Now that we know who is going to be in the Postseason, what can we expect from each team in there? In this article I will attempt to break down each team’s strengths, weaknesses, and the person it depends upon. Without further ado, here we go!
New York Yankees – AL East Champions
Strengths – They aren’t called the Bronx Bombers for nothing. The lineup features Derek Jeter, who seemingly hits better in the postseason, leading off. Batting second is Alex Rodriguez, followed by Gary Sheffield, Ruben Sierra (1-0 as a manager), thirty home run left fielder Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, and a capable cast of characters from there. Whenever “Enter Sandman” plays over the Yankee Stadium speakers there is another of the Yankees strengths, Mariano Rivera. His numbers in the postseason are ridiculous and repeated so many times that I needn’t restate them here. The New York Yankees also have manager Joe Torre in their corner, as well as the experience of actually being in the postseason before.
Weaknesses – The major weakness of this club is obvious: the rotation. Mike Mussina has pitched well during the month of September, and if he can continue that success, it will bode well for the Yankees. Javier Vazquez has never been to the postseason before nor has he pitched well recently, so it might be difficult to watch his starts. Jon Lieber has been inconsistent this year, so which Lieber will show up? The cheap man’s Greg Maddux or the expensive man’s Hideo Nomo?
It All Depends On – The right arms of Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, and Jon Lieber. As these three go, so go the Yankees.
Minnesota Twins – AL Central Champions
Strengths – The Twins have built their team with very, very solid defense around the horn and outfield. This allows their pitchers (especially Carlos Silva) to reduce the number of pitches they have to throw. If you can’t figure out how that is a strength, then shame on you. They also have the best starting pitcher in the American League in the form of Johan Santana and one of the best closers in Joe Nathan, as well as a very able supporting cast of relievers in front of him.
Weaknesses – The team’s major weakness is their offense. In this lineup there is not really someone who strikes fear in the opposing pitcher’s heart, with the exception of maybe Justin Morneau. Another major factor is Carlos Silva as the number three starter; the Twins can’t ride Santana and Radke to the World Series. They are not Johnson and Schilling, contrary to belief in the State of 10,000 Lakes.
It All Depends On – The bats of Torii Hunter, Corey Koskie, and whoever else can produce on offense.
Anaheim Angels – AL West Champions
Strengths – The Anaheim Angels have a very major strength in their offense. Vladimir Guerrero and company can pound the ball out of the park, or they can play small ball, should the occasion dictate it. The Halos bullpen also is lights out, so if the Angels can survive until the 7th inning with a lead, the game is over.
Weaknesses – The weakness of this team is their starting pitching. Bartolo Colon has pitched like an ace this year, but will he really show up in the postseason? The others like Washburn and whoever gets the third spot aren’t really that great, so the offense will have to pound the heck out of the ball to get it done
It All Depends On – The starting pitchers of the Angels rotation. As well as they pitch, so goes the Anaheim Angels. They need to quiet the bats of the Boston Red Sox in this first round.
Boston Red Sox – AL Wild Card
Strengths – The Red Sox have one of the most prolific 1-2 punches in baseball in Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Or should I have said Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz? Either way, they are top loaded. The defense of this club should be another asset to carry them deep into the postseason.
Weaknesses – The major weakness of this team is the bullpen, which has faded strongly down the stretch. Even closer Keith Foulke hasn’t become a given for the ninth inning. This team desperately needs Derek Lowe to step into the ‘pen and give them some stability, but can we rely on Blowe?
It All Depends On – The right arms of Derek Lowe, Keith Foulke, and Mike Timlin. The Red Sox need to have that bullpen going against the Angels.
Atlanta Braves – NL East Champions
Strengths – The Atlanta Braves have a solid group of players that can produce offensively. There’s Furcal, Giles, Drew, and Chipper at the top of the order, followed by solid hitters Estrada and Franco and Andruw Jones. Oh, John Smoltz isn’t that bad as a closer, come to think of it, and neither is manager Bobby Cox.
Weaknesses – Injuries. John Thomson won’t be able to start Game 2 against the Astros and Chipper Jones might miss time because of his hand injury. Also, past Wright, the rotation is a little shaky. I don’t know if I have faith in Mike Hampton or John Thomson in the postseason.
It All Depends On – The left arm of Mike Hampton and the right arms of John Thomson and Antonio Alfonseca.
St. Louis Cardinals – NL Central Champions
Strengths – The Cardinals clenched about three months ago, so they have had some time to set up their postseason roster. Everybody who knows anything about baseball recognizes the fact that Pujols, Edmonds, and Rolen are the three best at their respective positions and that the Cardinals bullpen is completely filthy. Oh, and their starting rotation isn’t that bad and LaRussa is quite a good manager. And the fans in St. Louis are some of the best in baseball.
Weaknesses – Is there any? They have great offense at every position, good defense everywhere, great bullpen, good starting pitching, and a good manager. I guess I’m getting nitpicky, but I guess they don’t have an All Star at every position.
It All Depends On – The right arms of Matt Morris and Jason Marquis. If they are going, the rotation is dominating, if they’re not on, then the rotation is thin.
Los Angeles Dodgers – NL West Champions
Strengths – The Dodgers have Eric Gagne to close games, basically making it an eight inning game, guaranteed. Yhency Brazoban is a solid reliever, which could feasible make it a seven inning game. Adrian Beltre is a decent third baseman.
Weaknesses – The rotation features the likes of Odalis Perez and who else? The offense features Adrian Beltre and who else?
It All Depends On – Shawn Green’s bat and the rotation’s arms other than Perez.
Houston Astros – NL Wild Card
Strengths – The Houston Astros probably have the most momentum of any team as they go to face the Atlanta Braves. They have a dominating closer in Brad Lidge, and some guy named Roger Clemens. Roy Oswalt and Carlos Beltran aren’t too bad to have around either.
Weaknesses – The Astros have never won a series in the postseason, and they face the Atlanta Braves, who swept the ‘Stros the last time they were in. I don’t really like whoever they put in the third or fourth slot.
It All Depends On – Brandon Backe and whatever other arms they have in the bullpen. Also, the bat of Jeff Bagwell; as goes Bagwell, goes the Astros.