Your 2008 World Series Prediction Post: Rays or Phillies?

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There is not a single journalist or baseballblogger in the known universe who, before the '08 season started, predicted the Rays and Phillies would meet in the World Series. No big deal, predictions are dumb anyway. Let's just sit back and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime matchup and break down each team's strengths and weaknesses before we all make another dumb prognostication.

With both the ALCS and NLCS MVP awards going to starting pitchers, let's start by comparing the two teams' rotations. The Phillies are led by lefty Cole Hamels, who is definitely the best pitcher on his own team and maybe the best pitcher on both teams. After Hamels, the Phils rotation is a jumbled grab bag: a wild fireballer in Brett Myers, a cagey veteran in Jamie Moyer and a chubby Kentuckian in Country Joe Blanton.

The four Rays pitchers are each better than those three Phillies but it's tough to find a #1 guy. Yes, Scott Kazmir is starting Game One and yes, Matt Garza was the ALCS MVP and yes, James Shields had the lowest regular season WHIP and yes, Andy Sonnanstine....uh....has a long last name, but the Rays strength is not having a dominant front-line starter; the Rays strength is depth.

The Rays depth continues in the bullpen, where you can expect to see a different closer every night. The most important reliever on the team is youngster David Price, but manager Joe Maddon has said he won't use Price in consecutive days. So if the Rays have a late lead, expect Overmanagin' Joe Maddon to be creative with his pen and go with the lefty-righty matchups. There's nothing wrong with a little overmanaging when it produces results.

The Phillies bullpen has been coasting since April, but if you think for a second that Brad Lidge is unbeatable, then you haven't been watching the high and deep fly balls hit off of him in the playoffs. It's a wonder he's been perfect in save opportunities for this long, but hey, what other choice does Charlie Manuel have at this point? He'll be playing with fire but he'd be dumb to change things up now.

Offensively, Manuel can change things up and make a difference. He's been blindly batting lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back-to-back for so long, it's as if he doesn't care about teams with strong left-handed pitchers who can neutralize them late. The Rays have three strong southpaws in the pen (Trever Miller, Price, and J.P. Howell). Howard and Utley are terrible against lefties. Utley's OPS drops 50 points against lefties while Howard's OPS plummets over 200 points. Do the smart thing, Uncle Cholly. Put right-handed hitter Pat the Bat between these two.

The Rays lineup is much more balanced. They don't have any MVP candidates but they don't have a huge gaping hole like the Phillies do at the 7th and 8th slots (Pedro Feliz and catcher-of-choice). Joe Maddon's main decision is whether to DH Cliff Floyd or Willy Aybar and whether to play Gabe Gross or Rocco Baldelli in right field. Still, the handedness of the opposing pitcher usually makes that decision for him.

So who is going to win? Probably the Rays. I'll take 'em in seven. Who you got?

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Rays. No guess on how many games however.

Rays in 6.

World Series MVP: Rocco Baldelli for his high Eckstein Scrappiness Quotient.

/lifts left butt cheek
sounded like 'phillies' to me.
but I'm talking out of my ass.

Phils win both of Cole's starts.

Rays win the other 4.

I'm rooting for the Irwin-killers.

I'll take Al Roker's Book Club Kids in 12.


Rays in seven, just because a tortured Philly is the only Philly I know.

Phillies in 6, only because epithet-spewing, battery-throwing asshole Philadelphians, in my opinion, deserve it more than mohawk-sporting, cowbell-banging neophytes.

And, yes, I realize that has nothing to do with the actual baseball.

It has to be the Phillies in five, for all of us. That allows maximum baseball with minimum cowbell.

I was going to say it will be nice watching baseball in English but since it's on Fox I would rather listen to a Spanish broadcast than have to hear Joe Buck.

If you ask me, they should have a 3 man booth crew: Play-by-play is the home team's TV play-by-play announcer, the lead color commentator is the away team's lead color commentator, and everyone else (including sideline announcers) are "neutral". Would be interesting but probably would never work.

Reminds me of the MNF booth.

Phillies in six.
/dodges lightning bolt thrown from the re-animated corpse of Billy Penn

Rays...they have less african american players, sorry - just seems to be a point of interest these days...

The Colonel compared Rocco and Eckstein. a substantial part of me just died.

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