Ken Rosenthal on D&C: Red Sox, Cardinals ‘are who everybody else wants to be’
|10.23.13 at 10:35 am ET|
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to preview the Red Sox-Cardinals World Series.
The team’s face off on Wednesday night at Fenway Park in Game 1, with Jon Lester taking the hill for Boston and Adam Wainwright for St. Louis.
“What I love about this series is simply that these are the two ‘it’ organizations right now,” Rosenthal said. “These two teams are who everybody else wants to be. And the fact that for the first time since 1999 the two teams with the best records in each league have made it to the World Series to me is very special.”
Boston comes off a six-game ALCS triumph over the Tigers. The dagger came in Game 6 when Shane Victorino launched a grand slam with the Red Sox trailing 2-1, to put Boston up for good. It was the second bullpen implosion for Detroit of the series.
“The bullpen, it’s a whole different animal for the Cardinals, because the Tigers bullpen — the whole thought process of the Red Sox that entire series, it didn’t work early, at least the first game, was, ‘Let’s get to their bullpen, and good things might happen,’ ” Rosenthal said. “Eventually that is exactly what happened in that series. It’s not going to happen in the same way this series.”
The Detroit bullpen allowed a pair of devastating, late-inning grand slams, the team’s best two hitters did not show up, but the Tigers lasted six games on the strength of their starting pitching. St Louis cannot match Detroit’s top line of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, but the Cardinals have put together a very solid rotation.
“The Cardinals starters, while not Sanchez, Scherzer and Verlander, are certainly very good,” Rosenthal said. “Wainwright is outstanding, [Michael] Wacha is really good, and whoever else they throw will be someone who has a high-octane arm.”
St Louis features an offense that’s capable of producing from top to bottom. Outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday provide the pop, while second baseman Matt Carpenter, and catcher Yadier Molina were arguably the best players at their positions in MLB this season.
“I also believe that the Cardinals have, right now, a better offense than the Tigers did, given [Miguel] Cabrera’s injury and [Prince] Fielder’s struggles,” Rosenthal said. “The Cardinals are a much more balanced type of offense, I don’t expect them to go into these kind of funks and slumps we saw.”
The health of Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig will play a huge role this series. Craig missed the last six weeks of the season with a foot injury, but manager Mike Matheny announced on Tuesday that Craig would be on the World Series roster and serve as the designated hitter for Games 1 and 2 in Boston.
Craig batted .315/.373/.457 and drove in 97 runs in 134 games.
“He hasn’t played in a long time at this level, that to me is a difficult thing to step in and do,” said Rosenthal. “If there’s anybody who can do that, it’s someone like Craig, who is just a pure outstanding hitter, but when you’ve been taking batting practice for 10 days, hitting off the tee for a month, and you can’t really run that well, it’s fair to question what exactly he’s going to give them.”
The Red Sox face a dilemma at first base for the three games scheduled in St. Louis. With the DH eliminated, they must decide whether David Ortiz or Mike Napoli plays first base, while the other sits on the bench.
“David Ortiz is David Ortiz, no matter what he is doing at that particular time. And as we saw in the ALCS, one swing can change the whole series,” Rosenthal said. “I still see Ortiz being their guy. The Cardinals don’t have a left-handed starter, so it makes sense that he would play against the right-handers anyway. I see him starting two of three for a political reason and also for a baseball reason.”
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