Starting Ortiz at Coors a big question for Boston
The Boston Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies. One team has one of the richest traditions in baseball history, and the other has been around for only 15 seasons. One team made a terrific comeback to win the American League Championship Series, while the other made a miracle comeback to make the playoffs. One is filled with veteran players known by all, and the other is loaded with good young players everyone will soon know. It should be a great Series, filled with seven games of fascinating story lines.Here are five key questions about the 2007 World Series.
1. What will the Red Sox do with DH David Ortiz at Coors Field?They have to play him at first base. He hit .332 this year, .352 the second half of the season, .396 in September and is, without a doubt, one of the most dangerous and decorated hitters in postseason history.
2. How much will the layoff hurt the Rockies?"A lot," said one scout who saw the Rockies through most of the postseason, and several times down the stretch. "They are a very, very good team. But the run they went on [21 wins in 22 games] was unlike anything I've ever seen, or anyone has ever seen. It wasn't luck, don't get me wrong, but everything bounced their way. And that probably isn't going to happen with eight days off.'' The Rockies are going to be rusty; playing simulated games isn't like playing real games. The Tigers had a long layoff before last year's World Series, then played poorly, especially defensively, in the Series. But what separates the Rockies from the Tigers -- and from every team this year -- is their defense. They had the highest fielding percentage of any team in baseball history. The finer points of defense can indeed be lost for some teams with too much time off, but really, do you think with eight days off, Troy Tulowitzki is going to forget how to catch a ground ball at shortstop?
3. How good is Colorado's pitching?It is an amazing story. The first half of the season, the Rockies' ERA was 43 points higher than the league average. The second half of the season, the Rockies led the NL in ERA. That simply doesn't happen. Their ERA during their incredible streak of 21 wins in 22 games is 2.80. Their ERA in the postseason is 2.08. They have two of the hardest-throwing young pitchers in the game in Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales. They have a smart, savvy pitcher at the top of the rotation in Jeff Francis. Their bullpen is really good. Since Manny Corpas ("tremendous stuff'; unhittable at times,'' one scout said) became the closer in July, the bullpen has flourished. Deposed closer Brian Fuentes has been fabulous as a set-up man who can get a strikeout when he needs it. In the National League Championship Series against Arizona, the Rockies' bullpen allowed 18 hits, five earned runs (1.59 ERA), walked six and struck out 24 in 28 1/3 innings.