Friday, October 2, 2009

Divison Series Preview Part 1: Red-Sox/Angels

Well the Baseball Playoffs are here upon us again. Like clockwork, the Red Sox and Angels are slated to face off against each other in the ALDS.....with this I will be watching TBS a lot while they try to convince us Frank Caliendo is a legitimate breakdown the series (and make a prediction I decided to break-down these teams by starting line-up position, starting rotation, bullpens and x factors..........

Victor Martinez .302/.380/.476 120 OPS+
Mike Napoli .267/.344/.480 112 OPS+

The Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez down the stretch. He was about one of about 400 players the Indians have purged from their roster since almost going to the World Series two years ago. Martinez has been huge for the Sox since coming to Boston.

This is the first season where Mike Napoli has played 100+ games. He's not a bad player..he has plenty of pop in his bat..he's just not an All-Star.

Advantage: Red Sox

First Base:
Kevin Youkilis .305/.412/.550 143 OPS+
Kendry Morales .304/.353/.571 135 OPS+

Youkilis, the Greek God of Walks is a beast (well unless he's fighting Rick Porcello)...thats besides the point..he followed up a strong '08 (where he finished 3rd in MVP Voting)...with an equally strong season.

Kendry Morales is finishing off his break-out season. This is the first-season he's played full-time and he's made the most of the opportunity

First Base is a close call but Youkilis gets the nod due to more experience and a better playoff track record (.333/.407/.616 in 113 ABs over 3/13 for Morales)

Advantage: Red Sox

Second Base:
Dustin Pedroia .296/.370/.440 106 OPS+
Howie Kendrick .298/.341/.454 105 OPS+

Pedroia has been decent this year....not awesome, not terrible and definitely not MVP caliber but a solid contributor....not bad for a guy from Woodland...

You could say the same about Howie Kendrick only he played in less games and he's from Jacksonville which is more than one town over from where I went to college.

Again, another close match-up where I used post-season performance as a tie-breaker (Pedroia .262/.356/.485 119 ABs to Kendrick (.148/.143/.148 in 30 ABs)

Advantage: Red Sox

Nick Green .236/.303/.366 70 OPS+
Erick Aybar .304/.346/.416 98 OPS+

Definitely not the strength for either of these teams. What a player like Nick Green is doing playing 103 games for a major league team, let alone the Red Sox is beyond me.

Aybar has been OK...i'm not one to value the "scrappy" players who have speed, defense and minimal power but he's done enough to get the upper-hand in this match-up

Advantage: Angels

Third Base:
Mike Lowell .290/.335/.475 104 OPS+
Chone Figgins .300/.399/.397 106 OPS+

This is the third infield spot with a close positional match-up. Mike Lowell hasn't done anything too noticeable (in a good or bad way).

Chone Figgins is a decent but flawed player. He hits for contact, he draws walks (he leads the AL in walks) he has speed but one flaw....he leads the lead in Caught Stealing....making outs on the basepath is sloppy baseball in my book and it costs him the match-up here.

Advantage: Red Sox

Left Field:
Jason Bay .266/.385/.538 133 OPS+
Juan Rivera .285/.329/.473 106 OPS+

Manny Ramirez pouting his way to L.A. is probably the best thing to happen Jason Bay's career. Instead of struggling away in Triple-A Pittsburgh he ends up getting a starting gig at Fenway. Jason being Jason and Baywood may not be nicknames or Fenway stadium sections but he's held his ground very well.

Juan Rivera is a decent player (when not injured). The only thing really standing out is he hit a career-high 24 homers this year.

Advantage: Red Sox

Center Field
Jacoby Ellsbury .301/.353/.414 95 OPS+
Torii Hunter .298/.364/.507 124 OPS+

He can get on base...steal lots of bases and do it efferently 68/79.......good guy to have in the line-up.

Torii Hunter may be a bit over-paid but he's still a valuable member of the Angels....he's a decent hitter...amazing defensively and has a pretty decent post-season track record (.316/.352/.510)

Advantage: Angels

Right Field
J.D. Drew .276/.391/.508 127 OPS+
Bobby Abreu .297/.394/.441 117 OPS+

Drew has been decent this year but I have a hard time taking seriously a player who doesn't seem to take the game seriously at times.

Abreu was signed for a cheap deal and its paid off handsomely for the Angels. He's the classic example of a player who does lots of things well but isn't really known for one particular aspect of his game. Going with Abreu on this more on a whim than anything else.

Advantage: Angels

David Ortiz .238/.332/.463 100 OPS+
Vladimir Guerrero .294/.334/.459 104 OPS+

Definitely one of the more interesting position break-downs in this series

Big Papi has had an interesting season but not in a good way. He started off the season horribly and had to go through the controversy of the positive steroid test from 2003. However, he's gotten things together and hit the ball a lot better in the second half.

Vladimir Guerrero has also had better years. He has been limited by injury playing only 98 games. Regardless of that he still has a unique skill of being able to yard on any pitch....regardless of how far out of the strike zone it is.

This is another close match-up. Again, I used past post-season performance as a tie-breaker and Big Papi gets the Nod here

Advantage: Red Sox

Starting Rotation
Josh Beckett
Jon Lester
Tim Wakefield
Daisuke Matsuzaka


Jered Weaver
Joe Saunders
John Lackey
Ervin Santana

The Starting Rotation isn't the strength of either team. For the Red Sox they should be in good-shape with Beckett and Lester. Wakefield i'm not too sure about....he seems to never be really great...never that terrible...but since its the playoffs you need more than alright to get through. Daisuke Matsuzaka is the wild card in all of this. He's had his struggles on the mound, spent time on the DL but he's pitched much better since coming back in September. If the Angels steal a game or two Matsuzaka continuing or not continuing his strong pitching could be the difference between moving on to the ALCS and moving on to the golf course.

The Angels are arguably better in the 1-spot (Weaver over Beckett) but in general their starting rotation has left a lot to be desired. The rest of their rotation is likely Joe Saunders, John Lackey and Ervin Santana...nothing in this back 3 really inspires me.

Red Sox get the edge due to the advantage in the 2-spot (Lester over Saunders) and Matsuzaka's recent strong play.

Advantage: Red Sox
If the game's close in innings 7-9 the players you most likely will see are

Jonathan Papelbon
Ramon Ramirez
Hideki Okajima

Brian Fuentes
Darren Oliver
Jason Bulger

The set-up guys are fairly even but if the game is on the line in the 9th.....I would rather have Papelbon in the game than Fuentes.

Advantage: Red Sox

X Factor:

What do 2004, 2007 and 2008 have in common? The Red Sox eliminated the Angels in the playoffs all three years. Even if the Angels won't admit it....this is likely stirring around in their heads and places them at a further disadvantage.

Advantage: Red Sox

Breakdown Tallies: Red Sox 9 Angels 3

Final Prediction: Red Sox in 4

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you like the Red Sox in 4 this series. Now let me explain why the Sox will sweep.
    1. Alex Gonzalez! SS has been amazing since coming on in August, hitting close to .300 while providing stellar defense. Nick Green hasn't place for two weeks with a bulging disk that causes "dead leg" and will not be on the postseason roster.
    2. Clay Buchholz! Takes the place of an injured Tim Wakefield in the starting rotation. This guy was red-hot angry being in the minors for the first three months of the season and took it out in a big way on AAA hitters. He's been almost just as good since getting the call-up after the All-Star break. At times looks like Ace #3 in the same tier as Beckett and Lester.
    3. J.D. Drew is good, damn good. For a guy who "doesn't seem to care", he's been excellent in the clutch. Him and Bay (3rd place: Martinez) are the two guys you know won't ever be the final out. You could never say that about Abreu.