by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
October 12, 2007
Records - Indians
96-66, Red Sox
Runs Scored - Indians 811 (6th), Red Sox 867 (3rd)
Runs Allowed - Indians 704 (3rd),
Red Sox 657 (1st)
The Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians five out of seven times during
the regular season, had a Pythagorean record of .624 to Cleveland's .564, and
played a tougher overall schedule than the Indians did. Yet they scored
only one run in 15 innings against dual Cleveland aces C.C. Sabathia and C.C,
Fausto. We take a closer look at this pairing of two excellent teams.
Jason Varitek had an average year by his standards at the plate, but a great
one by his standards behind it. He was still grossly ineffective on both
sides of the ball compared to Victor Martinez, the best overall catcher in
baseball until Joe Mauer can prove that he can stay healthy. No amount of
leadership skills can make up for the difference in tangible quality between
these two backstops.
Kelly Shoppach is probably better on both sides of the ball right now than
Cap Varitek, and allows Ryan Garko to become the most dangerous pinch hitter in
the postseason when he does start. Doug Mirabelli will catch Tim Wakefield
in Game 4. Mirabelli has hit .195 over the past two seasons.
Kevin Youkilis is an
Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award
favorite in the AL, though Ryan Garko's numbers against non-White Sox teams
aren't fantastic (just a .278 BA).
Moving over one infield spot, Dustin Pedroia has been the American League's
best overall second baseman since the end of April, while The Asdrube has been
very solid since his August callup. While a huge upgrade over Josh
Barfield, Cabrera can't match up with Pedroia for sure.
Jhonny Peralta will be providing Youkilis with some stiff competition for
that AGotM Award, while Julio Lugo has batted 83 points higher in the second
half. Lugo still isn't coming particularly close to justifying his
contract, but he's not too much worse than Peralta right now (although he is a
.190 hitter on the road).
At age 33, Mike Lowell is coming off his best season in three years.
Whoever signs him to a long-term contract this offseason will surely regret it,
but for this series, Lowell is far superior to Casey Blake (at least at Fenway).
Edge: Red Sox
A lot of people would be surprised to learn that Grady Sizemore had a better
offensive season than Manny Ramirez did. The rest of the outfield for both
teams is surprisingly weak; a bunch of platooners, in fact. No, Boston
fans, Jacoby Ellsbury is not a bona fide .353 hitter at this stage of his
career. No, Cleveland fans, Franklin Gutierrez isn't anything more than an
exploitable hacker at this stage of his career.
Travis Hafner had a down year, giving David Ortiz an obvious edge, as he had
a career year despite hitting 19 fewer homers than he did in 2006. Even if
these two sluggers had identical stats for the year, you would have to give Big
Papi an edge because of his incredible clutch play.
Both squads have reasonably strong benches due to the outfield platoon
situations, but the aforementioned Garko/Shoppach factor gives Cleveland a
Edge: Red Sox
The postseason hasn't seen a 1-2 punch like C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona
since the days of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in Arizona. Jake
Westbrook's overall numbers did not look good this year, but he had a 3.94 ERA
at home and a 3.44 second half ERA after he had fully recovered from an April
injury. Paul Byrd is not spectacular, but he beat the Red Sox earlier in
the year, and his last three starts in the postseason have been solid.
Beckett had a season somewhere in between Sabathia's and Carmona's in terms
of quality, and Curt Schilling is one of the best postseason performers of all
time. The Indians have seen Dice-K twice this year, and so should not be
fooled by his unusual delivery. Tim Wakefield has a 4.64 career ERA in
Jacobs's Field, and had an 8.76 ERA in five September starts. It is
frankly shocking that Terry Francona would consider doing anything other than
long relief with the sore old man.
Two fantastic bullpens match up here. But Jon Papelbon is certainly a
surer option at the end than JoBo 45/5 Borowski, and I'm not prepared to believe
that Eric Gagne is as bad as he appeared in his debut month with Boston; he had
a 3.27 ERA this year outside of August.
It's hard to imagine the Red Sox winning a game in Cleveland, and it's even
harder to imagine the Indians doing worse than a split with their pair of
aces in the first two games.
I picked Cleveland to win the World Series
in March, and that was before I had ever even heard of Fausto Carmona,
so I'm certainly not going to back down now.
Prediction: Indians in five
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at email@example.com.