World Series Prediction

So here we are, the final two teams left playing in Baseball.  On the one side you have the Colorado Rockies, who have won 21 of their last 22 and on the other side the Red Sox came back from the dead with their Series with the Indians to win in Game 7.  So here we have 2 of the hottest teams, which should make for a great Series (and Fox is happy that the Sox won so that ratings will be kept up).

The Rockies are a young, no name team that has had an unbelievable ride, the Sox are a veteran team and the swagger to boot.  Both are playing really great baseball.

But who has the advantage?  Sure we could look at the Rockies when they came to Fenway in June and took 2 of 3 to Boston, but that was June and the Red Sox were not playing for the World Series.  I don’t expect them to have an easy time this go around.  Plus by Wednesday night, the Rockies will have had an 8 day lay-off playing simulated games in Snowy Denver.  No matter how much they will try to stay sharp, the Red Sox will only have two days of rest after beating a very good Cleveland Indians team.

Now here is a position by position comparison between the Red Sox and Rockies (Hey who would have predicted a Rox-Sox World Series?)

Catcher

Yorvit Torrealba or Jason Varitek.  Neither is a particularly great hitter, though Varitek might have the slight edge.  Neither is particularly good a throwing out base-runners, but Varitek is a better defensive catcher.  Where the two are leaps and bounds apart is in calling games.  Varitek is the best in the business, he knows every hitters weakness, strength and tendency, he also listens to his pitchers and gut sometimes.  Torrealba is getting fed this information from the dugout, although he has done a great job in keep his pitchers calm during this run.

Advantage:  Red Sox

First Base

Kevin Youklis, David Ortiz vs Todd Helton.  Since Helton will get to play every game (remember he was almost traded to Boston in Spring training), its an odd comparison.  Youklis will be at First Base in the four games at Fenway, but expect Oritz, bad knees and all to at least start in Colorado.  Youklis will be used for late inning defense.  Offensively, the combination of Youklis and Ortiz will produce more power than Helton, but Helton is a great hitter and former gold glove winner.  Youklis (who should win one this year, but won’t) is a wiz at first and we forget David Ortiz spent the first few season of his career playing first base, does it in interleague play and did a pretty good job in 2004 World Series (ask Jeff Suppan, Sorry Corey).

Advantage:  Even

Second Base

Kaz Matsui who failed with the Mets has suddenly arrived in Colorado, on the other hand you have Dustin Pedroia who in many ways single handily destroyed the Indians hope in Game 7 with a huge Home Run off a nearly unhittable pitcher and a bases clearing double the next inning.  Matsui is a professional ballplayer with average skills.  Dustin Pedroia also has average skills, but plays on a much higher level.

Advantage:  Red Sox

Short Stop

This isn’t even close.  One of the best players on the Rockies is rookie SS Troy Tulowitzki, whom many have compared with Derek Jeter or Cal Ripken.  The Sox have Julio Lugo who has good range, good speed and an ok bat and defense.

Advantage:  Rockies

Third Base

Mike Lowell vs Garrett Atkins.  Atkins is in the line-up for his bat and that’s about it.  Lowell not only has had a career year at the plate and despite getting many errors this season (many of tough plays) Lowell is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball.  Because Lowell is better defensively, the advantage goes to the Red Sox.

Advantage:  Red Sox

Outfield

Holliday, Taveras, Hawpe vs Ramirez, Ellsbury/Crisp and Drew.  Wow a toughie.  Hawpe and Holliday and part of the meat of the Rockies line-up.  Taveras is a speed lead off guy who plays good defense.  Manny is Manny and can beat you a number of ways, Cocco Crisp is a defensive wiz in Center Field while Jacoby Ellsbury helped to provide a spark for the Red Sox comeback.  JD Drew also had some big hits for the Sox in their come back and plays a very solid RF.

Advantage:  Even

Designated Hitter

David Oritz vs Any member of the Colorado Rockies not previously mentioned.  Big Papi, “Dr. October”, bad knees and all is superior to anything the Rockies will send up there, but don’t underestimate any of the Rockies hitters.

Advantage:  Red Sox

Bench

Neither teams benches are great, the Red Sox however have a bench full of veteran players and might carry a slight edge.  I don’t expect either bench to get a lot of use, except for pinch hitting duties in Denver.

Advantage:  Even

Starting Pitching

Beckett, Schilling, Dice-K, Wakefield vs Francis, Jiminez, Fogg?, Cook? Morales?  No one wants to face Beckett right now and Schilling always comes up big on this stage.  Dice K actually smiled, he threw 5 effective innings in Game 7 and if it had been in the regular season likely would have pitched another inning or two.  Wakefield is hurt and may not pitch, but with the days off, the Rockies may just get another dose of Josh Beckett.  Jeff Francis is a craft left hander with really good off speed stuff, but they faced a very streaky Phillies team in the NLDS and a toothless Diamondbacks team in the NLCS.  They have not faced the quality AB’s the Red Sox are sure to give them, plus 1-9 the Sox are better than either of the teams the Rockies defeated to get here.  Rust will also be a factor as the Rockies pitchers may be too pumped and ask the Indians about making mistakes and what happens to them.

Advantage:  Red Sox

Bullpen

Colorado’s bullpen has been over achieving this post season in my opinion.  Again they have not have to stare down Pedroia, Youklis, Oritz, Ramirez and Lowell with the game on the line (Howard, Utley, Burrell are good, but strike out far more than those guys and take less walks).  If the Rockies starters fail to go deep, this could be a big hole for them.  However with a lead the Rockies can mix and match and with Affeldt and Fuentes, the Rockies have two very effective lefties to get big outs.

The Red Sox bullpen is good, even Eric Gagne (Who I predict will be on the World Series roster) can’t screw things up.  Okajima, Delcarman, Timlin, Lopez and Lester (and yes even Gagne) can take a lead in the 5th inning and carry it through.  They can get overwhelming at times, but they have weakness, the Rockies simply need to have tough At bats and not go chasing the junk that a lot of these guys throw.

Advantage:  Red Sox

Closers

Jonathan “Riverdance” Papelbon vs Manny Corpas.  Papelbon may be the best closer in baseball at the moment, but Corpas hasn’t done bad either.  Both have nasty stuff, but Corpas has pitched in less big games than Papelbon (regular season that is).  Corpas (and a lot of the younger Rockies players) may let the Aura of Fenway Park bother them.  Fausto Carmona is a great example.  Both could be huge players for either team, but with the game on the line who would you rather have out there?  Easy, Papelbon.

Advantage:  Red Sox

Prediction

These are two star crossed teams playing each other.  Lots of mojo is working for both sides, but like in the ALCS 4 games will potentially be played at Fenway.  The Rockies have the advantage in Colorado with no DH (But who doesn’t want to Watch Manny or Ortiz hit there?), but also remember Lowell, Beckett and Drew played for significant amounts of time in the National League and know the place, while few of the Rockies have played any significant time in Fenway (Yes I know they played there in June).  But I think the Red Sox have the overall advantage in a number of categories, but I also think the Rockies will make a series out of it.

Expect Riverdance III at Fenway in Game 6.

Red Sox in 6.

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