• Yankees Bloggers Pre-Playoffs Predictions

    Posted by on September 25th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    A couple of days ago, I made the following post-season prediction for the Yankees:

    In a best of five, both the Indians and Angels present problems for the Yankees.

    However, if New York can win their ALDS, I like their chances in the ALCS. If it’s Boston, we know the Yankees can match-up with them. And, if it’s the Angels or Indians, I think the Yankees have a better shot against them when it’s “need to win four out of seven” – because then New York can pound on those less-than-great pitchers who will be forced into some game action against the Yanks.

    And, as far as the World Series, I think the Yankees can hold their own against whoever the National League wants to throw in there.

    But, getting past the ALDS is still key for New York – and perhaps the biggest challenge they will face this October.

    After, that, I was curious as to what other Yankees Bloggers thought. So, I asked. Here’s what they had to say:

    From Tony Gicas of Bronx Liaison:

    The success of the Yankees may well depend on who they draw in the LDS. Should the Boston Red Sox hold on to clinch the AL East division, New York would draw the best record between Cleveland or Los Angeles. As I write, the Indians are one up in the loss column over the Angels. Although I do not believe Cleveland to be as much of a pushover as many are assuming, they are certainly a more favorable opponent considering New York’s poor track record against the Angels. The Angels and Indians each have two stud starters. John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar for Los Angeles, and C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona for Cleveland. Though it’s debatable which twosome is better, the running game that Mike Scioscia implements combined with their strong bullpen and confidence when facing pinstripes are reason enough to avoid them in playoff competition.

    On the other hand, the Yankees can outslug the Indians, close with Mariano Rivera against Joe Borowksi, and boast a more balanced starting rotation. Late inning horses Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez have been outstanding, but they’re young and inexperienced. Though the Angels strike fear into the heart of Yankee fans, the Red Sox have no such problems. Boston would outpitch and outhit Los Angeles, creating the matchup which forces all of baseball to take notice.

    After winning the season series and taking eight of the last ten again Boston, the Bombers have collected a reservoir of confidence to build on should the storied rivals meet again in postseason play. The Yankees have overthrown the unbeatable tandem of Papelbon and Okajima, watched Eric Gagne become a puddle of blown saves, and presented a much more potent lineup. At times, they’ve outclassed Boston’s best starting pitching and saw their late-inning relievers – Rivera, Vizcaino, Chamberlain – gain confidence in big spots. Though it’s probably already pretty evident, a LDS of New York versus Cleveland would force me to send the Yankees through to the World Series, beating the Tribe and Bosox along the way.

    From YF of Yanksfan vs Soxfan:

    Not the faintest idea. And wouldn’t trust anyone who thinks they have one. As in 2003 and 2004, if the Yanks and Sox end up in the ALCS, I suspect that will be more interesting than the World Series.

    From Patrick O’Keefe of YanksBlog.com:

    I’ll take the Yankees to win it all because I think we’ve got the best conglomeration of offense, pitching and depth that we’ve had in a while. Let’s start with pitching. In the last 3 postseason series’ that we lost, here is who we started:

    2006: Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright.
    2005: Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Randy Johnson and Shawn Chacon.
    2004: Mike Mussina, Jon Lieber, Javier Vazquez, Orlando Hernandez and Kevin Brown.

    This year: Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina (probably).

    Looking at it from the point of where they all are/were in their careers, this could be the best rotation of the bunch. Perhaps more importantly – it has the best 1-2 punch of them all, given the way that Wang and Pettitte have pitched this season.

    The bullpen is the same. In those same 3 series, here are the relievers that threw in more than 1 game:

    2006: Scott Proctor, Brian Bruney and Kyle Farnsworth.
    2005: Al Leiter, Mariano Rivera, Tom Gordon, Scott Proctor and Tanyon Sturtze.
    2004: Mariano Rivera, Tom Gordon, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Quantrill, Tanyon Sturtze and Felix Heredia.

    Our bullpen this year is going to have Chris Britton, Joba Chamberlain, Kyle Farnsworth, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Mariano Rivera and Luis Vizcaino. Again, looking at where they all are in their careers, when the Joba Rules get ripped up, you have the best 2 man setup team of all in Vizcaino and Chamberlain, I’d have to say. The only one that’s close is probably Proctor and Bruney, based strictly on Bruney’s hot numbers coming into last year’s postseason. In the other two, you had poor regular season numbers from Proctor, Sturtze, Quantrill and Heredia. In Hughes and Kennedy, you also have better long relief in case Clemens or Moose comes out early in one of their games. We won’t have to give those innings to pitchers like Cory Lidle, Aaron Small, Randy Johnson (well, OK, that one wasn’t bad in 2005), Javier Vazquez and Esteban Loaiza. I’ll take my chances with Kennedy and Hughes over that assortment.

    On top of that, we’ve got the offense, too. They lead the league in runs scored (the closest playoff team is the Red Sox and the difference is around 80) and runs scored from the 7th inning on (again, closest playoff team is the Sox, about 15 away). The team hits for average (best in baseball), slugs it (best slugging percentage in baseball) and steals bases (7th in baseball, 4th in AL). We’ve got a solid bench, too, with the best backup catcher we’ve had in years as well as Betemit, Damon, Giambi and Mientkiewicz (depending on who’s playing where that day). And we’re playing good baseball right now. There is not a team right now that you can look at and say they are that much better than us. So, I think we can play with anyone. Of course, we’ll see what happens when we actually play the games.

    From Andrew Fletcher of Scott Proctor’s Arm:

    If the Yankees play the Indians and Red Sox in the first two rounds, they could easily make the World Series. They have the pitching and lineup to finally be successful in October. The Yankees are also better than all of the contending NL teams.

    I predict that the Yankees will beat the Cubs in six games for their 27th world championship.

    From Mike NYY of River Avenue Watch:

    I think the Yankees will go down in the first round but if they can slip through the first round than I think they can win the World Series. The Angels and Indians both have better pitching than the Yankees and better bullpens but if they can make it through there and they face Boston in the ALCS they match up well with Boston. If they face the other team in the ALCS I think their chances go down a lot. IMO they’re also better than any NL team.

    From Rebecca of This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes:

    The Yankees have the potential to go all the way this year, and more so than in recent years. They have a combination of young and vets that you get maybe once in a generation and the similarities to the ’96 team are uncanny.

    That being said, the Yankees will face the toughest challenge from the Angels, and if they lose in the playoffs, it will most likely be to them. The Yanks’ bullpen is also a question mark; aside from Viz, Joba and Mo everyone else is either great when on or horrible when not.

    However, I still think the Yankees will take home the prize!

    Yep. Eternally optimistic here!

    From E.J. Fagan of Pending Pinstripes:

    I feel better about the Yankees this year than any other year since 2004 in the post-season. Yankee starting pitching is deeper than any other year since. Instead of Randy Johnson starting Game 3, we have Roger Clemens. Instead of Mike Mussina game 2, we have Andy. In addition, I think that Joba Chamberlain gives us a tremendous advantage out of the bullpen. It’s easy to underestimate how much a 7th inning, bases loaded strikeout can do for a team.

    But really, this is all moot. The biggest factor in the post-season for the Yankees? Alex Rodriguez is due. That’s a dangerous player to be due.

    From Travis G. of New York Yankees etc.:

    A tough one, because I have a hard time differentiating between my subjective love of the Yankees and an objective view of their chances. Subjectively, they could go all the way if they get good starting pitching – the offense is there, the bullpen (read Joba, Mo) is there, but will they have a lead to protect? If the starters pitch the way they are capable of, I feel confident in this team adding number 27 to the exterior of Yankee Stadium.

    Objectively, the starters will be a problem – Pettitte, despite his ‘veteraness’ has been known to implode during playoff games (2001 WS game 6, 2002 LDS game 1, etc.), and Wang can only be counted on at home (a career era difference of 1.6 runs, a big problem if the Yanks don’t have homefield), Clemens is 45 and (ala David Wells) capable of pulling/straining/tweaking something at any time, and Mussina, despite recent success, has a 4.96 era on the year. That’s the main problem, but if the offense can keep them close (which I expect), Joba and Mo can shut down the other team from the 7th inning on (much like Mo and Wetteland in ’96), giving the offense more chances to score than the opponent. This hinges on Joba/Mo being better than the opposing bullpen, which is not a certainty but certainly possible. In conclusion, it’s all about the starting pitching – if it’s effective, the Yanks will go far, if not it’s another early exit. (For the record, I’d rather lose the division and play Cleveland in the LDS than have the best record – and homefield throughout – and play Anaheim in round one.) Go Yanks!

    From Brent Nycz of MVN – The Bronx Block:

    I think the Yankees will win the ALDS, either by beating the Indians or the Angels. However, going into the ALCS, I believe the Yankees’ feverish run to even make the playoffs (and possibly, winning the division) may take its toil by the ALCS, losing to the winner of the ALDS against the Red Sox in 6 games. The postseason chances will fall on the shoulders of the bullpen arms from Mariano to Luis to Joba. The less the Yankees see of Edwar Ramirez and Kyle Farnsworth among others, the further they will go in the playoffs. With all that said, the Yankees have themselves set for a stronger World Series run for 2008, and due to the young’uns stepping up, for 2009 as well and beyond.

    From Sean McNally of Replacement Level Yankees Weblog:

    Going in, it looks like they are going to wind up the Wild Card, which is fine. Streaks of division titles come and go, and in this era of the open tournament, just getting into the dance is all you need. Heck, since 2002 at least one of the teams in the World Series was the Wild Card winner. The playoffs are much more like the NCAA tournament now – or at least that’s what the ethos should be – survive and advance.

    As for how they’ll do, a lot depends on who they’ll face and in which series they face them (the 7-day or the 8-day). Given that right now it looks like Cleveland, we’ll assume they’ll pick the 8-day tilt so they get to throw Carmona and Sabathia twice (if necessary), so that works to the Yankees advantage in two ways: they avoid Anaheim in a short series and they get to throw Wang and Pettitte twice, with a dash of Rocket and/or Moose in there somewhere.

    I think they win a series against the Tribe and the past two seasons bear that out: New York is 14-6 against Cleveland in that time and 6-0 this season. Heck, even Kei Igawa beat them. In games this year, the Indians hit .228/290/.345 (think Tony Womack) while the Yankees hit .348/.396/.588 (think A-Rod).

    So if they advance to the LCS, they’ll be on the road again, and face the winner of Boston and Anaheim, well the team that wins, because honestly, when those two face off there are no winners – just a lot of losers and a lot of red.

    I think they can beat the Angels in a seven-game series. I know they can beat Boston in one. So in this rare circumstance, I’m rooting for Boston.

    Then in the World Series, c’mon – at the risk of angering the ghost of Tony LaRussa and Jack McKeon – it’s the Junior Varsity, what could possibly go wrong?

    So this is supposed to be a prediction, well unlike Steve, I’m a hopeless optimist so I’ll say, in the words of Jake Taylor, they’ll win the whole f*@#$%in thing. Besides, the Yankees haven’t won a World Series in my son’s lifetime (born Aug. 8, 2007) and that’s just not right.

    From Dan LaTorraca of Pinstripes PA:

    ALDS:
    Yankees over Indians,3-2
    Red Sox over Angels, 3-1

    ALCS:
    Yankees over Red Sox,4-2

    World Series:
    Yankees over Cubs,4-2

    P.S. – It’s not that I’m biased, its just that the Yankees have played the best during the second half.

    From Jen of No Sense Worrying:

    If they can make it past the ALDS I like their chances to make it to the Series. The bullpen scares me a bit. Ok, it scares me a lot. But I think they can find ways to win regardless. As long as they don’t draw the Angels in the Division series that is. I don’t want to see them in a short series again, nothing good can come of that.

    Well, there you have it – a fair mixture of confidence and concern over the Yankees post-season chances this October. On the whole, it’s probably he best way to look at it – expect nothing and be prepared for everything!

    Thanks to all my fellow Yankees Bloggers for taking the time to share some thoughts on this topic. Your kindness is very much appreciated.

    Comments on Yankees Bloggers Pre-Playoffs Predictions

    1. Don
      September 25th, 2007 | 2:28 pm

      The Indians middle relief has been excellent.

    2. September 25th, 2007 | 3:02 pm

      Oh, I agree they have a sturdy pen, but I feel that the Yankees have a potent enough offense to work past it.

      Their combination of Rafel Perez and Betencort, plus a strong second half from Joe Borrowski could spell post-season sucess for the Tribe. That being said, the Yankees have been able to find success against the Indians over the course of the season, and I think they can do it again.

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