That's Debatable: Phillies or Rays?
Wednesday's topic: Who will win the World Series, the Phillies or the Rays?
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Jerry Crasnick (2:59 PM)
Hey guys, I've been spending so much time in the Tampa-St. Pete area, I'm officially a resident. Let's get started.
Jim (Wilmington DE)
For once the Phillies are the favored team. Everyone has beaten down on them all year. They have the best bullpen in baseball, the 79-0 number is testiment to that. And this is a different type of Philly team. We are not used to this, so even if we don't win this year, we will be back next year. I'm sticking to it, Phillies in 6.
Jerry Crasnick (3:01 PM)
Jim, I agree with a lot of what you say here, but I think more of the national media (as well as the Vegas oddsmakers) like the Rays. The recent American League dominance and the Phillies' week-long layoff are two reasons why a lot of prognosticators are leaning toward Tampa Bay.
What's with the AL bias? Both the Rays and the Phillies played well in the LCS, but people seem to think the Rays outplayed the Red Sox while the Phillies "overachieved."
Jerry Crasnick (3:02 PM)
Matt, I don't think "overachieved" is the right word. The Brewers weren't very good and the Dodgers kicked the ball around an awful lot, so the thing you hear most is that the Phillies weren't tested nearly as much as the Rays.
Shane (Knoxville, TN)
Because of the long wait the Phillies will have before game 1 of the series, I predict that the Rays win the first 2 games at home because of a cooled-off Philly offense, even with Hamels pitching. But, they should heat up again going home and winning at least 2 of the three in Philly. This should be the most interesting World Series since the '01 series.
Jerry Crasnick (3:04 PM)
Shane, It wouldn't take much for us to see the most intriguing World Series since 2001. We've had an awful lot of clunkers in recent years. One area I disagree with you on: The Phillies have to win one of the first two games in Tampa to take the Series. The Game 3-4 pitching matchups in Philadelphia favor the Rays. (Garza vs. Moyer in Game 3, and Sonnanstine vs. Blanton in Game 4).
Pete C Newark DE
How important is it for the Phillies to steal game one from the Rays and shift the home field to Citizen Bank Park?
Jerry Crasnick (3:06 PM)
Pete, See above answer: I think it's vital. Some people think the Phillies have no shot unless they win both of Hamels' starts. I'm not sure that's the case, but there's no way the Phils can lose behind both Hamels and Myers and expect to take this series.
Brad: St Louis MO
I understand that Cole Hamels is untouchable right now, but do you think that the Rays might change that with the way the have been locked in offensively?
Jerry Crasnick (3:08 PM)
Brad, The Rays can really crush a fastball, and Hamels' best pitch is the changeup, so it'll be interesting to see if he can keep them off balance. I've talked to a couple of scouts, and one thing the Philadelphia pitchers have to do is throw inside to keep the Tampa hitters honest. Boston's staff didn't do a very good job of that.
Sam (Hockessin, DE)
Lineups are announced. Coste is DH and batting 9th for the Phils. Good move?
Jerry Crasnick (3:09 PM)
Sam, It's the best option Charlie Manuel had from the right side. I don't think he trusts So Taguchi, and the Phillies like to have Eric Bruntlett on the bench as a late inning defensive replacement for Pat Burrell. The only hitch is, the Phillies would lose the DH if Carlos Ruiz got hurt and Coste had to move behind the plate. But honestly, how likely is that to happen?
Cameron (Richmond, VA)
Just wanted to point out that the only expert to pick either Rays or Phillies in WS was Keith Law. Think that's pretty impressive for these two teams to beat all expectations. Which team do you think is more confident going in?
Jerry Crasnick (3:11 PM)
Cameron, Keith Law is a monster prognosticator. As for confidence, I think they're both brimming with it right now. You don't get to the World Series and lack confidence as a team.
What went through the minds of managers and GMs when they saw david price in game 7?
Jerry Crasnick (3:12 PM)
JB, Experience is overrated when you have a 97 mph fastball and an 87 mph slider.
Chris (Langhorne, PA)
David Price, David Price, David Price... It seems what everybody is talking about as this unstoppable force only pitched 2.1 innings in the playoffs in 3 appearances and he didn't pitch much more in the regular season. If he shuts down the Phils, I'll tip my hat. But until then, Stop it!! Go Phils!
Jerry Crasnick (3:19 PM)
Chris, I agree that the "savior" tag is a lot to hang on a kid that young. But trust me, we'll be seeing a lot of David Price in the next week.
Richard (Holland, Pennsylvania)
Moyer has pitched great all season and has just recently got hurt a bit. Do you think his experience could help pitch a great game against a young Rays team?
Jerry Crasnick (3:25 PM)
Richard, Sorry about the delay in responses. I'm having some serious technical problems here ... As for Moyer, he has not been good in the postseason, but I'd never bet against the old-timer in a big game. He has to get his command back in a hurry, though.
Kenny (Cherry Hill, NJ)
How much of an effect will the Trop have on the Phils defense...I know they were testing how the ball was rolling from turf to dirt, etc....Is the phils middle infield too strong to get caught up in something like this?
Jerry Crasnick (3:26 PM)
Kenny, I talked to Jimmy Rollins about it yesterday, and he said there's a little adjustment period. The big question is how the ball reacts coming off the dirt once they water it. But I think Rollins, Utley and Pedro Feliz will be fine. That's a heck of a defensive infield.
so jerry, let's play devils advocate for a minute. let's say in a close game one where the rays are winning they bring in david price to "seal the deal". but instead of doing so, he gets shelled for 4+ runs. what happens then?
Jerry Crasnick (3:28 PM)
Joe, First of all, you're not allowed to use the word "Devils" in a question involving the Rays. That's a $1 fine. As for Price, I'm not sure Joe Maddon would even leave him in that long to get shelled for four runs. Maddon isn't wedded to one particular closer, so he'd just shift gears and use Wheeler, Bradford or whomever.
Steve (New Brunswick, NJ)
Do you think Manuel made the right choice in keeping the NLDS/NLCS rotation intact as opposed to, for instance, flipping Hamels and Myers so Myers would be available to pitch three times in the series?
Jerry Crasnick (3:29 PM)
Steve, I'm not sure why Manuel would want Myers to pitch three times in the series when Hamels is clearly the better guy. Can't say I understand that rationale.
Pete (Tampa, FL)
I think the "cracks" in the bullpen of the Rays is being blown out of proportion. One bad game erased a season of being one of the top bullpens. I think Boston had seen those guys enough that they were a little better prepared for them.
Jerry Crasnick (3:30 PM)
Pete, That's a very good point. Boston saw the Rays about 25 times, and the Phillies obviously don't have that advantage. But if I were Joe Maddon, I'd be a little concerned about Grant Balfour. He was either too hyped up in the LCS or he's tired, because he wasn't the same guy the Rays saw all season.
Steve, Mount Laurel NJ
Will this game be decided as a slugfest or will it be small ball determining the outcome of the series? Both these pitching staffs know how to bring the heat or finesse for K's or pitch to get ground balls.
Jerry Crasnick (3:31 PM)
Steve, Most people seem to think we'll see some slugfests. The Phillies rely a lot on the longball, but so does Tampa. The Rays only scored 774 runs this year, but they hit 180 home runs. And the lineup went wild against Boston.
Rick (New York, NY)
Hi Jerry. Now that it has been established that James Shields is not a big game pitcher - do you think the edge goes to Myers who has performed well in big games?
Jerry Crasnick (3:32 PM)
Rick, As one scout told me with Myers, "flip a coin." If he has good command of his breaking ball and he doesn't try to throw the ball through a wall, he can be very effective. But this Tampa lineup can be awfully challenging.
Adam (Frederick Maryland)
First things first, notice there are not any rays fans posting up here coincidence or weak fan base? You chose, Anyways Jerry who do you see as the phightins' DH tonight? Stairs and Coste have been tossed around the mix and Dobbs is a solid option as well, and how much of an effect do you see the phils' DH having on this series
Jerry Crasnick (3:35 PM)
Adam, Well, I don't think it's a great surprise that the Phillies' fan base is more passionate than the Rays'. They've certainly suffered a lot longer. As I understand it, Coste will DH tonight against the lefty, Kazmir, and Stairs will probably DH in Game 2 against Shields, the righty. Stairs is 3 for 20 lifetime against Shields, but as we saw in the last round, it only takes one swing for him to have an impact.
i think steve was making the point that myers is availble to pitch on short rest and has succeded in the past in that role. were as it seems that hamels will never go on short rest and will either pitch 1 and 5 or 2 and 6. were myers has the option of 1,4,7.
Jerry Crasnick (3:36 PM)
Mike, Yes, Myers has some history on short rest. But as Jayson Stark pointed out (and I think I'm remembering this correctly), the Game 1 winner has taken 10 of the last 11 World Series. So I think Manuel has to go with his best, and that's Hamels.
Why is the Rays bullpen being scrutinized when it was considered an asset all year? And now their adding a flamethrowing David Price to the back end of it. You don't win 97 games with a weak bullpen. I think this series will come down to starting pitching, and the Rays have a decided advantage there.
Jerry Crasnick (3:39 PM)
Matt, The Tampa bullpen is being scrutinized because of that horrific Game 5 loss to Boston, when they blew a 7 run lead with 7 outs to go. And unlike the Phillies, they don't have a designated "go to" guy like Lidge in the ninth inning. Will it be David Price or Dan Wheeler or even Bradford? Considering how good the Phillies are at coming from behind, the Tampa pen has its work cut out for it.
Mike- Philadelphia, PA
Jerry Many experts, including yourself, are picking the Rays to win the World Series. There's been talk about how good this young Rays team is, and how well their starting pitching has held up. My question is two fold: 1. Why doesn't the National Media acknowlege the Phillies ability to win? 2. Don't you think a vertern like Moyer will frustrate the young Ray hitters? If yes, don't you think that is an advantage for the Phils in Game 3?
Jerry Crasnick (3:41 PM)
Mike, I actually picked the Phillies in 7, unlike many in the national media. Moyer has the ability to frustrate the Rays if they're not patient at the plate. But Tampa Bay did rank high in the AL in walks, and guys like Upton and Pena are perfectly willing to work a count. That said, Tampa's biggest advantage in Game 3 is having Matt Garza on the mound. He was lights out against Boston.
Eric (Holland, PA)
How important is Ryan Madsen in this series? I swear, I've watched almost every single Phillies game this year and I can't remember his fastball ever reaching 97/98 like it has been in the postseason. Do you think a lot of games are going to be determined by the bullpens or will it be mostly on the starters to perform?
Jerry Crasnick (3:43 PM)
Eric, I'm with you on Madson. I've watched him the last few years, and this extra zip on his velocity has been pretty darned impressive. I think the bullpens are going to be huge in this series. Just look at Kazmir going for the Rays tonight. He's a 5-6 inning pitcher, so you have to think Joe Maddon is going to go pretty deep into his pen.
Richard (Holland, Pennsylvania)
Hey Eric! I live in Holland, PA too. Neato. Go Phils! And go Council Rock Indians!
Jerry Crasnick (3:43 PM)
Richard, Hey, it's good we can mix in some social networking on this chat along with the baseball talk.
Martin (Hockessin DE)
Who do you think will be the unsung hero of the Series. I can see Carlos Ruiz getting some big hits after he had a decent NLCS.
Jerry Crasnick (3:45 PM)
Martin, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jayson Werth of the Phillies or Willy Aybar of the Rays have a big moment. Aybar was really impressive against Boston. He has the bat speed to turn one around in a hurry.
Jerry, please tell these Philly area fans that a low 80s fastball is not going to frustrate the "young" Rays lineup. Even if it is coming from Father Time himself. Also, for Philly living and dying on the longball, their top 4 have 10 combined HRs this postseaason, while Upton and Longoria have 13 combined!! These are facts. As a Sox fan who just watched the Rays for 7 games, tell Philly its time for a reality check.
Jerry Crasnick (3:46 PM)
Chris, Again, I think the Philly pitchers have to work inside and prevent the Tampa hitters from extending their arms. I'm not saying throw at guys, but you have to make Upton, Longoria & Co. aware of the inside fastball. Otherwise they'll just wait for something hard over the plate and tee off.
Joe van Dyk (San Francisco, CA)
Who do you think will have a bigger series - Utley or Longoria?
Jerry Crasnick (3:48 PM)
Joe, Hard to say, but given the temperament of both guys, it wouldn't be surprising if they both came up big on the national stage. Longoria plays way beyond his years, and Utley was made for moments like this.
Rick (Wildwood, NJ)
Why keep someone like Taguchi on the Phils roster, when you could have better speed from someone like Golson in a key situation?
Jerry Crasnick (3:49 PM)
Rick, I guess they like the experience factor. But I wouldn't expect So Taguchi to play a major role in this series, that's for sure.
Will Ryan Howard see a fastball?
Jerry Crasnick (3:51 PM)
Mark, Not too many. Scott Kazmir will probably throw him nothing but sliders, and James Shields' best pitch, the changeup, is tailor made for lefties. Howard's challenge is to lay off the offspeed stuff out of the zone and get ahead in the count, so the Tampa pitchers will have to throw him fastballs. He'll need to show some patience.
JD (Chapel Hill, NC)
Jerry, I'm a little confused...The national media is giving the Rays all the credit in the world for beating the Sox...but correct me if i'm wrong, but wasn't Boston playing without Lowell, a banged up Ortiz & Beckett. (not to mention they no longer have the clutch Manny)...Just doesn't seem like the ol' Boston team that all the media is referring back to...
Jerry Crasnick (3:52 PM)
J.D., The Red Sox also had Mark Kotsay playing first, and Jacoby Ellsbury did next to nothing in the series. Still, they were the defending champs, and the Rays showed a huge amount of fortitude in blowing that 3-1 lead before pulling out the series. Let's give credit where credit is due.
I'm watching Jamie Moyer throw 83 mph and cannot fathom how he is effective? What does he do to get guys out at that level?
Jerry Crasnick (3:54 PM)
Josh, It's not all about velocity. Most of these guys can hit a 95 mph fastball. Moyer has pinpoint control on the outside corner, and just when hitters start leaning out there, he'll bust that 82 mph fastball inside. It looks a lot faster then. The guy is a master painter, but you wonder how much he has left in the tank this late in the season.
Mike M (Philly Pa)
I agree with your response Jerry to Chis in Boston. What I couldn't understand is why didn't one Rays hitter get put on his butt by the SOX staff the whole ALCS .. they were way to comforable in the box .. like they were sitting in a rocking chair up there. I expect the phillies to pound these guys inside a lot and we'll see if their hitters make an adjustment
Jerry Crasnick (3:56 PM)
Mike, As I recall, Matt Garza spun about three Boston hitters his last time out (Drew, Varitek and Crisp, I think). But Boston's pitchers didn't do a very good job of establishing the inner half of the plate. The Phillies had an army of scouts at the ALCS, and I'm sure they were taking copious notes.
Steve, Mt Laurel NJ
Which team seems looser and is handling the national media spotlight better so far? Will jitters play a factor in game 1 tonight?
Jerry Crasnick (3:57 PM)
Steve, I think it's less a case of jitters than the Phillies trying to bounce back from that layoff. A week can seem like an awfully long time at this stage of the season. It'll be interesting to see if they're overanxious against Kazmir, a guy who has trouble throwing strikes and tends to run up big pitch counts in the first inning.
The off-week probably helped Moyer more than anyone.
Jerry Crasnick (3:58 PM)
Ronald, I'm several years older than Jamie Moyer, and I could certainly use a week off at this point. So you're probably right.
Ray (Norristown, PA)
Talk to me about the crowds. I know there are a lot of Ex-Pats from the northeast that have moved to Florida. Combine that with the number of Phillies fans willing to travel. Can having 'some' supporters in the stands help negate some of the advantage?
Jerry Crasnick (4:00 PM)
Ray, I think so. I'm interested in seeing how many Phillies fans are here tonight. It'll be noisy, but it's not like football where crowd noise can have a major impact. For the Phillies, the roof, the catwalks, the turf and those other Tropicana Field quirks will be a bigger adjustment.
Jerry, what happens if the Phils go home down 2-0? How does that crowd react to that? I've been to games there and it can get pretty ugly (and I was sitting with the fair weather fans). When do the Boo Birds show up? When Howard whiffs for the 3rd time in a game?
Jerry Crasnick (4:01 PM)
Chris, Geez, I hope not. They've waited 15 years between World Series appearances, so I hope they'd be a little more supportive than that.
Jerry Crasnick (4:01 PM)
Thanks for the emails, everybody. Let's hope that whatever happens, it's a long and entertaining series. No sweeps this time.
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