This thread is for the no spin, no-nonsense, no bullshit analysis of the upcoming Yankees-Red Sox ALCS clash.
Last year, I correctly predicted that the Yankees would win the series. Although they got a bit lucky at the end with a managerial mistake by Grady Little, the Yankees did have the better team last year and deserved to move on to the World Series.
This year, I rate the teams dead even, and I believe that luck and possibly home field advantage, which the Yankees have, could be the deciding factors in what should be a long, tight series.
The Red Sox, IF Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez are fully healthy, have an advantage in starting pitching. Question is, are they fully healthy? In the case of Schilling, I am not buying any pronouncement made by the Red Sox organization regarding Schilling being 100%. The Red Sox organization is notorious for lying about the health of its players, going back to the Butch Hobson fiasco, and there is no reason to believe they would be telling the truth now. Look for the Yankees to work high pitch counts against both Schilling and Pedro which is generally how the Yankees counteract teams with good starting pitching. The damage is done against the bullpens explaining why the Yankees had a major league leading 62 come from behind wins.
The Yankees starting pitching is highly unpredictable, although Mike Mussina and Joe Lieber have pitched well of late and Kevin Brown pitched very well in game 3 against the Twins. However, the Twins' lineup isn't all that scary and certainly is not as good as the Red Sox, which have far more long ball threats. The key for the Yankees pitchers will be to avoid getting lit up early and keeping the Yankees within striking distance when the Red Sox bullpen is reached.
Even. The Yankees bullpen has merely been good, and while I would have thought at the beginning of the year this would be a Yankees advantage, it is either a draw or a slight advantage at best. The Yankees have no reliable lefthanded pitcher in the bullpen, which is a major problem (Heredia and Nitkowski have both been awful). However, Tanyon Sturtze, Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera give them 3 good right handed relievers. Rivera had some control problems late in the season, but looked very sharp in closing out the Twins tonight. He is certainly better than his counterpart Keith Foulke and can go 2 innings when needed to save games.
The Red Sox lost Scott Williamson for the season which was a major blow. He may have the best arm in their pen. Other than Foulke, there are no other guys capable of closing. Curt Leskanic has a good arm but has been hit hard by the Yankees in the past. On the other hand, the Red Sox at least have a lefty whom they can go to, a luxury the Yankees don't have right now.
Edge to Yankees, in particular on the infield.
Edge to the Yankees. The Yankees have more power through the lineup, and slightly more speed. These are probably the two best lineups in the American league, and along with St. Louis sport the only championship calibre lineups in the playoffs this year.
Edge to the Yankees. Joe Torre is a savvy manager who never makes the blunder moves. Terry Francona lacks the big game experience and is being thrown into a serious fire here. However this series likely will not be decided by the managers as it was last year.
PREDICTION: RED SOX IN 7 (IF SCHILLING HEALTHY); YANKEES IN 7 (IF SCHILLING IS OFF)