Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who Are These Guys?

When I first sat down to write something about the World Series, I had an immediate problem. I realized that I didn’t know who the Cardialns were. No, not in a “They’re so bad that they’re nameless to me.” way. More in a “I don’t pay attention to the NL Central” sort of way. For instance, I didn’t realize that Matt Holliday was still on the team. He’s certainly a star. I just didn’t think about the Cardinals enough to get that into my mind.

So, this makes it hard to think about this series. Can I name five guys on the Cardinals? Probably. Certainly couldn’t spell them all correctly. That means when I look at the series, I have to look at overalls.

This Cardinals team had the best record in the NL. They must be pretty good. They took down Kershaw twice, so they must have good pitching. They’re young, which may be a good thing after a long season.

On the other hand, the Red Sox had the best record in the AL, so they must be pretty good. They scored the most runs in the league, so they must be able to handle pretty good pitching. After all, their four wins in the ALCS came in games started by Sanchez, Scherzer, and Verlander. They’re an older team, but that means lots of them have been here before.

The one thing that stands out to me is that this Red Sox team might be the best suited to playing in an NL park that I’ve seen in a while. Their bench has always been a strength this season. That could be big when you have the pitchers batting. Sure, in years past you sometimes had David Ortiz forced to the bench as a super-sub. But, now you also have Johnny Gomes. And Will Middlebrooks. Guys who certainly could be starters are sitting and waiting to get their hacks in. Losing the DH has never seemed less crippling.

It’s also telling that Koji was named the ALCS MVP. I think the biggest question mark going into the series was the bullpen. Specifically, the bridge to Koji. Obviously, that wasn’t a big problem. In fact, it might have been the strength of the team in the ALCS. If your only weakness ends up being your strength, you’re in pretty darn good shape.

So, maybe knowing who that Cardinals are isn’t a big deal. Besides, those head-to-head match-ups are useless anyway. The Tigers got the edge at third last series, while the Sox got the edge in right field. Does that mean they added up to a draw? Hardly. Unless one team sweeps every category, it’s just an exercise in getting something posted. Is checkmark next to bullpen enough to offset the checkmark for the other team in batting? Being weak at short doesn’t matter as much if your second baseman is four times better than theirs.

What does any of this mean? It means that two good teams will start facing each other tonight. It means the best AL offense will face a great NL pitching staff. It means Koji better keep being Koji. In the end, I think the Red Sox offense ends up being too much for the Cardinals. The depth of the line-up will wear them down, even in St Louis. While it probably won’t be a sweep, I don’t think it needs to go seven.

Sox in Six.

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