“The Champ’s” WORLD SERIES Preview
Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees
This could quite possibly be one of the most evenly matched World Series in quite sometimes. Instead of breaking down the series like I have throughout the playoffs I thought we would spotlight each area of the teams when it comes to their pitching, hitting and defense. This is going to be on paper one of the best World Series to date; let’s hope that this transcends out on the diamond.
We start by looking at the ace’s of each staff when it comes to Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia, both former teammates in Cleveland. These two pitchers are the last two reigning American League Cy Young winners and a Game 1 start between the two is going to be a fun game to watch. This is going to be an “old-school” game as two southpaw aces takes the hill in the fall classic.
If the Phillies don’t trade for Cliff Lee before the deadline then the Phillies don’t make the World Series. That’s how important Cliff Lee has been to this Phillies staff. The same can be said for CC Sabathia as the Yankees picked him up in the offseason and have helped take the Yankees from missing the playoffs last season to the greatest stage in all of Baseball starting Wednesday night.
When you look at the probable Game 2 starters this is when things can start to lean towards a direction of one team being better then the other. As it stands right now as of writing this, we will see AJ Burnett vs. Pedro Martinez in Game 2. There is history with Pedro, the Yankees and Yankee Stadium and should be a fun game to watch on Thursday night.
AJ Burnett has been shaky at best throughout the playoffs and has been the Yankees weak point in their starting rotation in the playoffs. Pedro Martinez on the other hand has had a great postseason pitching for the Phillies in what could be the end of a great career with this series. But what we tend to forget about Pedro is that he just started pitching in the big leagues again this past August. Both of these pitchers could be the weakness in their starting rotation because you don’t know what you’re going to get out of Pedro.
As for the potential Game 3 starters you have to look at another matchup of lefties as Andy Pettitte takes on Cole Hamels. Andy Pettitte has been masterful throughout the playoffs helping the Yankees clinch their ALDS and ALCS series victories. Cole Hamels on the other hand has been the weakness of the Phillies pitching staff, much like AJ Burnett has been for the Yankees. If Cole Hamels was the ace the Phillies thought he was then they would have never made runs at Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez.
You have to figure the Yankees & Phillies will both be going with three man rotations with Sabathia, Burnett & Pettitte and Lee, Martinez, Hamels. That puts Chamberlain & Gaudin in the bullpen for the Yankees and Blanton & Happ in the bullpen for the Phillies throughout the World Series. That’s the next area of the two League Championship teams that we would look at next.
The bullpens of these two teams have been where they have both struggled throughout the postseason. The Phillies came into this postseason with a struggling bullpen and a closer who was no longer lights out. As for the Yankees they had a bridge to Mariano Rivera with Phil Hughes in the 8th inning setup role.
Once the postseason hit these two teams flipped roles as the shut down 7th & 8th inning bridge to Mariano Rivera with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes started to crack in the ALCS. The Phillies on the other hand saw their middle relief struggle at times with the Dodgers but Brad Lidge was “lights out” again. The Phillies were thankful that they had pushed a big lead over the Dodgers to hold onto their leads while Mariano Rivera had to pitch six out saves to hold onto the Yankees lead in the late inning games.
When it comes to the starting rotation and the bullpen you have to give the pitching edge to the New York Yankees. They picked up CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett up in the offseason for a reason, while Andy Pettitte could be a #1 starter in most clubs while he will be the #3 starter on the Yankees rotation. When it comes to bullpens the Yankees have Mariano Rivera who will go down most likely as being the best postseason closer of all-time. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain should bounce back in the World Series with the pressure of winning the Championship being so close. Look for David Robertson to make a name for himself on the big stage for the Yankees.
As for the Phillies I will go back to what I said earlier that the Phillies aren’t in the World Series without Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez. They struggled with Cole Hamels being their ace and had to go out to improve their rotation. While Lee will be the foundation of their starting rotation you don’t know what you’re getting with Martinez or Hamels. When it comes to bullpens and the pressure of the World Series on you have to figure the Phillies bullpen will break eventually in this series.
Pitching Edge: New York Yankees
Just like their pitching these two teams are blueprint of each other’s lineup. They both have great leadoff hitters, a run producing core of the lineup and decent 7, 8, & 9 hitters to round off the lineup. As we go 1-9 we will look at the projective lineup for each team in this series.
At the top of the lineup you have the team’s two shortstops, Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter. Not only are they their shortstop’s but their team’s leaders in the clubhouse. Derek Jeter has been named Mr. November while Jimmy Rollins has won an NL MVP award. They have both been postseason heroes for their franchises since they came up to the big leagues. When it comes to both of these players there is no way you can say one is better then the other. When it comes to the leadoff hitters they are both even.
The #2 hitters are Johnny Damon and Shane Victorino. Victorino could be compared to a younger version of what Johnny Damon once was while Damon has evolved into one of the better veteran hitters in the postseason in the last decade. But when it comes to these two hitters you have to give the edge to Johnny Damon of the New York Yankees. He’s a veteran, a veteran in the postseason and has the potential to being clutch on the big stage.
Now onto the core of the lineup with the #3 hole on the team where the run production begins to develop off these players bats. For Philly its Chase Utley and for New York it’s Mark Teixeira. Both of these players have been hot and cold throughout the postseason. But when you matchup them up you have to look at giving it to Mark Teixeira. Teix is a potential AL MVP winner this year and has been criticized with his lack of play in the postseason thus far, look for Mark to show his critiques what he can do on the big stage.
The #4 hitter, the cleanup spot, the player who is supposed to put up the big numbers and when it comes to these two teams they may have the two best #4 hitters in all of Baseball. Ryan Howard of the Phillies and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, two former league MVP’s. Both of these players have put up huge numbers in the regular season and postseason and do their job when needed. When you match them up against one another you can not give the edge to either team, it is even. When it comes to these two it all comes down to who will produce more in the fall classic.
The #5 hitter in the lineups is where you give the edge to the Phillies. Jayson Werth of the Phillies and Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees will most likely be in the five hole for the World Series. Jayson Werth has had a heck of season for Philadelphia producing 36 homers and 90+ RBI’s. Not bad for a player who had signed a six digit deal when he first came to Philly after bouncing around with a bunch of teams. Matsui on the other hand is player with a bad knee still and is most likely appearing in pinstripes for the last time. The Phillies get the edge in this spot with the way Jayson Werth has played throughout the postseason.
Now there is something that most people aren’t talking about when it comes to a weakness in the Phillies lineup and that is in the probable #6 spot for Philadelphia. Raul Ibanez is battling an abdominal tear that will require surgery at the end of the season which can explain his lack of production in the postseason thus far. As for the Yankees they have veteran catcher Jorge Posada who will more then likely get the nod as the starting catcher throughout the entire World Series. When it comes to this spot in the order you have to give it to the Yankees with the potential lack of production of Raul Ibanez due to his injury.
Robinson Cano and Pedro Feliz will probably make up the seventh spot in the order for each team’s lineup. While Pedro Feliz has developed into a great third baseman for the National League Champions, he does not compare to Robinson Cano who could be that “quiet” player on the big stage that makes a name for him self. I believe Robinson Cano could be the World Series MVP at the end of the series if the Yankees win it all. He fits the role player who comes up big perfectly giving the Yankees the edge in this spot in the order.
The eighth spot is where the Yankees have struggled in the postseason with many in New York calling for a change in right field, the position where Nick Swisher patrols this season. While Nick Swisher may be a great defensive right fielder as shown throughout the postseason, when it comes to hitting he has struggled with the New York media calling for a switch with Brett Gardner during the ALCS. As for the Phillies you have catcher Carlos Ruiz who has hit well throughout the entire postseason batting .300 in the NLDS and NLCS. With the struggles Swisher has been having you have to give the edge to the Phillies in the eight spot of their lineup.
Now to round out lineup I am placing the Yankees centerfielder Melky Cabrera up against who I would assume would be the Phillies designated hitter in the AL games. Then match the pitchers who will be more then likely hitting in the NL games. As for the AL side of the series you have to figure Matt Stairs will go up against the right AJ Burnett in Game 2 and Ben Francisco will go up against his former teammate and lefty CC Sabathia in Game 1.
This is all prospective and they may go with Stairs for both games due to the short porch in right or even go with Greg Dobbs. I’m not 100% sure and these are just clearly a prediction of what could be filling the DH hole for the National League Champions. Either way I’m going to give the edge to the Yankees, like Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera could become a household name after this series. He reminds me of a young Bernie Williams, coming through the Yankees farm system and developing into one of the league’s best Centerfielders. I have also always felt that unless you have a great bench player at DH (like the Dodgers had Jim Thome) you could be in trouble. Matt Stairs could be that guy for the Phillies.
As for the pitchers that will be hitting you have to give it to the Phillies. They have been hitting all season long and Cliff Lee has become a great hitter since coming to the National League. As for the Yankees, CC Sabathia is a great hitting pitcher and AJ Burnett spent time in the NL earlier in his career so he should be able to swing the bat as well. Either way this gives the edge to the Phillies when it comes to the NL ballpark. But since the All-Star game gave the edge to the American League, overall give the #9 spot to the Yankees.
Hitting Edge: New York Yankees
Defense kind of goes unnoticed in Baseball. Like in Football, defense also wins Championships. Look at what poor defense did to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALCS. It gave the Yankees breathing room in almost every game they won in the ALCS, including a Game 2 victory that came off an error. The Yankees will not see the same poor Defense that they saw from the Angels.
The Philadelphia Phillies may be one of the best defensive teams in Baseball. They are a sound ballclub that has no holes in their defensive side of the ball. From Victorino to Ruiz they are a great defensive ballclub. Even a big guy like Ryan Howard can play defensive baseball like a shortstop. The Phillies will not be making the same errors that the Angels did against the Yankees in the ALCS.
As for the Yankees they do not get the credit they deserve when it comes to the way they play defensive baseball. Mark Teixeira has developed into a gold glove first baseman in the Postseason alone. His play at first has helped keep the teams the Yankees were playing at bay while Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera provide great arms in the outfield. Where the Yankees have flaws is with Johnny Damon who does not have a good arm and Robinson Cano who at times can become a lazy second baseman.
When it comes to giving the edge you have to give it to the Philadelphia Phillies who have been defensively sound throughout the entire postseason while the New York Yankees have had some struggles. Even New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter has had a tough time defensively in the postseason and he tends to be the most automatic defensive player on the Yankees. It’s going to be an interesting series from a defensive standpoint with little to no errors throughout the entire series.
Defensive Edge: Philadelphia Phillies
After breaking down the pitching, hitting and defense of these two teams it’s safe to say that this could quite possibly be the most even World Series we have seen in sometimes. It’s going to take a mistake here or a double down the line there to determine who the World Champion is when it’s all said and done. This is what I consider in my opinion the best matchup we have seen in the World Series in the last decade and hopefully will come off that when we they start the series Wednesday night.
Both of these teams are evenly matched with slight edges in various categories. They truly are the two best teams in each league and we as Baseball fans will get everything they have in every game that is played. But when the dust settles there will be one team left standing atop the Baseball world.
That team that will be hoisting the World Championship above their heads at the end of the series will be the New York Yankees. This series can be compared to the 1996 World Series when the Yankees came into the series against the Atlanta Braves where the Braves were the defending champions, an even matchup and a good percentage felt would repeat as World Champions.
But just like in that series the New York Yankees prevailed and will do so in the 2009 World Series. There will be no blowout games and it should be close for the most part. These two teams are the most deserving franchises to be there and should give Baseball fans across the United States a show.
I see the New York Yankees raising the banner of their 27th World Championship at the end of this series. It is going to be fun to watch and could quite possibly be the best World Series we have seen in quite sometime. Let the games begin.
Prediction: New York Yankees win series 4-2
World Series MVP: Mariano Rivera
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