Twins vs A's
On one hand, as an inveterate Yankees hater, I'm pulling for the Twins because I honestly believe their pitching is the only thing that stands between the Yankees and another World Series title. On the other hand, I'm desperately hoping that Oakland wins, in large part so it will finally shut the legions of Moneyball misquoters up. (OK, I'm not thrilled with the idea of anything that rewards Carl Pohlad for doing anything, but that's a whole other issue.)
Prediction: Twins. Frank Thomas sets a record for most intentional walks received in a playoff series by a guy whose middle name isn't Lamar, and Santana and the Twins' bullpen dominate.
Yankees vs Tigers
The Tigers are a combination of mostly young pitchers (Bonderman, Zumaya, Verlander, etc.) with mostly old hitters (Pudge, Magglio Ordonez, Polanco, Casey), which is how you get a team that gasps to the finish line like Mike Patterson with a Frank Gore fumble. The Yankees, on the other hand, have old, expensive hitters with other old, expensive hitters backing them up, which is how you get the GNP of Venezuela on the field for the sixth inning. Oh, and they've got old pitchers, too.
Prediction: Yankees, and it ain't going to be pretty. Their lineup is going to chew through the Tigers' rotation and into the soft underbelly (and no, I'm not talking about Todd Jones' abdomen) of the the bullpen. Expect at least one 11-2 blowout.
Cardinals vs Padres
In a short series where Cris Carpenter is going twice, anything can happen. On the other hand, this is a short series where Jim Edmonds is still recovering from a concussion, the Cardinals are relying on Braden Looper to be someone other than Braden Looper, and Chris Duncan's magic has to wear out sometime. Meanwhile, San Diego very quietly has assembled a mighty pitching staff, and just enough bats to be mildly unsettling.
Prediction: San Diego. Pujols + Rolen in a down year + Duncan = not enough offense. Even if Cla Meredith has given back the Captain Universe powers that he possessed earlier in the year, the Padres just have too many arms.
Dodgers vs Mets
In a year when the gritty, clutchy performance of veteran players like Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, and J.D. Drew provided the difference...oh, wait, those guys got picked up by DePodesta? Sorry, my bad. Anyway, we have two teams of highly priced veteran hitters with banged-up pitching staffs going at it. The difference? One team loves their rookies, the other hates them. Incidentally, why is no one searching Endy Chavez' oatmeal for steroids? He's slugging 60 points over her career average, for crying out loud.
Prediction: Mets, barely. In a year when Chavez and Valentin catch fire, there's clearly something karmically weird driving this team. Having Delgado, Wright, Beltran and Reyes at the top of the lineup doesn't hurt, either.