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?