Tuesday, September 30

Sox v. Angels: Defense/Coaching Preview

(had to include this pic....look at Petey...money)....

To round out the Sox-Angels preview, ITM now turns to the defensive and managerial side of the game. As we have all seen in past playoffs, both defensive play and decisive managerial tactics have had significant impacts on October baseball....


Red Sox:
Overall the Sox were 3rd in the AL with a fielding percentage of .986, but lets look at it a little closer at that.....

We all know and love Tek for one thing...his approach to the game (and for the rumor that he could be keeping Heidi Watney up at night)....when considering his game preparation and plate blocking ability, he is always considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game.

On the right side of the infield the Sox boast one of the best defensive and offensive combinations in baseball. Dustin Pedrioa may not have the best range of MLB second baseman's (might have to give Alexi Ramirez the nod for that), he makes just about every play he gets to. Plus he can spin the double play with the best of them. Youk, we all know how solid he has been at first base, setting the consecutive errorless game streak record....let's just hope he's always playing first instead of jumping to third because of a Lowell injury.

The left side may not be as impressive as the right, but Jed Lowrie has yet to make an error in 48 games at short. The liability lies in Mike Lowell's hip. He took some grounders today and it was noted that his later movement was limited. I expect the Angels to test him early with bunts down the third base line.

The outfield is centered around Jacoby Ellsbury's speed in center field. He makes amazing plays look routine. Jason Bay in left is above average in all aspects of fielding...while JD Drew will have the same RSN concerns as Lowell. If he's healthy, he's above average in right, but with Kotsay out there, I'm a little more concerned.

The Angels were 5th in the AL this year, making 5 more errors than the Sox. Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis split the catching duties, but both are above average defenders....they don't have the same reputation as Tek, but they are more than serviceable.

On the right side, Tex is a gold glover at first, very comparable to Youk for the Angels. At second, Howie Kendrick is a confident young player who only made 4 errors in 446 total chances.

On the left side, Eric Aybar will be playing short. He has good range, and can plan second and the corner outfield spots as well. He has made 18 errors this season....which sounds like a lot until you think about Rent-a-Wreck who made like 60. Chone Figgins will be manning the hot corner(I still think someone needs a slap for naming their kid Chone). He is another player who can play multiple positions but has had his occasional struggles at third. I somehow doubt Papi will be dropping a bunt down his line in the event of a shift however.

When looking at the Halos' outfield you have to first look at the cannon of an arm that is Vlad. I was at a spring training game a few years back and saw him throw a seed from the warning track to nail a runner at the plate...it remains the best throw I've ever seen. That said, he's been so banged up in the past that he looks like he's 40 running after balls in the gap. Overall their outfield lacks the speed the Sox have, but don't exactly have the "Manny hole" Boston once had.

Edge: Evens


I'm sorry, call me a homer, but I see an advantage for the Sox here. Sure Scioscia has been here before too, but he has had a cakewalk in LA compared to what Tito has to deal with on a daily basis in Boston (not just media, I'm talking injuries, personalities etc). Mikey likes to push the game, test team defense, and use a lot of hit and runs. Tito may be more of a "swing away" manager, but he knows how to handle late game substitutions well and you can't argue with the two rings on his hand.

So what Scioscia learned Spanish to communicate with his Latino players, some of whom refuse to learn English (looking at you Vlad)?. That doesn't make him a great manager.....it does get him the respect of his Latino players though.....ITM note: Scioscia already speaks Italian, so learning Spanish wasn't extremely difficult when you consider how close the languages are....it's like being spotted a 7 spot in the bottom 1st as a starting pitcher.

Slight edge to Boston

Game one can't get here fast enough...


Anonymous said...

Defense can easily win and lose championships..

Anonymous said...

I love Tito, but I think it's hard to give anyone the edge over Scioscia. Despite the Angels lackluster performances in some postseasons,there's very few managers who play a bigger role in their teams' success,and you can't argue with the Angel's success so far this year.

Anonymous said...

Things are different in the postseason. Micro-managing the way Scioscia does isn't necessarily good managing. Francona's two rings prove that.

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