Looking back at a variety of 2007/2008 off-season news and blog articles, it appeared that the Jays finally got what they needed, a “prototypical” leadoff man with speed in David Eckstein. We’ve seen how that worked out. Ok, so now what are the current options?
With the return of A-Hill, the low slugging yet higher OBP of Joe Inglett is back to the bench. Aaron Hill and Alex Rios always have lower than desired OBP (.330 ranges) and Scutaro doesn’t slug (.359) nearly enough to warrant a position in the order that yields extra plate appearances. If the Jays don’t acquire someone for the role then they should really give Scott Rolen a chance at the leadoff batting position for the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays.
We all know that Rolen’s no longer a HR threat, so the overall experiments of using him in the three and four holes is largely a thing of the past. Towards the latter half of the season the Jays began using Rolen way back in the six-to-eight spots in the order. Bottom line? He’s no longer counted on as a serious run producer for the ballclub. This leaves us with a serviceable player with a large contract (ie he’s staying) that’s main offensive strength is getting on-base.
Rolen led off 99 innings in 2008. He posted a .326/.394/.517 line. In these plate he hit eleven doubles, two home runs and scored sixteen runs.
Outside of an inning lead-off situation, Rolen posted an OBP .339. This is far lower than the leadoff .394 OBP.
Rolen’s career OBP in the leadoff position is .370, the same as his total career .370. Obviously his production has declined across the board, and most notably in the slugging and home run department. Jumping back to 2007 his OBP leading off an inning was again higher than his non-lead off plate appearances. The same goes for 2006. Three years in a row could be seen as the beginning of a trend.
With a decline in slugging percentage and the lack of a realistic second option, the Jays should really look hard at making Scott Rolen their leadoff hitter in 2009.
Rays in 5, their starting pitching is too much for the Phillies to handle. Myers, Blanton and Moyer are going to crumble. Pitching and defense win championships!!
I’m going to go against the grain and pick the Phillies to win the 2008 World Series in six games.
This is really an odd series. The Rays play more like an NL team with pitching and defense being their primary weapons. The Phillies are all AL, built on power, having less front end pitching depth and really relying upon only two pitchers in the bullpen (Madson & Lidge).
The reason that I don’t like the Rays here is due to the starting pitching match-up. Shields, Kazmir and Garza are great front line starters and are as dangerous as any front three in all of baseball. But they love to give up the longball, Shields (24 in 215 IP), Garza (19 in 185) and Kazmir (23 in 152).
Vegas odds have game one as a push, due to Hamels dominance in the playoffs. I think Philly can take work a split in the first two games and take over home field advantage from there. I’ll be cheering for the Rays. After besting the AL I think we may witness a bit of a hangover from the Rays in the WS.
Kman is back once again with his points/stream of consciousness predictions for the 2008 round of championship series.
Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Rays
I’m a firm believer that to be the man you have to beat the man. “Woo”
The pitching is probably in favor of the Rays in this series. The offenses are also fairly close, although I’d give the Red Sox the nod in terms of overall depth. Experience is certainly on Boston’s side.
I’m not a big fan of Joe Maddon as a manager. He is more of leader/father figure in my eyes. Countless times during Rays games over the past two seasons I’ve been left scratching my head at some of his decisions. I think this could come into play during the series.
In the end, while I’m going to cheer for the Rays, I do think that experience and a stronger 1 – 9 lineup will give Boston the edge.
Red Sox in 6 or 7.
Los Angels Dodgers vs Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia will have home field advantage during the series. This is almost a tale of two ballparks and park factors.
I’d have to give an overall pitching edge to the Dodgers. Obviously there are not too many offenses that can compete with the Phillies.
The Phils have a legitimate ace in Hamel and a strong two-three in Moyers and the recently hot Brett Myers. While their bullpen isn’t as strong or as deep as the Dodgers, Lidge has shown in the past that he can be lengthened out and still produce strong results.
While everything has been going right for the Dodgers of late I just don’t like the match-up from their perspective.