Friday, September 30, 2011

2011 MLB Playoff First Round Preview with

American League

When TRE, from the latest and greatest Gopher blog Still Got Hope? reached out to me to ask if I wanted to do a co-MLB playoff preview with him my first though was "jesus that sounds like work." Then I remembered that I've seen TRE in real life and he's a gigantic monster man who would probably rip my arms out my sockets and beat me over the head with them wookie-style if I angered him, so I figured I better do it.

TRE in his natural element
So here's the protocol - I'm previewing the AL, he's previewing the NL which works well for me because my knowledge of the NL is on par with Super Sioux Fan's knowledge of cooking - NOT ALL THAT MUCH. Then we'd each write a paragraph in response to the other's original paragraph.

Will we agree? Disagree? Fight? Will we come to blows? TOO SOON TO TELL. But it should be exciting. My pants are already half-off in anticipation.

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

DWG: Classic match-up here of momentum vs. unstoppablenessittude. The Ranger offense is really good at hitting and scoring, much like Bobby Brown, and really has no holes. But that's the fun thing about good pitching, it creates those holes. Tampa has the two best pitchers in this deal in Shields and Price, and in a short series sometimes that's all you need. Evan Longoria is looking sexy and mashing baseballs, and the Rays have heaps of karma from playing the role of Will Hunting to the Sox Carmine Scarpaglia, and saving the world from the hoards of Boston douchefans that always come out of the woodwork for the playoffs. THAT ROBAHT ANDINO IS WICKED GOOD! This should be a dogfight, but I give the edge to pitching and karma. Verdict:  Rays in Five.

TRE:  Evan Longoria is as good a hitter as he is a dreamboat.  On Wednesday he basically willed the Rays into the playoffs and it was amazing.  TREbro cried like a river when the Sox missed the playoffs. (he's a longtime fan, don't try and make sense of it)  TREbro's wife bombarded facebook with Red Sox propaganda too.  None of that could make Carl Crawford not suck extremely hard.

The Rays and Rangers did this dance last year and it took five games for the Rangers to take them down.  They're a year wiser and a year better.  Rangers noob Napoli had a monster second half (.383 AVG, .706 SLG) and co-noob Adrian Beltre has returned from the hamstring injury and has destroyed in September. (Player of the Month I guess!) Tampa may have a slight edge in starting pitching, but Texas has a TRE's head sized edge in the bullpen.  Especially with Ogando and Holland joining the pen for the playoffs.


DWG is right that the edge should go to pitching, but wrong in choosing Tampa for having the edge.  This series goes to the Rangers.  Ron Washington will do a head spin on that bald pate of his afterwards.  Verdict: Rangers in four.
New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers

DWG: Obviously nobody likes the Yankees, that's a universal law like water or dinosaurs, but the question is do the Tigers have enough to knock them off? Both teams have a stone cold ace at the front of the rotation and a bunch of question marks to follow so game 1 is even more important than it usually is in a 5-game series. Just like the Death Star, Justin Verlander has one weakness, and his is giving up home runs. If that comes into play with the 230 foot right field fence in Yankee Stadium and a bunch of power-hitting lefties the Tigers could get shoved in a hole they can't climb out of, especially since Jim Leyland has already said he won't pitch Verlander on short rest in Game 4 even if Detroit is facing elimination (Sabathia is already slated for Game 4) which makes so little sense to me I'm convinced Leyland was replaced with Ron Gardenhire. Easily the most difficult series to pick. It's either Yankees in four or Tigers in five. I say Detroit gets two wins from Verlander and squeaks one out somewhere else. Verdict: Tigers in five.

TRE:  I love Verlander and think he's the best pitcher in baseball.  All of the cool kids are saying that now, but if you ask Doctor Detroit, I've been saying this for awhile.  I get this feeling though that the Tigers believe too much.  Fans think Doug Fister is the new Bob Welch.  A lot rides on CC Sabathia.  Can that big SOB that was somehow robbed once on the street get the best of Verlander?  If he does, it's freaking over.  Doug Fistplay will curl up into the fetal postion.  The bad news for the Yankees is they're not playing the Twins.  Since 2002, they're 12-2 in ALDS games against the Twins and 5-12 against everyone else.  Last time I checked though, former Twin Delmon Young was batting in the 3-hole.  Even Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia can get Delmon out.  The Tigers are ready for this.  They're going to join the Twins in the slop bucket of AL Central victims by leg sweep.  Verdict: The Jeterses in three.

National League

In the dark, desolate world of the blogosphere there are few that you can look to for support.  We at SGH were lucky enough to stumble through the dark into the waiting arms of  DWG took us in his strong arms and wiped the tears from our bloggy eyes.  Now we have the type of relationship where he's like that old bald monk on Kung Fu that teaches Michael Carradine (us) how to do cool kicks and stuff.  Of course, this means later we'll die of auto-erotic asphyxiation. 

DWG teaches us how to play with fire.

DWG agreed to doing a MLB playoff preview blog post.  Which is a different outcome from when I first emailed him and asked him if we could do a Gopher football preview on his blog and was promptly ignored.  He claimed that he doesn't use that email account. We just think he was worried about his "blog brand." (it's a thing, you guys)

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies

TRE:  The Cards snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season.  They were down 8.5 games from Atlanta on September first, but went 18-8 in the month and watched Atlanta piss the bed.  The Phillies get an opponent that they struggled with in 2011; going 3-6 against them.  It sounds like we'll see Roy Halladay against Kyle Lohse in game 1 and Cliff Lee against Edwin Jackson in game 2.  So, that's basically 2-0 Phillies.  Since this is a best of 5 series, the Cardinals are pretty much screwed at this point. I assume they'd throw Chris Carpenter in game 3 against Cole Hamels; perhaps on short rest.  That might get them a win, but then they'd lose to Roy Oswalt in game 4 against Jaime Garcia.  Matt Holliday has an injured hand/wrist and is unlikely to start the series, but Allen Craig has played well of late.  In my opinion the Cardinals lineup just doesn't stack up with the Phillies. It's basically Pujols and The Big Puma and pray for HBP.  The Phillies have a lineup that's solid from top to bottom and they even have some decent depth on their bench.  I suppose that explains the franchise record 102 wins. Verdict: Phillies in four.

Heidi Hamels will console Cole if he loses game 3.
DWG: Ok great, the Cards went 6-3 against the Phillies this year. That's awesome and everything but I mean, come on. Nobody really thinks the Cardinals can win, do they? It's taking every ounce of restraint and personal responsibility I have to not put the largest wager of my lifetime down on the Phils to win this series at -300. Then again, the last time I discounted a Cardinals team this badly they ended up winning the World Series after the Tigers pitchers took turns playing the smash hit game "Throw the ball into the dugout." Still though, the Phil's worst pitcher (of four) is better than the best St. Louis can trot out there and outside of Pujols their second string offense might be better than the Cards' starters. Verdict: Phillies sweep.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers

TRE: This is an intriguing series and sadly will probably be the least watched due to market size.  The Brewers have a solid lineup headed by my NL MVP choice Ryan Braun.  Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks all bring a lot to the table as well.  Casey McGehee took the year off, but I give him a break because he's bald and ugly like me.

Casey McGehee and Family
The Brewers led the NL in homeruns and did it while posting a decent average, OBP and a relatively low strikeout total.  They also brought in some pitching that doesn't blow goats.  Shawn Marcum and Zack Grienke joined with Yovanni Gallardo to provide a solid top 3.  Lefties Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson round out the rotation. They also have a solid bullpen with Saito and K-Rod joining Axford for the late innings.

Arizona also packs a pop with Justin Upton, Chris Young (the black one, not the tall dork from Princeton) and Miguel Montero being the core run producers.  They also have a solid top 4 starters with Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Josh Collmenter and Joe Saunders.  This is a five game series to me.  Kennedy went 21-4 and will likely start the series against Gallardo.  I really dislike that the Diamondbacks abbreviate themselves with "D-Backs".  That's a little too close to d-bags. Verdict: Brewers in five.


DWG: I agree that this will be an interesting series because these teams are pretty evenly matched. Milwaukee has more star power with Braun, Fielder, Greinke, and Weeks and seem more glamorous, or at least as glamorous as anything from dirty, dirty Wisconsin can be, but Arizona is a surprisingly good, and complete, team. Kennedy, Hudson, Collmenter, and Saunders might not sound like much, but they're one of the best starting groups in the NL. I know, I didn't believe it either, but every single one of them has an ERA under 3.70 and a WHIP under 1.32. Not really a true ace in the group, sorry Kennedy but I'm not buying it yet, but that really plays well for them. They can reasonably expect to hold Milwaukee to 3 runs per game, so all they have to do is score 4 runs three times in five games. They have one of the highest scoring offenses in baseball, so that shouldn't be a problem, and Justin Upton is the Patrick Jane of baseball. Verdict: D-Bags in five and TRE is an idiot and a traitor.

This thing was exhausting, but maybe we'll see you in round two.

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