2009 World Series Preview: Position-by-Position Breakdown
The 2009 World Series has arrived after a long and quite interesting season. Along with the arrival of the Fall Classic comes the World Series buzz and debates on who's got the edge. The Phillies and the Yankees make great cases for themselves, respectively.
The New York Yankees are trying to get back to their previous state of baseball dominance. Yankees like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte hope to end this decade the way they started it—with a World Series Championship.
But the team is filled with several new faces to the World Series. It will all be up to players like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia not to fall under pressure in their first World Series.
The Philadelphia Phillies are hoping to perform a feat that has not happened since 1976. The Philadelphia Phillies will try and become the first repeat World Series Champion since the 1976 "Big Red Machine" Cincinnati Reds.
But after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series last year, Charlie Manuel will face a much more experienced team in the World Series this year. The Yankees might have many inexperienced players in the World Series, but the Fall Classic is not unfamiliar in the Bronx. The 2009 World Series will be the Yankees' 40th World Series.
Unlike the New York Mets, the Yankees have a very brief history against the team from Philadelphia. They met in the World Series in 1950, when the Yankees swept the Phillies in four games.
More recently, the Yankees and Phillies faced each other at Yankee Stadium this year. In that best-of-three series the Phillies took two games and the series from the Yankees. The Yankees did win the second game after beating Brad Lidge late in the game. They got Lidge again in the third game, but in extra innings the Phillies prevailed.
After a team analysis, let's take a look at how each team fares against the other position by position:
Catcher: Jorge Posada (NYY) vs. Carlos Ruiz (PHI)
Jorge Posada has been clutch for the New York Yankees time and time again. He also brings with him a more experienced career in the World Series than Ruiz. But Jorge Posada may not play every World Series game.
AJ Burnett likes Jose Molina to be his personal character, but Molina brings very little if any pop to the lineup. Joe Girardi might make a change in the World Series to benefit his hitting.
Ruiz is a very underrated catcher. Many fans, players, and even coaches don't expect much out of Ruiz, but he has been very clutch for the Phillies in the World Series. In fact, he could have been named the 2008 World Series MVP. He hit very well last year and that has carried on into this year's postseason. Ruiz is also a very good defensive catcher.
First-Baseman: Mark Teixeira (NYY) vs. Ryan Howard (PHI)
One of the best first-baseman from the American League goes against one of the best first-baseman from the National League this World Series.
Mark Teixeira has struggled this postseason, but has recently started to get out of his slump. He has five hits with four RBI in his last three games.
Ryan Howard is the one batter that brings fear to Yankee fans as they watch the game. He has two home runs in nine postseason games. Along with those offensive numbers, he has hit when it means the most, because he has 14 RBI this year. Proof is also seen in the trophy that he held after winning the NLCS. He earned MVP honors for the NLCS.
Teixeira may be a bit slower with the bat than Howard this postseason, but he has come through clutch with his glove. As a past Gold Glove winner, he has bailed the Yankees out of jams in the ALDS against the Twins and in the ALCS against the Angels. Howard doesn't have that piece of hardware in his collection, which clearly gives Teixeira the edge on the defensive side.
Second-Baseman: Robinson Cano (NYY) vs. Chase Utley (PHI)
Chase Utley has made himself the best second-baseman in the major leagues in the last few years. But this year he has slowed down in the playoffs. He has hit .303 and only two RBI during this year's playoffs. Defensively Utley is also pretty good. He can cover a lot of ground for Howard in the right-side of the infield.
The Dominican second-baseman for the New York Yankees is very underrated as a hitter and as a fielder. During the regular season he looked like a Gold Glover at second-base and he had a break-out year as a hitter. Cano brings power and contact at the bottom of the lineup and is hoping to breakout in his first World Series.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter (NYY) vs. Jimmy Rollins (PHI)
This could be one of the most exciting matchups during the postseason.
During the World Baseball Classic Jimmy Rollins was Derek Jeter's back-up. Many argue that Rollins and several other shortstops around the league are much better than Derek Jeter.
But that was March and the World Series will carry into November. Who is Mr. November? That's right it is Derek Jeter and not Rollins. Jeter has been the definition of clutch for the Yankees in the past, but has not tasted one of AJ Burnett's signature walk-off pies this season. He hopes to do so as he has another chance of defending his title of Mr. November.
Jimmy Rollins has been the loudest player on the Phillies as they head into the World Series. He claims that the Phillies will win the World Series in five games. Rollins has done this in the past and was able to back-up his words. Fans all around the baseball universe will be watching if the Yankees and Derek Jeter finally silence Jimmy Rollins.
Third-Baseman: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) vs. Pedro Feliz (PHI)
This debate is easy. Alex Rodriguez has taken the monkey off of his back this postseason. He is locked in at the plate and the Phillies will have hard time pitching around him as Mark Teixeira is before him and Hideki Matsui follows.
Rodriguez is hitting .428 this postseason and has driven in 12 runs, several of those with the longball as he has five homers.
Pedro Feliz has struggled a lot this postseason and has left several runner in scoring position. He has been the complete opposite of Alex Rodriguez. This category is no contest and Charlie Manuel knows this. He will have to do a lot of mixing and matching to try and match A-Rod's production at the plate.
Outfield: Johnny Damon LF, Melky Cabrera CF, Nick Swisher RF (NYY) vs. Raul Ibanez LF, Shane Victorino CF, Jason Werth RF (PHI)
The Phillies have a much stronger outfield than the New York Yankees. The Yankees have a full outfield and have several players like Brett Gardner and Jerry Hairston that can take over in the outfield. Johnny Damon has no arm strength and the Phillies will definitely be willing to test that arm on throws to home. His bat will come in handy as he will have to try and get on base if Jeter is unable to, so Alex Rodriguez will at least get a chance to bat.
Melky Cabrera is the best defensive outfielder for the Yankees. He can cover a lot of ground and brings speed to the outfield. His hitting is alright and he can bunt when the Yankees need him to.
Nick Swisher is the most entertaining Yankee in the outfield. Somehow he will end up making a play by diving when he doesn't need to. Other times in the outfield, Swisher can look bad. Swisher has to pick it up offensively for him to stay in the lineup, because he has been struggling.
Raul Ibanez looks like one of the biggest offseason steals from last winter. He started his postseason strong but has, all of a sudden, stopped being productive. He needs to break out of his cold spell for the Phillies to score more runs.
Shane Victorino is a speed demon. He will run when on the base paths and try to test Jorge Posada's surgically repaired shoulder. In the outfield he was a Gold Glove award winner in 2008 and an All-Star selection this year. The Flying Hawaiian has driven in seven runs and has scored eight. He will definitely be key player to watch in this series.
Jason Werth is the Phillies' version of Alex Rodriguez. During the season he hit 36 homers and drove in 99 runs. During the postseason he has driven in 10 runs especially when they mean the most. All eyes will be on him to see how he fares against big pitchers like CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.
Starting Pitchers: CC Sabathia LHP, AJ Burnett RHP, and Andy Pettitte LHP (NYY) vs. Cliff Lee LHP, Pedro Martinez RHP, Cole Hamels LHP (PHI)
The New York Yankees have gone with a three-man pitching rotation throughout the entire playoffs.
In Game One, lefties CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee will face each other as they open the series. These two are the last two AL Cy Young Award Winners. Both achieved the honors while on the Cleveland Indians. CC Sabathia is 3-0 this postseason with an incredible ERA of 1.29 in the playoffs. Cliff Lee has posted a record of 2-0 with an even more incredible ERA of 0.79!
Game Two will be AJ Burnett and Pedro Martinez. The two throw really hard and will be an interesting matchup if Jose Molina catches Burnett. This would mean that Pedro Martinez will face a different lineup than the one in Game One.
Cole Hamels has been pushed back a start and will be Philadelphia's Game Three starter, as the Yankees opt to go with their veteran southpaw, Andy Pettitte.
The Yankees three starters top the Phillies starters, but the Phillies have J.A. Happ in the bullpen along with Joe Blanton. If the Bronx Bombers have to go to a fourth starter it would probably be Sabathia or Chad Gaudin.
Bullpen and Closers: Yankees Bullpen and Mariano Rivera vs. Phillies Bullpen and Brad Lidge
Let's make this category simple by putting the bullpens in a scenario where their starters only go six innings.
Seventh Inning: Yankees Joba Chamberlain vs. Scott Eyre
Seventh Inning Edge—Yankees
Eighth Inning: Phil Hughes vs. Ryan Madson
Eighth Inning Edge—Yankees
Ninth Inning: Seriously? Mariano Rivera is the best all-time closer in baseball. In the postseason he is even better. Sorry Brad Lidge, but you are no Mariano Rivera.
Designated Hitter: Hideki Matsui (NYY) vs. Raul Ibanez or Ben Francisco (PHI)
The Phillies may want to play Ibanez at the DH position in Games One and Two. Or they can decide to go with Ben Francisco at the DH role. It is all up to Charlie Manuel. Matsui has adapted to the role as DH and has the edge of being one every game.
Bench: Yankees Bench vs. Phillies Bench
The Yankees have one of their strongest benches in recent years. They have the flexible Jerry Hairston, the speedy Brett Gardner, and a good slugger in Eric Hinske.
The Phillies have former Yankee Miguel Cairo on the bench. Also on the Phillies bench is Matt Stairs, Eric Bruntlett, and Greg Dobbs.
Mangers: Joe Girardi (NYY) vs. Charlie Manuel (PHI)
Joe Girardi has World Series experience, but it is as a player and not as a manager. Things are different, but he does know how to manage in the National League. Those skills come in handy when the Yankees travel to Philadelphia and have to do double-switches and a lot of pinch-hitting and pinch-running.
Charlie Manuel managed the Phillies to a World Series Championship last year. He is a very aggressive manager and is not afraid to make any changes. He will do whatever it takes to help his team win.
Even though Joe Girardi won 103 games this year, some of his managerial changes and moves leave fans scratching their heads.
Prediction: YANKEES WIN THE WORLD SERIES IN SIX GAMES OVER THE PHILLIES.
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