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Monday, October 06, 2008

NLCS/ALCS Predictions

I know this is a Giants blog, but October baseball is still something that should be mentioned on all baseball websites, so I wanted to talk a little playoff baseball in this post. The NLCS is already cleared up and ready to get going with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies getting ready to take part in what should be one helluva series. Things aren't quite as clear yet in the AL, although if I had to bet, I would say the Rays' will hold of the White Sox and host the Boston Red Sox to start the ALCS at the end of the week. As I type this, the Rays are up 5-2 on the Sox in the seventh inning, so unless they or the Red Sox suffer a major meltdown, we should have your final four for the 2008 MLB season within 24-48 hours. Here's my take on how the "projected" league championship series' will break down:

NLCS

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Yes, the Phills do have home field advantage which is always big in the playoffs. They also have potential MVP candidates Chase Utely and Ryan Howard. However, the Dodgers have looked like a different team since the infusion of Manny Ramirez and their young talent (Andre Eithier, Matt Kemp, James Looney and Russel Martain) doesn't look intimidated by October baseball at all. The Dodgers have the clear edge in the pitching department as Chad Billingsley, Derick Lowe and Hiroki Kuroda are all throwing well and made very quick work of the NL favorite Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers also have Greg Maddux and Clay Kershaw to call upon if they need to and that bullpen is very good, with or without Takashi Saito. This series has seven games written all over it, and I will have to stick to my preseason pick as the NL champs and go with the Dodgers in 7. They have the momentum, the pitching, the speed and offense to give the Phills more than they can handle.

ALCS

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox

All signs are pointing towards a battle of the AL East for the AL crown. The Tampa Bay Rays have been the Cinerella Story of baseball this season, but I think their luck will come to an end vs. the seasoned Red Sox. The Rays remind me a lot of the Colorado Rockies from last season just with a little more pitching and not as much offense. But like the Rockies last season, I have a tough time seeing them go from the bottom of the AL East to world champions, but I've been wrong many of times before. I really like the way B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena are playing but the Red Sox pitching is far superior to the that of the Chi Sox. Now, the Red Sox still need to take care of the Angels to get to the LCS, but up 2-1 with their "playoff ace", Jon Lester, going tonight, they should close things out. This series, like the NLCS will be a battle, but the Red Sox have experience and pitching on their side. They also have that Fenway Park crowd behind them that will do their best to get into the minds of the young Rays' players. If this ends up indeed being the ALCS match-up, I like Boston in 6.
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6 Comments:

  • At 9:14 PM, Anonymous I love the fact that the Rays pretty much beat up on the Sawx in the regular season, including winning 2 of 3 at Fenway which really salted away the division, record wise and you still pick Boston in 6. said…

    I love the fact that the Rays pretty much beat up on the Sawx in the regular season, including winning 2 of 3 at Fenway which really salted away the division, record wise and you still pick Boston in 6.


    And even so, the Angels are tied 2-2 right now as I type that comment and I believe the Angels are supposedly the best team in baseball, and if they win at Fenway it will be 2 in a row heading back to LA and the Sawx could very well, as you said, choke their way out of the series.


    Maybe it's my liking of the underdog, but I can't see the Rays being stopped in the ALCS, especially with Longoria doing everything right and BJ Upton hitting homers at will.

     
  • At 10:35 PM, Anonymous SSreporters said…

    And on cue the Sawx win.


    GO RAYS!

     
  • At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Manny Stiles said…

    Seven schedules games of bliss headed our way!!! Four Rays victories and 3 extra off days to prepare for the Phillies!

     
  • At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Manny Stiles said…

    BTW Trecole - the Rays have home field (where they had the best home record since the '98 Yankees) and the Rays had a better record this season than last year's World Series winner...

    Plus the Rays have proven that they aren't afraid of the Sawx and can definitely win games at Fenway.
    Time to open the top seats at the Trop!!!

     
  • At 8:33 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    I don't know Manny, none of these Rays players have ever been on this kind of stage and playing at fenway in June with nothing on the line is a helluva lot different than playing there in freezing cold October with the crowd noise off the rictor scales. The Red Sox do not face the same kind of hostility when they go to the Trop which probably won't even be sold out, lol. I like the Rays and I'm polling for them to knock off the Sox, but I just can't see that happening. Then again, I didn't think the Marlins would win the Series back in '03 when they went on that run and the Rays have a very similar team to that one.

     
  • At 1:37 AM, Anonymous Manny Stiles said…

    What? Now you did it...

    1) No experience...? yet here they are. If you think thye're going to "fold under the pressure" then you haven't paid attention to these players at all. The Rays are a TEAM, not a group of talented individuals. They are of one mindset and led by a masterful manager/psychologist that has them thriving on cohesion. Almost HALF of the teams that won a World Series in the last 20 seasons won a World Series on their first trip in the postseason. The game of baseball doesn't change - you still get 27 outs and 3 strikes per out... BTW - the Rays won 2 of 3 IN Fenway IN SEPTEMBER with the AL East title on the line, then took ANOTHER two of three at home a week later to seal the AL East title - a far cry from your June hypothesis...

    Not only that but most of these guys have 1) won championships in their respective minor league teams - the Rays have had an outstanding minor league system for several years now 2) played competitive baseball their entire careers at high levels. The game doesn't change when you know how to play it right and as a team.

    1b. Do you think playing in the AL East doesn't give a team experience??? Take a look around... The AL Champs will have come from the East 11 of the past 16 seasons including this one. The AL East MAKES champions.

    1c. Cliff Floyd and Troy Percival both have rings and have been the primary emotional leaders in the clubhouse for that very reason. This team is too hungry to worry about "Experience". Joe Maddon has a ring from his bench coach days with the Angels. The "experience" argument doesn't hold water.


    2) "Not sold out"... There's some mindless regurgitation for you. At least you went for an original angle, right? The Rays sold out their games against the White Sox, but they won't sell out against the Red Sox... ok! And furthermore, who cares if only ten people show up, the games still get played.

    BTW - the Rays are now 23-2 in home games with a crowd over 30,000 (the losses were the Season opener against Baltimore and one game against Boston just a few weeks ago)- which they WILL indeed be crowds over 30,000 for the ALCS.

    Also BTW - the capacity at Fenway is about 3,500 more than a sellout at the Trop... of course, the Trop is MUCH louder because it's a dome.


    3) You keep mentioning how the Rays are like these other teams... No, they aren't. The Rays are built on pitching and defense - just like most championship teams usually are. They rely on forcing the action with athleticism, aggressiveness and team speed. They weren't built to make a one year run, they were built like the 1991 Braves - around three young starters (Glavine, Avery, Smoltz = Kazmir, Shields, Garza) to make a decade and a half run!!!


    Still the non-believers ignore the basic facts. The Rays are healthier, have a deeper bench, have a better pitching staff from top to bottom, have had crazy good mojo ALL season long and still no one wants to believe it's really real...

     

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