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October
19th
2002
Out of the Frying Pan
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Of Mice, Men, and Monkeys

by Jessica Polko

Every series has its own stories, but this year the stories seem bigger. The Anaheim organization reached their first World Series in franchise history on the back of a rally monkey, an incredible mascot for a World Series team given they need to be losing for the monkey to work his magic. Barry Bonds has worked to banish his postseason demons and will play in his first World Series, looking to add a ring to his extended list of accomplishments. Additionally there are several interesting players on both teams.

Many people seem to worry that a Series set entirely in California won't appeal to the rest of the country. However, I think this has much more appeal than the Cross-town Series between the Mets and Yankees in 2000. In addition to the national appeal of the teams, the Giants played in New York for seventy-five years, giving that region a reason to pull for the club.

Both teams have R. Ortiz starting and F. Rodriguez available in the bullpen. Unfortunately, the rotation alignment insures that Russ and Ramon won't face each other, but Felix and Francisco should both pitch in several games. The performances of all four players should greatly affect the outcome of the Series.

Twenty-year-old Francisco Rodriguez entered the playoffs with less than a half-dozen innings pitched in the majors, but the skills he displayed in the minors carried through against the next level of competition. He's now collected four wins on a 15:4 K:BB with 4 H and 1 HR allowed for a 1.80 ERA in 10 IP. Anaheim will rely heavily on Francisco due to his success thus far, so he needs to maintain his effectiveness. Meanwhile, after seasons of dominance, Felix pitched poorly throughout the first four months of 2002 before dominating in the stretch run. He struggled a bit in the NLCS and his ability to setup Nen will be vital in the Giants push to win.

A big question prior to this final round of the playoffs was who Dusty Baker would use at DH. Mike Scioscia announced within a few days of the end of the ALCS that Scott Spiezio would remain at first throughout the Series, putting Brad Fullmer on the bench during the potential three games in San Francisco without the DH.

Today Baker announced that Tsuyoshi Shinjo will DH against Washburn, a decision that makes very little sense. Kenny Lofton reportedly asked not to be used as the DH even though Shinjo is a superior fielder and a rather poor hitter. Hopefully Lofton's selfish behavior will decrease his value as a free agent this off-season.

Baker will take three left-handed relievers rather than carry Damon Minor, who would provide them with a nice left-handed power bat. The Giants didn't have even one decent lefty this year until they acquired Scott Eyre. San Francisco should have left Chad Zerbe and Aaron Fultz off the roster while bringing Minor and even Ryan Jensen to help in long relief. Without Minor, Tom Goodwin will likely DH against right-handed starters. Goodwin could provide a nice boost to the lineup hitting ninth and occasionally putting some speed on base in front of Lofton. However, I like Anaheim's ability to adapt to NL rules better than the Giants' options under AL regulations.


Game One: Jason Schmidt at Jarrod Washburn
Both of these starting pitchers should pitch excellently, but I think Anaheim will pull out the win in Game 1. They have the support of the home crowd behind them and the incentive of winning the first World Series' game in franchise history. I also tend to prefer the Angels' pen over that of the Giants. San Francisco's top relievers match up evenly with Anaheim, but they are carrying pitchers that could easily blow a game.


Game Two: Russ Ortiz at Kevin Appier
Appier's season with the Mets will mean that the Giants should be somewhat familiar with him, whereas Ortiz will be new to the Angels. I also think San Francisco will be pushing hard to win one of the two Anaheim games, so after losing Game 1, the Giants will take Game 2.


Game Three: Ramon Ortiz at Livan Hernandez
The Series will hinge on this game. I expect Hernandez to continue building on his postseason reputation while winning for the Giants, running his career record to 7-0 in playoff games. However if the Giants lose this game, the Angels will win the Series in 6 games.


Game Four: John Lackey at Kirk Rueter
Lackey nailed his first postseason start and I don't expect the Angels to go down without a fight. Anaheim should take Game 4.


Game Five: Jarrod Washburn at Jason Schmidt
These two pitchers remain very evenly matched, so as in Game One, I give the win to the starter with the home field advantage. Schmidt will win Game 5, sending the Series back to Anaheim with the Giants up 3-2.


Game Six: Russ Ortiz at Kevin Appier
Returning home with the rally monkey behind them, Anaheim won't be able to avoid winning Game 6.


Game Seven: Livan Hernandez at Ramon Ortiz
The Angels have discussed using John Lackey in this situation, but if you really want him starting Game 7, he should also be pitching Game 3. While home teams have historically triumphed in Game 7, I think Hernandez's postseason record will challenge that precedence. Livan will also likely take the series MVP, though Bonds will probably deserve it.


Giants over Angels in 7


Click here to read the previous article.

I can't please all the people all of the time, but I am more than willing to read the comments of the pleased, the irate, and everyone in between. You can send your opinions to jess@rotohelp.com.
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