John Donovan
Wednesday October 24th, 2007

Catcher (All stats are from 2007 postseason)
Yorvit Torrealba, Rockies Jason Varitek, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.320 .414 .520 1 7 5 .243 .300 .432 1 5 4
The normally light-hitting Torrealba is hitting .320 this postseason and helped push the Rocks into the World Series with a three-run homer off Arizona's Livan Hernandez in Game 3 of the NLCS, a series that the Rocks eventually swept. Not a big threat to throw anybody out, he's still solid behind the plate and someone the young Colorado staff trusts. No catcher in the game is more respected for his handling of a staff than Varitek. He's not the hitter that he was three or four years ago. Power-wise, he doesn't stack up to the best catchers in the game, and he strikes out more than most. But he has a good eye and will take a walk, and defensively, he's still fine, ranking somewhere in the middle in his ability to gun down runners.
Edge: Red Sox
First Base
Todd Helton, Rockies Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.154 .233 .231 0 1 4 .425 .489 .825 4 9 13
In the first postseason of his career, Helton is finding the going a little tough with just four hits in the Rockies' seven playoff games. He's not much of a power hitter any more. But he takes walks (more than any first baseman in the NL), making him a hard guy to get around in the middle of the Colorado lineup. The three-time Gold Glover is average, at best, these days around the bag. A bruised wrist slowed down Youk late in the season, but he's come alive in October, hitting .425 with four home runs and sporting an on-base percentage approaching .500. In the ALCS against Cleveland, he was 14-for-28. Hitting out of the No. 2 hole, Youk is the perfect setup man for David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. On the bag, he played errorless ball in the regular season.
Edge: Red Sox
Second Base
Kaz Matsui, Rockies Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.310 .375 .586 1 8 4 .286 .348 .476 1 6 10
His grand slam against the Phillies in the NL Division Series began a very good postseason for Matsui, who also has a pair of triples and an on-base percentage of .375 in seven playoff games. Matsui, a switch-hitter, is normally a gap hitter without great power, even in the thin air of Coors Field. But he can run (32 steals in '07), and he's better than average in the field. Pedroia turned a slow postseason start into a torrid finish, just the way he likes to operate. In the final three games of the ALCS, Pedroia batted 7-for-15 (.467) with a home run, three doubles, five runs and five RBIs. He doesn't have typical speed for a leadoff man, but he gets on (.380 OBP this season). In the field, he has good range and makes a good turn on double plays.
Edge: Red Sox
Third Base
Garrett Atkins, Rockies Mike Lowell, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.185 .241 .259 0 1 3 .333 .372 .528 1 11 4
Hitting behind Helton and in front of Brad Hawpe, Atkins got on base plenty this season and knocked in a lot of runs. He's fought his swing this postseason, though, hitting just .185 in the seven games. But he's capable, as his regular-season numbers (.301 avg., 25 homers) show. He doesn't have the greatest range around third, but he has a pretty good arm. Having one of the best all-around seasons of an all-around good career, Lowell has capped off '07 by hitting .333 this postseason, with 11 RBIs in 10 games. On the Sox, only Ramirez has more (14). Lowell's plenty good with the glove, too, but his real value is being part of that 1-2 right-handed punch (with Ramirez) between lefties Ortiz and J.D. Drew.
Edge: Red Sox
Shortstop
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies Julio Lugo, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.179 .233 .321 1 2 2 .229 .270 .286 0 2 5
Strong-armed rookie Tulowitzki is scuffling in the postseason, hitting .179 with 10 strikeouts in seven games. It's only a matter of time, though, until he starts to hit. In the meantime, his range and arm strength at shortstop have been dazzling. He has a rare ability to throw on the run, accurately and strongly, which makes him the most integral part of the Rockies' defense. Lugo is in this lineup for his defense, and even that was a little suspect during Game 7 of the ALCS, when he dropped a popup that could have been disastrous. Taking his place down in the bottom of the order, Lugo has hit .229 this postseason with nine strikeouts. He has some speed when he gets on base. The problem, of course, is getting there.
Edge: Rockies
Left Field
Matt Holliday, Rockies Manny Ramirez, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.286 .333 .714 4 7 5 .400 .578 .833 4 14 8
The NL MVP in Waiting -- or, at least, a strong candidate -- Holliday has had a very good October so far, with four homers and a 1.048 OPS. He's a much better hitter in Coors than on the road -- a 1.157 OPS vs. .860 -- but he's capable of going deep anywhere, against anyone, and Fenway should be his kind of park. He's good in the outfield, too, though the Green Monster could be tricky. Nobody plays the smallish Boston left field like Manny, who gunned down the Indians' still-speedy Kenny Lofton, trying to stretch a Fenway wall ball from a single into a double, in Game 7 of the ALCS. Ramirez is swinging the bat very well, with four homers among his 12 hits this postseason. He's so dangerous, and with such a good eye, that he's been walked 14 times in 10 playoff games.
Edge: Red Sox
Center Field
Willy Taveras, Rockies Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.167 .250 .222 0 1 3 .222 .300 .222 0 1 4
Sidelined by a pulled side for a good part of the end of the regular season, Taveras returned in the NLCS to much fanfare. His speed, especially on defense in the vast expanses of Coors, demands respect. But as his numbers show, he's not a particularly good hitter, and in the NLCS, leading off, he had just three hits in 18 at-bats. That's not a good way to get the lineup on track. Ellsbury edged his way into a starting job in the last two games of the ALCS, pushing out the ineffective Coco Crisp. Ellsbury has a much higher upside, with some power in his bat, though he has yet to show it in the postseason. Crisp, more experienced in the field, could come in as a defensive replacement late. But if the game's close, expect Ellsbury and his bat to remain in the lineup.
Edge: Rockies
Right Field
Brad Hawpe, Rockies J.D. Drew, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.304 .467 .304 0 2 3 .306 .324 .417 1 9 6
An underappreciated slugger with numbers to match some of the best outfielders around, Hawpe shows a willingness to take a walk along with his left-handed power. (He has a team-high seven walks this postseason.) He has yet to break out the big stick for the postseason. All seven of his hits are singles. But that short porch in Fenway's left field will be awfully inviting. Finally looking aggressive, the low-key Drew powered the Sox with a grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS. This postseason, he has 11 hits in 36 at-bats. His walks and on-base percentages have suffered -- he has only one walk in October -- but the Sox will take the added power, without question. He's a more than capable outfielder, with an above average arm.
Edge: Red Sox
Designated Hitter
Ryan Spilborghs, Rockies David Ortiz, Red Sox
BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R BA OBP SLG HR RBIs R
.300 .462 .300 0 0 3 .387 .543 .774 3 6 12
The Rockies will probably go with Spilborghs or, if they think a lefty would fit, Seth Smith. Spilborghs is the clear choice, and is very good against lefties, but considering the Sox don't have a lefty starter, that's not going to come into play much. Smith had a big hit in the NLCS, but he's very raw, with only eight regular-season at-bats. You don't get much more dangerous than Ortiz, who led all DHs with a 1.066 OPS, tied for the DH home run lead (35, with Jim Thome) and drove in 117 runs for the Sox. Hitting ahead of Ramirez, he sees plenty of pitches. He eats up right-handers -- he has more walks than strikeouts against them -- but he's not a slouch against lefties, either. They'll miss him in Denver if he sits for the non-DH games.
Edge: Red Sox
Rotation
Pitcher W-L ERA SO BB Pitcher W-L ERA SO BB
Francis 2-0 2.13 12 3 Beckett 3-0 1.17 26 1
Jimenez 0-0 1.59 11 8 Schilling 2-0 3.38 12 1
Fogg 2-0 1.13 4 1 Matsuzaka 1-1 5.65 12 5
Cook -- -- -- -- Lester 0-0 4.91 5 1
Lefty Jeff Francis should have quieted most critics with his postseason thus far. He throws harder than you'd think, he's smart and he's totally unaffected. Rookie Ubaldo Jimenez is a hard thrower with not a lot of fear (a 1.59 ERA in two starts). Aaron Cook (8-7 with a 4.12 ERA this season) is healthy again and will slip into the rotation instead of Morales (5.14 ERA in two starts). Josh Fogg (1.13 ERA) has had one start this postseason. Nobody's been better than Josh Beckett this postseason (3-0, 1.17). And Curt Schilling's last start, in Game 6 of the ALCS, was superb (six hits, two runs, seven innings). After that, though, things get dicey, with Daisuke Matsuzaka (5.65 ERA in three starts) and young lefty Jon Lester. Beckett's an almost guaranteed two wins in this series. Schilling, when rested, is a pretty good bet for another. After that, it's scramble time for the Sox. Hey, that plan worked in the ALCS all right.
Edge: Red Sox
Bullpen
Pitcher SV ERA IP SO BB Pitcher SV ERA IP SO BB
Corpas 5 1.04 8.2 6 0 Papelbon 1 0.00 6.1 4 4
Fuentes 0 4.50 6.0 10 3 Okajima 0-0 7.1 0.00 5 3
Hawkins 0 0.00 3.0 1 1 Delcarmen 0 9.00 3.0 4 2
Closer Manny Corpas and setup man Brian Fuentes appeared in all seven of Colorado's postseason games. Corpas gave up one run in 8 2/3 innings. Lefty Fuentes was equally as good -- maybe better -- until a blowup in Game 4 of the NLCS, when he gave up three runs on four hits. LaTroy Hawkins might be better than both; he hasn't given up a run in three postseason innings. Boston's Jonathan Papelbon went two innings for the first time in his career in Game 7 of the ALCS. He's allowed three hits in 6 1/3 innings this October without allowing a run. Lefty setup man Hideki Okajima looks tired at times, but he hasn't given up a run in 7 1/3. Manny Delcarmen got hit pretty hard in his last outing, Game 4 of the ALCS. But he should be rested, at least.
Edge: Rockies
Defense
The strength of the Rockies is their defense. They had fewer errors in 2007 (68) than any team in either league. They're very good up the middle -- Matsui and Tulowitzki are a solid double-play combo -- smart in the wide-open outfield of Coors with pretty good arms, at least, all around. The Sox are no slouches with the leather, either. They're very good all around. Youkilis is outstanding at first base. And though Ramirez is sometimes an adventure in left field, it's his adventure at home in Fenway. In Coors, though, it could be ugly for the Sox and Ramirez.
Edge: Rockies
Bench
Colorado's pinch-hitters had the third-lowest OPS in the NL. But Smith had a two-run bloop double in Game 4 of the NLCS. Righty Jeff Baker has two hits in three postseason at-bats. Cory Sullivan is another lefty off the bench. With Ellsbury in center, the Sox have Crisp and Bobby Kielty riding the pine; neither has much power. Kielty is a switch-hitter, but much better from the right side. From the left side, in the DH-less NL park in Denver, the Sox could turn to Ortiz in a pinch.
Edge: Red Sox
Manager
How can you knock a guy like Clint Hurdle, who has taken a team that nobody expected to get this far ... this far? He's had his challenges, such as that 1-9 road trip in late June and being two games behind with two to play. But he's kept his team playing hard. And this is where it's brought him. As much second guessing as Terry Francona endures -- it's a part of his job as a top dog in the Nation -- it's hard to argue with the results. Maybe Tito was a little slow in getting Ellsbury in for Crisp. Maybe he should have thrown Beckett more often in the postseason. Whatever. They win.
Edge: Red Sox
Intangibles
In Coors Field and Fenway Park, we have two of the funkiest parks in the big leagues, both favoring hitters but both providing huge tests for outfielders. You have to be able to run in the outfield at Coors and maneuver the trickiness of Fenway. Those will come into play. But how? Of more concern, at least immediately, is the long layoff for the Rockies (they last played Oct. 15). That's probably a negative for them, especially as hot as they've been. As for the Sox, they'll have to adjust to an Ortiz-less lineup at Coors. That's a huge subtraction for them.
Edge: Even
The Pick
At some point in a winning streak, people start thinking about the "law of averages" catching up. It hasn't yet, and we can't discount the confidence that the Rockies have built after winning 10 straight and 21 of 22. The Rockies are for real, with a strong lineup and a couple of starters that could give the Red Sox some trouble and a very fine back end of the bullpen. That said, the Rockies haven't faced any team yet with the strength and depth of the Sox. Boston's comeback in the ALCS was impressive. I didn't think the Sox could do it. But they did. So now, I think they can win it all, for the second time in four years. Wow. I'm saying the Red Sox win in five games.

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