Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Dodgers: A Fisking

Sphere: Related Content

I lived in San Diego for a decade and have a great love for Southern California in general. That is, if the area north of Irvine and south and Ventura could be excised. Suffice to say, I pretty much would say LA sucks. It's a conglomeration of wannabe's, never gonna be's and various other low-lifes who think they are the people the rest of the world aspires to be. Take a cruise south to Camp Pendleton or the Naval Amphibious Base Los Angeleno's, the people there are what we should aspire to be but I digress.

So the Phillies open up against the LA Dodgers tonight in the friendly confines of Citizen's Bank Park and the Dodger fans are feeling full of themselves because they beat a Cubs team that fell completely apart in the NLDS.

I figured, let's get this series off to a nice Philly start with a little response to our hero who supports a team named for guys who are able to avoid New York City streetcars. I guess when your basketball team is named after a body of water, of which few exist in the LA metropolitan area, you'd be a bit self-conscious as well.

Anyway, let's get started:

As soon as my hangover from the Cubs series faded, we roll right into the next big thing. The Dodgers enter their first NLCS since 1988 and we at least have history on our side because it could be against the one franchise that's been as pathetic as the Cubs.
Hmmm...The Phillies won the NL in 1993 and my calculator says that 15 years is less than 20. Also, the Phillies managed to win their division in back-to-back years.

Since 1989, the Dodgers have made the playoffs three times not including this year, the last being 2004. In those series, they are a combined 1-9. In that same time frame, the Phillies have made it twice and are a combined 6-9. Again, my math may be wrong but it seems 6 is more than 1.

Let's continue, shall we?

On paper, the Phillies should have an elite defense with Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz being arguably the best in baseball at their positions, Jimmy Rollins leading shortstops in +/- this year, Shane Victorino being all around mobile and Jayson Werth, a competent centerfielder, in right. Despite this, the team finished only 10th in defensive efficiency this year. This is probably due to having two absolute butchers, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard, in the field. This solid defense does help the back end of the Phillies rotation who can't strike anyone out, but it's not quite to the level of the Cubs.
But it is much tougher than the Trolley Dodgers because they played in a homer-happy park. The Phils bullpen was better than LA this year and was in fact the best in the NL. The Dodgers bullpen is not bad, and did finish second in the NL, but have no established closer, a requirement in the postseason. Advantage: Philly, again.

The Phillies lineup is very scary 1-6, but they do have a mid June Dodger style black hole at the bottom of their lineup with the deadly trio of Pedro Feliz, Carlos Ruiz, and the pitcher. Feliz does have some pop, but as long as you keep the ball at least two feet out of the strike zone, he's an easy out. The Phillies can fix this by platooning him with Greg Dobbs, but this does hurt their defense.
He does have a point here. What he misses is the fact that Ruiz calls a good game and one that is suited well to the Phillies home park. As for pitchers hitting, Brett Myers first at bat against CC Sabathia was an epic game changer and directly led to CC melting down in the second inning. I'm not saying Myers is a force with the bat but his effect can't be denied in that game.

...The biggest hope we have in this series is that we beat up on Cole Hamels. Outside of their ace, the Phillies pitching just isn't that scary. Brett Myers has put up a four ERA after working out some mechanical issues early by mid May (sic), but that's far from unstoppable. After Myers, the Phillies have Jamie Moyer who has worked miracles by only allowing 20 home runs in Philadelphia but isn't exactly the type of power pitcher you want going for you in the playoffs, and Joe Blanton who somehow managed to improve despite going to a much more hitter friendly park with a worse defense behind him during the season. Hamels is the only shutdown guy the Phillies have, and taking even one game against him could go a long way towards winning the series.
The Phils pitching staff is built to pitch in The Bank, that can't be denied. Hamels can be up and down but he's mostly up and all one has to do is look back at Myers performance in game two. He got out of a near train wreck with a clutch double play with the sacks loaded and one out. He only gave up one and was lights out after that inning. Moyer is an enigma. I can't recall how many good hitters I've watched walk away mumbling after striking out against Moyer's 83 MPH fastball or 77 MPH changeup. Note that Manny has been held to a pathetic .212 this season by the Phillies.

Aside from beating up on Hamels, the other key to this series is getting to the Phillies starting pitching before the 8th. Brad Lidge has been a deadly closer this year, but after that, the Phillies pen is just full of middle relievers. Unlike the Cubs who could potentially throw Marmol and Wood out there for three, or even four innings if it really came down to it, the Phillies have to go to Ryan Madson who put up middle relieverish numbers all season. Guys like Blanton and Moyer have to go long in the game or else the Dodgers get a huge advantage. It's very possible we'll see some big sixth and seventh innings out of the Dodgers this series.
See above. The Phils bullpen had a better ERA than the Dodgers. Durbin and Madsen have been solid and JC Romero can shut down any lefties who come up in clutch situations late.

The sudden shift in the media from the Dodgers facing an unstoppable juggernaut in the Cubs to it being a foregone conclusion that Manny is going to face Boston in the World Series just isn't true. The Phillies are a very talented team featuring a lot of the same strengths as the Cubs, I'm much more optimistic about this series than the last one, but just remember what overconfidence did for the Cubs.
Confidence is good. But remember, the younger Phillies were full of confidence going into their series against the Rockies last year and we got whacked 3-0. The Dodgers have good young talent but the fact is they are young. This is a different stage and atmosphere than playing the Cubs at Wrigley. If the Phillies faithful got inside Sabathia's head, how hard would it be to mess with Derek Lowe or Chad Billingsley. I seem to recall that although the Phils were whooped in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers were over-powered in South Philly. The Dodgers are still hated in this town for the highway robbery they pulled off in 1977. We have long memories here in the Philly metro area. For the record, Davey Lopes was out.

Still not fired up? Here's another righteous fisking worth your time.

Prediction: Phillies in six

No comments: