Well, I had 1 on the WS teams right— the Phillies— Better than most!
Hats off to both teams. As a fan of two teams(Red Sox and Mets) that came up short, every Phillies and Rays fans should enjoy this! I think this will be an exciting series and either club can win with some breaks. Lets breakdown the series….
American League Champion Tampa Rays
Strengths-Deep, balanced starting rotation with 4 solid starters…..Very good team defense(ALCS aside)… 2 red hot hitters in 3b Evan Longoria and CF BJ Upton…. 4-5 strong bullpen arms…. GREAT home team…. Excellent Manager in Joe Maddon
WeaknessesAverage team power….No true closer…Ace Scott Kazmir is hit or miss, poor control and could pitch into the 8th or last 8 batters…very young team… club strikes out a lot
National League Champions: Philadelphia Phillies-
Strengths-Excellent team power…. Best right side of the infield in MLB in 1b Ryan Howard and 2b Chase Utley…Top flight ace in Cole Hamels… Best bullpen top to bottom in MLB, led by closer Brad Lidge(zero blown saves)… good team speed…team is well equipped to play AL style with ex- AL DH Matt Stairs on the bench
Weaknesses-Not much out of the 3-4 spots in rotation…. average defensive team…. team strikes out a ton…have been off for almost a week… Losing culture of Philadelphia
Pick– I like the Phillies here. Tampa beat a depleted Boston club basically because Mark Kotsay left 20 runners on base. If Mike Lowell plays, the Rays are watching Fox tonight. These teams have advantages that cancel out(Rays starters vs Philies pen) but one thing should scare Rays fans— although he is a lefty, Rookie closer David Price will face Utley and Howard in a big spot. I don’t like that matchup for the Rays plus Lidge has had the best season of any closer in the sport.
Phillies in 6…
Man is it tough being a Pirates fan. It’s been forever since we’ve had a .500 season and even the minor league system had a tough time. And that’s both on and off the field because while the Pirates may have gotten the crown jewel of the draft, it almost looked like we weren’t going to get him and just as the bad, our second pick never even signed.
Still, there were some bright spots. Jim Negrych was the best hitter and despite making a position change, he really shined. He hit .359 and belted 41 doubles. Anthony Watson was the best hitter and he despite going 8-12, he did have just a 3.56 ERA.
Brad Lincoln started his comeback this season and while his numbers weren’t great, it was just nice to see him on the mound. And Neil Walker, a guy who hasn’t gotten as much play recently, had a slot start but continued to show some improvement after being moved from catcher to third.
Maybe, just maybe, we can get over the hump. Still, the weather is still decent enough to get out and play some ball with the kids. I got a new baseball bat from Baseball Rampage and my oldest son got some new catchers gear because that’s probably where he’ll be playing next year. I always seem to my shopping at the end of the season because by then you know what’s good and what isn’t.
Philadelphia Phillies vs the Los Angeles Dodgers
1- Home field- Both teams won all 4 games at their stadiums, Philly has the extra home game.
2- Bullpen- Phillies have a closer that was perfect in save situations with all star Brad Lidge. Dodgers have Jonathan Broxton(14 saves,13 holds, 8 blown saves), who took over mid season for the injured Takashi Saito. Relief corps very similiar outside of this HUGE advantage.
3- Star power- Phillies stars 2b Chase Utley and 1b Ryan Howard have slump issues. Utley’s power numbers have gone south since his red hot 1st half(25 homers,69 rbi vs 8 & 35) while Howard struggled in the opening series.(.182 avg,1 rbi)
4- Manny Ramirez- MVP of Dodgers after quitting in Boston. Hidden factor helping Phillies in the fact that Manager Charlie Manuel was with Ramirez in Cleveland and the two remain very close.
5- Team speed- Both clubs have players that run and are among the top 5 in the NL. (Philly 3rd,LA 4th) SS Jimmy Rollins and CF Shane Victorino led the Phillies while OFs Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp and even C Russell Martin top the LA thieves. Keep in mind SS Rafael Furcal missed over 120 games and has 259 career steals. Pressure on both clubs catchers and staffs to keep the running game under control.
Dodgers RF Andre Ether(who has take off since Ramirez joined LA) and ex Dodger Jayson Werth for Philadephia. Will both be challenged as alternatives to stars killing the opposition.
Pick- I liked the Phillies going into the Postseason to come out of the NL. The Cubs folded under pressure, I do not see the talented Phillies doing the same. Phillies in 6.
Philadelphia Phillies vs Milwaukee Brewers
Strengths- Excellent offense even with LF Pat Burrell’s back acting up… 2b Chase Utley and 1b Ryan Howard form the best right side of the infield in baseball… good speed with SS Jimmy Rollins and Cf Shane Victorino…. 4 solid ML starters, led by LH Cole Hamels and veteran RH Jamie Moyer… excellent, deep bullpen led by Brad Lidge(41 for 41 in save opportunities)
Weaknesses- Team strikes out…. average defense…. ballpark is a sandbox…. Burrell’s back might put Howard at 1b all game with walks
Something to Think about.Phillies punished the Brewers September 11-14 (outscoring them 26-10) and that led to the firing of Manager Ned Yost. Philly hit .299 with 9 homers vs the Brew Crew, while Milwaukee went .206 with 8 homers
Strengths- CC Sabathia…… excellent young talent and athleticism…. great power out of the 3-4 holes with LF Ryan Braun and 1b Prince Fielder… Premier defensive CF Mike Cameron… underrated stars at RF(Corey Hart) and SS(JJ Hardy)…. team likes new manager Dale Sveum… solid closer in Salomon Torres
Weaknesses-Starting pitching is in disarray after Sabathia…. Bullpen is not strong in the 6th and 7th innings… Errors in the infield with all 4 regulars getting 15+ each…. Team Ks a ton with 5 starters all at 115+
Phillies in 5- Most balanced team in NL too much for an injured and beaten up Brewers staff
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs-
Los Angeles Dodgers-
Strengths-Good starters led by playoff veteran Derek Lowe…Improved offense with the Manny Ramirez trade… Good speed with CF Matt Kemp and OF Juan Pierre plus the possible return of SS Rafael Furcal…good bullpen set up core…Calming influence in manager Joe Torre…Best C in NL in Russell Martin
Weaknesses- Even with Ramirez, not much power…. Do not have an elite closer even with Saito back from injury… 3b and 2b not a strength
Strengths-Good starting pitching… Top 8-9th relief tandem in power arms Carlos Marmol and closer Kerry Wood… Good team power with 5 players at 20+ homers…deep, versatile bench with platoons at 2b and CF…Lou Pinella knows how to run a team…Rookie of the year in C Geovany Soto
Weaknesses-History!!! Carry the hopes of the city on their back…. Carlos Zambrano is a bit nuts…. Team strikes out with 4 guys over 100… average defensive team
Cubs in 5- Strong end of the pen the difference
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