Friday, October 22, 2004
LET'S GO RED SOX. FOUR MORE WINS.
SWOT AWAY THE CARDINALS
One of the many things I learned in Business School was the S.W.O.T. [pronounced swat] analysis. It was a good way to organize your initial thoughts on an organization by grouping them into four categories Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Below is a S.W.O.T. of the Cards from the Sox perspective.
• A lineup filled with good and a few great hitters – only Matheny could be called an auto out (knock on wood).
• Pujols doesn’t have any holes. 84 walks to only 52 strikeouts while slugging 657 is jaw dropping. The only knock I’ve heard on this guy is that he has the tendency to be aggressive early in the count looking to pounce on heat, so pitchers may want to work him backwards going with soft stuff first.
• Rolen, Edmonds, Walker are all patient/power to all fields hitters that like to extend their arms. The Sox have to pitch inside to these guys. The southpaws do not even have real splits.
• The Cards had the second best defensive efficiency rating in all of baseball at 71.26%. They converted over 71% of the balls put into play for outs. Rolen and Edmonds get all of the print, but the entire club can flash the leather.
• No power/strikeout starting pitcher that can dominate a game. Matt Morris has had the ability, but recently for whatever reason has been struggling. Marquis, Suppan and Williams can all throw good games, but not control a game against the Sox lineup.
• No middle reliever that misses bats. The Cards have relievers that can match up against Sox hitters, but no one other than Jason Izzy to shut down the Sox and he rarely throws more than one inning.
• The Sox lineup has to work the Cards starters and at least get them into high pitch counts. The Sox should put up crooked numbers on the board in the middle innings.
• Slow down the Cards lineup by eliminating Tony Womack from the equation. Womack can be controlled (knock on wood). He is essentially a punch and judy hitter that doesn’t walk. Keep him off the bases will keep the pressure off the Sox pitchers from trying to make perfect pitches to the big bats.
• Wakefield’s knuckleball. Some Cards probably have never seen a tumbler.
• Control the bottom of the lineup. Renteria, Sanders and Matheny can be pitched to (knock on wood). Renteria and Sanders can be tough outs, but will chase and are historically terrible against RHP. They make their livings versus southpaws.
• King and/or Kline against Big Papi, Nixon and Damon in a big spot in the middle to late innings. King and Kline both dominate lefthanded batters. Kapler and/or Mirabelli could provide an option for Nixon. Tito can NOT have Nixon batting behind Ortiz!
• Mike Myers should not be on the roster. Edmonds and Walker do not have any significant loss of production against southpaws. It would be a mistake to stick with Myers. He would only be used in blowouts. The Sox can not afford to have both Mendoza and Myers on the roster. Adding Youkilis would be substantially beneficial as another option off the bench at Fenway and more importantly, in St. Louis hitting for the pitcher.
• Matt Morris pitches the game of his life. He finds his mid-90’s heater with a crazy curveball and dominates the Sox lineup like Ted Lilly.
• Playing the middle three games in St. Louis without the DH resulting in Big Papi at first. DLowe as the scheduled Game 4 starter is giving me a stomach ache already.
In conclusion, the Sox have to be patient and crush Cardinal pitching in the early and middle innings like they have all season long. I have a feeling Manny is going to have a huge Series. It is about time for him to get back to his “happy place.” Damon needs to stay away from his fiancé and stay hot. When those two guys are going well, the Sox lineup is sick.
On the other side, the two days off for the pitching staff is huge. Timlin and Embree, especially, seem to need extra rest for a few more miles per hour. Foulke will be ready. He threw today. The pen should be ready to rock.
With DLowe starting, Arroyo becomes a valuable weapon. Arroyo can be used in many different ways – as a long man, righty specialist, and a middle man. It gives Wallace and Tito a lot more flexibility in the pen. DLowe would have likely been the long guy. Now, the Sox have another option against the middle of the lineup.
But, I go back and forth on Wake starting Game 1 and 5. I don’t like the fact that our Pocket Aces are only scheduled to go one game in St. Louis. Hopefully, my concern (which will not be mentioned out loud) will be moot. I look for some high scoring affairs, late nights, and rolling into work tired, but extremely happy.