Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 19, 2005
BASEBALL: Your World Champion . . .

. . . Chicago White Sox?

. . . Houston Astros?

Either way, should be a novelty. The Astros led the NL in ERA this season; the White Sox were second in the AL. The lesson: never underestimate teams with outstanding frontline starting pitching in the postseason.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:35 PM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

It's hard to believe that the Sox starters will continue their unfathomable dominance in the Series.

Is their bullpen getting too much rest? They haven't pitched in over a week. Who knows.

Me, I'm a National League man and are rooting real hard for Biggio and Bagwell to get that ring.

They're a dying breed in the game: players with loyalty.

MY PREDICTION: 'Stros in 7. Clemens and Oswalt win both their starts and that takes the series.

Posted by: ChiroDoc at October 20, 2005 3:51 AM

Considering the bandbox that the Astros play in, I think their pitching is much more impressive the Chicago's.

Posted by: GEB4000 at October 20, 2005 12:30 PM

Bandbox?

The opposition gets to play there, too.

Posted by: AG in Houston at October 20, 2005 12:33 PM

Actually, as of 2004, the White Sox stadium was even more hitter-friendly than the Astros'. I believe neither was as pro-hitter this year.

Posted by: The Crank at October 20, 2005 12:52 PM

Funny how a ballpark becomes hitter friendly or not hitter friendly depending on the quality of the pitching arms...I think these are pretty evenly matched teams...I give the Stros an edge for manager (for experience, although as a personality I love the Oz), defense an edge for the Astros (at least if they play like they did against StL), even on the starters, Stros an edge in relievers (particularly with the emergence of Qualls and Wheeler this year), ChiSox a very slight advantage in offense, Astros a slight edge on experience (If you didn't hear Berkman's interview the day of game 6 talking about game 5, it is worth listening to...dude was very composed)...I also think the over under on total runs every day should be about 6.5, runs will be at a premium. Overall, a very evenly matched series. But I think the Cards were a better team than the ChiSox this year, and I have to think the experience of the Stros rotation will carry the day. But it should be a pretty good ride. I'm too nervous to watch!

Posted by: AstrosFan at October 20, 2005 3:33 PM

By the way, I go even on the starters because of the #4 slot...I just don't see Backe as the best option here...Wandy showed a lot of poise this year...I think top three for both teams is a pick em, but slight edge to the experience and "been there" factor of Clemens/Pettite, and the sheer ballsiness of Oswalt...dude is the gunslinger, as Harold Reynolds said...

Posted by: AstrosFan at October 20, 2005 3:47 PM

I have watched Clemens closely in the playoffs as I am a big fan of his (despite living in Chicago), and he does not always do so well in the post season, at least over the past five years. Given the very cold weather awaiting him, I think he might be prone to pulling a hamstring this weekend. I see two teams with very strong pitching. White Sox hitting appears to be a little better than the Astros, so I give the nod to the White Sox. Of course, like I said, Im from Chicago.

Posted by: midwest lawyer at October 20, 2005 4:38 PM

Well, Clemens last year was about being 42 and pitching on short rest. But he sure looked good against the Cardinals in Game 3, and he sure looked good in the 18 inning game. I think his first start against Atlanta he was still dealing with nagging injuries, but those appear to be worked out, if the Cards series is any indication.

I also think Pettite will pitch better than he did against the Cards, if he can avoid batting practice. I say the ChiSox hitting goes the way of Carl Everett...if he shows up, could be trouble. Funny that the principals of the Everett for Everett deal see each other in the World Series few years down the road...

Posted by: AstrosFan at October 20, 2005 5:15 PM

Looks to be a good series. The sox, despite what AstrosFan says, do carry the edge on defense.

The sox bullpen, while deep and dangerous, is the source of my worries--they're just too rested. They haven't pitched for two weeks. Literally. Either Politte, Marte, and Cotts will come out throwing 96 (Not to mention Jenks...I don't even want to know what he'll be throwing. Probably triple digits.) or they'll be rusty and ineffective. This could be the fulcrum of the series.

And yes, Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt do scare me. A lot. We're missing Frank Thomas and will have to do without a DH in Houston. By the way, have you ever seen Carl Everett hit? Here's the one sentence scouting report: Pitch him outside fastballs, he can't go the opposite way. If any Astros pitcher challenges him with a breaking ball or anything inside they're risking a hard hit ball. The sox are REALLY missing Thomas with Carl in the lineup.

But they swept the Indians to end their playoff hopes, then swept the Red Sox, and finally took the Angels in five. If Houston beats the white sox, so be it: they're the better team. I'm just glad chicago made it this far. Maybe this will be something the White Sox can build on; unlike Houston, we're a fairly young team with a bit of flexibility coming up, and this could be Houston's last chance.

Advice? White Sox, remember the Alamo: Texas can be messed with, even if the last two presidential elections say otherwise.

And who else wants to see a bet between Tom Delay and Mayor Daley?

Posted by: MikeQ at October 20, 2005 8:06 PM

Astros have a good mixture of old/young...Pettite ain't ancient, but has lots of experience, Oswalt's still fairly young, and I think they've learned to live without Bagwell and Biggio...Jason Lane is a pretty good looking young bat, Berkman's a good mid level, Ensberg had a breakout season and is not that old, and they got some good outings from Wandy Rodriguez and Zeke for the future (and I'll bet Qualls gets converted post Clemens to a starter in the rotation)...Lidge youngish...Clemens' age with Biggio brings that average age up a bit...but I have no doubt we'll see Biggio replaced by Burke either next year or year after. Oswalt/Pettite/Lidge alone, if stay healthy, will make this team competitive for a few years in my mind, so I don't think it is a now or never scenario.

I think outfield defense is the Astros weakness, so you may be right, MikeQ, I didn't consider that as much as I should have...but in the infield the Stros are very strong...Biggio is capable (but limited range), and few will argue that Everett is not one of the best young shortstops defensively in the game (he made maybe three or four game turning plays against STL, including the game ending DP turn that is the best turn I've ever seen). Ensberg is also very capable, making hard plays look easy, and he rarely makes throwing errors (knocking on wood)...Ausmus throws well and plays a mean defensive game. Berkman is a better defensive 1b than Lamb (who is a hack, but I think his 1b defense beats the hell out of his 3b).

If Taveras plays center, his range is legendary, his jumps are less so and does lose concentration...Berkman is a hack out there post knee surgery (which is not an issue in MM Park, but may be in Chi), but Lane, for a big guy, is actually deceptively pretty fast (being a minor league center fielder)...

Posted by: AstrosFan at October 21, 2005 1:17 PM

I think the key to the series is going to be how many people on are base when Konerko bats. It was like the Astros' entire game plan was to make sure that Pujols bats with no one on base. If they can do the same to Konerko it might make for a sad week in Chi-town.

Posted by: SSG B at October 21, 2005 7:28 PM
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