The Big Playoffs

This weekened, Nick Cafardo asked a sampling of major-league executives what the Red Sox’ chances would be (will be?) if (when?) they make the playoffs. Here’s essentially the problems they saw:

  • The Sox have no left-hander in their likely playoff rotation. "You could see that in the Yankee series. If they have to play the Yankees in the postseason, I don’t think it’s going to go so well for them then, either."
  • Inconsistent lineup, particularly if Manny is hurt, highlighted by the lack of a big lefty bat after David Ortiz.
  • Various pitching questions: Which Wakefield will they get, is Daisuke running down, how good is Schilling, etc.?

I’m not so sure. Does not having a lefty starter hurt the Sox that much? Beckett allows better numbers to lefties than righties but isn’t bad. Matsuzaka, who has struggled against the Yanks’ lefty-heavy lineup, still holds lefties to a .218 BAA and a .316 OBP. Likewise, Wakefield is better against lefties than righties. For that matter, even Schilling has held lefties to a lower batting average (but higher slugging) than righties.

Likewise, I’m unsure about the concerns about Daiuke running down. I was less concerned before last night’s implosion, but he just recently finished a month with no bad starts. Of course, you could argue his last three starts have been unimpressive, and that is disconcerting.

My concerns have to be chiefly with the offense. Without Manny, the Sox looked lost against the Yanks’ best pitchers last week. On the other hand, they’ve struck for a huge number of runs — both with Manny against Chicago, and without him against Tampa Bay and Baltimore. The difference, of course, is that the Yankees are a playoff-caliber team. Baltimore, Chicago and Tampa? Not so much.

Let’s open this up. Assuming the Sox make the playoffs (a pretty safe bet, but I don’t bet), what are their strengths and weaknesses? What teams do you want them to face? What teams would you rather see miss the playoffs altogether? And is there any National league team good enough to beat any of the AL teams likely to make the playoffs?

24 comments… add one
  • I have given up on the idea of choosing a preferred opponent, beyond “anyone from the NL”, for obvious reasons.
    The Yankees’ offense is the most frightening, from my standpoint, so for that reason alone I think I’d prefer to avoid them. But frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if, pending making the playoffs, the Sox either beat or lost to any other team. If the season ended today, I think that any AL team could go all the way.

    SF September 4, 2007, 11:16 am
  • I don’t want the Yankees in the playoffs, not because I’m particularly scared of them, I just think it would be funny.
    I don’t see the lefty issue either.
    Listen, I know the team has some flaws, but really come on, we do have the best record in baseball and have had that pretty much all season. That means something.

    LocklandSF September 4, 2007, 11:21 am
  • Side story…
    I was at the game last night, improved my seat all the way up to field box 33, right behind the Red Sox on deck circle.
    I was kicked out for being too loud. Not for sitting in a seat that wasn’t mine, not for swearing, I wasn’t saying anything inappropriate, I was just too loud. I was blown away. The fans booed the security guard too, people were yelling to let me stay, it felt good. I’m still flabbergasted, when did being too loud get you kicked out?

    LocklandSF September 4, 2007, 11:27 am
  • “he just recently finished a month with no bad starts.”
    I agree he’s pitched better than his recent record shows, but don’t you consider 6.1 IP 6H 5ER 3BB 2SO gamescore 40 vs Yanks, a bad start?

    Andrews September 4, 2007, 11:32 am
  • that is ridiculous, lockland. if volume is an offense, the bleachers would be cleared out every night. i guess there is a sliding scale of conduct based on ticket prices. tell me you were just booted from the section and not the park. that would be unforgivable.
    as for the playoffs, i don’t see why the team with the best record in the majors wouldn’t have a solid chance of winning it all. i realize that hasn’t been the trend lately, but anything can happen in the postseason, especially a proven winner winning.

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 4, 2007, 11:33 am
  • Nope, booted from the park.

    LocklandSF September 4, 2007, 11:46 am
  • unforgivable.
    i would like to be the first to extend an invitation to join the yankee fan fold, where being loud is never an issue. ever.
    c’mon, lockland… how can you go back to them after they treated you so badly?
    i’m going to the game tomorrow night at fenway. i have standing room tickets. i’ll see how loud i can be before i’m tossed.
    (i’m guessing they don’t care about the riff raff that settle for standing room stubs. we’re degenerates. i’ll report back.)

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 4, 2007, 11:55 am
  • YFIB,
    I had standing room on Saturday night for Clay’s big night, and let me tell you, there is absolutely no lack of volume there! They are good places to watch.
    I had great pictures of the night, but my friend spilled his beer all over my camera and now it won’t turn on, which is terrible. Also, when I watched the DVR, we’re on TV!

    Brad September 4, 2007, 12:02 pm
  • i love standing room at fenway. they’ve made a ton of improvements over the last few years that have made it so.
    sucks about the camera.

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 4, 2007, 12:04 pm
  • I think Yanks-Sox in the playoffs is almost impossible to predict. Both teams have been competitive the last few years, but October always comes down to passion.
    I think the Yanks have a better shot at beating the Sox than the Angels, though, which is a big problem, because in all likelihood NY will have to play LA in order to get to Boston. I think if the Yankees can beat the Angels, though, then Boston is in trouble. That’s a big if, though.
    And I’m not really sure if Boston beats the Angels, either. Right now, I think the safest bet for AL representative in the World Series is LA. They’re the team to beat, and I think Boston and NY will have a tough time getting that done.

    KurticusMaximus- YF September 4, 2007, 12:11 pm
  • Also, here’s the way I want it to pan out…
    Boston v. Cleveland in Round one.
    Detroit v. LAA in Round one.
    Boston v. LAA in ALCS.
    Boston v. Cubs WS.
    Either way, I think the Red Sox are in a great position to beat any of them on any given night. It’s about who’s hot, and as we’ve seen a million times, all reasonable thoughts can be tossed out the window.
    Boston matches up well with LAA, but not that great with Cleveland, so I’d like to avoid that if possible.
    Also, I don’t think the youth in the OF is a big deal, but maybe it’s because of Jacoby’s brilliant two days so far. He covers an immense amount of ground, and has a good bat, and steals bases. As long as Lowell continues, and Drew provides some semblance of threat, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as everyone thinks. Having Manny is a luxury, not a must.
    When was the last time we saw Coco waving off the left fielder because said left fielder was in center for a fly ball? He’s amazingly fast, and with Pedroia and him at the top of the lineup, and Lugo at the bottom….

    Brad September 4, 2007, 12:11 pm
  • Lockland, were you the guy I could hear loud and clear on the NESN feed yelling encouragement to the Sox players? Because if that was you, damn, you were loud!
    As for the playoffs, I’m thinking Drew becomes the Bellhorn of 2007.

    Matt S September 4, 2007, 12:32 pm
  • From the Sox perspective, I think they stack well against any team that may likely end up in the post.
    The Yankees have owned the Tribe this year, but Cleveland is a dangerous team. If the Yankees do get in via the wild card, they will face the Angels, and I wouldn’t bet a plug nickle that the Bombers can get past the Halos. Unfortunately, Anaheim is a lock, so no hoping they don’t make it.
    I doubt that the Yankees or the Sox would relish facing the Tigers instead of the Indians.

    attackgerbil September 4, 2007, 12:35 pm
  • I am very, very loud. Freakishly loud. Circus trick volume.

    LocklandSF September 4, 2007, 1:06 pm
  • Recently I have been trying to start a chant for when Okie is pitching.
    Okie, Okie, Okie!
    Oy! Oy! Oy!
    I yell the first part and fans respond. It’s been going well, doesn’t have quite traction I was hoping for yet, but I’m getting there.

    LocklandSF September 4, 2007, 1:07 pm
  • October has a habit of breathing new life into teams, provided they have a good foundation, which begins with solid pitching. Boston’s pitching stands up to or surpasses any AL team in playoff contention. Manny will be back in time for the playoffs, God willing, which should provide a boost to the up and down offense, last week’s collapse against NY aside. Boston’s defense is also strong, which, coupled with quality pitching, figures big in Boston’s playoff chances. The one team that I fear most is LA, because they’re agressive and tend to fair well against big teams by playing small ball. They can manufacture runs. I question Boston’s ability to counter the small ball strategy when the game boils down to a pitching contest. My worst-case scenario has Boston losing a tight series, 4-3, 3-2, 2-0, etc. I like our chances against Cleveland or Seattle, unless Seattle gets really hot. NY got the best of Boston last week, and may get the best of them again later this month, however, they may be too inconsistent to even make the playoffs, especially with Hughes putting up ugly numbers and Clemens an expensive question mark. I like Boston’s chances in the AL, ut fear the small ball.

    MAG September 4, 2007, 2:07 pm
  • Lockland, I love it. I’d happily join you in that one.
    Mag, I agree with you with the exception of Boston being able to play the small ball role. If it’s Ellsbury in the lineup, along with Coco and Lugo, this lineup essentially turns into a base to base team for the most part, and they definitely have the ability to do so with with so much speed on the field and the bench. Not to mention that guys like Cora and Royce are bunting machines if need be. Under normal circumstances, and by that I mean Manny on the field, it’s less likely they play that way though, so then I’m inclined to agree one hundred percent.

    Brad September 4, 2007, 2:53 pm
  • hello all
    starting a new yankees web site:
    http://www.yankeeworld.net
    please stop by and sign up for opening day info.
    Thanks and looking forward to seeing you all!

    new yank September 4, 2007, 3:16 pm
  • If you’re going to spam for your site, why wouldn’t wait until said site actually has some content on it?
    Just curious.

    Anonymous September 4, 2007, 3:52 pm
  • me

    LocklandSF September 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
  • I think I’m gonna go with SF’s (non-)answer, and say that there are so many things that could go wrong or right in a short series that it’s hardly worth saying which opponent you’d “like” to face.
    I hate the first round of the playoffs. The best-of-5 opening round SUCKS. Let’s hope we play in it (though yeah, it’s looking fairly likely as of today).

    Devine September 4, 2007, 5:36 pm
  • Short answer:
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    The Sox have problems and holes, but so do all the other contenders. Playoffs are a crapshoot; I like Boston’s chances as much as any.
    Long answer:
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    While Boston has the best record in the A.L. (and the majors), what I don’t know is how the Sox have fared against tough opponents as opposed to the whole league; ditto the Yankees, Angels, Mariners, Indians, et al.
    The Sox have one of the best OBPs in the majors, but their slugging percentage lags other teams like the Yankees. My fear is that in the playoffs, Boston could get some stellar pitching performances but lose some key games 3-2, 3-1, 2-1, etc.

    Hudson September 4, 2007, 7:04 pm
  • The Red Sox have struggled the most when they strand runners on base. I don’t know if it’s just the Sox or if it’s more common than it seems, but either way, far too many scoring opportunities have been squandered in winnable games.
    In my view, with the speedier lineup the Sox are fielding, maybe the LOB problem will be mitigated by baserunners who are able to advance an extra base more often. With consistent pitching (almost always a vain hope) and less wasted hits, I think the Sox should do well.

    Kazz September 5, 2007, 6:11 am
  • Brad, I agree with you that Boston CAN play small ball, especially now with Ellsbury in the mix, but, my concern is that they WON’T. Francona is prone to let the lineup’s bats speak for themselves, rather than strategically scoring runs.

    MAG September 5, 2007, 4:38 pm

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