Three Baseball Guys: Predicting the ALDS/NLDS

From the men who brought you last month’s discussion on Prince Fielder’s ample antics… Out on the east coast is m’man Tom Daniels. He’s a dismayed Mets fan who recently called into WFAN to propose a David Wright for Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez deal. In America’s Heartland sits Cardinals fan Eugene Tierney. He just became a Facebook fan of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. And, y’all know me…

Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Aaron: Everyone is quick to credit manager Jim Tracy with turning the Rockies around, but let’s not ignore A’s GM Billy Beane and his generous contribution of closer Huston Street (35 saves) and OF Carlos Gonzalez (.525 SLG) during the offseason. The Phillies are vulnerable at the back-end of their bullpen, but with an offense that bludgeons opponents like the 1995 vintage of Suge Knight, I like the defending champs’ chances. Pick: Phillies in 4

Eugene: A rematch from 2007, only this time the Phillies are much better. Their hitters, featuring six potential All Stars, should be able to knock around the Rockies pitching, which is probably the weakest of the NL playoff teams. Pick: Phillies in 3

Tom: Full disclosure: the only Colorado Rockies games I saw this season were the unlikely four-game, last-gasp sweep by the Mets. The only question in a series in which one team is going to start Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Pedro Martinez is whether or not the bullpen can manage to put some outs together and get them through to the next round. I’m pretty sure they can, but I’m going to bet the Phillies’ bullpen loses at least one game. Pick: Phillies in 4

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Aaron: See what happens when OF Matt Holliday gives a damn? He posted an ungodly 1.023 OPS after waking up from a peaceful 15-week sleep in Oakland. The Cards’ offense doesn’t walk much, hits with decent power and is tough to strike out. The Dodgers’ pitchers don’t give up home runs and strike out everyone under the sun. This has the feel of a series that won’t be decided by the superstars. And, Tony LaRussa has been cranking out lousy bit players with a knack for timely hits since the days of Lance Blankenship. Pick: Cardinals in 5

Eugene: I’m nervous about this one. Torre is trying to neutralize the Carpenter/Wainwright duo by starting lefties Wolf and Kershaw; the Cardinals ranked 26th in baseball against lefties after acquiring Holliday and DeRosa (30th before the acquisitions). Neither manager is saying much about what will happen after that. The Cards also struggled down the stretch, but that was much like 2006, where they backed into the playoffs. Season Series: Cardinals 5, Dodgers 2. Pick: Cardinals in 5

(On a side note, Cardinals Shortstop Brendan Ryan is up for the American Mustache Institute’s 2009 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year award.)

Tom: It seems like pretty much everyone is taking the chalk across the board in these series. That never happens. As Eugene noted, the Cardinals are horrifically bad against lefties and the Dodgers are starting two of them. And you can’t even claim the Pujols factor when Manny’s on the other side. I just have a weird feeling that if there’s going to be an upset in the first round that it’s this one. Pick: Dodgers in 5

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

Aaron: The Twins can at least hang their collective hats on the fact that there’s been one constant this decade as it relates to the Yankees in the playoffs – the loss of at least one game in the Division Series, resulting in the typical fan overreaction and mass hysteria from the media. The universe will return to normal, shortly thereafter. Now, if only AJ Burnett and Jorge Posada could find love. Pick: Yankees in 4

Eugene: It really didn’t matter who played the Yankees – both the Tigers and Twins would have been over matched. At least the story will be Pavano’s return to New York and not Miguel Cabrera’s taking BP on his wife. We will still hear about A-Rod’s not being clutch at some point, though. Pick: Yankees in 4

Tom: Oh Carl Pavano, it’s going to be a rough Friday. Everyone is going to focus on the fact that the Twins don’t really have the pitching to cope with Pinstriped Wrecking Crew. Then again, we’re also assuming that CC Sabathia’s 8 postseason ERA is an aberration and that AJ Burnett’s not going to have bad starts. Of course, the Twins’ 0-7 regular season record against the Yankees doesn’t give me great confidence in picking against them. Pick: Yankees in 3

Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels

Aaron: The Angels have dedicated their season to the memory of deceased teammate Nick Adenhart. The Red Sox had done the same for Jason Varitek. The Halos handily won their division again, but who in their rotation would you want on the mound in a must win game? Jered Weaver? Joe Saunders? And, ace John Lackey hasn’t been all that dominating. Look for Boston to steal one in Anaheim, then crush the Angels at Fenway. The headlines will read “Boston Massacre”. Has that been used before? Pick: Red Sox in 4

Eugene: The Angels have a line up that fits better in the NL. I’ll be curious to see how they match up with the Red Sox pitching. While Boston has owned the Angels in the past, I think this is their year to beat them. They have a playoff experienced go to pitcher – Scott Kazmir; while he hasn’t been as good as he was last year, I’d trust him as the go to pitcher. Pick: Angels in 5

Tom: There are a couple of red flags for the Red Sox this season. First and foremost, you can’t anger the Baseball Gods by raising the white flag on the division and settling for the Wildcard in early September. Second, even though Jonathan Papelbon’s ERA is still relatively impressive for a closer, his walk-rate is triple what it was in his previous seasons. While that might fly against the orderly confines of the AL East, one walk in the eighth or ninth inning against this annoying line-up is going to give Papelbon fits. I watched National League teams and the Angels destroy him this season. Let’s also keep something else in mind: this idea of the Red Sox’s ownership of the Angels comes from three past series. In two of those series, the Red Sox went on to win it all (indicating they were pretty good) and last year. I’m also going to mention that Scott Kazmir is probably going to end up being one of the best trades of the season. Pick: Angels in 4

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