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World Series Preview: Rockies vs. Red Sox

by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
October 23, 2007

Records - Rockies 90-73, Red Sox 96-66
Runs Scored (ML rank)
- Rockies 860 (5th), Red Sox 867 (4th)
Runs Allowed (ML rank) - Rockies 758 (13t), Red Sox 657 (1st)

The Colorado Rockies took two of three from the Boston Red Sox this June, demolishing aces Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling in the process. Tim Wakefield gave Boston their only win of the series with a 4-hit 8-inning masterpiece.

This all happened in Fenway Park, and in this World Series, Boston will need to not only dominate at home, but also to take a game or two in Colorado. This should hardly seem an impossible task for a team that has won 103 games in a difficult American League, despite how ridiculously hot the Rockies are.

Catcher

As mismatched as Yorvit Torrealba and Cap Varitek seem, the Rockies’ catcher has actually driven in two more runs than the Cap’n has this postseason. Varitek also hit just .228 in the season’s final two months, which isn’t all that much better than Torrealba’s mark of .215 during that span. As ever, Doug Mirabelli will hurt the Boston offense in any game in which Tim Wakefield starts.

Edge: Red Sox

Infielders

Last year, Boston was entertaining the notion of trading for Todd Helton, but talks fell through. You can bet that Mr. Rockie wants to prove that he is a better hitter than Kevin Youkilis. Helton may already be pressing in his first postseason, however, as he is slugging just .231 thus far. Youk had an incredible ALCS after a disappointing second half.

Dustin Pedroia and Kaz Matsui can each do a lot of things to help their teams win. There is no question that Pedroia is the superior hitter, though.

Perhaps no mismatch in this series is as disparate as Julio Lugo vs. Troy Tulowitzki. This became even more apparent after Lugo dropped that Game 7 popup Sunday night.

Garrett Atkins and Mike Lowell are very similar players, especially when comparing their home/road splits and now that Atkins has improved his defense. Atkins had a far superior second half, but Lowell has been mighty impressive in the playoffs up to this point.

Edge: Rockies

Outfielders

Matt Holliday’s numbers were shockingly superior to those of Manny Ramirez this year. Both players are enjoying superlative postseasons - especially if you count Holliday’s tiebreaker game against San Diego - but Man Ram has been doing this forever.

The speed of Willy Taveras could be the difference maker in a series that promises to have a lot of close games. His defensive abilities in center field are grossly overstated, however. Neither Coco Crisp nor Jacoby Ellsbury promises to be an impact player in this series, despite what Joe Buck might tell you.

Brad Hawpe vs. J.D. Drew… forget what I said about the shortstops earlier.

Edge: Rockies

Designated Hitter/Bench

Ryan Spilborghs is nice and all, but being able to fit him in the lineup doesn’t exactly counter David Ortiz. With Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, the Sox could have two experienced NL pitchers to offset the Rockies’ home field advantage in Games 3-5, but if Terry Francona holds fast with his playoff rotation, those two should only get one game in Colorado combined.

Edge: Red Sox

Starting Pitchers

Speaking of Beckett, he appears to be quite invincible lately, though the Rockies do have that success against him from June. Jeff Francis doesn’t pitch well on the road, and although the Red Sox did not have a good record against left handed starters this year, they have tagged some of the league’s best southpaws this postseason. The Rockies are at a huge disadvantage in Game 1.

As great as Ubaldo Jimenez has been, if there’s a team patient enough to rattle him, it’s the Red Sox. Curt Schilling had the third best postseason ERA of all time before being handled by the Indians in the ALCS. He will be fine unless he makes an appearance in Coors Field, where he is marked with a 5.51 ERA over 13 career starts.

Diasuke Matsuzaka has a distinct advantage in not playing the Rockies earlier in the season. Maybe Kaz Matsui has faced him before and give his teammates some helpful pointers, but more than likely, Dice-K will do well at least in the first game that he pitches. Josh Fogg is due to be exposed for the subpar pitcher that he is.

Tim Wakefield is an interesting case. He boasts a sub-4.00 ERA on six or more days of rest, which is what he will have whenever he first appears in a World Series game. He also has a career ERA of 3.75 as a reliever if Francona decides to use him that way. That knuckleball seems like it could be a huge liability in Coors Field, however.

Clint Hurdle will be susceptible to second guessers whether he goes with Aaron Cook or Franklin Morales in his rotation. It will be important for him to put a short leash on whomever he chooses.

Edge: Red Sox

Bullpen

Doesn’t it seem as though most of the playoff teams this year have had phenomenal bullpens? The Yankees and Phillies are the exceptions, but then look what happened to each of those teams.

Between these World Series teams, the Rockies appear to have a bit more bullpen depth, particularly if Aaron Cook is healthy enough to push Franklin Morales into a long relief role. With the game on the line, however, I would feel more comfortable with Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima than I would with Manny Corpas and Brian Fuentes.

Edge: Even

Final Word

Unfortunately, if the Rockies get out to a hot start this series, analysts will say it is because they are rested, and if the get off to a poor start, pundits will call then rusty. In reality, the Rockies are likely to drop at least Game 1 because they don’t play that well on the road and because none of the 20 wins in their past 21 games have come against teams of the Red Sox caliber.

It would be a terrific story for the Rockies to sweep the Red Sox, but I don’t see it happening. The Rockies are also too good right now to just roll over and play dead either, however.

Prediction: Red Sox in seven




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.

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