherregions of rightfield ballparks.  And, in this stadium, against a pitcher who sometimes struggles to get ahead and then leans on his fastball, even pop-ups off the bat of Stairs could be game-altering home runs.  So, while under normal circumstances, I would say that Dobbs is probably the better option than Stairs, I think that against AJ, in The Stadium, Stairs could be a pretty useful option, if you want him over the defense of Francisco.

On the other side, the Yankees have been discussing the possibility of Hideki Matsui playing the field in The Bank.  He has matsuibecome a really bad outfielder, who can only play LF, which means that they would have to slide Johnny Damon (who might as well throw underhanded, at this point) to rightfield because they can’t take him out of the lineup.  Now, I can’t imagine that they make this move against a LH, Hamels, Lee, or Happ, but it is something to consider against RH Blanton, especially if Nick Swisher continues to be a complete non-factor at the plate.  However, if they do make this move, expect the Phillies to run ALL OVER the Yankees outfield.  Everyone in the lineup should score from second on any clean single to the outfield, and the first five guys in the lineup should have NO PROBLEM going first-to-third on any hit to rightfield.

A quick diatribe on the dynamics of the DH, in general, in the World Series.  I have made the case many times before that I believe that the NL teams have a pretty significant disadvantage in building an entire organization because of the lack of a DH spot on the big-league club.  Just imagine if the Phils had a DH in the beginning of this decade.  Ryan Howard would have been up in the majors two or three years earlier, and Jim Thome would have never been traded away. 

However, I fully believe that, though it is a huge disadvantage when it comes to the architecture of the organization, it may actually be an advantage when it comes down to single game, or series of games.  First of all, the NL pitchers have been hitting (and bunting) all  year, while the AL pitcher may have had just a handful of interleague at-bats.  And, on the other side, it’s not like the hitters inserted into the NL lineups as DHs have never hit before.  Granted, they don’t have the David Ortiz’s or Edgar Martinez’s of the world as DH, but how big of a dropoff are the bottom of the NL orders with a DH compared to the bottom of the AL orders?

Second of all, I think that it is different for the managers.  I’m not one of those people who are gonna sing and rant about the complexity of the double-switch.  I hate hearing that.  It is ridiculous to think that any manager–or anyone with a working knowledge of the game, for that matter–would not be able to understand the strategy behind a double-switch.  HOWEVER, the working of the bullpens are much  different when the pitcher is in the lineup.  And, not that the AL managers don’t understand or that they can’t adapt.  But, the big thing is that managers, especially these days, have set their bullpens into defined roles.  Guys know when to start warming up because they always seem to pitch the same inning when they come in.  This is especially true in the AL because you never have to hit for the pitcher, so you can manipulate your bullpen completely around the pitching aspect, without worrying where the pitcher’s spot is in the next inning.  Managers and, more importanly, pitchers get very used to these roles, but when you throw in the unpredictability of the NL-style game, you may have to use relievers in ways other than the ways in which they have been used for 162 games.  We will see how Mr. Girardi, the Northwestern alum (and he’ll remind us of his “genius” at the drop of a hat), handles this wrench.

girardiThis leads us into the battle of wits into which the managers will find themselves.  Personally, I think it’s a no-brainer as to who I would rather have managing my team right now.  All “genius” aside, Charlie Manuel is a much, much better manager right now.  The more decisions that have to be made in these close, pressure-packed games, the better for the Phillies.  Let Girardi overmanage.  In fact, I could go on, but I think Keith Law did it best, when he said, in this column, that the #1 thing the Yankees could do to help them win this series is to “Hog-tie Joe Girardi and leave him in a clubhouse locker.”  Charlie, on the other hand, has been making all the right moves with a much more tricky bullpen.  When it comes down to flat-out decision-making, the Phillies have a HUGE advantage in this series, so we should hope for close, tense games that require a lot of (over-)managing.

Okay, let’s talk experience, particularly playoff experience.  At first blush, you would think that postseason experience would completely favor the Yankees.  First of all, the Greatest Baseball Writer on the Planet gave us some interesting tidbits in this column:

  • The Yankees have played in 40 World Series.  The Phillies have played in 32 World Series games.
  • The Yankees have won 26 World Series.  The Phillies have won 9 postseason series.
  • Derek Jeter has played in 132 postseason games in his 14-year career.  The Phillies franchise has played 83 in their 127-year history.
  • Andy Pettitte has won 16 postseason games.  All of the great Phillies starting pitchers in their history (Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, Chris Short, Curt Schilling, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Grover Cleveland Alexander) combined for 15 postseason wins.

 So, yes, the greatest franchise in sports history is going up against, possibly, the worst.  The Phillies are the only franchise ever to lose 10,000 games.  The Yankees would need to lose every game from now until 2026 to reach 10,000 losses.  HOWEVER…Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Babe Ruth are not on the 2009 Yankees.  Bunning and Short will not be pitching every other game for the Phils.  And, right now, the Phillies have a BIG experience edge.  Of the 25 guys on the World Series roster, only Raul Ibanez, Chan-Ho Park, Cliff Lee, and Ben Francisco were not with the organization last year.  Throw in Antonio Bastardo, who was in AAA last year, and you’ve got 20 guys who have played in the postseason within the past 12 months.

Now, let’s look at the 40-time pennant winning Yankees.  Other than the “core four” (Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte), only Johnny Damon has ever been a key member of a World Series team.  AJ Burnett has a World Series ring with the Marlins from ’03, but he was hurt that entire season.  Jose Molina has a World Series ring with Anaheim in ’02, but he had one World Series at-bat.  And, lest we forget Mr. Eric Hinske.  He did play in the World Series just a year ago.  Apparently, he had two at-bats, but I can only seem to remember one of them and that one is pretty hazy.  I have this odd vision of him swinging and missing at a Brad Lidge slider, but then everything goes to black, so I’m not really sure.  Not that I am going to say that the Phillies will win this series because of “experience,” but let’s just say that if anyone claims experience as an advantage for the Yankees, they should probably stick to analyzing fantasy football because they really don’t have a clue.

Okay, let’s get to a couple “quick hits” about the series:

  • These two teams have–bar none–the best home-field advantages in Major League baseball.  Now that Fenway Park has gone completely corporate and boring, there are only two stadiums and fanbases left that can actually, truly intimidate opposing teams and have actual affects on the outcome of games–Yankee Stadium and Citizens’ Bank Park.
  • I mentioned this in the podcast, but do you think it might make sense for the Phillies’ switch-hitters to bat right-riverahanded against Rivera?  He is one of the nastiest pitchers against LHs in the history of the game.  I would think that, at least for Victorino, who is significantly better right-handed, it would be a consideration.  Rollins should probably stay on the left-side because he’s better from that side.
  • I think both managers–especially Charlie–should not outthink their bullpen decisions.  Both of these lineups are so deep, so patient, and full of such professional hitters that if you have a reliever that is throwing effectively, stick with him and forego the “matchup” some of the time.  For instance, if Park is throwing well, let him face Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui with the bases empty.
  • I think it’s fair to say that the Phillies infield is probably a bigger strength to the team than their outfield, which is why I find it awesome that, even with their $200 million payroll, there isn’t an outfielder on the New York Yankees roster that would even sniff a starting spot in the Phillies outfield.  In fact, with the exception of A-Rod and, maybe, Derek Jeter, there might not even be an offensive player on the Yankees payroll that would start for the Phils.  Not saying that the Phillies are much better, just saying that it’s hard to fathom them being such a big underdog.  Actually, shhhh, never mind.
  • I think the Phillies can really make something happen on the bases in this series.  Posada has never been a great throwing catcher and now, at 37 years old, he’s definitely well below average.  Obviously, Rollins and Victorino will be running, but I’d also like to see Utley, Werth, and maybe even Francisco taking a shot a swiping a bag or two.  All this strategy goes out the window against Andy Pettitte, though, as he might be the best pitcher of all-time at controlling the running game (and balking).
  • Speaking of Pettitte and “controlling the running game.”  I am really hoping that the Yankees do not throw Pettitte on three days’ rest in Game Six because I actually have to work on Thursday morning.  I am not looking forward to waking up any weekday morning after a World Series game between two very patient teams, with 9-man lineups.  Throw in the over-managing of Girardi, the extended commercial breaks, and the tense moments that drag games along, and these weekday games in the Bronx are going to take 5 hours, by themselves.  But, if we are to add Andy Pettitte and his 9,713 pickoff attempts and his 61,406 stepoffs to the mix, we may be watching the sunrise next Thursday morning.
  • I love the addition of Brett Myers.  Yes, Doogan and I differ greatly on our opinion of Myers, but I think his stuff is downright nasty and, since I don’t have a sister or daughter dating him, I am glad to have him around and available out of the ‘pen.  He may be that proverbial X-factor.
  • Another important member of the bullpen is obviously going to be JA Happ.  With only Eyre and Bastardo out there from the left-side, it’s going to be imperative that Happ can come in and get lefties out.  I think he needs to be in the ‘pen the whole series, and I’m a bit concerned because he hasn’t really pitched that well this postseason.  I’m just really hoping that he makes me stop dreaming of J.C. Romero–it’s a bit disconcerting.
  • These teams are so similar in talent-levels and styles of play that the little things are probably going to decide this series.  I could see the entire outcome of the series falling to the side of the team that goes first-to-third and hits their cutoff men.
  • But, most importantly, I think this series is going to come down to two simple things, both by the pitchers:  (1) get ahead and (2) don’t make two-strike mistakes.  These lineups are so good and so deep that there is no wiggle room.  But, both of these lineups can be controlled–even stopped–when pitchers throw strike one and avoid the 0-2 mistakes.  This Phillies offense is–top to bottom–the best lineup I have ever seen at hitting mistakes.  They make you pay–BIG–for every mistake pitch.  On the other side, this Yankees team is one of the best lineups I have ever seen at getting ahead in counts and pouncing on 3-1 pitches.  The Phillies pitchers better get ahead (yes, I’m looking at you, Cole), and the Yankees pitchers better not hang breaking balls (yes, I’m looking at you, A.J.).

To continue with the World Series Extravaganza, let’s analyze the defenses, position-by-position.  Again, this is just an analysis of their defensive abilities.

  • C = Carlos Ruiz vs. Jorge Posada.  This one is not even close, in any way.  Ruiz is a better catcher than Posada ever carloswas and is a FAR better catcher than the 37-year old version coming to town for this series.  BIG EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • 1B = Ryan Howard vs. Mark Teixeira.  This one isn’t close, either, but in the other direction.  Howard is much, much improved from a year ago, but Teixeira is the best defensive firstbaseman that I have ever seen.  He is so good on popups, he covers a TON of ground on balls in the hole (a converted 3B), and saves that infield from so many errors because of his ability dig balls out of the dirt.  BIG EDGE: YANKEES.
  • 2B = Chase Utley vs. Robinson Cano.  This one is one of the toughest to analyze.  Cano has a much better throwing arm, but at 2B that does not come into play all that often.  I do not believe in the Knoblauch theories about Utley–that is RIDICULOUS.  The first errant throw was because Rollins double-clutched and messed up the timing, and the second one was just trying to go too fast and not following through.  Cano probably covers a little more ground than Chase, but Utley is much better at tracking the flares over his head.  Where I think Utley gets the nod is his “presence.”  Utley is always in the right place and is always thinking.  Cano is rarely in the right place and almost never thinking.  Where Cano has more natural ability, Utley is clearly the more cerebral player and that is more important at a middle-infield position.  SLIGHT EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • 3B = Pedro Feliz vs. Alex Rodriguez.  This is the other one that gave me real pause.  Pedro is an absolutely phenomenal defender, and A-Rod is known for his prowess at the plate.  But, I think that A-Rod gets seriously short-changed when it comes to his defense.  He is a stellar defender, who is always thinking.  He was a Gold Glove shortstop, so you know he has the ability, and he is probably the more cerebral defender when compared to Pedro.  Pedro, however, is probably the better thirdbaseman because he is completely natural at the position.  A-Rod plays a little deep (understandably, considering he is a shortstop, by trade) and isn’t as good at the rockets that are so prevalent at the “hot corner.”  Plus, while A-Rod is good at this, Pedro is the best I have seen at starting the Around-the-Horn double-play.  SLIGHT EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • SS = Jimmy Rollins vs. Derek Jeter.  A lot has been made about the defensive year that Jeter has had this year, and a lot has been made about the offensive struggles of Rollins all year.  Both are accurate (though, probably overdone).  Jeter has improved his defense, and Jimmy has struggled at the plate.  But, the gap, defensively, is so wide, and Jimmy has not taken his struggles at the plate to the field with him.  And, yes, Jeter has all those intangibles, but Jimmy is just clearly the better defensive shortstop.  He is absolutely incredible.  EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • LF = Raul Ibanez vs. Johnny Damon.  Damon has a firstbaseman’s arm right now, but he does cover a lot of ground.  Ibanez is not anywhere near to as bad as people said he would be in the field in Philly.  The smaller dimensions of The Bank really helps his game.  He is very good going to the line, and he has Mr. Victorino to cover the gap.  He has an average throwing arm, but that is MUCH better than Damon’s.  All in all, this may have been a push, but the Yankees outfield defense is only going to get worse if they make a switch due to the opposite league’s rules, whereas in at least two of the four scheduled games in Yankee Stadium, the Phillies will have Ben Francisco out there, who is much better than either Damon or Ibanez.  And, God help the Yankees if Matsui is in LF and Damon has to go to RF.  SLIGHT EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • CF = Shane Victorino vs. Melky Cabrera.  This one is no contest.  Cabrera is an okay player and close to a mediocre centerfielder, but Victorino is fantastic.  He has a plus arm and covers a TON of ground.  He also is a real leader out there and will take charge of any ball in his jurisdiction.  The same cannot be said for Cabrera.  BIG EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • RF = Jayson Werth vs. Nick Swisher.  This is another no-brainer.  Jayson Werth is one of the best defensive rightfielders in the game–if not THE best.  Swisher is barely average, if not below average.  In fact, Werth is a better centerfielder than Cabrera.  BIG EDGE: PHILLIES.

So, it’s pretty clear that the Phils have a MUCH better defensive ballclub.  In fact, looking at the outfield, it is not even close.  Now, let’s take a look at the offenses, by spot in the batting order.  Now, these comparisons are strictly offensive.

  • #1 = Jimmy Rollins vs. Derek Jeter.  As we said before, Rollins struggles have been well-documented, while Jeter hitjeter over .330.  This one is easy.  BIG EDGE: YANKEES.
  • #2 = Shane Victorino vs. Johnny Damon.  This one is very, very close.  They both had very similar numbers.  Damon had a slightly higher OBP and SLG, while Victorino is a switch-hitter and a much better baserunner/basestealer, at this point.  I think Victorino is also significantly better at situational hitting, though Damon can really target that right-field porch in The Stadium.  Overall, I think…well…I don’t know.  They seem pretty even.  EDGE: NEITHER, IT’S A PUSH.
  • #3 = Chase Utley vs. Mark Teixeira.  Chase has been a little off for a couple months now, but he still is one of the most feared hitters in the game.  Tex had a great regular season, but has been pretty lost at the plate in the postseason.  Chase is a much better baserunner and a much smarter hitter.  Tex is a switch-hitter, but Chase hits righties and lefties equally, so no real advantage there.  All in all, I think Chase does a better job at combining all the little things with all the “big things.” SLIGHT EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • #4 = Ryan Howard vs. Alex Rodriguez.  It’s hard to imagine that either of these two would “lose” a contest as the better hitter to anyone in baseball right now.  In fact, the way these two are hitting, they are clearly the two best non-Pujols offensive players in baseball right now.  And, they are both getting big hits in clutch situations.  However, with the exception of Junior Griffey, no offensive player in our lifetime combines everything that goes into offense as Alex Rodriguez when he’s on.  And, he is on.  SLIGHT, SLIGHT EDGE: YANKEES.
  • #5 = Jayson Werth vs. Hideki Matsui.  I am sorry, I know that Hideki Matsui makes $13 million, but Jayson Werth is clearly the better hitter in 2009.  36 home runs, 99 RBIs in the regular season.  Throw in the 20 stolen bases, and you have yourself a bonafied star in this league.  Plus, 35-year old Matsui’s bat looks a little slow this late in the season, while Werth is as hot as ever.  EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • #6 = Raul Ibanez vs. Jorge Posada.  This one is pretty close, but I don’t think Ibanez is fully healthy.  If both 37-year olds are completely healthy, Ibanez is clearly the better offensive player, but right now, I think Raul’s bat is a little slow, particularly against LH pitchers (and we may see 5 games started by a LH Yankee this series).  I really, really hate Jorge Posada.  He’s a little punk, as clearly demonstrated by his complete pansy-ass elbow of Jesse Carlson in September this year.  However, he is still a pretty productive hitter.  EDGE: YANKEES.
  • #7 = Pedro Feliz vs. Robinson Cano.  Okay, this one isn’t even close.  Even if I didn’t despise every at-bat of Pedro Feliz (except the grand slam in this year’s division-clincher), it still wouldn’t be close.  Cano is a fantastic hitter and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better #7 hitter in the history of baseball.  BIG, BIG EDGE: YANKEES.
  • #8 = Carlos Ruiz vs. Nick Swisher.  Regular season?  Swisher probably takes this without a question.  But, postseason?  This one is easy.  Chooch has been in the middle of countless Phillie rallies, and Swisher has been the end countless Yankees rallies.  Right now, this one is easy.  EDGE: PHILLIES.
  • #9 = Ben Francisco vs. Melky Cabrera.  Yes, this spot may only be contested in two of the seven games, but we should look at it.  In fact, without the DH, you can move everyone up in the lineup, and it becomes more of an edge for the Phils because they lose their #9 hitter, while the Yankees lose their #5 hitter.  But, looking at these two, it’s kind of close, but Cabrera does a bit more than Francisco does.  Plus, he’s used to regular at-bats and tight situations.  We still don’t know how Francisco is going to react to pressure spots.  EDGE: YANKEES.

Okay, one last thing before I “publish” this monstrosity.  Let me finish the following question about each team.  In ten days, we will know whether the Yankees have 27 titles or the Phillies have 2 in a row.  The following questions will be obvious then, but not, we have no idea.  So, let me try and look ahead and try to answer these possible questions

The Yankees won this series because ______ :

  • Mariano Rivera was unhittable, even in 6-out save opportunities.
  • The Yankees got into the Phillies bullpen in the 5th and 6th innings too many times.
  • Alex Rodriguez simply could not be pitched to.

The Phillies won this series because _______ :

  • They pounced on AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte early.
  • Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino kept getting on base and wreaking havoc.
  • Cole Hamels stepped up.

One more word in closing.  I think that of all the interesting characters in this series to look out for, as possibly affecting this series and winning it for their respective cities.  Obviously, the closers will be huge–will Rivera be human and will Lidge be good again?  Neither team has doubts about their ace, but on three days’ rest?  Both teams have doubts about all their other starters–which ones step up?  Both teams are going to try really hard to avoid run-scoring opportunities for the middle of the opposing order.  Both teams’ infields are going to be tested.  Which team will turn all the DPs?  Which team will make a big error in the 8th inning of a tied game?

victorinoBut, when looking at both teams and trying to think of how this series will play out, I keep coming back to one guy that has the ability to swing the whole series one way or another…..Shane Victorino.  If Vic can get on in front of those big guys, this lineup is brutal.  He gets in pitcher’s heads and forces mistakes.  And, as I said before, this lineup CRUSHES mistake pitches.  You don’t get second-chances against Utley, Howard, and Werth.  Also, this Yankees team hits the gaps, so Victorino’s outfield coverage might be the difference between a three- or four-run Yankees inning or a near miss.  I honestly think that Shane Victorino is the one guy whose play, one way or another, might decide the outcome of this series.  And, honestly, if this is true, I really like our chances.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to World Series Extravaganza

  1. Simply want to say your article is as surprising. The
    clearness on your post is just nice and that i could think you’re an expert on this subject.
    Well along with your permission let me to take hold of your RSS feed to stay updated with approaching post.
    Thank you a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

  2. Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly.

    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it
    in two different web browsers and both show the same outcome.

  3. I don’t even understand how I ended up right here, however I thought this post used to be
    good. I do not understand who you’re however definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger if you are not already.

  4. I will right away snatch your rss feed as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.

    Do you have any? Please permit me recognize in order that I
    could subscribe. Thanks.

  5. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I
    find It truly useful & it helped me out a
    lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

  6. laina says:

    What’s up, the whole thing is going fine here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s in fact excellent,
    keep up writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *