2004 MLB Playoffs
October 11, 2004
My ALDS predictions were slightly off, seeing as how I thought I'd be previewing a Minnesota - Anaheim series, but nevertheless, I'm not afraid to spout prophetic about the upcoming battle between New York and Boston. As I said in the division series preview, Boston has the right mix to win it all, and that fact hasn't changed.
Unlike New York, the Red Sox have no real weaknesses. In a playoff series, Schilling and Martinez are about as good as it gets, and the bullpen is fairly solid as well. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez anchor a hefty lineup, and some late season trades have improved Boston's defense, adding Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, so late inning replacements will only bolster Boston's chances of holding a lead.
On the flipside, New York managed to win over 100 games and beat out the Red Sox for the division crown, but questions abound. Can Kevin Brown repeat his ALDS performance? What's wrong with Vazquez? Where did our set of aces go? Is John Olerud our best option at first?
For the first time in years, the Yankees are faced with entering the playoffs without a true, dominant ace. They escaped Minnesota with some timely hitting and the usual dominance of Mariano Rivera, but Boston is more likely to put a game out of reach so that even the "never say die" Yankees will struggle to catch up. Boston's sweep of Anaheim enabled them to start the ALCS with their top guns well rested. New York should be well rested, too, but their guns just don't pack as much ammo.
The Yankees didn't win 100+ games by accident, however. Jeter, ARod, and Sheffield are about as dangerous a trio as you would want to face in the playoffs. Throw Matsui, Posada, and Bernie Williams into the mix, and you've got a talented veteran lineup that has been there and done that. It will take some masterful pitching to contend with that lineup, which is why Boston matches up so well.
Schilling and Martinez will neutralize New York's offensive attack, and the Red Sox lineup will dispose of the Yankees' starters earlier than to what Torre is accustomed. In the end, Boston will head back to New York and win handily if Game 6, securing a spot in the World Series.
Prediction: Red Sox in 6
Check out TCO's 2004 Season Preview for an April flashback to see how well The Commish predicted this season's outcomes.