Wednesday, April 8, 2009

World Series Preview - Season 11

The World Series Matchup is set, with Scranton making their first Series appearance against the empire of Mexico City, appearing for the 5th time (3 wins so far) in 8 years. So what does this matchup have in store?

Mexico City Offense: The Bandejos led the NL in Batting Average, Slugging Percentage, Home Runs, and Total Runs Scored (by 88). Three powerful sluggers, Jalal Rivera, Del Gil, and Alex Shibata lead the attack with a combined 151 HRs. Five players finished with 100 or more RBI's. The team can run too, with leadoff man Aaron Pratt swiping 67 or 71 bases. The Bandejos will swing and miss with 6 players striking out 86 or more times on the season.

Scranton Defense: The Nittany Lions led the AL in ERA (4.46) and saves (61). Veteran ace Phil Martin has pitched for Rochester, San Juan, and Mexico City so he's used to big games. Magglio Merced was great all year as the closer.

Defensively, SS Emmanuel McMurtry is a severe liability with 40 errors and range considered well below average. The rest of the defense is solid, especially the gold glovers at 1B & 2B.

Scranton Offense: The Lions can run out some boppers of their own with a pair of 60 HR hitters in MVP candidate Bret Davis and Vern Marshall, a leading contender for Rookie of the Year. The team's 311 HRs trailed only Texas and their 1102 runs scored led baseball.

Mexico City Defense: The Bandejos power staff led the NL in strikeouts. A deep and talented rotation features Brian Jung and Willie Velazquez at the top. Closer Rob Shields has struggled the past two seasons but is a perfect 5-5 0.00 in the playoffs this year and 9-10 career. Workhorse Will Nicholson bridges the gap effectively and worked 124 solid innings this year.

The defense leans on the slick-fielding Steve Sosa (SS) but has no glaring weakness as their 7 minus plays for the year indicate.

Summary: Both teams can hit and pitch. This marks just the 3rd time in Second City history that both #1 seeds have reached the World Series. Season 2 yielded a 7-game classic with San Juan edging Wichita and Season 9 saw Richmond pull off a mild upset, beating Mexico City 4 games to 1. Mexico City lost game one of each of their past 2 series before winning out. Scranton comes off a tough 4-2 series win over Richmond in the only AL series NOT to feature a 10-run outburst by either team. Perhaps they have the pitching to hang with the traditionally more balanced NL.

A key to the series may be the performance of Bandejo CF Aaron Pratt. Pratt suffered a terrible slump earlier in the season, but rebounded to finish with decent numbers after losing the leadoff job against RHP. Pratt's table setting makes the middle of the Bandejo order deadly. Without him aboard, big rallies fizzle into a host of solo HR's.

Scranton owner camaro31st is rumored to have invited Scranton's legendary Michael Scott to deliver a pre-game address. Scott's well-documented motivation style is being counted on to help a team in it's first-ever World Series.

Mexico City meanwhile has been there before but owner dyuen is counting on a little motivation trick of his own. Mini-KISS will sing the national anthems prior to Game 1 in Mexico City. This appears to have been plan B after commission jwendt stepped in to ensure that Mexico City's Secretary of State wouldn't bar Scranton star hurler Phil Martin from the country for an indecent exposure charge pending in Canada. Ironically, the charges stemming from an incident that occurred while Martin was in Windsor, Ontario with Bandejo star Alex Shibata who was trying to get over his pending divorce. Martin was jettisoned from the Bandejos shortly after the incident.

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