October 23, 2004

The World Series: Position by Position

stl.gif VS bos.gif

Starting Pitching
Boston - Tim Wakefield, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe
St. Louis -Woody Williams, Jason Marquis, Matt Morris, Jeff Suppan
As you’d expect with two Championship Series going the full seven, both pitching staffs look rickety. For Boston the big question is the Big Two: Does Schilling have another Game 6 in him, and which Pedro will show up. With the Cards it’s a game of “just enough”. St. Louis is a serious offensive team, winning this year by getting adequate work from their starters. Williams and Suppan have been fine in the postseason, Marquis and Morris not so much. A big question for both teams will be keeping pitch counts low.
Edge: Boston

Relief Pitching
Boston - Bronson Arroyo, Alan Embree, Keith Foulke, Curtis Leskanic, Mike Myers, Mike Timlin
St. Louis - Kiki Calero, Cal Eldred, Dan Haren, Jason Isringhausen, Ray King, Al Reyes, Julian Tavarez
If the game is based on closers, this would be Boston. Foulke was dominant against the Yankees, while Izzy blew a save in the NLCS and has looked ugly in others. Ray King is a huge factor in this series. He’s the Cards left-handed specialist, and a good one. He should get to know David Ortiz very well. As for long men, and you figure they will play a part in a series where both teams are so good offensively, they’re about even. Arroyo has looked good at times, as has Tavarez. At least when he’s not breaking his hand. The Cards get the nod here, over the season their bullpen was one of the best in the majors.
Edge: St. Louis

Boston - Jason Varitek
St. Louis - Mike Matheney
Matheny is an excellent defensively, but a legendarily awful hitter, with a lifetime OPS of .629. Varitek is considered okay in the field, and is a much better hitter. Both players are considered great clubhouse leaders.
Edge: Boston

First Base
Boston- David Ortiz, Kevin Millar
St. Louis - Albert Pujols
The Red Sox have already decided that Big Papi will play the field for the games in St. Louis. It’s a risk, as Ortiz is horrific on defense, but they need his bat. Millar isn’t much better on D, hence the need for Doug Mientkiewicz. Pujols is an improving fielder, and simply the best right-handed hitter in baseball.
Edge: St. Louis

Second Base
Boston- Mark Bellhorn
St. Louis – Tony Womack
Womack was a Red Sox during the spring, until trading him to the Cards in what most St. Louis fans thought was a disaster waiting to happen. He’s played well though, at .307/. 349/. 385 with 26 steals. This is about as good a Tony Womack season as you can expect. Bellhorn is the polar opposite, a slow and patient hitter with pop. Neither are great defensively
Edge: Even

Third Base
Boston – Bill Mueller
St. Louis – Scott Rolen
Nothing against Mueller, who is a fine player in his own right, but this is the biggest difference at any position. Rolen is an MVP-caliber hitter, and a dynamic fielder. Mueller is good #2 hitter, but Rolen is a difference-maker.
Edge: St. Louis

Boston – Orlando Cabrera
St. Louis – Edgar Renteria
The Red Sox season turned around when they picked up Cabrera and dumped the unhappy Nomar Garciaparra. The righthanded hitter never gets cheated, and swings at anything close to a strike. He’s the best defensive infielder the Sox have. Renteria is the best shortstop in the NL, and a former World Series MVP. He struggled with injuries this season, but has been fine in the post-season.
Edge: St. Louis

Boston – Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon
St. Louis – Reggie Sanders, Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker
If anyone can challenge Pujols’ status as the best RH hitter in baseball, it’s Manny, though he hasn’t done much in the post-season. Damon was awful until game 7 of the ALCS, and then turned into Reggie Jackson. Nixon has been injured most of the year. The Cards have three serious streak hitters in the OF. Edmonds is a player who can take over a game, or a series when hot. Sanders can be pitched too in any circumstance. Walker is a wild card. He’s not the player he was a few years ago, but has been rejuvenated since coming to St. Louis.
Edge: Boston

Boston – Doug Mirabelli-C, Doug Mientkiewicz-1B/2B, Pokey Reese-2B/SS, Kevin Youkilis-3B, Gabe Kapler-OF, Dave Roberts-OF
St. Louis – Yadier Molina-C, Marlon Anderson-INF, Hector Luna-INF, Roger Cedeno-OF, So Taguchi-OF, John Mabry-OF
After the Garciaparra trade, Boston was left with the best bench in baseball. When Mientkiewicz and Reese take over on the right side of the infield, the Sox become an excellent fielding team. They have both speed (Roberts) and power (Kapler and Millar when he doesn’t start). The Cardinals bench is simply awful, and leaves them with the choice of Mabry (ugh) or Cedeno (double-ugh) as the DH when they play in Fenway.
Edge: Boston

So, whom do you go with? The team that has dominated all year long, or the team that struggled, got hot, and then made the greatest comeback in playoff baseball history? My money is on the Red Sox here. After crushing the Yankees, they’re on cloud nine, and they get a game 7 in Fenway.
Edge: Boston

We add it up, and it comes out with 5 for Boston, 4 for St. Louis, and 1 even. Should be a great series, and the Sox win in 7.

And the world could quite possibly end at that point.

Posted by Frinklin at October 23, 2004 11:21 AM
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