Friday, October 12, 2007

Well...What Are You Waiting For?

With the pitching match-up out of the way, the lineup comparison was next on my to-do list, but finding My Teams are Cursed’s excellent lineup breakdown – there’s not much to add to it, and maybe another High Life tonight to calm my nerves would be a better use of my time at this point.

The only eyebrow-raiser that I caught my eye with MTAC’s comparison would be the “even” call on Asdrubal and Pedroia. While AstroCab has served as the spark for the Tribe for the past few months, Pedroia has been doing it all season; however, examining the season totals proves the point that the players are not as dissimilar as one would think.
Cabrera - .283 BA / .354 OBP / .421 SLG / .775 OPS
Pedroia - .317 BA / .380 OBP / .442 SLG / .823 OPS
Though Pedroia has slightly better numbers, the main variance between the two is essentially the attention that the Red Sox 2B has received.

Outside of the MTAC analysis, obviously everyone knows about Manny and Papi as limiting their impact is a key to the Indians' success. But, if you’ve heard of baseball, you already knew that. The players outside of the two sluggers in Boston that have me worried are Mike Lowell, Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis. Lowell, hitting right after the Big 2, scares me in that the pitchers can’t make the mistake of taking a breath and underestimating the 3B, particularly with FA looking him in the face. Pedroia seems like the kind of player that shows up in the postseason (like Eckstein and Counsell before him) to become the annoying pest that never seems to make an out and is always on base. But Youkilis is the player that most strikes me as the kind of player who shines on the big stage, as calls of "Youk" from the Fenway Faithful bring bile to my mouth. Not sure why, as Youkilis seems like the kind of player I'd love on the Indians, but I see Youkilis being that A.J. Pierzynski/Paul O'Neill type of foil that will plague the Tribe throughout the series.

On the Indians side of things, I love the way the top of the lineup looks against all of the RH starters with Grady (LH), Asdrubal (SH), Hafner (LH), and Victor (SH) matching up very nicely with the RH heavy Red Sox staff. The top of the order will be tantamount for the Tribe’s success as most of the rest of the lineup (Garko, Jhonny, Casey, Frank the Tank) are all RH and will be facing some pretty nasty stuff from the right side of the rubber. Trot Nixon’s LH bat will surely get some looks…so long as he doesn’t have to patrol the field.

With all of the heady analysis out of the way and the breakdowns thoroughly complete, it’s finally time to play some games – so how about a prediction?

The Indians find themselves looking into a mirror facing the Red Sox in the ALCS as the two best teams in baseball lock horns. Both teams boast top-of-the-rotation studs, decent (if not great) depth to fill out the rotation, a solid bullpen, and a patient and balanced offense. All the way down the line, the Red Sox have an answer for the Indians…but the Indians also have an answer for the Red Sox.

The teams are evenly matched enough, that this series feels like it might come down to the way the ball bounces, an arbitrary play that turns out to be huge, or even a controversial or momentous moment that swings the tide in favor of one or the other team. When it’s all said and done, though, the playoffs are all about pitching and against any other team, the Indians quality and depth gives them a huge advantage. But the Red Sox have Beckett, Schilling, and Papelbon at their disposal – players worthy of the high praise bestowed upon them – to counter C.C., Fausto, and the Raffies.

Assuming that the projected pitching match-ups hold up, I see Beckett and C.C. splitting home and home and the Indians and Red Sox splitting the Westbrook/Dice-K and Byrd/Wakefield starts. The ace in the hole for the Indians remains Carmona, who will beat Schilling (ironically by playing the same role that Schilling did for the 2001 D-Backs) twice and be the difference in the series.

This feels like a heavyweight battle, with two evenly matched opponents squaring off against each other, exchanging punches until the first one falls…or the first one pulls themselves up off the mat first to hoist the AL Trophy.
Remind you of anything?
Yo, Cleveland…they’re gonna do it.
Indians in 6.


Voltaire said...

Pedroia has played almost a full season and put up better numbers. Sorry, you can't play the media card on that one.

Jason said...

Your prediction of how the games will go exactly matches mine, for what that's worth. I see the Hefty Lefty losing a close one tonight, but Carmona coming back tomorrow to beat them. Schilling's performance against the Angels scared me until I realized that he didn't exactly beat their best team. A healthy Indians lineup is much better than what he mowed down in Orange County.

Thanks for posting the link to the end of Rocky II. I'm still sniffling a little bit...

Cy Slapnicka said...

I'm not a huge a fan of series predictions and certainly am no fan of predicting on the morning of the first game of the series that our ace loses.

I prefer unabashed optimism and confidence that we will win. Screw Boston, their Yankee-like fans, and their attempts to purchase a championship. CC is gonna mow them down tonight and we'll silence the nation. (However if that is the case, why am I nervous at 10AM central?)

Cy Slapnicka said...

Something I thought I'd post as I've confirmed it with the Indians this morning via phone. I think I've mentioned something about it before but wanted to draw attention to it in regards to playoff tickets and the secondary market.

I've accepted the Indians lottery for these playoff games, even though I have many problems with it. I've resigned to paying a broker for tickets. However, one thing that sucks is people that require accessible seating only have one option for going to a game. Winning the ticket lottery. I asked if I bought tickets through Tribe Ticket Marketplace, StubHub, or a broker if I could call and get set up with at least one handicap accessible seat in exchange for my seat or move all the seats...even to worse seats. Nope...according to the woman I spoke with the Indians don't have anything to do with broker tickets. When I more specifically asked about the Tribe Ticket Marketplace that the Indians emailed me about and that is available on their website, she indicated that was for season ticket holders to sell their tickets. Ah, thats what it is for. When I got the email I saw that it was a secure way for a buyer like me to get "legitimate" Indians tickets.

I'm not saying that people that need accessible tickets should get privileges that are above and beyond that of a fan that does not have that need. But if the Indians and MLB are going to jump headfirst into the secondary market for tickets, they should at least have some consideration for fans that cannot sit in any seat in the park. Find a fair way to ensure that they are not shut out of games just because stairs are not an option for them.

I'm still hoping to go next Thursday, but its shitty that I can't take someone that would love to go and is a former season ticket holder and a huge Indians fan. For those that are going next week, take a look around the ballpark at the handicapped seating that is provided. Note how many of those seats are filled by fans that don't need them to be there. And consider that the Indians are shutting out some of their biggest fans that are willing to pay market prices for tickets, but cannot buy a seat that will accommodate them.

If anyone knows how I can get in touch with someone with some stroke in the Indians organization that may want to hear about this issue and at least try to address it at some point in the future, let me know.

t-bone said...

Friends of the Feather,

It just dawned on me that one year ago today I was in Boston for a wedding and did the Fenway Park tour. Must have been a sign. This photo was taken Friday, October 13, 2006.

Last year, I owned Fenway. This year, the Tribe does!


Voltaire said...

I won the lottery! Wow. Going to Game 5 on Thursday. Amazing.

TheNaturalMevs said...

Ok it's official. I'm panicked.