Sunday, October 03, 2004
Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi Ce Soir
My prognosis, which might be good for both Southland teams -- or not -- is that neither the Angels nor the Dodgers have what it takes to get past their immediate opponents. Both, in fact, have become remarkably similar over the course of the year, and in a bad way: limited starting pitching options, very good bullpens, and a chorus of light hitters supported by streaky sluggers. The Dodgers' home run hitters, however, have much more to say about the club's offense, as new super-duper star Adrian Beltre, resurgent Shawn Green, Milton Bradley, rookie Jayson Werth, and midseason acquisition Steve Finley led the team to the place it is now. Both have good (in the Dodgers' case, league-leading) defense, and excellent, deep benches.
I predict a squish for both clubs, but the reasons why I'll explain momentarily.
Angels/Red SoxI'd certainly like to believe the Angels would want to beat up the Red Sox, not only to get to the World Series, but to avenge 1986. Donnie Moore's infamous "one strike away" pitch that ended up in the stands stymied the club; they had not won another division title until this year.
That said: the Angels have no answer to either of Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez. Both the Sox aces have been, in the main, brilliant this year, as always, but one interesting side effect of their brilliance is they both have accumulated a large number of innings pitched (226 and 217 respectively). Pedro has a 4.95 ERA in September, giving up big leads to not only the Yankees but the Devil Rays. Schilling ranks 19th on the Pitcher Abuse Points leaderboard at Baseball Prospectus. Schilling has easily pitched this number of innings before and more; it's Pedro the Sox have to worry about. Still, outside of Vlad's nine RBI day, the Angels have never really hit Pedro that well. The key, as usual, is to make both of them throw a mess of pitches and hope we get lucky in their bullpen -- and hope our starters can keep us in the game.
The Angels go in minus Guillen, and a quality centerfielder. Anderson's costly bobble in Friday's game is just another indicator the club needs a new centerfielder, and bad:
Year Starting CF RAA2 ============================ 2002 Erstad +27 2004 Anderson -4
Prediction: Red Sox in four.
Twins/YankeesThe sentimental side of me wants the Twins to win, but considering they were playing in the AL Central and only on the very last day of the season managed to make it to a 92-70 record -- in the weakest division in baseball. Prediction: Yankees in four, as Santana should be good for one win -- and only that.
Dodgers/CardsThe Dodgers' problem is that their offense chose the last week of the season to totally halt (it was merely sputtering before). This is bad, and probably an indicator of an early exit; face it, Isringhausen is a quality closer, and the Dodgers just won't get any ninth-inning heroics facing him. One and done for the Blue. Prediction: Cards sweep in three.
Astros/BravesThis one's the hardest to call; both clubs have a history of choking in the playoffs. I'll pick the Braves, because I just can't believe the Rocket has much left in the tank, Oswalt isn't enough to carry a club, and their offense is mightily streaky -- though they come in hot. Prediction: Braves in four.
Update, 10/7/04: After seeing the Astros whup the Braves, I'm changing my prediction to Astros in four.
Update, 10/9/04: One more modification: this series goes to five.
League Championship Series
NLCS: Cards/AstrosSquish. Prediction: Cards in five.
ALCS: Yankees/Red SoxNot even a point in discussing it; the Sox, faced with the Ghost of Babe Ruth and other spooks, inevitably find a way to fold. Prediction: Yankees in seven.
World Series: Yankees/CardinalsCards in six. Sheffield is a chronic postseason choker, and this is the stage he'll do it -- maximizing Steinbrenner's tantrum-throwing as Jason Isringhousen strikes him out for the final out of Game 6. The Yanks' offense has been remarkably dependent on Shef this year, and I expect the team will go down with the ship in the biggest way imaginable.
Should I be proven wrong, should either of the Angels or Dodgers advance beyond the first round, I still predict they won't get to the World Series; the Angels are too battered and the Dodgers don't have the rotation.
ANA in 5
this may be the first time all year I've agreed with the dual dumbasses, Kruk and Renoylds. that can't be a good sign for the angels.
NYY in 5
this is the only year in any recent memory that I respect the twins this much, mainly because of santana/radke/silva
HOU in 4
streaky indeed. and I believe they will continue the hot bats. 781/715 ops for/against in sep/oct
STL in 4
this could easily be a sweep. the cards aren't playing at their peak, but they're still easily playing better than our dodgers. LA has been smoke and mirrors this whole past month. here's hoping I'm wrong.
NYY over ANA in 6
NYY pitching gets an undeserved bad rap.
STL over HOU in 7
I think these two teams are very even at this point in the season. So I take the cards because they'll play game7 at home. but really a coin flip in my eyes.
NYY over STL in 6
can jeter continuing destroying the ball? probably not, but sheffield, et al probably won't keep opsing in the 700's.
well, hopefully I'm completely wrong and it's the freeway series. or at least one of the teams. I wouldn't mind my scenario though. I only detest one of the above 8 teams.