Starters

It will be a bunch of Boston big names against a group of St. Louis no names. Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield and Derek Lowe, all with significant postseason experience, face Woody Williams, Matt Morris, Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis. Suppan led the Cardinals with 16 wins but their best pitcher this season was Chris Carpenter, who has missed the entire postseason with nerve irritation in his right biceps. Carpenter might be available in relief at some point in this series. Schilling is pitching with a sutured ankle tendon, though it's not unreasonable to think he can pitch well.

EDGE: Boston.

Defense

The Cardinals are the better team, though Boston handles itself adequately at several positions. St. Louis has made just one error in the postseason and five of their eight starters have won at least one Gold Glove. The shortstops, Boston's Orlando Cabrera and St. Louis's Edgar Renteria, could be the best defensively in their respective leagues. The center fielders, Boston's Johnny Damon and St. Louis's Jim Edmonds, are considered among the elite. The Cardinals clearly have the advantage at the corners. Third baseman Scott Rolen, the Gold Glove winner for five consecutive seasons, is better than Bill Mueller. Albert Pujols, though not a natural first baseman, is decent, which is more than can be said about David Ortiz, strictly a designated hitter for most of the season who will be forced to play in the field when the teams travel to St. Louis.

EDGE: St. Louis.

Bench

Boston's bench will get a boost when either Kevin Millar or Trot Nixon, who will platoon in right field when the games are in St. Louis, can come off the bench. Pinch runner Dave Roberts was a pest and an effective base runner during the ALCS, and his steal in Game 4 led to Mariano Rivera's blown save. Defensively, Boston can bring in first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, a 2001 Gold Glover, and outfielder Gabe Kapler. Roger Cedeno, a switch hitter, is St. Louis's most lethal weapon off the bench. He also can steal bases. John Mabry does well against right-handed pitching. Marlon Anderson can play the middle infield and is a threat on the bases.

EDGE: Boston.