It has been a while since I looked at the back of my baseball cards. Today’s card is from the 1991 Score set and it features the Twins OF Shane Mack. You know what? They don’t have OBP or BBs on the cards? Meaningless stats I say! Apparently Shane Mack was a Rule V pick for the Twins – I can understand why they might have liked him, being one year from a .347 AVE year at AAA with decent power (10 HR). Mack went on to play another 7 years and heck, posted a .364 career OBP! Probably his best season was 1992, when had 16 HR and posted .314/.394/.467. Not too shabby.
Now that the Twins dispatched with the Tigers (in 12 innings no less) to capture the AL Central, we can make some picks!
American League Division Series
Minnesota Twins vs New York Yankees: OK, sure, the Twins look a little overmatched. In Game 1, they face CC Sabathia and offer up, well, Brian Duensing. Not exactly a “fair matchup”. The same might be said for the rest of the respective teams’ parts: as I mentioned to Big Lou yesterday, any team that has Jose Morales as their DH might not have any business being in the postseason. That being said, I hate to pick against the sentimental favorite – and yes, the Yankees are only sentimental favorites in the minds of their players’ mothers (if that). So, I’m going to say that the Twins will scare the bejesus out of the Yankees … but fall just short. Yankees 3-2.
Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Maybe they need to start scheduling this series in April? I feel like the Sox and Angels have played in Round 1 since the dawn of time. Anyway, the Sox sort of scuffled to the finish line – or at least streaked to the finish line, with a sweep of Cleveland after being swept at the hands of New York and Toronto. Ah, that is the nature of baseball! Everyone says “the Angels get hits! the Angels steal bases!” Well, fine, they sure do. However, unless you’re Jacoby Ellsbury, you don’t steal home much. The last I checked, the Sox aren’t slouches with the bats either (unless you count Jason Varitek). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the Sox starters show up for the series and quiet the free-swinging Angels. Red Sox 3-1.
National League Division Series
Colorado Rockies vs Philadelphia Phillies: The last time this happened, the Phils were favored to win the series and the Rockies, well, steam-rolled them. Will it happen in 2009? Neither time has what might classically be known as “good pitching” – both are adequate and beasts of their respective home parks. The Phils do have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard as the backbone of their lineup. The Rockies, although a lot of fun, have Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki. The Phillies – if they can find a closer – will scrape by this series. Phillies 3-2.
St. Louis Cardinals vs Los Angeles Dodgers: It seems wrong to me that the Dodgers have home field in this series – I mean, when was the last time the Dodgers seemed like a good baseball team? Who has the pitching advantage: Cardinals. Who has the hitting advantage: Cardinals. Seems to me that the Cardinals might be the better team here. Could it be that simple? Cardinals 3-0.
League Championship Series
Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees: Has it really been five years since the last Sox-Yankees ALCS? What happened last time, anyway? The Sox won the first 7 meetings of these teams in 2009 and then the Yankees returned the favor by winning most of the rest. However, the teams are definitely well-matched. It will all boil down to which versions of the numbers 1-2 starters for each team decide to show up. I would say that Lester-Beckett in top form trump Sabathia-Burnett (remember, the Sox have beaten up on both of them), but the Yankees will have home field. The new Yankee Stadium bandbox plays into the strengths of the Yankees – that being “hit ball hard”. Will it be a grinder of a series? Indeed. Flip a coin ten times to try to pick a winner. Me, I’ll follow heart but with the caveat that brain says it might be otherwise. Red Sox 4-3.
St. Louis Cardinals vs Philadelphia Phillies: It is funny, comparing these two LCS. Likely, as an impartial observer, I might see the Yankees in the same light I see the Cardinals, i.e., the obvious favorite to win the League. However, in this postmodern world in which we live, one cannot deny context. The Cardinals have the shutdown pitching vs. the Phillies (well, unless Hamels and Lee get back on track). The batting order is pretty evenly matched – heck, I might even give Philly the advantage. Both teams have really questionable (or nonexistent) closers. If anything, the series might be wild. In the end, though, I might still have to lean towards St. Louis. St. Louis 4-2.
Boston Red Sox vs St. Louis Cardinals: Indeed, a rematch of 2004. Last year, I picked against the Red Sox and gave the Phillies the keys to the World Series. I have to admit, I feel the same way this year: the Cardinals will win it. However, as before, the Sox have all the tools to have the World Series for the third time in 5 years as well. However, the Sox need to have all their ducks in a row to make it through, while the Cardinals seem to already be in that “well-oiled machine” form. However, there are weeks of baseball to go before we get to the October (er, maybe November) Classic. St. Louis 4-3.
The MLB postseason starts tomorrow – and I’ll have a few predictions for that coming later today or tomorrow.
However, today we have another tiebreaker, third year in a row – and second in a row featuring the Twins!
The Twins have Scott Baker facing off against the Tigers Rick Porcello. You know me, I do love an underdog, so I’m picking the Twins to win the tiebreaker – final score: 5-3. Heck, the Twins are really the better team with a positive run differential (+51) over the Tigers negative run differential (-1), so Twins win the Central!