The Manuel on Charlie Manuel
It seemed that Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel was sleepwalking during the NLCS, the crusty old skipper appearing to forget that the rule against using all 25 players in a playoff game was changed in 1909. He managed the NLCS like it was an annoying formality on the way to another Philly World Series.
It’s hard to remember a more badly mismanaged playoff series during the modern era: a number of righty-lefty pitcher/hitter match-ups ignored, costing the Phillies runs; the Phils’ line-up changed, then changed again, in mid-series because of media criticism; endless base runners not sacrificed into scoring position; pitcher Roy Oswalt allowed to make the decision that he was going to pitch the 9th inning in Game 4, which the Giants immediately untied and won; the inability to decide just where lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins should bat. And so on.
Thanks to his performance in the NLCS, Manuel has turned into the opposite of The Most Interesting Man in the World. When having soup for lunch, he often uses a fork; he thinks the 7th inning stretch is something that happens in the middle of nap time; he thought Barry Bonds would be a good post-season hitting coach for slugger Ryan Howard; to prepare for the NLCS, he asked the Commissioner which NL ballpark would be using the DH this year.
“I don’t often drink beer for breakfast, but when I do… “.
The Texas Rangers Meet The Machine
The biggest factor in the first two games of the World Series will likely be the partnership of AT&T Park and the San Francisco Giants’ celebrated pitching staff. The Giants in their spacious home park have a reputation for shutting the door on strong offenses and frustrating the most feared power hitters.
This season, the Phillies were 7th out of 30 MLB teams with 772 runs scored– Texas was 5th overall with 787 runs scored. But during three NLCS games at AT&T Park the Phils scored only 9 runs and lost two games. The Rangers will have to demonstrate quickly they can adjust both offensively and defensively in San Francisco’s large yard. Specifically, “Triples Alley” some 421 feet deep in right center field will be a challenge for Texas hitters and for DH/right fielder Vladimir Guerrero.
How WiIl the Giants’ Line-up Do Against Cliff Lee?
Oddly enough, this season and post-season San Francisco Giant hitters tended to do well against the NL’s best plate-covering strike-throwers. Here are some of the top National League starters the Giants tagged with losses this year:
— three against the Astros’/Phils’ Roy Oswalt (4/5, 5/15, 6/22);
— the Cards’ Adam Wainwright (4/24);
— the Phils’ Roy Halladay (4/26);
— the Phils’ Cole Hamels (8/19);
— the Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez (9/1; the Giants also got 7 earned runs off Jimenez on 7/3, in a game the Giants
won but in which Jimenez did not get the loss);
— two against the Padres’ Mat Latos (9/12, 10/3).
Cliff Lee is an excellent pitcher who is hitting his stride and will be very tough in his Series starts. But the Giants’ line-up is full of free-swinging extra base hitters who cover the plate (and sometimes try to cover a large area around the plate).
Also, it may surprise some people to learn that Cliff Lee did not go 20-0 this season. In fact, Lee was 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA; he gave up 195 hits in 212.1 innings.
Who Will Win the 2010 World Series?
The Giants will take the Series in six games.
The Texas Rangers had a team batting average of .276 in the regular season, they were 7th among 30 MLB teams with 123 steals (the Giants were 30th with 55 SB). But the Rangers did not routinely face a pitching staff anywhere near the quality of the Giants’ staff. Of the top seven team ERAs in the Majors this year, six are National League teams:
1. San Francisco 3.36
2. San Diego 3.39
3. Atlanta 3.56
4. Oakland 3.56
5. St. Louis 3.57
6. Philadelphia 3.67
7. NY Mets 3.70
On to WS Game 1!