The teams are set. The World Series will begin Wednesday night at the New Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
The Yankees are 1/2 favorites to win the whole thing. Not a real big surprise, but the Phillies are the defending champions. Of course, the Yankees have 10 more wins this season, and their pitching has done well in the postseason.
I expect it to be a good series. I think there is the possibility of either team winning the title. And I don't think we'll know the champ until at least game six or game seven after the series returns to New York in November.
Here is how I see the two teams stacking up, position by position...
Catcher - This seems to be an obvious edge for the Yankees. Jorge Posada has plenty of playoff experience and had a nice year in NY despite an injury. Carlos Ruiz has done well in the playoffs and is the better defensive catcher, but the pendulum definitely swings to the Yankees who will use Molina or Cervelli as a late inning defensive replacement if needed.
1st Base - Wow, talk about a heavyweight matchup. Mark Teixeira is tremendous defensively, and his diving stop in the eighth inning of game six might have prevented an Angel rally. But Ryan Howard is an MVP, who has been red hot in the playoffs. Overall, I think Howard is slightly better at the plate. Tex hasn't done it in the postseason, but showed signs in Game six of the ALCS. Howard must out hit him. He has thus far, and we give the edge to the Phillies based on that.
2nd Base - There wouldn't be too many teams where Robinson Cano wouldn't even be considered. But in Philadelphia he'd be looking for a new position. Chase Utley is just that good. However, we've heard rumblings that Utley isn't fully healthy. That could make a difference, but Utley is the pick here.
Shortstop - This is one of those positions where the fans of each team wouldn't trade their guy for the other. I mean how could the Phillies give up Jimmy Rollins. Could the Yankees even fathom being better without Derek Jeter? Rollins had an off year. He never fully kicked it into gear. But he was much better in the second half when the Phillies were better. Jeter was sensational this year. Maybe his best year ever. That gets him the nod.
So after four positions I'd say you have to call it pretty even....Obvious edge to the Yanks behind the plate, similar edge to Philly at second and then close calls at 1B and SS. Tough to seperate if you looked at just these four.
Third Base - This is the one slot that isn't close. Alex Rodriguez is quite possibly the best player on both teams, Pedro Feliz maybe the worst offensive player. Feliz does have a nice glove and he does come through with some clutch hits. But he isn't anywhere near the quality of ARod. Rodriguez' past failures have been well noted, but he's been great this postseason and is a threat to change the game in so many ways. Big advantage for the Yanks.
Left Field - I think this another slot where people will disagree. Johnny Damon has the name recognition for the Yanks. Raul Ibanez has the much better year for the Phillies. Much of that was in the first half of the season. Ibanez might not be a great leftfielder, but I like him out there. But the Phils may use Ben Francisco in the field in the DH games - and have Ibanez DH. Damon has no arm but covers some ground in the outfield. Damon is on the south side of his career but is still capable of making a difference in this series. The Phils need to make sure that doesn't happen. If they do, it's an advantage for them.
Center Field - Melky Cabrera was beaten out for this job in spring training. So it's no surprise I give the advantage to Shane Victorino and Philadelphia. Victorino does a little bit of everything. Cabrera actually had a good season after winning the job back. But he's not the player that Victorino is. Probably the biggest advantage for the Phils.
Right Field - Actually maybe right is the biggest advantage for the Phils. Jayson Werth has been absolutely fantastic and has been hot in the postseason. Meanwhile, his counterpart for the Yanks, Nick Swisher brings power but not a high average. Until game six with the Angels he hadn't really been involved in the postseason. Werth is the better, much, of the two.
Designated Hitter - The Phillies didn't make the deal for a DH late in the season like other NL teams did. See Jim Thome (LA) and Jason Giambi (Colorado). But the Phils have Stairs and Francisco who they seem comfortable using. Greg Dobbs might also get some consideration depending on matchups. But the Yanks have an advantage with Hideki Matsui. He hasn't hit with the same power he once had, but he's starting to get some of it back.
Ultimately, these teams on the field are pretty even. It probably comes down to pitching, and we'll take a closer look at all of that before the first one.