October 3, 2005
The playoffs for both leagues are set and what a wild finish it was to get there with both the Red Sox and the Astros clinching wild card berths on the last day of the season. Don't know about anyone else, but I was hoping for 1 Game Playoffs between the Astros & Phillies and Red Sox & Indians to decide it. Oh well, here we are, so I though it would be a good time to post my predictions as to which teams will prevail in each series enroute to the World Series and which team will hoist the trophy as '05 Champions.
St. Louis Cardians vs. San Diego Padres -- On paper this series looks like the biggest yawner as the Cardinals have everything the Padres don't; hitting, pitching and a bullpen. However, the Padres are capable of winning at home, where they went 46-35, and have one of leagues top closers in Trevor Hoffman (43 Saves). If they could steal one game in St. Louis it would make things interesting coming back to Petco where the Padres would probably throw Jake Peavy back on the mound on 3 days rest. Mind you, I said the Padres would make it interesting not that they would win the series. I'll still give the Cardinals the edge. St. Louis in 4 games - 3-1.
Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros -- Here we go again. This is the same series as last year's Division Series in which Atlanta lost to the Astros 3-2. I know that a lot of readers are aware that I'm a long-time Atlanta Braves fan, however, I will try to be objective. First, I have to face facts, the Astros have the pitching to sweep this series with Roger Clemens (1.87 ERA), Andy Pettite (13-2 since July 1st) and Roy Oswalt (20-12). On top of that the Astros have a solid bullpen anchored by Brad Lidge (42 Saves ) and his 100 mph fastball. Furthermore, the Astros come into this series playoff ready and hot, having won 13 of their last 18 games. Meanwhile the Braves have lost 12 of their last 19, their bullpen led the majors in blown saves (24) and the staters DO NOT stack up statistically with Houstons . That said, this series should be very even IF the Braves can get solid pitching from John Smoltz (all-time post-season leader in wins 14-4) who will pitch Game 2, Tim Hudson (14-9) who will pitch Game 1 and Jorge Sosa (13-3 / 2.55 ERA) who will start Game 3 in Houston. Cheer up Brave fans, Carlos Beltran is now a Met so he can't have the series he had last year and the Braves have youthful energy and solid bats in Langerhans and Francouer and veteran leadership in the Jones Boys, Marcus Giles and Rafael Furcal. Sorry readers, I can't go against my boys, Braves turn the tables on the 'stros and win this series 3-2.
Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox -- Looks like the White Sox are the "lucky" team that gets to face the 1-2 punch of David Ortiz (47 HRs/148 RBIs) and Manny Ramirez (45 HRs / 144 RBIs). One thing is certain, this series won't be decided by pitching as both lineups are capable of putting a lot of runs on the board quickly. I'll give the edge to the White Sox in speed and defense (Scott Podsednik of the White Sox with 59 steals) and Manny Ramirez in left field for the Red Sox (who is an error waiting to happen), and I'll give pitching and offense to the Red Sox. The history for both team is rich, as the 2004 Red Sox finally buried the "Curse of the Bambino" and won their first World Series in 86 years. However, its been 88 years since the South Siders won a World Series and they are just as hungry as the Red Sox were last year. I think this series will come down to whichever team wins Game 1 as it will be the game that turns the momentum and because Game 1 is played in Chicago I have to give them the edge to win this series. White Sox in 5 Games 3-2.
New York Yankees vs. Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles -- There are three things that are going to make this series interesting; 1) By clinching early the Angels were able rest starters Bartolo Colon and John Lackey. 2) The Angels have Home Field Advantage (thank you Buck Showalter) which should help to get at least 1 victory at Edison Field before the series switches back to Yankee Stadium where the Yankees went 53-28. 3) The Angels will only have to face Randy Johnson one time, as he threw 123 pitches vs. the Red Sox in the AL East clinching game. The Angels don't have the bats to out-slug the Bronx Bombers, Alex Rodriguez (48 HRs/130RBIs), Gary Sheffield (34 HRs/123RBIs), Hideki Matsui (23 HRs/116RBIs) and Jason Giambi (32 Hrs/87 RBIS) and there has to be some concern as to which Garret Anderson is going to show up (healthy or hurting) and whether he'll provide the protection Vladimir Guerrero needs to be productive. Also, the Yankees start Mike Mussina in Game 1 and he's been battling an enflamed elbow for the past 5 starts and their middle relief is suspect (a lot of runs can be scored against them quickly. However, if they can get the ball to Mariano Rivera (43 Saves w/31 straight at one point) with a lead the game is pretty much over. The Angels do have speed on the basepaths with Chone Figgins (Major League Leader w/62) and they do have an exceptional manager in Mike Scioscia. Perhaps it's because I don't want to see another World Series with the Yankees in it and perhaps it's because I'm rooting for the "home team" but I have to give the series to Anaheim. Angels in 5 games. 3-2
National League Championship Series
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves -- I don't think this series has any intangibles that will greatly impact the outcome and because of that it's pretty straightforward . Both teams have great managers, both have big bats in the middle of the line-up, both play great defense, both have speed, both teams have solid pitching, both have a legitimate closer and both teams have been on this stage before. In my opinion this series will come down to two things: 1) Whether the Braves' pitching staff can keep the big bats of the Cardinals in check. 2) Whether the Braves' bats can strike early and remove the St. Louis Cardinals' fans which is important because the Cardinals have the home field advantage and their fans are some of the most racaous, and knowledgeable, in the game. I like the fact that the two winningest active managers in baseball will square off, I like that two of the three NL MVP candidates will go mano-a-mano, I like that it showcases two of the best centerfielders in the game and I like it for the fact that to get to the World Series the Braves will have to defeat the team with the best regular season record. Atlanta in 7 Games. 4-3
American League Championship Series
Anaheim Angeles of Los Angeles vs. Chicago White Sox -- Speed, speed and more speed. This series will feature the two top base-stealers in the game and don't think that speed doesn't matter because it does and it dramatically effects games. Anaheim with Chone Figgins (Major League Leader w/62) and Scott Podsednik of the Cardinals (2nd in the AL w/59) can create runs without even getting a hit. Their presence on the basebaths creates holes in the infield because the 1st baseman has to hold them on, catchers have to be ready to catch and throw to 2nd base and may throw the ball into the outfield and pitchers have to keep them close to 1st base, don't pay attention to the hitter and groove one down the middle. As I said speed matters. It's tough for me to root against a team that hasn't won a series in 88 years and plays second cousin in the Windy City to the Cubs, but I can't get over the fact that the White Sox almost blew a 15 1/2 game lead to the Cleveland Indians. I think they're going to be playing very tight in the Boston Series and they'll get tighter as the stage gets bigger. In contrast, a lot of the Angels have been here before and that experience will show. I'll also give the intangible edge to the Angeles because of their manager; Mike Scioscia, one of the best managers to come along in a long time. Finally, I can't go against the "home team". Angels in 6 Games. 4-2
Atlanta Braves vs. Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles -- What couId be a swan song for John Smoltz, as I believe he'd retire if the Braves win another title, sets up to be an excellent World Series. The Angels have speed in their lineup with Figgins and the Braves counter with Furcal. The Angels have pop in their line-up with Guerrero and Anderson and the Braves counter with the Chipper and Andruw Jones. The Angels have a solid starting staff in Bartolo Colon, John Lackey and Jarrod Washburn and the Braves counter with Smoltz, Tim Hudson and Jorge Sosa. The Angels have a solid bullpen with Francisco Rodriguez as their closer and the Braves counter with Kyle Farnsworth. The Angels are managed by Mike Scioscia, one of the finest young managers in baseball, and the Braves counter with Bobby Cox, second winningest active manager in the game. What the Angels don't have is a consistent 4th starter, neither do the Braves, the Angels are unsure of Garret Anderson's health (back), the Braves are unsure of Smotz' health (shoulder). What the Angels do have are more consistent set-up men in Scott Shields, Brendan Donnelly while the Braves bullpen is still akin to walking a tightrope over fire and broken glass whenever Chris Reitsman, Dan Kolb, et al, enter the game. Both the Angels and the Braves have players who have been on the playoff stage before although the Angels have had more success in the past few years than the Braves. As opposed to other series, I do believe that this series will hinge a lot on the intangibles, which less regarded player gets hot, who commits the costly error, which managers guesses turn out to be right and which managers guesses backfire, etc. The Angels will have the home field advantage but I don't beileve that will matter that much in this series. I believe all the games will be close as will the series. Braves in 7 Games. 4-3. Come on, I'm a Braves fan! Did any of you really think I wouldn't pick them to win it all? I await your comments. Enjoy the games!
Posted by Kevin O'Leary at 6:35 PM
Two words: PAH - LEASE! The Braves ALL the way? Sorry, your devotion is getting in the way of your objectivity. After clinching their division for the last DOZEN years or so, with only ONE world series in that time, going all the way is not in the Braves destiny. Chipper needs to retire with his hooters wife and the team should start from scratch and rebuild. They should just call it a day and give me back my husband. Sorry, honey.
Posted by: The Mrs on October 7, 2005 5:54 PM