>> Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I think whatever of my colleagues characterized this article on Twitter as "World Series that don't include the Yankees invariably suck" was actually being unfair (although it would be an accurate summary of this one.) Rather, Kepner was saying that recent world Series have sucked because they've sucked, and about that he's certainly been correct. Most people seem to think that this one, featuring the best team in baseball against the defending World Champion, will be different.
Maybe. Certainly, in the abstract, the Phillies are a much more serious threat than the Angels. On paper, they can fight the Yankee rotation to a draw. Unlike the Twins, they have more than one premium hitter; unlike the Angels, their middle-of-the-order hitters have real power and don't see taking pitches as a slur on their masculinity or something. So why I do I see this Series as more likely to be another dud than a classic? I don't like the matchup for Philadelphia at all. For at least 4 and as many as 5 of the games (plus many game situations in all the games), the Phillies will have Willie Bloomquist playing first base and hitting cleanup, along with many other lefties with less extreme career splits. It's true that the Phillies handled lefties OK this year, but I suspect that's a function of facing a lot of marginal southpaws, which isn't an issue here (and, despite their success, they've had huge platoon shifts against higher-quality postseason pitchers so far.) So while against a normal staff the Phillies wouldn't have a dramatically worse offense than the Yankees, in this Series they might, and they also mean that Giradi's Larussian wankery might be a net positive -- unlike Tracy, Howard will be facing a lefty or the lefty-killing Rivera in most late-inning ABs. And then there's the bullpens, which doomed the Twins and Angels. I know we're expected to believe that the Phillies closer with the 59+ ERA this year has turned it around, and he certainly has the ability to be a very good closer. Between him and by far the greatest closer in history I know who I'm betting on.
So while I believe there will be a lot of close games, my bet is that the Yankees win most of them quickly. Aside from Lidge, the key players if the Phillies are to thwart this appalling outcome: Pedro, Werth, and Rollins (who needs to snap out of it.) YANKEES IN 5.