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BASN’s World Series Preview: Rockies Vs. Red Sox
By Tony McClean
Updated: October 23, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Ct. – This year’s World Series reminds me a lot like the finals of the NCAA Tournament. The Rockies are like that Cinderella team with senior leadership (Helton) and young stars (Holliday) that puts it all together for an exciting title run.
The Red Sox are that team that begins the year as the preseason No. 1. They go through their ups and downs and are brought to the brink of elimination (down 3-1 in the ALCS). But eventually they right the ship and play to their potential to reach the finals.
Much has been made of Colorado’s eight-day layoff from winning the NL pennant to Wednesday’s opener. Last year, the Tigers had a six-day layoff which preceded their five-game loss to the Cardinals.
As hot as Detroit was entering the Fall Classic a year ago, there’s no way to compare to what the Rockies have done over the last month and a half. Winning 13 of their last 14 regular season games, followed by a 7-0 postseason, the Rockies have more than earned the right to be here.
Boston has been named the early favorite, but trust, after reading this preview, you’ll see that this isn’t a one-team World Series. From Colorado’s Garrett Atkins to Boston’s Kevin Youkilis, we’ll take a comprehensive look.
So Todd Helton does get to play postseason ball at Fenway after all. The longtime Colorado star was rumored to going to Beantown during the spring. However, the emergence of Kevin Youkilis made all that trade talk null and void. Both players had solid seasons and kept it going during the postseason. Fenway favorite “Yoouk” was a bench player for the 2004 World Champs while Helton has been one of baseball’s best over the years in or out of Coors Field. When the games switch to Colorado, look for “Big Papi” to play first.
Boston’s Dustin Pedroia was one of baseball’s top rookies in 2006. While he slumped a bit in the ALDS and in the early part of the ALCS, he caught fire when the Bosox overcame their 3-1 deficit. Kaz Matsui has found a home in the Rockies. Away from the hype in New York, he hit a modest .280 for Colorado and was a catalyst for the three-game NLDS sweep of the Phillies. Both are spark plugs for their respective lineups, however Pedroia’s defense gives him the edge.
Edge: Red Sox.
Another rookie vs. veteran match up. Early in the season, Julio Lugo’s hitting woes was making Manny Mendoza look like Tony Gwynn. While he “jacked” his final average to .237, he was a disappointment for many from Red Sox nation. On the other side, if you haven’t seen or heard of Troy Tulowitzki’s glove work, you’re missing a lot. Another one of baseball’s best rookies, TT’s bat isn’t that much better than his counterpart, but his glove alone is enough to take the edge.
Two good glove men who have potent bats as well. Mike Lowell may be the most underrated player in Boston’s potent lineup. A former Gold Glover, Lowell’s .324 BA and 120 RBIs will make him an attractive free agent this winter. He’s also kept it up during the postseason with 11 RBIs. Garrett Atkins hit 25 HRs and drove in 111 runs during the regular season, but has been one of the few Rockies (.111) whose bat has been silent during their incredible run. Since Lowell already has a ring from his Marlin days, we’ll give him the nod.
Edge: Red Sox.
While left fielder Matt Holliday (.340, 137 RBIs) has been a leading candidate for the NL MVP, Manny Ramirez is still one of the game’s most clutch players. While many media wags are still caught up in his “who cares” comments, just look at his postseason numbers and tell them to shut the hell up. Center fielders Willy Taveras and Coco Crisp are similar with their speed and defense, however rookie Jacoby Ellsbury started the final two games of the ALCS and could very well be there again this week. J.D. Drew has been a disappointment for most Boston fans, but his grand slam in Game 6 may have earned a bit of a reprieve of their wrath for awhile. His counterpart Brad Hawpe is a bit of defensive liability, but his bat keeps him in the lineup.
Jason Varitek is one the AL’s best backstops. Despite just hitting .243 during the playoffs, the Boston captain is the club’s backbone and a stabilizing force behind the dish. Yorvit Torrealba is the epitome of the good fielding-light hitting catcher. However, he’s been a terror at the plate (.320) during the postseason and hit a clutch homer in the NLCS. Overall, you have to give Boston an edge.
Edge: Red Sox.
Colorado’s starters have performed incredibly during their run. But when you have to face two of the best modern day postseason pitchers back-to-back, it makes even the Rockies’ run pale in comparison. Yes, Jeff Francis has been stellar in both rounds, but Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling good for at least three wins between them. One intangible though: Colorado did hand Beckett his first loss of the season back in June. If they can repeat that feat, this series gets interesting. If not. Oh, well…..Ask the Angels and Indians.
Edge: Red Sox.
While the names of relievers Manny Corpas and LaTroy Hawkins may not strike fear into the hearts and bats of the Red Sox, but they have been stalwarts during the postseason. Corpas has recorded five saves and a win, while pitching to a 1.04 ERA. However, Boston’s overall pen has arguably been baseball’s best. With Hideki Okajima, Javier Lopez, and closer Jonathan Papelbon (37 saves, 1.85 ERA), this is just another match up that the Red Sox have the advantage in.
Edge: Red Sox.
On paper, this looks like this could be a short series with the Red Sox winning in four or five games. However, I do believe folks are selling the Rockies short. When the teams met at Fenway in June, Colorado took two out of three from the Red Sox by outscoring them 20-5. I do think the Bosox will win the series, but it’s going to the limit.
Pick: Boston in seven.