Monday, October 22, 2007

Breaking down Boston

With no baseball for the next two days, we'll break down the World Series teams. First up, the American League champion Boston Red Sox.

INFIELD: Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia are .300 hitters and Kevin Youkilis, when he's going well, finds ways to reach base. Julio Lugo was a drain on the offense through much of the season. Defensively, Lowell is still sharp at third and Youkilis has been surprisingly solid at first. David Ortiz's defense was notably better in the past when the Sox played in NL ballparks.

OUTFIELD: Manny Ramirez is, well, Manny Ramirez. He's an adventure in the field, but, rest assured, he'll drive in more runs than he allows. In center, the likely platoon of Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury plays to both sides of the ball. Ellsbury is the hotter offensive player while Crisp's defense is a plus tool. Red Sox Nation can only hope J.D. Drew's massive Game 6 (grand slam, 5 RBIs) gets the sweet-swinging, soft-spoken Georgia boy rolling. If not, Bobby Kielty may see more action.

DH: The one and only Big Papi, David Ortiz, is a proven playoff performer. Need a clutch hit? Call on Papi and, likely, he'll deliver.

STARTING PITCHING: Josh Beckett is his generation's best big-game pitcher and he's only 27. Curt Schilling was alternately stellar and sour in his three postseason outings. Spots 3 and 4 were iffy with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield scuffling.

BULLPEN: Jonathan Papelbon's dancing may leave something to be desired, but he is lights-out in save situations. Hideki Okajima is a fine setup man. If the Red Sox, however, are forced to turn to Eric Gagne, good luck winning that game.

MANAGER: Terry Francona is 2-for-4 in reaching World Series and 3-for-4 in making it to the postseason as Red Sox skipper. He has a handle on a frat-house type of club and has shown a knack for playing the hand he's been dealt. A little too statistically reliant for my tastes, Tito's been a winner in Boston.


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