Thursday, October 8, 2009

What’s Going to Happen?

Well, clearly, since the Red Sox have owned the Angels in the playoffs, they’ll win easily again this year. They shouldn’t even bother with the series.
What’s that you say? I’m not a Yankees fan? I need to look at this year, and not the years of the past? Oh, well, if you insist.
It’s an interesting match-up. I never got a “dominant” feeling from the Sox this year. I think most of that came form the replacement starters they kept tossing in there. Smoltz was a disaster. Penny was iffy. Dice-K and Wakefield went down for long stretches. Even though the Sox ended up with 95 wins, you never had that long stretch of superior play. Every fifth game or so, Smoltz would throw up a stinker, or they’d have to start Tazawa in a pinch. So, at least once a week, the Sox had a big question. It was hard to think of them as an elite team in that case. I look at this series, and get that feeling the Sox may be vulnerable. But, once I remember that even the best teams lose almost 40% of their games that feeling goes away. Just because the Sox spaced out their losses pretty evenly doesn’t mean they are an inferior team. How does that help them in the 2009 ALDS?
First off, it looks like the Sox are considering a three-man rotation. That’s an interesting ploy. Can the Sox pull off an effective Lester-Beckett-Buchholz-Lester-Beckett run? Is it making the Angels shiver at having to face Lester and Beckett twice a piece in a five game series? Can the Angels win 3 of 4 from those two guys? That’s a great twist.
The Sox line-up has rounded into shape. It’s not the 2004 Red Sox offense, but it doesn’t have to be. Just like we want all our aces to pitch like Pedro, we want our offenses to hit like 2004. There’s a great heart of the order. V-Mart really shores things up. That might be some of the problem when looking at the Sox. If you go down through Martinez-Youk-Bay-Ortiz-Lowell-Drew, they’re really the same players. It’s not like the Manny-Ortiz attack of 2007. It’s more balanced. The Sox haven’t been this balanced in a long time, and that probably scares some people. There’s not the one or two people you can count on to carry the team. But, the whole line-up is a tough out. I don’t see a break anywhere in there. That’s a tough call for any opposing pitcher.
It really looks like the Sox and Angels are very similar teams. Both have some potent offensive players. Both have some speed at the top. Both teams have solid rotations. I don’t think the Angels have Lester or Beckett. That’s where I see the big advantage.
Tonight’s game is huge, even more so than usual. I don’t generally like a five-game series. I think it’s too short to be fair. It makes game 1 abnormally important. If the Sox win tonight, it will immediately put the Angels in a huge hole. It won’t just steal home field advantage away. It won’t just mean that the Angles will have to win 3 of 4, including at least one more of Beckett and Lester. It will mean they’ll have to go through another day of questions from the press on whether they can ever beat the Sox. They’ll be even tighter for game 2, and things could snowball from there. It’s a big game for LA. I don’t think they can pull it out.
I say Sox in 4.

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