2004 World Series Preview

By Keith Glab

    Probably the most exciting LCS in at least five years leads to high expectations for the 2004 World Series.  On the
surface, it appears that the Cardinals have had the more impressive regular season, while the pioneer Boston Red Sox
have made a bigger splash in the postseason.  However, for a deeper analysis, here is a positional comparison of the
two teams:

Catcher
Red Sox: Jason Varitek
Cardinals: Mike Matheny

    Obviously, Boston has a huge edge here offensively, but how about on defense?  Well, over the past 2 years,
Matheney has allowd seven passed balls, made just one error, and has thrown out only 28.4% of basestealers.  Varitek
had both eleven errors and eleven passed balls, plus only nabbed one in every four would-be basestealer.  Matheny
definitely has the defensive edge, but it’s not as big as people make it out to be.  
Big Edge Red Sox

First Base
Red Sox: Kevin Millar
Cardinals: Albert Pujols
    Kevin Millar had a remarkable 1.018 OPS at home, but just a .689 road mark in 2004.  Both Pujols’ home and road
OPS’s were greater than 1.018.  
Big Edge Cardinals

Second Base
Red Sox: Mark Bellhorn
Cardinals: Tony Womack

    Two opposite types of players.  One puts the ball in play and trusts his speed to disrupt the defense, and the other
bides his time and trusts the pitcher to make a mistake.  Despite differences in philosophies, both are quite effective
players.  
Edge Even

Third Base
Red Sox: Bill Mueller
Cardinals: Scott Rolen

    Mueller didn’t compete for the batting title this year, but he’s still a super effective player on both sides of the ball.  
Unfortunately, few players can compare favorably with Scott Rolen this year.  Big
Edge Cardinals

Shortstop
Red Sox: Orlando Cabrera
Cardinals: Edgar Renteria

Orlando Cabrera is one of the keys to the series for the Red Sox, as he has drubbed Cardinals pitching for a .326
batting average and .547 slugging percentage over 84 career at bats.  No one wants to bring up the negatives of a 105-
win season, so Renteria’s disappointing hitting (.728 OPS) and lackluster baserunning (17 for 28) have gone largely
unnoticed.  
Edge Even

Left Field
Red Sox: Manny Ramirez
Cardinals: Reggie Sanders

    Sanders has churned out another productive year, but Manny has put up numbers that make him a favorite for AL
MVP honors.  
Big Edge Red Sox

Center Field
Red Sox: Johnny Damon
Cardinals: Jim Edmonds

Damon was one of the best leadoff hitters of 2004, but his five outfield errors were the most he's had since leaving
Kansas City back in 2000.  He did nothing in the ALCS until dominating game seven.  Edmonds, on the other hand, has
been the best center fielder in baseball for the past five years.  Big
Edge Cardinals

Right Field
Red Sox: Trot Nixon
Cardinals: Larry Walker

    After a superb September, Trot Nixon has struggled mightily in October.  He really is a solid player, somewhere
inbetween the extremes that we’ve seen of him lately.  As much as Walker loves to hit in Coors Field, he’s built nicely for
Fenway Park.  He’s hit three doubles in nine career at-bats there.
Big Edge Cardinals

Designated Hitter
Red Sox: David Ortiz
Cardinals: John Mabry

    John Mabry has quietly posted an .867 OPS this year; he’s really not so much worse than Ortiz.  One of the more
interesting strategies to look for in the series is whether or not Ortiz starts at first for the NL home games.  While Boston
would hate to deprive their lineup of him, Ortiz is a defensive liability, which could really hurt sinkerballer Derek Lowe in
game 4.  Also, Terry Francona might like the option of pinch hitting Ortiz in the most important situation of the game in
order to best utilize his clutch hitting prowess.  
Edge Red Sox

Bench
Red Sox: Doug Meintkewicz, Pokey Reese, Gabe Kapler, Dave Roberts
Cardinals: Marlon Anderson, Hector Luna, So Taguchi, Roger Cedeno

The Red Sox have a very situational bench.  Kapler can hit breaking balls, Roberts is an elite pinch runner.
Mientkiewicz and Reese make excellent defensive substitutes.
The Cardinals have two backup second basemen and two backup left fielders, none of whom can hit, run, or field much
better than any Cardinal starter they might replace.
Edge Red Sox

Game 1 Starters
Red Sox: Tim Wakefield
Cardinals: Woody Williams

      Woody has been masterful in the postseason, as he is the prototype LaRussa/Duncan Mediocre Veteran Who
Suddenly Excels.  Tim Wakefield has struggled a bit against the non-Marlon Anderson portion of the Cardinals’ hitters,
particularly Jim Edmonds (1.095 OPS in 37 at bats).  
Edge Cardinals

Game 2 Starters
Red Sox: Curt Schilling
Cardinals: Jason Marquis

    A lot of people fail to realize that Marquis had the best regular season ERA of any of the World Series starters next
to Curt Schilling.  Curt would have the edge if his health were a certainty, but as it is,
Edge Even.

Game 3 Starters
Red Sox: Pedro Martinez
Cardinals: Matt Morris

    Matt Morris could be in trouble here, since he allowed 35 home runs during the regular season to National League
teams.  Even without a DH, Boston has more thunder than Morris is used to seeing.  Expect him to allow 2 homers,
making his walk total key.
Who knows what to expect from Pedro now that Terry Francona has needlessly destroyed Martinez’ pitching schedule?  
Expect a win.  
Edge Red Sox.

Game 4 Starters
Red Sox: Derek Lowe
Cardinals: Jeff Suppan

    These two starters have both overachieved in the postseason so far, but Lowe has had an ERA over 6 away from
Fenway for two straight years now.  Suppan gets the better of this one.  
Edge Cardinals.

Middle Relievers
Red Sox: Bronson Arroyo, Alan Embree, Mike Timlin, Curt Lescanic, Ramiro Mendoza
Cardinals: Danny Haren, Julian Tavarez, Ray King, Kiko Calero, Cal Eldred

    Each club has but one left hander to use against their opponents’ lefty-laden lineup.  Decisions about when to use
Embree and King could prove big in this series.  The Cardinals have a strong bullpen, but Boston’s relievers were
incredible in the LCS.  Particularly with Bronson Arroyo available in long relief, the Red Sox are the stronger group.  
Edge Red Sox.

Closer
Red Sox: Keith Foulke
Cardinals: Jason Isringhausen

    Both are 32 years old, both have had sub-3.00 ERA’s for at least four years, and both have marginal playoff
experience.  
Edge Super Even


Pick: Cardinals in six.
 But if the Red Sox can force a game seven, they will win it behind Pedro.

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