Shortened World Series Know Thy Enemy due to a chaotic couple days here for the Fire Brand scribes, but I managed to write up a quick comparison between the Red Sox and Rockies in what should be a wild Fall Classic 2007….
Due to the ridiculous rule that AL teams must bat their pitcher in NL parks for the World Series, you’ll see a pained David Ortiz taking the first base role in Games 3-5 in Colorado. Unless benching Ortiz seems like a good idea to anybody out there, either Youkilis or Lowell are eating pine, most likely the red hot Youk for two of the three games and Mikey for the remaining game. From a pure match-up standpoint, the Sox surely hold the edge at the catcher position when you factor in October experience, defense, pitch-calling and even offense over the below average Torrealba, hot postseason or not.
Remember when Todd Helton was rumored to come to Boston for Mike Lowell and Julian Tavarez? Right away you’d think this was an excellent refusal by Theo, but Helton did his job for the Rockies this year, boasting a usual .434 OBP with 125 runs created alone. The Battle of Beards at first base is nearly a draw until you factor in Ortiz over Helton. At second base, Dustin Pedroia had the edge over another postseason hero for Colorado, Kaz Matsui, who is ultimately mediocre even at a step up from his Mets days. I love Tulowitzki as a ballplayer and the Jeter comparisons from McCarver this series will be endless (they stop when people realize Jeter is a crappy shortstop and Tulo is a wizard). The wildly underrated Garrett Atkins (.486 SLG, 25 HR), has an advantage at Coors, but Mike Lowell holds the edge in Boston.
EDGE: Red Sox
Spilborghs will play DH as their number one hitter off the bench in Games 1 and 2, but won’t find much time besides a pinch-hit role in Colorado. Clint Hurdle oddly moved Tulowitzki down to the 7 hole in favor of the below average Taveras who hits for no power and is afraid of walks, but his game consists of singles and stolen bases. He’s done a decent job since returning from injury in the NLCS. Still, Jacoby Ellsbury holds those same traits, except only better. He can also draw some walks and won’t chase pitches out of the zone. Matt Holliday is the clear NL MVP at this point and one of the few hitters who can hold the edge over Manny in the playoffs. Brad Hawpe might be the best player nobody has heard of. This lefty put up a .539 SLG in 2007 with a solid .387 OBP and a 129 OPS+. The short right field porch helps.
Boston is going to have the option of either Mike Lowell or Kevin Youkilis looming for a big pinch-hit late in Games 3-5, along with Coco Crisp for defense when Manny needs to be pulled, or for a running spark (one of the reasons I’m amazed Snyder made the roster over a third catcher). The Rockies boast Spilborghs and Seth Smith, who seemingly hasn’t been retired in his short stint up. Cory Sullivan is a candidate for defensive substitution. Jamey Carroll and Ian Stewart round out the bench for Colorado.
EDGE: Red Sox
While Boston’s gloves aren’t too shabby, Colorado broke the fielding percentage record. Brad Hawpe has a golden arm in right field, while up the middle they cannot be topped in the infield. Todd Helton has always been a steady defender at first base.
The Red Sox offense against the Rockies pitching is an interesting match-up. From one perspective, the lefty off-speed dynamic stuff of Jeff Francis could baffle the Sox lineup after a heavy dose of power pitching after the Cleveland series (at least Sabathia and Carmona). The sinker ball specialist Aaron Cook could give the Sox trouble in his one start like Westbrook did. From the other side, the Sox extremely patient order might benefit. The Rockies starters like to go out of the zone with breaking pitches and this may result in a good dose of walks for the Sox lineup. Add in the inexperience and heavier workload for guys like Francis and Jimenez, and you might see a relatively easy go for the bats. One thing is for sure, Beckett needs to win his two starts. I’m not supremely confident Schilling tames this explosive order, but a little bird tells me Matsuzaka is coming up BIG this series.
EDGE: Red Sox
Two very strong bullpens are facing off this World Series. Both are led by their lights out closers- Corpas and Papelbon. The lefty setup men on both sides are also key elements- Fuentes and Okajima. The Rockies pen is deeper when you consider Affeldt facing our tough left-handed hitters, LaTroy Hawkins even with his trouble of missing bats, and Herges with a .198 BAA over 49 innings. Delcarmen and Timlin are shaky with inherited runners, which could be trouble. The back end of the Boston bullpen is, at the end of the day, not a reliable weapon.
Final Prediction: Red Sox in 6 games
Series MVP: Manny Ramirez