Over the last week I've tried to talk myself into the fact that the Sox can ignore their 1-8, 2008 regular season record against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It's something that has been on the minds of everyone in Boston these days.
After talking to my friends about this, I get the same reaction from each and every one of them, "Dude we beat them every single time we play them in the ALDS." It is something that I would love to believe in, but this Angels team is different than those in 2004 and 2007.
To start, they have a much deeper pitching rotation than they've had in recent years. Their ace is John Lackey (12-5, 3.75 ERA), and he's been a staple in that rotation for years now. Behind Lackey, the Angels have seen Ervin Santana (16-7, 3.49 ERA) and Joe Saunders (17-7, 3.41 ERA) emerge as front of the rotation starters.
In a five game series that is all they will need, but even if one of those three can't go in games 4 and 5 (if necessary), they can always look to Jon Garland or Jered Weaver as an excellent fourth option.
The bullpen is another thing that worries me. Between record setting closer Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez, and brilliant set up man Jose Arredondo, it's going to be extremely tough to beat them in the late innings.
Francisco Rodriguez set a MLB record with his 62 saves, and even though Jonathan Papelbon is no slouch, he can't compare with K-Rod this season.
Finally they have an extremely potent lineup. We all know about Vlad Guerrero, and his ability to hit a pitch in the dirt 500 ft, but there are some other players that should concern the Sox.
Lead-off man Chone Figgins can not only hit at high level, but he's a huge threat on the base paths (34 SB). Following him they've got some huge bats in that lineup.
Along with Guerrero (27 HR, 91 RBI), they have Mark Teixeira (33, 123), Torii Hunter (21, 78), and Garrett Anderson (15, 84) who can all hit the ball a long way. Some might say that these gentlemen are getting up there in age, but you still have take them seriously, no matter what the situation.
Looking back at the regular season, I guess one could understand how the Sox ended up 1-8 against the boys from Los Angeles. However, I, like most of my friends believe that the Sox can look past that record and get the job done in the 2008 ALDS.
There are some major questions that need to be answered: Will Beckett be able to pitch and what kind of JD Drew are we going to get in the post-season, but it is my belief that the Red Sox will be ready to play the Angels.
Wednesday night at 10pm I'll be at the CBS Scene in Foxboro, MA wearing my Lester T-shirt jersey with a few of my buddies rooting on the Sox. There is no question we'll be sitting there hoping that the Angels lineup, John Lackey and the Angels bullpen all look terrible for 9 innings, but hey that's a lot to ask for.
My prediction for the series: Sox win in four games.