It’s that time of year again. The time for Andy to pen his annual, overly long, bloated World Series preview that no one really cares to read because they can go to ESPN or MLB.com to read analysis by real sports writers who actually have some insight into these kinds of things. Let’s begin, shall we?
This years Fall Classic pits “Team of Destiny” the Detroit Tigers versus the Cardinals of St. Louis. Let’s break it smooth down.
The Cardinals will start the baby of the Amazing Catching Molina’s, Yadier. The Cards’ worst hitting regular season starter, Lady Eyes Molina has smoked the cover off the ball in the postseason, including the game winning home run in game seven against the Mets. Whether he can maintain the torrid pace remains to be seen. His real strength is behind the plate where he’ll go a long way in neutralizing the Tiger running game.
The Tigers’ “Pudge” Rodriguez is a seasoned postseason vet. While not to be overlooked by any means, he’s not the defensive or offensive threat he once was. Probably because he stopped taking steroids. Seems to have that affect. But he’s been there before and will provide much needed leadership to a young Tiger team.
1st Base –
The Cardinals have Albert Pujols. The Tigers will counter with Sean Casey, if he’s recovered from a calf injury, or if he’s not, Carlos Guillen. Guillen is a fine player, probably the Tigers best all-around guy. Casey is serviceable. So fine and serviceable, or fervicable, vs. best hitter of this generation? Hmmmmmm.
2nd Base –
The Tigers will start Placido Domingo at second, who will mesmerize the opposition with his melodic tenor voce and smooth turning double play. Oh, wait. It says here Placido Polanco will be playing second base. That makes more sense. Polanco is a solid, if not spectacular player, and for cold games in Detroit he’ll wear a weird hood thing on his head. The Cardinals will have Ronnie Belliard at the two bag who will provide more power than Polanco. But then he’s also very fat.
3rd Base –
There was some controversy in the NLCS about Cardinal manager Tony La Russa’s benching of Scott Rolen in favor of soul-patched, wanna-be rocker Scott Spiezio. To the layman this may seem like stark raving insanity. And while I’m not saying Tony La Russa isn’t insane, Rolen was reeking up the joint and Spiezio has a career postseason batting average somewhere around one million while driving in about 1000 runs. Apparently the only time you want Spiezio on your team is if red is the featured color of your uniform and you happen to be in the postseason. Isn’t that right Giants fans? However, Rolen is the far superior player and should be over the “shoulder injury” he was battling. Brandon Inge will be manning the hot corner for Detroit and can provide the occasional longball, but Rolen is the clear choice here.
If Sean Casey can heal up in time, then the Tigers will be playing Carlos Guillen as short. Again, a fine player. If not, they’ll be playing Ramon Santiago. A stinky player. OK, that’s not fair. A smelly player. He won’t hit for anything, but he’ll field the position ably enough. For the Cards, shortstop will be “manned” by the starting shortstop for the local middle school team, David Eckstein. Eckstein was trying to grow a playoff beard this year, but teammates kept telling him to wipe off the milk moustache and beard. Actually, Eckstein is one of my favorite players. Nobody puts more effort or heart into their play or maximizes their abilities as much as Eckstein. He’ll do the little things well and provide a spark.
Edge: Tigers if Guillen plays short, Cards if Santiago starts
Left Field –
Who’s out in left field? Besides Tony La Russa? For La Russa it will be mostly Preston Wilson with a slight chance of Spiezio. Wilson isn’t the player he was a few years ago in Colorado, but then again no one is the same player they once were a few years ago in Colorado. He’s a serviceable enough player, but nothing to blog about. For Los Tigres Jim Leyland will start Texarcana, Texas native Craig Monroe. I wonder if he and Ross Perot are neighbors? Munore has some power and is a solid defensive player, and you should never count out a guy whose middle name is Keystone.
Center Field –
Jim Edmonds has been one of the better center fielders in baseball for the past decade or so, especially defensively. But at age 36 and on two bad legs, he’s lost more than a step or two. He’s still capable of making the big play or getting the big hit, but his skills have certainly diminished. For the Tigers, Curtis Granderson’s offensive numbers were almost identical to Edmonds’, though Grandy had about 250 more AB’s. When it comes down to it though, the younger legs of Granderson give him the edge.
Right Field –
The Cardinals will have former Tiger Juan Encarnacion in right. Now, he could use his inside information to his advantage, but he was on the Tigers when they really sucked so that’s unlikely to do much good. So, with no unfair advantage the Cardinals will have to rely on his talent alone. Which is too bad. Magglio Ordonez for the Tigers is a legitimate power threat who will also hit for average. After a couple of down years due to injury, Magglio is back to being a formidable player.
Both managers have been pulling all the right strings when using the bench this postseason. As good as Leyland’s bench warmers have been though, La Russa’s crew have more experience and are flat better players. You might even say that they are Sooooo Taguchi.
Starting Pitching –
Despite the Cards’ two Jeffs (Weaver and Suppan) turning into the white Bob Gibson and Dizzy Dean this postseason, and despite having one of the games best pitchers in Chris Carpenter, and despite having one of the most respected pitching coaches ever, the Cards still have to start Anthony Reyes in game one. And there is just no way Weaver and Suppan can keep this up. It’s physically impossible. The baseball gods will not let it continue. The Tigers staff has been out of sight all year, led to infinity and beyond! by Buzz Lightyear look-a-like Kenny Rogers. Rookie sensation Justin Verlander, Nate Robertson, and Jeremy Bonderman have pitched well in the postseason and will make the most of Comerica Parks spacious confines.
Nothing against Cardinal Adam Wainwrights devastating curve ball, but the Tigers 1-2-3 punch of Fernando Rodney, Joel Zumaya, and Todd Jones blows the rest of the Cardinal bullpen out of the stadium. I mean the wind created by Rodney and Zumaya’s 800 mph fastballs will literally blow them out of the stadium. Plus you have to cheer for Jones. Any guy who can still bring it at age 63 is OK by me.
The Cardinals have gotten surprisingly excellent starting pitching in the postseason so far, while their offense struggled against a pretty poor NY Met staff. The pitching of the Tigers should be able to handle the Cardinal lineup with relative ease, Albert Pujols not withstanding, and as stated before, there is no possible way the Jeffs can keep pitching the way they have. For all the talk about the Tigers being the Team of Destiny, the fact is they’re just the Team That’s Better.
Pick: Tigers in 5