Nick’s 2nd Annual Post-Season Picks Extravaganza (ALDS)

"Yanks over Tigers in 4
Stat of the Series: Kenny Rogers pitches for
the Tigers. This is the post-season and this is New York City. Ergo, a
Detroit upset is impossible. Rogers will walk in the winning run in
each of the Yanks’ 3 victories."

Thus began my first annual post-season picks post from last season. Now, I was wrong, but there’s something uncanny going on here. Who would have thought that Kenny Rogers would be a factor either way last year? And as we all know, Kenny was the story of the post-season. Kenny and Jeff Weaver. And this is what makes the post-season so special. It’s those unassuming players who, for one two-week stretch or one moment, take center stage. Jeff Suppan,  Aaron Boone, David Ortiz, that small guy on the Braves last decade, Jim Leyritz, Cormac McCarthy, D’Angelo–you just never know who’s going to step up and say, "Hey everybody! I’m somebody and you thought I was a nobody!… Is anybody out there?"

And so my psychic energy picked up something emanating from Kenny Rogers. He was going to be an it player. As far as I know, no one else in the world of baseball bloggery and expertise mentioned Rogers in their ALDS previews.  In other words, there is something special about what I do. I sit in front of this computer and the future somehow channels itself through me. I can’t help you in precise and useful ways but I can at least give you a sketch of what will happen. And so it begins with a round-up of the AL division series.

American League
Cleveland over Yanks in 5 or vice versa
Cleveland Strengths: The Indians feature the best 1-2 combo in the league and are especially well-designed for a short series like this. Kenny Rogers does not and has not ever played for them.
Cleveland Weaknesses: The offense  can disappear for long stretches. Joe Borowski is the worst closer in the play-offs. The Major League sequels might have further cursed this franchise.
Yanks Strengths: God’s team. A-Rod leads a lethal offense. Derek Jeter is inoffensive, even savvy, during post-game interviews–a skill of immeasurable value during the high-pressured post-season according to certain scouts. Joba Chamberlain is so good that the Joba Rules will turn into the Proctor Abuse this week. Good strategy in the short-term, bad in the long-term. Doug Mientkiewicz will be an "it" player this post-season.
Yanks Weaknesses: They care too much. Their beautiful story-book history is a burden.  Also, the pitching past Pettitte and Wang is sketchy. The bullpen is Cecilio Guante-ian.

Boston over Anaheim in 3
Boston Strengths: The pitching is excellent as evidenced by the fact that they gave up the fewest runs of any AL team this season. JD Drew is on fire. Manny is back. David Ortiz is David Ortiz. Julio Lugo will be an "it" player.
Boston Weaknesses: Job-like history of franchise suggests they will lose in Mets-like fashion. Dave Henderson no longer plays for them. The pitching is tiring. Papelbon might still be hung-over for games 1 and 2. The pending RSN presidential election is a poorly-conceived and ill-timed event sure to distract some of the players. 
Anaheim Strengths:
Thunder stix support a poorly designed low OBP offense. The sound is such that fielders are rendered helpless when an Angel hits a ball in play. John Lackey looks like Napolean Dynamite but throws fastballs that act like dynamite! on opposing batters’ bats (ha!). Vlad Guerrero is good. Orlando Cabrera will be an "it" player in this series.
Anaheim Weaknesses: Fanbase is lethargic and Travoltian. The offense is not especially strong when you get past the thunder stix effect. The Sox pitching staff will have an easy time of it.

I’m not sure about the NL at this point. We’ll wait a day after all the opening games and then I’ll have a better sense of what will happen. One thing I’m sure of is that the Rockies are the team to beat and that Matt Holiday is a clean-shaven robot that haunts my nightmares.

28 comments… add one
  • “Boston Weaknesses: Job-like history of franchise suggests they will lose in Mets-like fashion.”

    FenSheaParkway October 3, 2007, 10:55 am
  • Nice jinx attempt, Nick.

    SF October 3, 2007, 10:57 am
  • I actually think the Sox got the best possible match-up for them in the first round. So, I do think a sweep is a strong possibility. The Yanks and Cleveland is too close to call in my view.

    Nick-YF October 3, 2007, 10:59 am
  • Speaking of predictions, im amazed as to how few “experts” picked the yankees in this first round. Its kinda nice to be the underdogs for once.
    Steve Phillips rational was my favorite, he liked the indians because they have pitchers “who throw strikes”. This must be true since the yankees hitters cant hit strikes, they can only not swing at balls.
    Keith Law’s scouting report on the yankees was pretty amusing too. He spent about 1/3 of it railing on the yankees defense. Which in my opinion is at worst average but likely better. Apparently A-Rod is a below average fielder and Melky’s arm is his only good asset in CF. Also, Giambi is a liability at 1b, which would be a valid point if he was actually playing 1b!
    Im taking the yanks and sox each in 4

    Sam-YF October 3, 2007, 10:59 am
  • Don’t discount Cleveland’s pitchers’ ability to throw strikes – it can definitely help prevent 7 run first innings!
    I’m also confused by so many picks going against the Yankees. Not that I don’t think Cleveland can’t win, but I would have thought it would be more evenly split. My guess is that, like me, a lot of these commentators are prepared for this postseason to defy expectations or analysis, and so they just end up just projecting their own wishes on their picks. And it sounds like a lot of people would like to see the Indians go deep.

    FenSheaParkway October 3, 2007, 11:12 am
  • i thought that the rockies are god’s team.

    Yankee Fan In Boston October 3, 2007, 11:14 am
  • FSP- i’d understand if people wanted cleveland to last a while. they’re a young and exciting team. hopefully, i will still be speaking as highly of them a week or so from now, as opposed to cursing them.

    Anonymous October 3, 2007, 11:15 am
  • FSP. I dont mean to discount throwing strikes but once you are in the post season I gotta assume that all (or most) of the pitchers can “throw strikes”. Basically, Phillips was saying the yankees offense cant hit good pitchers which simply isnt true. You cant win a ticket to the post-season without beating good strike-throwing pitchers. I guess he is just bitter about the yankees making the playoffs against his predictions!

    Sam-YF October 3, 2007, 11:17 am
  • I’ve got a few things scaring the crap out of me:
    1) Kelvim Escobar – just seems like a bum like that could have a stupid game or two in him
    2) F-Rod and the Angels bullpen
    3) Chone Figgins and Reggie Willits against Tek catching 24% of runners
    I think the Sox sweep too. But tonight is HUGE. If the Angels can pull it out behind a strong Lackey, it could turn the whole series.
    And I agree on the Yankees. But I feel like they only have to win one against the three games pitched by Sabathia/Carmona. Then the other two (against Byrd and Westbrook) are very winnable in slugfests.

    Pete October 3, 2007, 11:20 am
  • But Sam, isn’t that how the Tigers beat the Yanks last year, especially Rogers then Bonderman? While the Yanks kept trying to work the count, as is typical for them, the Tiger pitching kept pounding the strike zone. So the Yanks would get into bad counts and started flailing.
    I’m not sure I agree though that the Indians pitching will do the same. They seem more likely to overthrow and have trouble with strike early. If so, the Yanks will eat them.

    Pete October 3, 2007, 11:24 am
  • Sam – I think it’s important to remember we’re talking about Steve Phillips here. I wouldn’t look too deep into his logic to find fault. It’s clear he isn’t either.

    FenSheaParkway October 3, 2007, 11:30 am
  • Pete- Ive tried to block out all memories of last October but I seem to remember feeling that the yankees were putting undo pressure on themselves. I cant remember if they were always down in the count because there were first pitch strikes or they werent hitting a lick. Likely a combination of the two…

    Sam-YF October 3, 2007, 11:31 am
  • This is a pretty amusing prediction post.
    I do think Boston will probably beat LA, but I’m not sure it’ll be a sweep. I think LA has it in them to win a game, maybe even two. But I think it’s Boston’s series to lose. On paper, they are a better team. Whether they perform up to that potential will be the decider.
    Plus, it’s tough to bet against LA too much. They can be pretty tough.
    And I agree that the Cleveland-NY series is just about too close to call. I think a lot turns on tomorrow. If NY wins game one against Sabathia, I think it takes a lot of wind out of Cleveland’s sails, and gives NY a serious boost.
    However it goes, I think it’ll be two very good series. I don’t think any of these teams is significantly better than any of the others, especially when you consider the unpredictability of October. I think both series should go to at least 4 games, and will probably be strewn with 1-2 run games.
    Which also means it’s going to be hell on my nerves. I’m gonna need a lot of Pepto-Bismol, I think.

    KurticusMaximus- YF October 3, 2007, 11:35 am
  • There must be a mistake on because Kurkjian on BBTN picked the Yankees to win, but showed him picking Cleveland.

    Paul SF October 3, 2007, 11:43 am
  • “John Lackey looks like Napolean Dynamite but throws fastballs that act like dynamite! on opposing batters’ bats (ha!)”
    comic gold! although it should have read Di-no-mite.

    Ric October 3, 2007, 11:55 am
  • I blame last October on the rain-postponed second game. The Yankees beat up on Justin Verlanderin Game 1, then got shut down by Nate Robertson. Does not compute.

    AndrewYF October 3, 2007, 12:00 pm
  • As I’ve thought about it, the killer scenario for me is that the Sox pitching is wild. And Dice-K could absolutely crap the bed in that regard. If he starts issuing walks to Willits, Figgins, and even Orlando, those quickly turn into doubles against Tek. Same deal if the game is close and the bullpen arms come in. Sox pitching absolutely has to throw strikes against the Angels starting with strike one.
    And that’s my reverse jinx.

    Pete October 3, 2007, 12:02 pm
  • One important factor in the yanks/sox series i dont think has gotten much talk is that the yankees pitching has actually been great against the Indians offense. They have held them to less than 3 Runs per game.

    Sam-YF October 3, 2007, 12:03 pm
  • The last memory I have of Lackey in Fenway was when we scored 6 runs on him in the first inning, and the camera showed him mouthing “Fuck this place” to noone in particular. Gotta love home-field advantage.
    By the way, I agree with YFIB; the Rockies are God’s team. They’re the closest to the heavens, after all.
    Oh, and last October the Tigers’ ability to pound the strikezone is what led them to the World Series. They gave up a TON of walks before that, and I recall (fondly) the Yankees watching a lot of called 3rd strikes.

    Atheose October 3, 2007, 12:10 pm
  • Where I think you’re right, Sam, is the mostly right-handed Yankee pitching does very well against RH hitters:
    .254 .322 .385 .707
    And the Indians have a righty heavy lineup. Plus, they’ve shut down
    Sizemore: .182 .280 .273 .553
    Otherwise, Pronk and Victor have killed them. But if they pitch 7/9ths of the lineup tough, they can get around those two.

    Pete October 3, 2007, 12:14 pm
  • I won’t make predictions as I stated the other day. I will say this:
    #1: I don’t understand why everyone is so fascinated with Sabathia and Carmona, but seem to forget about Lackey, Escobar and Weaver? In addition their #3 is Westbrook and #4 is Paul Byrd. The Angels won’t need a #4 due to length of the series.
    Sabathia 19-7 3.21 ERA 209 K’s/249 IP
    Carmona 19-8 3.06 ERA 137 K’s/215 IP
    Westbrook 6-9 4.32 ERA 93 K’s/152 IP
    Lackey 19-9 3.01 ERA 179 K’s/224 IP
    Escobar 18-7 3.40 ERA 160 K’s/195 IP
    Weaver 13-7 3.91 ERA 115 K’s/161 IP
    #2: I hate to pick on a NJ guy and a former Yankee, but come on. Joe Borowski is the closer of Cleveland Indians.
    Borowski 4-5 5.07 ERA 58 K’s/67 IP 45 Saves 8 Blown Saves
    K-Rod 5-1 2.81 ERA 90 K’s/67 IP 40 Saves 6 Blown Saves

    John - YF (Trisk) October 3, 2007, 12:29 pm
  • I think you’re spot on, John, and when I was looking at Escobar’s numbers I realized the same. The Angels have a very good front three, better than the Sox even, I think, and perhaps the best in the post-season.
    I think folks are hating on the Angels because of the injuries and Lackey’s ineptitude against the Sox and in Fenway. In the longer series, Lackey is huge because he’ll go once on the road and once at home. If they had picked the shorter series, they would have forced Lackey to either pitch on short rest or pitch twice in Fenway. Regardless of what happens tonight, a Game 4 rematch in Anaheim could be decisive.

    Pete October 3, 2007, 12:58 pm
  • Not just the injuries and Lackey’s struggles against Boston, but Escobar’s had some arm issues in September, as well. Also, he’s had some catastrophic meltdowns during the season, the likes of which Sabathia and Beckett have not had.
    Heh, it’s funny, this is reminicent of the Cy debate.

    Paul SF October 3, 2007, 1:56 pm
  • First of all, very funny post Nick…enjoyable read all the way through.
    Re: prognosticators picking against NY, I honestly believe that if this were the same exact team with the same exact Cleveland opponent, except the date was Oct 2001, thee same people would pick the Yankees.
    The last few years have cemented in analysts’ minds that the Yankees, when faced with a tough and tight post-season match-up against a scrappy team playing hot baseball, will fold. Until 2001 they had the opposite reputation.
    The reasons are familiar to all yf’s: 1. They put too much pressure on themselves (A-Rod but also others); 2. They rely on the HR and can’t manufacture runs (enduring symbol: Giambi); 3. They are too old and injury prone (Giambi again, Wells, Randy Johnson, Bernie, but so many others); and 4. They have no bridge to Mariano (we need not recite the ever-changing roll of dishonor there).
    The performance of the Yankees in the last couple post-seasons has earned them that reputation, though the exceptions (Posada, Rivera, Jeter) maintain the angelic glow that follows them around from years of having proven the exact opposite.
    I am frankly tired of having a two-tiered team (these Yankees have done it before, these others have to prove they can) and tired of fans reprising ’96-’00 as if any team now must be measured against those teams, especially since some of them still wear the uniform.
    Beginning last year when Matsui and Sheffield went down, allowing for Melky’s emergence, which was coupled with Wang’s impressive debut and Cano’s great offensive and (sometimes) brilliant defensive performances, I started to feel like a NEW team was being established. A set of guys who would be around a while and would establish anew how THIS version of the NY Yankees does in October. That cleaning of the slate has continued this year with Joba, Hughes, Kennedy, and Melky’s new full-time job. Next year, with even more Kennedy, Hughes, Joba, and others (Horne??) it will be even more the case.
    For me, I feel pretty confident about the Yankees of 2008 and beyond given the young pitching talent and the general direction the team is going under Cashman. The question is whether enough cleaning of the slate has been done and enough of the youth infusion has occured for the ’07 Yankees to break through. It isn’t much present in the starting rotation unless Hughes does get an unexpected start, and that is the most crucial aspect in any playoff series, so I am not hugely confident. But I feel better than I have in pervious years and am excited for the ’08 and beyond prospects as well.

    IronHorse (yf) October 3, 2007, 2:00 pm
  • Paul I understand that there could be some question marks, but the Yankees still get to face Westbrook and Byrd. You can’t honestly tell me that’s (on PAPER) not a better situation then facing Weaver, who could be dominant and facing Lackey a 2nd time?
    That’s what I don’t get.

    John - YF (Trisk) October 3, 2007, 2:06 pm
  • John, I just feel like that against the Angels, it’s always a shootout, with pressure on the basepaths. With the Indians, at least the pitchers might hold on enough for the offense to shine through. Though I should do some stats and check the Yanks’ ERA against the Angels the last year or two..

    Lar October 3, 2007, 2:13 pm
  • I have had a sudden infusion of confidence, and will now predict that the fascination with Sabathia and Carmona will fade just as fast as “The Gambler” jokes last year with Kenny Rogers.

    AndrewYF October 3, 2007, 3:54 pm
  • ” though the exceptions (Posada, Rivera, Jeter) maintain the angelic glow that follows them around from years of having proven the exact opposite.”
    What an uplifting turn of phrase, IH!
    For those of us who really, really want the YANKS (honk-honk!!!) and sox to meet in the ALCS, the question is: Do we pull for Boston in this series? What a horrible thought…

    Andrews October 3, 2007, 4:41 pm

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