The time of year that my wife hates (NCAA Football, NFL kickoff, MLB Postseason) is upon us. I am pretty happy. I'm going to gaze into the future and do some lame brained predictions on the MLB Playoffs. Thank God it is an election off year so I don't do my lame November predictions for politics. With the way the '08 prez campaign seemed to start in late '06, I feel like I could do '08 predictions now.
Let's start with the American League. Oddly enough, the AL division leaders as of this moment all have the same record of 90-62. Spooky considering how hot the Sox were midseason. The Yanks adn Sox will be hoping to draw the Indians instead of the Angels. The Angels are the much more balanced team. Cleveland's strength this season has been their starting pitching with CC, an unknown, and Paul Friggin' Byrd carrying the load. The Sox have been struggling with spotty results from their previously strong pitching. Dice-K looks tired when he throws and has now been around the league. Teams know him now, and he has to adjust. Schilling is "enh". He's "enh" until proven otherwise. The Yankees have been up and down all year, but they have been a bit more consistent recently. The team's amazing .962 OPS for August is what has been behind this surge.
Here's how it shakes down.......
Sox (AL East Champs) draw LA Angels (AL West Champs)
Angels win this in 5. Escobar, Lackey, Weaver right now, are stronger than the Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K. I never thought I'd type that. If I were the Sox I'd use Wakefield as my 4, and stack the young arms for long relief. Wakefield's knuckleball becomes tougher to hit and dances more in the cold weather. Wakefield has said his knuckleball is easier to throw and get movement when the ball is colder and the leather tightens around the core. Remember the great ALCS he had in '03? I also can't believe I am typing this but the Sox lineup is spotty right now. They sorely miss Manny, Ortiz is banged up and soldiering on, Youkilis is hurt, Lowell's roids might run out any moment, and everybody else seems to step up to the plate looking to walk so Ortiz can drive them in (except awesome Pedroia). Think about the Beckett trade right now. Besides the millions in savings (no Beckett/Lowell/Lugo), they'd have Hanley Fuckin' Ramirez at the top of the lineup and $23 mil to spare. Actually, they'd have the middle infield that their AA affiliate the Portland Sea Dogs had for a couple years; Ramirez-Pedroia.
Cleveland (AL Central Champs) draw Yanks (Wild Card)
Yanks in 4. The Yanks bats are set up for short series. The Yanks have found their set up man for Rivera (for this season). I think Cleveland wiggles ahead of LA because they have an easier last week. Hafner has been killing the Tribe's offense with his drastically lower production. They would need 2 lights out performances from Carmona and Sabathia to have a shot. I think the Yanks rotation of Wang, Andy, Clemens, Hughes is a solid rotation. Mussina in for long relief when Clemens punks out during his start, and then Chamberlain and Rivera to finish up games.
ALCS Angels host Yanks
Angels in 6. I'm going with the LA Angels of Anaheim taking the AL. They have weathered injuries, built a decent batting order, and have a solid starting rotation. K-rod is back there for closing out games, and they seem to be the most balanced team in the AL. I trust their starting rotation to hold it together of a 7 game series more than the Yanks.
Over in the NL, it has become a who's who of choking. Even worse than what the Sox are doing right now. I might not even have the right teams in the playoffs with these predictions.
Mets (NL East Champs) draw San Diego (NL Wild Card)
Mets in 5. This one is scary. Both teams might miss the playoffs. Both teams might win their division and not meet. I bet I'll be back in 2 weeks revising thee match-ups. The Whale's Vagina (San Diego for you squares) has a nice 1-2 in the rotation, but I like the Mets bats more in this short series. Nice thing to note for the Mets is that they can run on you as well with great success. Wright-Reyes-Beltran will run when needed. The Mets also have a decent rotation going now that Pedro and Glavine are in 'decent' form. Top to bottom, unless the Padres pull a Cubs in '03 move on the Mets with their pitchers streaking like mofos, there is no way the Mets won't put up 7 a game and force the Padres to catch up with them. Now that I think back on it, the Cubs had Prior-Wood-Zambrano pitching so well, and they managed to fuck things up. I feel so bad for the Cubbie faithful.
Arizona (NL West Champs) draw Cubs (AL Central Champs)
Cubs in 4. Cubs make it into the playoffs due to their easier road in the last week. Brewers have to go to San Diego for 4 games. Ouch. I like the Cubs rotation and hitting much more than the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks have a shot if they use a 3 man rotation and pitch Webb twice. Then it just comes down to winning one of the other games he does not start. Still, the Diamondbacks bats are awful.
NLCS Mets host Cubs
Mets in 6. The LCS would be a networks dream if they played out like I feel they will. Watch I will be wrong on all 4 teams and neither NL team will even make the playoffs. Chicago-LA-NY all represented in the LCS. The ad revenue would be amazing. Mets take this one because I believe their line up is superior to the Cubs. The weakest link for the Mets is their bullpen. If the Cubs can hold tight in games and force Billy Wagner into tight situations, they could see their ticket to the World Series. This is how Cleveland beat Baltimore back in '97. They waited out two Mussina gems to get to Armando Benitez. Smart move.
Angels host Mets
Angels in 6. This is an indictment on the weaker NL. I also feel that the AL teams, with the exception of the Indians, all have superior talent to the NL squads. The Mets are loaded with talent, as their batting order is solid top to bottom. The top half of their batting order would be good for any team in any era. I just feel that the rotation is going to let them down when they have to face the heavy bats of the AL. There is a reason pitchrs seem to get better and have lower ERAs when they switch from the AL to the NL. It's a weaker league for hitters and the pitcher gives you an easy out. Add to that a SS who would be the 9 hitter in the AL, and you have two easy outs.
Watch the World Series will be Indians-Phillies.