Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Friday, July 23, 2004

BASEBALL NATION: Who Can Beat the Yankees?, pt. 2

Well, we go on.

PROS: Mulder's having a fabulous year. And although Hudson' s on the DL, he's still a teriffic pitcher. And Rich Harden looks like he's improving. As for the hitting, Jermaine Dye hasn't looked this good since the 2001 ALDS. Eric Chavez (.269, 14 HR even with significant DL time) and Bobby Crosby have performed well (.268, 14), and Beane pet projects Scott Hatteberg (.370 OBP) and Erubiel Durazo (.385 OBP) keep getting on base. The Dotel pickup gives the A's a legitamite closer.
CONS:The lineup is balanced, but again, nobody here really scares you. And Barry Zito has struggled mightily this year, turning the A's 1-2-3 punch into a 1-2 punch. And while Mulder and Hudson might be enough for the A's to eke out an ALDS win, considering they haven't been able to do it even with the big three, the Zito factor may loom large. And before Dotel came along, the pen was atrocious. Bradford, Mecir, and Rhodes have been awful. If the starters can't go 7 or 8, the A's are in trouble.
VERDICT: The Yankees were able to beat the A's in 2001, with the big three in top form and Giambi and Tejada to boot. Of course, if Jeremy Giambi would've slid, things might be different. This year, unless the A's pitchers are in top form, the Yankees should take this one easily.

PROS: Vlad Guerrero gives this lineup a force that the '02 champs lacked. Jose Guillen also adds pop, and Chone Figgins provides lots of speed. And of course, Garret Anderson and Daren Erstad are still around, as well as scrappy infielders Eckstein and Kennedy. This is not an easy lineup to face. And, two years later, K-Rod is still getting everybody out.
CONS: The Colon deal was a collosal bust. Washburn, Sele, and Lackey haven't fared much better. And Kelvim Escobar is mediocre at best. So the starting pitching is the big concern here. Also, Troy Percival's not as dominant as he was in '02. The Glaus injury takes away some of the Angels' depth.
VERDICT: The Angels' lineup can take on the Yankees anyday. If their pitching can keep the Yankees from blowing a game wide open, they'll have a shot.

And if the Yanks make it to the Fall Classic again, who can beat 'em?

BRAVES: If they stay hot for the rest of the summer, we'll see 'em again. I think they have no chance in the postseason. But if they hit the Series, it'll be a joke. 1999 was a mismatch, even with a much better Braves team. This team is Atlanta's weakest. It's not even close.
PHILLIES: Another team with the bats to match the Yankees. Burrell, Thome, and Abreu provide lots of pop, and David Bell and Jimmy Rollins have been pretty solid. None of the starting pitchers really scare you. Wagner, Worrell, and Cormier make for a pretty good bullpen. If they make the series, they can give the Yankees some trouble.
MARLINS: No more magic this year. With Benitez as closer, you think they have a shot? Their hitters have slumped. Last year's postseason hero, Ivan Rodriguez, is in Detroit. Josh Beckett's health has been an issue, and the other starters have been good but unspectacular. If we get a rematch, the Yanks won't have a hard time getting revenge.
METS: All you Met fans out there, dream on. I know, the Mets swept a Subway series. Big deal. Glavine's starting to struggle, and the rest of the rotation is not too great. The team is all right offensively, but Matsui and Piazza really hurt the defense. You can't afford those errors in a big game. And Art Howe couldn't manage his A's to a single series win. He doesn't seem like he's cut out for the playoffs.

PROS: The NL's best team has great offense. Rolen, Pujols, Edmonds; these guys can hit. And Rolen, Edmonds, and Renteria are among the game's best gloves. And Tony LaRussa's bullpen is looking real good. Former retreads Ray King and Julian Tavarez have been sharp, as have Steve Kline and Jason Isringhausen.
CONS: The starting pitching has overacheived so far. And Woody Williams and Matt Morris haven't been as good as in the past. Can Carpenter, Marquis, and Suppan pitch in the World Series?
VERDICT: These guys are looking real good. Considering they've got the best record in the game, I guess it's fair to say they have the best shot at beating the Yankees. In 1964, Bob Gibson and the Cards beat the Yanks and ended their victorious run. Forty years later, I wouldn't mind a repeat.

CUBS: Too many health issues here. If all the starters are healthy, they've got the best staff in the game, probably the only one that can totally quiet down the Yankees' offensive juggernaut. And the offense doesn't match up too well, either. If the pitchers aren't sharp, the Yankees will have an easy victory.

PROS: The offense has clearly improved since last year's disaster. Dave Roberts provides lots of speed at the top, Adrian Beltre is finally living up to the hype, and even Cesar Izturis is hitting. Defensively, they're solid up the middle with Izturis and Alex Cora. And with Mota and Gagne in the pen, the Dodgers are in good shape.
CONS: A few holes in the lineup, like Shawn Green and Juan Encarnacion (.238 AVG). Their offense can be streaky. Starting pitching has fallen since last year. Perez and Ishii are good, but nothing special.  
VERDICT: Another interesting one to see. If the starters can get the ball to the pen, you've gotta like the Dodgers' chances.

GIANTS: Barry Bonds, Jason Schmidt. A few decent bats in Grissom, Alfonzo, and Feliz. Not much else. I don't see enough depth for a solid postseason run. They had better players in '02. But it's hard to count out Brian Sabean. If he adds the pieces they need to go all the way, things are gonna get interesting.


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