Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Phillies vs. Yankees World Series breakdown

Picture via Getty and New York Times
They are the two best teams in baseball. It's Philadelphia vs. New York. Broad Street vs. Broadway (sort of). The bloodstripes vs. the pinstripes. Can you ask for a better World Series than this? Here is my complete position by position breakdown of the World Series:

Starting Pitching:
Phillies: Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, Cole Hamels
Yankees: C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte

Both teams appear ready to go with a three team rotation, although the Phillies are holding their cards close to the vest, refusing to announce what they will do with their rotation after the first three games. The Phillies will go with Cliff Lee in Game One, Pedro in Game Two at Yankee Stadium since the veteran won't be fazed, and Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP, in Game Three back in Philly. The Phillies also have plenty of depth; should they choose to go with four starters, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ are both capable of giving solid innings. As for the Yankees, they are set with their rotation, with Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte taking the ball every third game. The Yankees rotation depth is non-existent but it won't matter since they won't have to go four starters deep. As for which rotation is better, the Phillies clearly have better depth but that won't matter in this series. Both teams also appear to be very even across each pitching match-up, with Sabathia and Lee canceling each other out and Pettitte and Hamels basically a wash. Pedro Martinez is the wild card, he likely holds the key to whether the Phillies win this series or not. Edge: Even

Phillies: Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre, Chan Ho Park, J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton
Yankees: Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, David Robertson

In every series, the Phillies bullpen is supposed to be their weak spot. On paper, the Phillie 'pen isn't supposed to be as good as it has been, but Charlie Manuel has pushed all the right buttons and gotten the most out of this group. With Brad Lidge seemingly back to his old self, Ryan Madson getting key outs every game and Scott Eyre and J.A. Happ getting the lefties out, the Phillie bullpen is solid. The Yankee bullpen is even better, though, as they can really lock down a game if they have the lead entering the 7th inning. With the best postseason closer in baseball history, the Yankees have to be given the edge here. The Phillies do have the better depth in their 'pen, but the Yanks top-end talent is just better. Edge: Yankees

Phillies Carlos Ruiz
Yankees: Jorge Posada

The casual baseball fan would think this is a no-brainer selection with the Yankees having a big edge. Well, if you've watched a Phillies game this postseason, you know better. Carlos Ruiz not only calls a great game behind the plate, he is also Mr. Choochtober, getting the big hit time and again. Ruiz should be a household name after this series. Edge: Phillies

Phillies: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz
Yankees: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez

I've called the Phillie infield the best in baseball but this Yankee infield gives them a run for their money. There is no weak spot in either infield, with power coming from two of the positions, speed coming from the middle and solid defense all around. The heart of the lineup for each teams potent offense comes from the infield, with all the table-setters and big RBI guys here. It's too close to call. Edge: Even

Phillies: Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth
Yankees: Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher

Besides Melky Cabrera, the Yankees outfield has been very disappointing this postseason. Johnny Damon is a shell of his former self and Nick Swisher can't hit at all, meaning the Phillies have a huge edge with their outfielders. Jayson Werth has continued to amaze with his big homers and Shane Victorino seems like he is always on base. Raul Ibanez has been the lone dim spot although he is still hitting better than Swisher. Edge: Phillies

Phillies: Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, Miguel Cairo
Yankees: Hideki Matsui, Brett Gardner, Jose Molina, Jerry Hairston Jr.

Ben Francisco is likely to get a lot of playing time when the Yankees are using lefties in the AL park. The "throw-in" in the Cliff Lee deal is easily the Phillies best bench player, but after that there is a major drop-off. Same goes for the Yankees, who have Hideki Matsui at DH and nothing else. Hard to see either team getting much from these guys. Edge: Even

Phillies: Charlie Manuel
Yankees: Joe Girardi

One manages with his gut, the other by the book. I'll give the advantage to the guy who is smart enough to understand every situation and trust his instincts over the guy who has to look up what to do. Joe Girardi has been under heavy fire for some of his questionable calls, going so far as to jeopardize the Yankees in nearly every game. Charlie Manuel has been the exact opposite, quickly becoming one of the best managers in the game. Edge: Phillies

My prediction:
It's close, but I give the Phillies a 3-1-3 edge over the Yankees, leading me to pick the Phillies in 7. I am expecting an epic series, one that should feature plenty of scoring with several lead changes in every game. I only expect Games 1, 4 and 7, when Lee and Sabathia square off, to have the total scores under double digits. As for why the Phillies will win, I simply think they have more depth at pitching that will eventually be important as the series wears on. The Yankees haven't faced an offense like the Phillies this postseason so I expect their pitchers to be tested early and often.

Repeating is extremely hard to do but the Phillies seem poised to be the first repeat champions in nearly a decade. This should be a long, hard series, but the Phillies have proven again and again that they can overcome all odds. Go Phillies, BEAT NEW YORK!


Anonymous said...

wow, you will never be a sports writer if you can't free yourself from bias.

the yankee infield is much better than the philly infield. posada is better than ruiz. just because carlos has hit well recently does not mean he's better than posada.

anyway - teixeira is better than howard, mainly because of the defense. utley is a bit better than cano, but when cano is hitting well he's about on par with chase.

jeter is better than rollins. its as simple as that. its close tho.

arod is much, much better than feliz.

the yankee outfield is nowhere near as good as the philly outfield - so at least you got that :)

allthingsphilly said...

You clearly haven't paid much attention to the Phillies this year. Howard's defense is much-improved, although not as good as Teixeira, and his offense is easily better than Tex's. I'll give you Jeter is better than Rollins, so it looks like this:

Howard > Teixeira
Utley >> Cano
Rollins < Jeter
Feliz << A-Roid

Tell me how this isn't even.

YoureOnTheMarkTexiera said...

Howard's offense "easily better" than Texiera's?

Tex: 39HR, 122RBI, .292avg,
RyHo: 45, 141, .279
Also, no question who plays a better 1st base...

Cano: 25, 85, .320
Utley: 31, 93, .282
Cano has played a better 2nd base, especially in this post-season...

Jeter & A-Rod vs. J-Roll & Feliz

You clearly have paid too much attention to "The Frillies" this year.
The best infield in baseball belongs to the Bombers!

Anonymous said...

So now that it's all over, let me point out that you predicted the Phillies by ignoring your own breakdown. After claiming that the starting rotation was even and giving the Yankees the edge in the bullpen, you predicted that the Phils would win because "I simply think they have more depth at pitching that will eventually be important as the series wears on." Looks like your ranking was right, you should have gone with that.