A World Series Preview

October 26, 2009

The Yanks are back in the Fall Classic for the first time since 2003 and the Phillies are back for the second consecutive year.  Here’s how the teams will match up:

Catcher: Jorge Posada vs. Carlos Ruiz

Hip Hip Jorge has had a solid postseason in 2009 and is clearly the better hitting catcher.  Ruiz calls a good game, but it’s likely any difference there will be made up by Posada’s bat.  If Jose Molina continues to catch AJ Burnett, give Ruiz the advantage that game.  Overall Advantage: Yankees

First Base: Ryan Howard vs. Mark Teixeira

Howard has been a monster in October whereas Teixeira’s lone bright spot on offense was the game winning home run in game two of the ALDS.  He’s done little since then, although he has started to hit in the last few games.  Tex’s glove is much better than Howard and Big Ryan strikes out a lot.  Advantage: Push

Second Base: Chase Utley vs. Robinson Cano

Robbie hasn’t hit too well in October, but neither has Utley, whose one home runs and two RBI are a far cry from his true skill level.  Speaking of skill, Utley is fantastic in the field.  Advantage: Phillies

Shortstop: Derek Jeter vs. Jimmy Rollins

J-Roll is hitting only .244 in the postseason, while Jeter is about 100 points higher.  In the field, give Rollins the slight advantage but Jeter is the guy I would want up in any postseason situation and has come through time and time again in october.  Advantage: Yankees

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez vs. Pedro Feliz

Had this been any other October, I would have taken a used pair of cleats over A-Rod, but this year I won’t take anyone over him.  Advantage: Yankees

Left Field: Johnny Damon vs. Raul Ibanez

Raul had a great first half of the year but really slowed down when he got hurt.  He’s been crawling through the postseason, hitting .226 with one home run.  Damon hasn’t had a great October either, but he had a decent ALCS.  Raul is the better outfielder, but not by much.  Advantage: Push

Center Field: Melky Cabrera a vs. Shane Victorino

When you least expect it, Melky seems to shine.  Victorino, on the other hand, has been one of the Phillies’ best players this postseason, posting a .361 batting average with three homers and seven RBI.  Advantage: Phillies

Right Field: Nick Swisher vs. Jayson Werth

Werth was 3-4 with two homers in the NLCS clinching game five and is hitting .281 with five home runs in October.  Swish has been quiet, hitting under .200 in October.  Advantage: Phillies

Bench

I’d like to see the Yanks dump the useless Freddy Guzman and bring back Eric Hinske, especially with the loss of the DH in the Philadelphia-hosted games.  Hinske could be a valuable pinch hitter for the pitcher.  Brett Gardner can be a game changer.  It also might be time to reconsider Francisco Cervelli’s place on the postseason roster.  Are three catchers really necessary?  As for the Phils, they have firepower in Matt Stairs and Greg Dobbs but what else?  Eric Bruntlett? Advantage: Push

Starting Pitching

It’s real close between  CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Andy Pettitte versus Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Pedro Martinez.  Each team has it’s veteran (Pettitte v. Martinez) and two lefties in the rotation.  The lefties work to the Yanks advantage since the Phillies big hitters (Howard, Utley, Ibanez) are all lefties.  If each team uses a fourth starter, my guess is Sabathia goes on short rest for the Bronx Bombers to pitch games one, four, and seven and Chad Gaudin goes in game five.  I’ll take that over either Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ.  For that reason alone, Advantage: Yankees

Bullpen

The Phillies have had difficulty closing games all year, but Brad Lidge has looked good in October this year.  With Happ in the pen alongside Ryan Madson, Chan Ho Park, Chad Durbin, et al the Phils have depth, but the game changer is Mariano Rivera who is untouchable in October in his career.  Two home runs in 125 innings and a career postseason ERA of 0.72.  That’s filthy.  While Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Coke have been far from unhittable in October I still like them more than Philly’s group.  Damaso Marte had a terrible year, but lefties only hit .120 against him.  The Phils are loaded with lefties, so he’ll probably stick around. Advantage: Yankees

Overall Prediction

Pitching wins championships and the Yankees are way too deep, especially with two lefty starters, for the Phils to overcome.  There will be no repeat in Philadelphia this year as the Yanks win #27 in six games.

Why Game 6 is a Must Win

October 24, 2009

Sure the Yanks still have two games to win one game, but it is absolutely crucial that the team wins game six.  As we’ve already seen, the Yanks want to get the most out of CC Sabathia, starting him on short rest in the ALCS.  He thrived.  In the World Series, there is no extra off day between games four and five, so it makes the most sense to get CC in there for games one, four and seven.

If the ALCS goes seven games, CC has to start game seven and most likely will be penciled in for games two and five in the World Series.   If the Yanks can wrap up the World Series tonight, CC will go game one, AJ Burnett two, Andy Pettitte three, Sabathia four.  Now, if it goes five games the Yanks can go Burnett/Pettitte on short rest for the fifth and sixth games but I don’t trust either of them on short rest so I’d probably put Chad Gaudin down as the game five starter and go Pettitte in game six on regular rest, but on a tight leash where Burnett could come in if needed.  You have to go experience (and a lefty against the Phillies) in such a crucial game.

This, of course, features a lot of looking ahead, but it is important that the Yanks put the Angels away once and for all in game six.

Debating Joe Girardi’s Pitching Moves

October 23, 2009

All of these are related and I don’t agree with any of them:

  • Jose Molina catches AJ Burnett.  As we saw yesterday, AJ was fine after Molina was pinch hit for in the fifth inning.  The Yanks miss Jorge Posada‘s bat more than they gain from Molina’s catching “prowess.”
  • David Robertson was yanked with two outs and no one on before Alfredo Aceves gave game three to the Angels.
  • AJ Burnett was sent back out to pitch the seventh inning in game five, despite a very well rested bullpen with a ton of arms out there.  Joe could have mixed and matched for pretty much every batter for the rest of the game.
  • Joba Chamberlain is continuously sent out ahead of Robertson, et al in high-leverage situations despite not providing any evidence that he’s earned that spot, aside from a stint as a reliever back in 2007.
  • Damaso Marte was sent out ahead of Phil Coke to face Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu in game give.

Joe Girardi is managing in his first career playoff series and he’s managing in New York, which adds some pressure.  He wears jersey #27, which serves as a not-so-subtle reminder that he’s trying to bring the Yanks their 27th World Series.  Could Girardi’s inexperience managing these situations cost the Yanks a couple wins in the playoffs?