Thursday, October 15, 2009

Angels vs. Spanks - an ALCS preview

Trying to do a position by position guide - I'm rooting for the Angels to go meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, though it doesn't mean it is going to happen.

First base - Yankees

Mark Teixeira is a switch-hitting power hitter who is also a Gold Glover at first base - I wouldn't bet against him, but I won't be rooting for him.

Kendry Morales has proven at least for one season, he can be a prime-time player - if he can be patient and tap into his power, he can be a difference maker. While he doesn't exactly give at-bats away, he tends to hack at pitches.

Second base - Yankees

Robinson Cano may have perceived 'lack of focus' issues - is a dominant offensive players at his position.

Maicer Izturis just does about everything fundamentally sound, whether it is on defense or at the plate - he doesn't look like much, but he is solid all-around.

Howie Kendrick bounced back from an early-season slump to give the Angels a boost offensively - can he get into some games where he can contribute?

Shortstop - Yankees

Hard to go against Derek Jeter here since Jeter seems like the most conscientious guy on the field - meaning he may make an error, Teixeira may make him look better than he is, but he isn't going to make a bonehead play.

At the plate, he may not have the juice to hit for power - but he keeps the lineup going, peppering base hits all over and hitting a home run once in a while.

Erick Aybar can be a top of the lineup ignitor if he works pitchers - at times he has a tendency to overswing at pitches and he has the most success if he is a little more selective and not to take a big hack at everything.

Aybar is probably a little more athletic on defense and maybe the biggest difference from the beginning of the year to now is his confidence - is he isn't afraid to make the acrobatic play, the do-or-die play or come up with some insane play, only the true athletes on the field can be capable of.

Third base - Yankees

Alex Rodriguez is putting his Yankees postseason ghosts in the rearview mirror just by being one of the guys and maybe it helps his psyche - the fact he can enjoy himself without a circus in tow, allows him to focus one at-bat at a time.

Chone Figgins is a different player all together - Figgins hasn't hit, but he can help the Angels by playing Gold Glove defense at third base. He needs to continue to be patient enough to take his walks and be aggressive on the base paths.

Left field - even up

Juan Rivera provides much power - though at times tends to be overlooked.

Johnny Damon has enjoyed a resurgent season - though he might be showing some rust.

Center field - Angels

Torii Hunter pretty much does it all on defense and has refined his batting stroke
- he makes adjustments depending on the situation, seemingly wearing pitchers out by fouling off pitches he can't quite handle. He doesn't always take his walks and seems like a 'swing first' type of batter.

Melky Cabrera is not as good as Hunter is - though a better player than fans have given credit for in the past.

Right field - Angels

Bobby Abreu just gives the Halos professional at-bats- he may not hit for power anymore, but he can take pitches, take walks and get base hits.

He has gotten a bad rap on defense, but it seems he is just a little bit more conscientious with the Angels - playing for a team that values fundamentals instead of merely letting the veteran guys play on their own.

Nick Swisher is a rah-rah type of guy in the dugout - but he has power/patience combination working at the plate this past year, so he isn't just some class clown to laugh at.

Catchers - Yankees

Jorge Posada is underrated somewhat - there were grumblings about his deficiences on defense, especially when A.J. Burnett prefers Jose Molina to be his personal catcher. However, the most important thing is Posada is still a proven professional who can still hit. It isn't like he turned into Jason Varitek and can't do anything to help a team anymore.

Jeff Mathis - good athlete, supposedly good handler of pitchers, but he hasn't played enough to really produce decent offensive numbers.

Mike Napoli - supposedly has sealed up some of his deficiencies behind the plate, but his power at the plate defines him as a player. If he doesn't hit, he shouldn't play.

Designated hitter - Yankees

Hideki Matsui is still a dangerous bat lurking on the bench - guy capable of giving you solid at-bats and delivering key hits.

Vladimir Guerrero - consistently give him pitches to hit over the plate and he can still turn on them, but he doesn't seem to catch up with the junk he likes so much from his nose to his toes.

Bench - Angels

Angels have many options off the bench - Napoli maybe a more valuable guy coming off the bench because he has some patience and can hit for power. Then you have the possibility of Izturis/Kendrick, depending on who sits, Robb Quinlan, Gary Matthews Jr. and Reggie Willits.

Do the Yankees really need a bench [?] - Brett Gardner is probably their No. 1 guy off it, as more of a top-of-the-lineup kind of hitter. Other than that, who else is there? Jerry Hairston Jr. or Francisco Cervelli? Jorge Posada if he isn't playing when Burnett starts?

Starting pitchers - Angels

John Lackey - ace of the staff with the bulldog attitude to match.
Joe Saunders - he can't be anymore worse than Andy Pettitte
Jered Weaver - he was the ace of the staff in 2009.
Scott Kazmir - he didn't do too well in his ALDS start against the Boston Red Sox, but he has great stuff.

The Yankees counter with three guys and a question mark.

C.C. Sabathia - he wants to desperately prove he is a money guy in October and the fate of the Yankees in the ALCS depends on how good he does on Friday.
A.J. Burnett - probably the best stuff on the Yankees' pitching staff, he can be unhittable, but also out of control.
Andy Pettitte - never been impressed with him, though he doesn't seem like the stiff I assume he's been for the last several years. He is a guy who is going to win games because he plays for a winner, but who throws slop and has an ERA of 4 and up.
Joba or Chad Gaudin ? - seems like the Yankees are one competent starter too short.

Bullpen - Yankees

Anytime you have Mariano Rivera as a back-of-the game anchor - you take the Yankees team that has him.

Phil Hughes has enjoyed a breakout season as Rivera's set-up man - though it might be in the short-term.

Who else will be able to trot out [?] - Joba? Gaudin? Phil Coke? Connor Robertson?

For the Angels, Darren Oliver solidifies the bullpen - but at times even closer Brian Fuentes is shaky, leaving little room for error in the late innings.


The Yankees seem like a machine and it remains to be seen if the Angels can match up game-per-game - with their brand of baseball, which is good starting pitching, good defense, aggressive baserunning and just the right number of run-scoring hits here and there.

The Angels bats have to give their pitchers the opportunities to fight through up-and-down, back-and-forth games - if they find themselves trailing, then the Angels' speed and aggressiveness doesn't work as well.

With the Yankees' ability to put a bunch of runs up at any point - the Angels pitchers have to avoid the big inning and hopefully the Angels bats can come through.

No comments: