Now that we have covered the National League, now onto the American League with the ALDS preview. One of these four teams will have home field advantage in the World Series so the American League already has an advantage going into the Postseason.
The American League and the National League have traded the World Series trophy between the leagues the last couple of season. So if history should repeat itself all signs point to the World Series trophy returning to the American League. Even putting history aside you would have to figure that the favorites for the Championship come out of the American League. With three of the four teams holding some of the best records in Baseball it would appear on paper that this would be the more superior team so far this year.
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
Despite rooting for pinstripes my entire life you have to give credit where credit is do when it comes to these two franchises. For a better part of the decade these two teams have dominated the American League at different points making the postseason most of the time with three championships between the both of them in the last seven years.
When you look at these two teams on paper it appears these two teams are very similar with certain edges for each squad. The Red Sox will more then likely be going with the trio of Beckett, Lester and Buchholz while the Angels will be putting the trio of Saunders, Lackey and Kazmir. You have two of the three Red Sox starters with minimal playoff experience while only one of the Angels starters (Kazmir) has minimal playoff experience.
Pitching wins championships and putting a young starter on the mound in a nationally televised game in the Postseason can be beneficial or nerve-racking. That’s where the bullpen’s come in and just like their starters both teams are evenly matched with more of the edge going to the Red Sox. Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard could become the K-Rod/Adam Wainwright household name at the end of the playoffs. They are the future of the bullpen and having Papelbon as your closer isn’t too shabby (what is this the 90s?) either.
The Angles on the other hand have Brian Fuentes, the same Brian Fuentes who blew a save not to long ago in Fenway. Back when the four letter network was sold that the Angels mentally could not play in Boston and for the most part they were right. The Red Sox for the last five years have been inside this Angels squad’s head and that will be the story TBS/ESPN/MLB Network and anyone else who considers themselves to be a Baseball analyst will harp on for this entire series. The LA Angels can either use that criticism to fuel their fire or let it get to their heads and let the Red Sox slip right into the ALCS.
What doesn’t get talked about a lot in Baseball circles is how different this Red Sox team looks compared to the first half of the season. They had heart; they were dominating the American League (and the Yankees) and were on top of the world looking like they would coast to the World Series. Then the 2nd half hit and they became a different team, lost 9 of 10 to New York and walked into the playoffs by losing to the Toronto Blue Jays.
If the Angels were playing the first half Red Sox I’d go with the Red Sox. But since the 2nd half this team has played flat and I feel like the Angels will be playing to get people to stop saying that they “fear the Red Sox.” The Angels will play well but this is Boston and its October.
The Red Sox morph into a different team every postseason and usually play better then they did all year. While the Terry Francona/Mike Scioscia matchup is appealing; the Angels will have a tough time getting this “rally monkey” off their back again in the ALDS. The Red Sox are in just more of a competitive division then the Angels and are used to the “big game” atmosphere. It’s going to be a great series, quite possibly edging out the Cards/Dodgers series as the potential best Divisional Series matchup, but as much as it pains me I like the Boston Red Sox in 5 games.
Prediction: Boston Red Sox win series 3-2
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins
I told you in the beginning of the blog that I am a Yankee fan. If there is one sports franchise that I live and die with it is the New York Yankees. For the last couple years it has not been the greatest of times being a Yankee fan in October, especially last season. But for the first time in well a long time, I feel like this Yankee team may be the team to do it. 103 wins, an actual pitching rotation and hopefully 11 wins away from a championship.
But I digress from my Yankee homer banter to take a look at this five game set between the Yankees & Twins. The Yankees on paper clearly outmatch the Twins in every single category except hits off of a hefty trash bag. With that being said the Twins do have one thing going for them that we aren’t sure the Yankees have yet and that is the heart to win.
The Minnesota Twins are a team of who are you and you’re a major league ball player on their squad. The only noteable names on the roster that the everyday casual Baseball fan may know is Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau. That everyday casual Baseball fan doesn’t know Morneau is out for the season and then when that everyday casual Baseball fan finds out they are calling for a sweep by the Yankees. But I’m not writing this for the everyday casual Baseball fan and more importantly I’m sick of talking about everyday casual Baseball fan. Go back to watching Grey Anatomy!
Being the underdogs and being written out is what is going to motivate the Twins. They could either be the 2007 Colorado Rockies or the 2008 Chicago White Sox. The path they choose will be based in Game’s 1 & 2 as they face two reasons why the Yankees signed them in the offseason in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.
As we will hear over and over again, pitching wins Championships. A solid rotation and a shut down bullpen is what will win Championships in October. Add that “kick” of a perfect lineup and you will be rolling down the streets of the town you represent covered in “tickertape.”
That pitching that wins Championships is where the Twins are lacking. As it appears when I write this on Tuesday night @ 11:30pm ET (for those keeping score at home), that the Twins will make Brian Duensing (a rookie who only became a starter at the end of the season making 9 career starts before Wednesday’s Game 1) the Game 1 starter while it appears Twins ace (and I say that term loosely because the guy could be a #2 at best but more then likely #3 starter for most clubs not named the Nationals) Scott Baker will be the Game 2 starter. The two pitchers that Twins are putting up against the Yankees will be taking on CC SABATHIA AND AJ BURNETT. You know the two most coveted pitchers in last season’s free agency? Yeah that doesn’t look good.
While the “bad news bears” offense of the Minnesota Twins led by future AL MVP Joe Mauer takes on the solid “front to back” (wait, what?) offense of the New York Yankees. Morneau is not in that lineup there is no protection for Mauer unless you think Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel or still solid replacements for the former AL MVP. Believe me they are not. Mauer is going into this series knowing that he is going to have to put on a memorable game after game…after game for the rest of the Postseason.
With all those factors leading into this ALDS series I have got to my Yankee cap down off my head (while most of you don’t believe that I’m sure) and still say the Yankees will take this series. They have the offense, they have the pitching and they have the leadership to potentially reach the goal the Steinbrenners set every season (to fill the really expensive seats, I’m kidding its Goal #2) and bring home a Championship. Whether or not the Twins were playing the Yankees I respect and enjoy watching how well they have played to make it this far. That’s what will make them a team that won’t go down without a fight in the Postseason. But I will take my New York Yankees to defeat the Minnesota Twins in 4 games setting up what I’m predicting to be the “heart attack series” of the decade…again.
Prediction: Yankees win series 3-1
Let me know what you think of my picks for the ALDS! You can e-mail me at [email protected] or comment this blog! Check out The Wheelhouse every Sunday – Thursday LIVE @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse or at http://wheelhouseradio.wordpress.com.
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