Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 28, 2009; 12:00 PM
Post staff writer Dave Sheinin was online Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 11:00 a.m. ET to take your questions about the World Series between the Phillies and Yankees, tonight's Game 1 at Yankee Stadium and how people think the series will evolve.
The transcript follows.
Dave Sheinin: Hey everyone. Thanks for dropping by our World Series chat. Sorry for the late time-change. One quick note before we get to your questions and comments: the weather is brutal right now in NYC. Last I heard, they were calling for a 70 percent chance of rain tonight.
And now, here we go...
Arlington, Va.: I am looking forward to tonight. Cliff Lee has been pitching great ... in the National League. Before the trade he was not exactly lights out for Cleveland against AL hitters.
Match that with Pedro (who acknowledges the Yankees are his daddy) and the Yankees' play at home, and this matches up well for the Bronx Bombers.
Does Cliff Lee to Pedro look like the best foot forward for the Fightin' Phils?
I call Yanks in 5. What say you, Doctor Sheinin?
Dave Sheinin: Hey Arlington. I went with Yankees in seven, figuring on both teams holding serve at home (Phillies 11-1 at home since start of 2008 postseason, Yankees 5-0 at home this postseason). But I also wouldn't be shocked if the Yankees steal a game or two in Philly and end it early.
More homers than ever: Could this be the highest homer series ever? Both lineups have the potential to drive out three, four a night, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen in those parks, either.
Is there a chance that weather could slow down the bats, or will it just be another factor on the side of two sides bludgeoning each other with power?
Dave Sheinin: That was the premise, in a roundabout way, of my World Series preview story in today's paper. The record for most home runs in a World Series is 21, in 2002. I'd be surprised if that mark fell in this series, just because it is possible that Sabathia and Lee -- two excellent pitchers -- could start 43 percent of the games (3 of 7) for each team.
I see some 2-1 games when those guys pitch, and the possibility of some 9-7 games when the Blantons, Burnetts and Gaudins of the world take over.
Philadelphia: Does Cliff Lee have to win twice if the Phillies are going to take this thing? I'm starting to think so. Will he be matched up with C.C. both starts, or will that shift because of a three man rotation in New York again?
Dave Sheinin: Good question. The Phillies can survive without Lee winning both Games 1 and 4, but it makes their road a lot tougher. At this point, it looks like both New York and Philly will bring back their aces on three days' rest in Game 4, but after that the choices become more difficult.
Going to a strict three-man rotation requires the Nos. 2 and 3 starters (Pedro and Hamels for the Phillies, Burnett and Pettitte for the Yankees) to start on short rest in Games 5 and 6. I don't think either team will do that.
Who's your X factor?: Who is it? I'm leaning toward Matt Stairs. And who are we completely overlooking? Some arm in the Yankees' pen? Dare I say Chad Gaudin? Or what about Blanton? Could he steal the stage for a game there (or Brett Myers anyone)?
Dave Sheinin: You've done a great job here of pointing out everyone I would have pointed out. Stairs could be huge as a DH against A.J. Burnett, and as a pinch-hitter against Chamberlain/Hughes.
Gaudin will be a huge factor if he gets a start (and I think he will). He is horrible against LH hitters (opponents OPS of .823 this year, or 150 points higher than RH hitters), and the Phillies, obviously, are loaded with great LH hitters. If he starts, the Yankees would be happy to get five decent innings out of him, and absolutely thrilled to get six.
For the Phillies, I loved the Brett Myers move -- getting him on the roster -- and I can totally foresee a scenario where a game comes down to him on the mound.
Still, I think Pedro is the biggest X factor. If he can wake up the echoes and put together a vintage Pedro start in Yankee Stadium in Game 2 -- a game that, by all logic, th Yankees should win easily -- it changes the whole series. And then he probably has to do it again in Game 6.
Pentagon City, Va.: Thoughts on Angels Manager Mike Scioscia talking about the extended nature of this postseason? I tend to agree that it is ridiculous. I heard someone say that entire season is played with 20 days of rest, and already the postseason is more than 15 days. That just doesn't seem right.
Dave Sheinin: Of course, he's right. It's ridiculous. Think about it this way: Barring any rainouts, Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series will represent the first time in the entire postseason that teams will have played on three consecutive days.
MLB has sold its soul, to a certain extent, to television. And they really need to try to buy it back.
Brett Myers' rejection: Did you see his wife turn him aside when he went in for a kiss during the NLCS celebration? Priceless.
All of which is a great intro to the question of whether the New York fans will get to him. When he had that whole domestic abuse issue flare up in Boston a few years ago, I think I remember the Fenway fans getting under his skin. Seems like New York would be able to do the same thing, don't you?
Dave Sheinin: I didn't see that, but I highly doubt that Myers gets rattled anymore by hecklers. I'm sure he hears it everywhere he goes, and we're talking, what, five years now since that incident? Not a factor.
Fairfax, Va.: Are there any starting pitching match ups that favor Philly? Assuming Lee gets stuck against Sabathia each time, is it possible the Yanks have a pitching edge in every single start? I just have a hard time trusting Cole Hamels right now ...
Dave Sheinin: You could make a good argument that the Yankees hold the starting pitching edge in every game, but you could also argue that Cole Hamels is the third-best starter in the series (behind Lee and Sabathia, obviously) -- he just hasn't looked like it of late.
I was talking to Hamels yesterday, and he admitted he has had trouble finishing hitters off -- getting to 0-2 or 1-2, then letting the hitters foul off pitches and work the count back to 2-2 or 3-2, and then giving up a hit or a walk. That's the major difference between the Hamels of 2008 and the Hamels of 2009.
If the old Hamels returns, that's a huge plus for the Phillies.
Ratings: Would FOX and MLB have rather seen the Angels win to get both coasts involved? Or are the Yankees always ratings draw No. 1? The best series in their eyes would have been Yankees-Dodgers, right?
Dave Sheinin: I think you're spot on. Fox's No. 1 choice would've been NY/LA -- the two biggest media markets in the country, and the huge Torre-returns-to-the-Bronx story. Choice No. 2 was anything involving the Yankees.
There is a perception that because Philly and NYC are so close together, there is only real interest in this World Series in a small portion of the country. But of course, that's wrong -- the Yankees are a huge draw everywhere.
Philadelphia: If Pedro somehow wins one or more game in this series, would I be crazy to say he may be the best -- or among the best two or three -- in-season free agent additions of all time? He's been much better than I expected already, but winning a World Series game or two would just seem to push him into a new stratosphere. How does he look so much better than he did the prior two seasons in New York?
Dave Sheinin: That's not crazy at all, particularly if you measure impact in relation to cost. Pedro, remember, signed for only $1 million guaranteed.
Plenty of theories as to why Pedro has been so effective -- he's healthier, he's free of the burden of the Mets contract, he's re-energized by the pennant race and the postseason.
Philadelphia: I've been pointing out to no one in particular that this Phillies team is the heir to the Yankees teams in the late 90s -- the lovable, do-anything-to-win-and-win-the-right-way team. If you'll recall, those teams at the beginning of the run weren't obvious favorites. They won by being the team where the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. That's why this year's Phillies will take it. Look for Pedro Feliz to do something big in Game 1.
Dave Sheinin: This is a great notion, and I see the parallels. Plus, both the late 1990s Yankees and these Phillies have the solid, homegrown core entering their primes at the same time. I like it.
Philadelphia: "Assuming Lee gets stuck against Sabathia each time, is it possible the Yanks have a pitching edge in every single start?"
Um, you could also make a case that the Phils have the edge in every single start. These are two closely matched teams. It really depends on variables.
Dave Sheinin: This is absolutely correct. Beyond Lee and Sabathia, no one has any idea what we're going to get from the starting pitchers. Hamels? Burnett? Good luck trying to figure them out. Blanton? Pedro? Pettitte? Gaudin? You never can tell.
Yokohama, Japan: Is Hideki Matsui playing for his job? If I remember correctly, the Yankees were shopping him last offseason already. During teh final game of the ALCS, Tim McCarver kept saying he couldn't see Matsui playing anywhere but New York, but I don't see how the Yankees can keep him in there. Don't they want to use his spot in the outfield to bring in more power and/or youth?
So, is this Godzilla's last hurrah in New York? What happens if they win the Series?
Dave Sheinin: Hell, Yokohama. I think the decision has already been made that the Yankees will cut ties with Matsui at the end of the World Series -- unless Matsui wants to return at a cut-rate price to be a bench player, which I can't see. (The way I see it, Matsui has "2010 Orioles" written all over him.)
The truth is, Matsui really can't play the field anymore, and the Yankees need to keep the DH position free to use amongst Posada, Damon (if they bring him back), A-Rod and Jason Bay/Matt Holliday (whichever free agent they land).
Washington, D.C.: There were a couple moments in the ALCS where Joe Girardi really seemed to overmanage and it opened the door for the Angels. Is it possible that that becomes an issue again here in the World Series? The Philly lineup seems to be much more dangerous to any managerial mistakes like that than the Angels' did ...
Dave Sheinin: I totally agree. I don't believe I've ever seen a manager overmanage to such a degree in the postseason before. The lefty-for-lefty and righty-for-righty pitching moves in Game 3 and the pinch-running for A-Rod in Game 5 stand out as particularly egregious examples. To my mind, Charlie Manuel is vastly superior to Girardi, and the Yankees had better hope it doesn't come down to a battle of managers.
Arlington, Virginia No. 2: Hi: I agree with your pick of the Yankees in 7 games. Even though I think the Phillies are a great team. Last year I picked the Phillies over the Rays. Few others did at that time.
I have looked but can't find where Tom Boswell has picked a winner for this year. Last year he picked the Rays. Do you know who he picks to win the World Series this year? Thanks.
washingtonpost.com: Boswell: No choke: This time it's the Yankees with something to prove (Washington Post, Oct. 28)
Dave Sheinin: I just tried to call Boz's cell to get his picks, but it went straight to voice mail. He may be flying up here as we speak. If you want to shoot me an email later (email@example.com), I'll ask him when I see him and let you know.
Another x-factor: Johnny Damon. The guy has been raking this year, and we know he can be clutch in tight spots. If I'm the Phillies, he scares me as much as anyone except A-Rod, Teixeira and maybe Jeter right now. Probably even more than Jeter.
Dave Sheinin: Agreed. He's a big factor, particularly with the Phillies throwing two very tough lefties in the first three games.
Philadelphia: In your opinion, is it true the Yankees are playing more like a team than they have in the past? For years, it was said they were a collection of superstars who could beat you, but these superstars put themselves above the team. Are the Yankees finally a team?
Dave Sheinin: Very true. I never remember the Yankees being this relaxed and cohesive. I have to say that A.J. Burnett, with his whole silly shaving-cream-pie routine, has made a difference in the clubhouse, as has Sabathia's easygoing, friendly manner. And of course, A-Rod's new, relaxed approach is well documented and clearly effective for him.
Philadelphia: How tough will it be for Phillies pitchers to get through the lineup? I find one can't be too careful with a lineup where seven players hit 20 or more home runs, and the eighth batter is Derek Jeter.
Dave Sheinin: It's no tougher than it will be for Yankees pitchers to get through the Phillies' lineup. Let's face it -- these are the two best offenses in baseball.
New York, N.Y.: 70 percent chance of rain? Really? Are we looking at another year last last fall? Ugghhh. And what are the odds that the Commissioner's Office actually sits down and looks at things differently if we're still playing on Nov. 10 or whenever this year ...
Dave Sheinin: They're going to have to take a look at the schedule. It's gotten ridiculous.
Red Sox fan: I want the Phillies to win but I think the Yankees will win. There, I said it...
Yankee hitting lineup too deep, too strong. Pitching is a wash with a slight edge to the Yanks with Rivera in the bullpen.
Now let me go get my earplugs which I will need for the next year of listening to Yankee fans ...
Dave Sheinin: Thanks for the insight into the mind of a Red Sox fan.
A couple of weeks ago on our Baseball Insider blog, I brought up the notion of Team of the Decade... Is it the Yankees (five World Series appearances, one title so far) or the Red Sox (two WS appearances, two titles), or someone else -- such as the Cardinals or Phillies? The Yankees can end the arguemtn by winning this one, but if they lose it's a heck of a debate.
Boston: As a Red Sox fan of course I hate to say anything bad about a Yankee, but it seems to me that A. J. Burnett is a bit of a head case. Do you feel the series pressure will effect him?
Dave Sheinin: It sure seemed to get to him in the first inning of Game 5 of the ALCS, didn't it?
Pitchers going deep: For which team is it more important for starters to go deep into the game? The Yankees seemed to show a bit of a weak underbelly in the middle innings of the ALCS, but it seems like you could exhaust the Phillies' bullpen fairly quickly, too.
Dave Sheinin: Great question. There are serious, major questions about both bullpens. But the biggest factor here might be Mariano Rivera, and the Yankees' willingness to turn to him for six outs. It's like he's his own set-up guy!
Another X factor: Chad Durbin. This guy has been lights out all postseason (four scoreless appearances). He may have moved up in the pecking order of the constantly fluctuating Phillies bullpen.
washingtonpost.com: Baseball Insider: Are Yankees Already Team of the Decade? (Washington Post, Oct. 16)
Neutral site: Is there any chance -- I mean ANY chance -- that if we get five or six days of postponements, baseball might look to move a game to a neutral domed site? Where would they even look if such an event occurred? Also, would it take something like that to get baseball to re-jigger the schedule, play more doubleheaders and do something to get the postseason to finish in October again?
Dave Sheinin: First of all, I highly doubt we're going to get five or six days of postponements. But even if we did, I don't think baseball wants to move to a neutral-site World Series. (By the way, this has been proposed before, most notably by Scott Boras.)
I think the simpler answer is to end the season sooner (either by scheduling double-headers, shortening the regular season to 154 games), start the postseason earlier and take back control of the schedule from Fox. Kill the unnecessary off days and wrap up the World Series by around Oct. 25.
Miami: I am no expert but do believe in Joe Girardi. When Florida lost him as coach that was a great loss. He will prove his worth this World Series. Yankees in five.
Dave Sheinin: Well, here's a rare vote of confidence in Girardi. I'll say this about him: He's a very bright guy -- and I don't just mean book-smart (he has an engineering degree from Northwestern). He's evolved a great deal as a manager, by learning from his mistakes, and I don't see any reason to think he won't continue to improve.
Washington, D.C.: Did you really imply you never know what you're going to get from Pettite? Only the most victories in postseason history.
Dave Sheinin: That's true, of course. You DO know what you're going to get with Pettitte -- 6 1/3 innings (he's thrown exactly that many in four straight postseason starts, and five of his last six) of effective pitching (typically one or two runs allowed).
But also there's this: His last five postseason starts have come against the White Sox, Indians, Twins and Angels (twice). He hasn't faced a lineup like this one in he postseason in a long time.
Boston: Hi Dave,
Are some of the offensive numbers by both of these teams distorted by the fact they play in home run-friendly ballparks?
Dave Sheinin: Yes, absolutely. But they both mash on the road as well. Phillies hit the most HRs on the road this season (116) in all MLB. Yankees were second (108).
Harrisburg, Penn.: I know this may sound paranoid, but are the Phillies the least-respected potential back-to-back World Series champs? TBS' announcers should be objectively seen as rooting for the Dodgers, and I don't have to even tell you about the outright rooting for the American League by Joe Buck and FOX, both in last year's World Series, and undoubtedly, this year.
Dave Sheinin: Interesting, but not surprising.
Dave Sheinin: OK, folks. I'm out of time. Thanks for the great questions and observations. Enjoy the Series.
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