Friday, October 15, 2010
Three Baseball Guys: 2010 ALCS/NLCS Predictions
And, fresh from the bottom of prognostication's mine shaft...
Despite a perfect run o' pickin' during the Division Series, there were still some surprises that filtered out of the first round. In New York's sweep of Minnesota, national sportswriters continued to push the lazy, unfounded notion that the Yankees were "in the Twins' heads" -- even though DH Jim Thome, 2B Orlando Hudson, SS JJ Hardy and 3B Danny Valencia weren't even with Minnesota in their previous playoff losses to New York AND guys like Hudson, OF Denard Span and OF Delmon Young actually had a solid series. The 2010 Yankees won like they have all year...by putting a nation to sleep with long, Moneyball at-bats.
In the National League, there were people who didn't expect Braves manager Bobby Cox's patented brand of playoff incontinence to make an appearance. Playing platoon splits by intentionally walking 500-pound Pablo Sandoval with two outs and a groundball pitcher on the mound in game one? Letting 2B Brooks Conrad (who'd made two errors on the day) take the field in the ninth inning of game three with a one-run lead? Leaving an obviously gassed Derek Lowe (96 pitches on three days rest) in to face one more batter in game four?
Yet, Teflon Cox remains exempt from criticism. His old-school "goin' with my gut" style is comfort food to the stodgy, sycophantic writers and broadcasters who cover the game like it's still 1960.
New York Yankees v. Texas Rangers
Aaron: The Rangers and Yankees played each other eight times during the regular season, splitting the series 4-4. Included in that, the Bombers swept a three-game series at Yankee Stadium back in mid-April, while the Rangers returned the favor with a three-game sweep at home in September. The obvious x-factor for Texas is SP Cliff Lee, but he won't be available until game three in the Bronx and – if necessary – game seven. This puts extra pressure at the top of the Rangers' rotation (CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis). These are two terrific offenses and it wouldn't be surprising to see early departures from starting pitchers on either side. If that happens – and it boils down to bullpens – the Rangers can ride a few old-fashioned slugfests straight to the pennant. Pick: Rangers in 7.
Eugene: Since I didn't pick these teams, I was planning on a Ray/Twins LCS. The Rays pitching is much better than the Twins hitters, who are stretched thin. Since neither made it, I guess I should look at the Yankees and Rangers. I give the edge in pitching to the Yankees. CC and Cliff Lee are a wash; Texas really doesn't have much to counter Andy Pettitte and his track record in October. Hitting wise, I'd say a wash here. Pick: Yankees in 7.
Tom: I am stunned that Ron Washington is holding Lee until Game 3. I find it interesting that two managers have not been willing to roll the dice on 3-days-rest Cliff Lee. I thought Lee's start would be totally dependent on the outcome of Game One. Presuming the Rangers won game one, Lee would be held until game 3. If not, going to the Bronx down 2-0 seemed like suicide. That said, CC Sabathia is, by a wide margin (zing!), at his worst on 6+ days rest. That leaves them stealing Game 1 from CC, taking Game 3 with Lee on the mound, taking Game 4 from AJ Burnett, and then taking Game 7 with Lee on the mound the 2nd time. None of those four things sound unreasonable, do they? Rangers in 7.
San Francisco Giants v. Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron: The Giants are actively downplaying the news, but reports of San Francisco SP Tim Lincecum's bothersome blister can't be candy-coated. At least some of The Freak's mid-season malaise (4.61 ERA in 18 starts from late May through late August) could be attributed to previous blister issues. And, if this collection of Phillies hitters can strike early, it's capable of rolling over any All-Star arm from any team. The Giants have enough depth in their rotation to give the Phillies a fight and possibly take two of three when the series shifts to the Bay Area. But, the "good pitching beats good hitting" myth only goes so far, San Francisco. Pick: Phillies in 6.
Eugene: Man, this will be a good series. Both rotations are top of the line, even with Lincecum's blisters (maybe he should avoid the Josh Beckett "Super Glue" medical remedy). The edge in hitters goes to the Phillies. Buster Posey and Aubrey Huff isn't enough to get the job done for the Giants. The Phillies only really have holes at catcher and third, if everything is working; even those holes aren't the worst option in the world. Pick: Phillies in 6.
Tom: The most comical part of this series will be watching Fox try to extend a 2.5 hour Halladay/Lincecum game in to their normal 3.5 hour broadcast mess. In my football picks column this season, I've taken a $1500 budget and placing bets to see how the season worked out. When I originally looked at this series, the Giants were 3-1 dogs. I have to say... +300 on betting on Lincecum and Cain to go 4-0 was, well, tempting. I wrote the bet in to this week's football picks column before checking Pinnacle today to see the price had fallen to +220. That's less tempting, but still... I think this series is much closer than people seem to think. I mean... their season series was split 3-3. In equal parts going against the grain and the reflexive desire to root for the team my football team was named after... Giants in 6.