October 22, 2008

A Series for the World

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Picks

With Major League Baseball’s championship, the World Series, starting tonight in humble St. Petersburg, what better time would there be to breakdown the teams and give a prediction or two?

Starting pitchers: Cole Hamels is the best pitcher in this series and that shouldn’t even be debated. Behind him in Philadelphia’s rotation is sometimes good Brett Myers, average lefty Joe Blanton and the ancient Jamie Moyer — not exactly the early 90’s Braves. The Rays boast a more solid, well-rounded rotation of young arms who get it done. Scott Kazmir is the ace but I’m not sure if he can out-duel Hamels for three games if this Series goes seven games — which it could.
Edge: Rays, but only slightly because of their depth.

Bullpen: Brad Lidge’s success in Philly has been quite the story and it will continue to be front page material, good or bad. The Rays had a lot of success out their bullpen in the regular season but that crew looked awfully mortal against the Red Sox. Also, Tampa Bay doesn’t have a true closer which could hurt them if they need to bolt down a small lead in the ninth.
Edge: Phillies.

Infield: The Rays have great young core and two certifiable mashers in 3B Evan Longoria and 1B Carlos Pena. Iwamura and Bartlett are around your average major leaguer at their positions but play well in their roles. On the Phillies side, you have, arguably, the best infield in all of baseball. Ryan Howard Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are perennial MVP candidates and compose the core of this lineup. At third base is Pedro Feliz, but even his average numbers can’t drag down the other three’s combined greatness.
Edge: Phillies.

Outfield: Tampa Bay’s outfield is the fastest group of players I’ve seen in a while. Nevermind if they play Gabe Gross or Rocco Baldelli in right field, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford are as quick as they get. This group can also play great defence as well since they cover so much ground — a key to the Rays success. The Phils’ Pat Burrell looked to have found his stroke early in the season but his numbers have slid since then. Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth aren’t going to be striking a lot of fear into people either.
Edge: Rays.

Prediction: It would be great to see the city of Philadelphia rejoice over a sports team for once but I don’t think their starting pitchers are good enough to consistently get through this Rays lineup that finds hits when they need them, whoever is at bat. The best chance the Phillies have at winning is to wear out the starters with long at bats and get to the bullpen. I don’t see that happening and the Rays will follow in the Marlins foot-steps by winning with a small payroll.
Pick: Tampa Bay in 6.

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