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Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on October 24, 2007
Position by position breakdown
Catcher: Yorvit Torrealba (.255-8-47) v. Jason Varitek (.255-17-68) Varitek is a veteran who’s been here before and offers more offensive punch than Torrealba. Torrealba however might actually call a better game. Edge: Red Sox
1st Base: Todd Helton (.320-17-91) v. Kevin Youkillis (.288-16-83) This one is closer than the numbers show - especially away from Coors where Helton’s career average is a lot lower than the .320 he’s posted so far. At Coors however he’s a killer and the team leader for the Rockies. Edge: Rockies
2nd Base: Kaz Matsui (.288-4-37 with 32 steals) v. Dustin Pedroia (.317-8-50) Pedroia’s had a wonderful rookie season and has shown himself to be a good hitter. He doesn’t have Matsui’s speed but he’ll out hit him. Edge: Red Sox
LF: Matt Holliday (.340-36-137) v. Manny Ramirez (.296-20-88) Ramirez hasn’t been himself for much of the season and lingering injuries and struggles have turned him from a great hitter into a merely good one for much of this season and his age may be a factor. Holliday is coming off an MVP season and has been just about as clutch as you could imagine. This one isn’t close. Edge: Rockies.
DH: David Ortiz (.332-35-116) v. Ryan Spilborghs (.299-11-51 in 264 AB) In games with a DH this is a very uneven matchup as Big Papi is one of the best hitters, especially in clutch situations and the Rockies will have to settle for pot luck in the position. However in games at Coors where there is no DH the whole situation changes.
SP: Beckett/Schilling/Matsuzaka v. Francis, Jimenez, Fogg Across the board the Red Sox have an edge in starting pitching, but this series isn’t likely to have too many pitchers duels. Edge Red Sox.
Middle Relief: When it comes to the bullpen the Rockies have been masterful, relying on a cadre of ex-closers (LaTroy Hawkins, Matt Herges, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Speier) who can effectively kill an offense an inning at a time. They have enough depth that the Rockies don’t have to wait until their starter is in trouble before replacing him. In contrast the Red Sox pen has been shaky and relying on anyone after Mike Timlin or Hideki Okajima is a big gamble.
Closer: Manny Corpas v. Jonathan Papelbon Both guys have been lights out this season but Papelbon’s stuff is just slightly better. Edge Red Sox. Defense: Colorado set a record for best fielding percentage of all time and committed just 68 errors in 163 games. The Red Sox weren’t bad either with just 83 miscues to their credit but no question Colorado wins this matchup. Edge Colorado
Intangibles: The Rockies have been sitting on their hands for a week and resting, healing and trying to stay game ready. But that is an awful lot of time for a team who’s been a on a hot streak. Still the rest and time off should have them fresh and relaxed going into this series - as should the fact they have nothing to prove. Is the momentum still there? If it is, the Red Sox had best watch out. For the Red Sox they’ve just come off a long series, but with a three game winning streak which was fueled by massive offense. They’ve got to guard against an emotional letdown and not take Colorado for granted. Edge: Even
Managers: Clint Hurdle v. Terry Francona: Francona has been here before while Hurdle is facing the biggest show for the first time. He’s done a masterful job but the Rockies haven’t been in too many bad situations thus far in the playoffs. Edge: Red Sox
Other factors: 1) The Coors field effect probably isn’t going to be a major factor as it’s not one of the best hitting parks in the NL anymore while Fenway is one of the best in the AL.