Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Sportaholic World Series Preview: St.Louis Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals will do battle in the 2011 World Series. If you thought this would be your championship match-up raise your hand…… Yeah, that’s what I thought. Going in to this season the notion of thinking was that Philadelphia and Boston were 1 and 1A, but after the Red Sox monumental collapse thanks to beer, fried chicken and video games that didn’t even make it to the playoffs. The Phillies with their four aces of Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and Lee rolled through the regular season obtaining the best record in the major leagues at 102-60 only to get ousted in the opening round by a Cardinal team that needed Atlanta to basically disintegrate before our eyes and give up a 9 game lead to allow the Cards to play in October. This has been a unpredictable year as evident by the teams who made the playoffs.
I know its all about when your team gets hot but the Cardinals have took it to another level after barely making it in. St. Louis does a lot of things well and you have to if your managed by the legendary Tony La Russa. This team had plenty of chances to cave in but they stuck to their guns and the results could be all that they asked for. They had so many setbacks with the Adam Wainwright injury to start the season and the elephant in the room known as the Albert Pujols contract negotiation. This is a team of resolve as they have proved all season that when you think their done, then they become their best.
The Rangers on the other hand probably have been the most consistent team in baseball all year. Led by their sluggers of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz they are have been dominant at teams especially in this post-season run. Cruz has been red hot as he belted a ALCS record 6 homers and 15 RBIs. He carried the Rangers past Detroit but he is but one of Texas’s big bats in that lineup. The Rangers go about seven deep in their lineup with Ian Kinsler, Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Cruz, Elvis Andrus, and David Murphy. This is the Rangers second straight trip to the World Series. Last year the Giants were the team that got hot at the right time and were able to take down the Rangers big bats with superior pitching. Is that an omen for them this year, guess we will have to find out.
Now lets take a look at who has the advantages in the major categories of pitching, offense, defense, coaching and intangibles
Pitching: St .Louis ace Chris Carpenter has been a mixed bag in the post-season so far. He pitched a gem going 9 innings while giving up no runs in the NLDS against good friend and perennial Cy Young candidate Roy Hallady to get the Cards past the Phillies. He didn’t fare as well in last start against Milwaukee as he gave up 3 runs in just five innings against the Brewers. If he is on his game, he can be the difference maker in this series as he is one of the best pitchers in the game when he is on. The rest of St.Louis’ staff consists of decent starters in Jamie Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, and Jake Westbrook. None of these guys have the shut down capability that Carpenter does which makes so important to the Cardinals. The bullpen struggled for most of the season until they seemed to settle in their roles. Arthur Rhodes and Octavio Dotel were added at the trade deadline and have stabilized the pen. Mark Rzepczynski also deserves credit but the biggest difference was when Jason Motte was promoted to closer. He throws hard and has no fear so of course he is perfect for the closer role.
Edge: Cardinals. The Cards have the best pitcher in this series with Chris Carpenter and their bullpen is just as good if not even better than the Rangers. The most intriguing thing about Texas’s rotation is that none of their starting pitchers won a game in the ALCS. Think about that one for a second
The Rangers counter with a loaded lineup from top to bottom. There are no easy outs with these guys. They will bash you from 1-9 with reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and most notably this postseason Nelson Cruz. The thing about this team is that they also can hit for average and do the little things that make their hitting even that much more effective. Any of their guys can get hot at any moment and with all the good hitters they have, they are always protected.