Wednesday, October 3, 2007

2007 MLB Divison Series Preview

So we all know that the Twins 2007 campaign finished in a less than desirable fashion. Nonetheless, the American and National League playoffs will go on with out them. So while we here at TKOT will do our fair share of off season Twins writing (including a soon to be released Season in Review, a What to Watch For look to the winter in Twins Territory, and plenty of speculation on things like that Santana/Bartlett for Reyes/Pelfrey/change rumor), it seemed right to at least mention those who are still playing. Without further ado, here is a breakdown of all four divisional series as well as a prediction for each.

California Angels Playing in Anaheim Located Near Los Angeles vs. Boston Red Sox

In what appears to be a very evenly match series, the difference in this showdown will be which team’s stars show up. Despite tying Cleveland for the best record in baseball, the Red Sox have thrived without the typical seasons from Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Manny finished the year hitting just .296 with 20 HR’s and 88 RBI. That’s far below his .319/38/121 averages over the past 12 seasons. Big Dave, on the other hand, hit for a very good .332 average, but the power numbers were down to 35 and 117 (yes I know it’s ridiculous to have 35 bombs and 117 ribies be a down year for you, but that’s how dominant Papi has been). If those two step up to where fans, especially those in Boston, are accustomed to, this could be a very short series. On the CAPiALNLA side, they are looking for a breakout series from their stud, Vlad Guerrero. It’s not like he had a terrible year, 27 bombs and 125 ribs is very good, but if the Angels are going to have a chance, Vlad the Impaler is going to have to carry them on his back, Carlos Beltran in Houston-style. I just don’t see that happening. Prediction: Boston in 4.

New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians

This series will be decided in the first game or two at the most. If Cleveland can get ahead 1-0 or 2-0, they should roll. They have the better pitching of the two teams and the usually home field advantage. I say usually because playing in New York during October can be a frightening experience for a young team like the Indians, so it’s a good thing that they only have to play there twice, at the most. Chief Wahoo’s bunch will have to lean heavily on the aforementioned pitching advantage if they are going to tame that vaunted Yankee lineup. Even New Yorkers know that if they’re going to do anything this postseason, it will be on the strength of that 8 runs per game offense. It’s make or break time for a guy like Alex Rodriguez. The knock on him has always been that he can’t get it done in October. Well, with his opt out and resulting free agency looming, it’s time for A Rod to put up or shut up. Prediction: Yankees in 5.

Colorado Rockies (aka TKOT’s bandwagon pick) vs. Philadelphia Phillies

This is a big series for the TK on Toast writers. We decided about 4 days ago that we were going to jump on the Colorado bandwagon. So we watched that tie breaker game and cheered like the Twins were playing while our new boys triumphed in 13 glorious innings. Now the Rockies face an uphill challenge in the Philadelphia Phillies. Those same Fightin’ Phils who overcame a 7 game deficit in the last couple weeks to overtake the Mets and win the NL East crown. Translation: they’re riding high and extremely confident. The Phillies have a dangerous lineup that runs Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Aaron Rowand, and Pat Burrell as their first six hitters. Scary. Add to that a pitching staff headlined by young stud Cole Hammels and a very deep bullpen and they are the clear favorites. But don’t sleep on this plucky Colorado squad. They weren’t even and after thought a few weeks ago, but forged ahead into October thanks to a little 15 out of 16 run to close the season. They have some very nice hitters in Troy Tulowitzki (ROY), Matt Holiday (MVP), Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins, and Brad Hawpe. And unlike every other Colorado team for the last 10 years, they aren’t solely dependent on the long ball. Add in an underrated pitching staff including Jeff Francis, Josh Fogg, and a lights out bullpen and you have your 2007 sleeper pick to make a magical run. Prediction: Rockies in 5.

Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

A big series for Chicagoans and baseball fans alike. Those North Siders have been waiting for a long time to celebrate a title. And everyone in baseball has been waiting for just as long for them to shut up about it already. Other than Eric Byrnes, I couldn’t care any less about this series. I’m sure Soriano will hit a few bombs and Zambrano will throw a gem or two, but I really don’t care. The only reason I can give you to watch this series is Byrnes. He plays the game all out—the way every person getting paid millions of dollars to play a game should. So if you want to teach your young child how to play the game and what kind of player to analyze, watch this series. Otherwise, just assume that the Cubs will find a way to lose and we’ll have at least another year of their fans whining that they haven’t won a title in 40 some odd years. Prediction: D Backs in 4.

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