The upcoming annual reunion between the Red Sox and Angels in the ALDS is hard to handicap. The Red Sox are better than they were last year in a lot of ways–particularly the strength of their starting pitching. The Angels don’t have Mark Teixeira or K-Rod, but have replaced them with Brian Fuentes (a downgrade) and Kendry Morales (an emerging star).
So, what could be the defining difference between the teams in a short 5-game set? Unfortunately, it may be the inability of Red Sox catchers to throw out the always theft-minded Angels offense.
The Halos actually have 6 players with double-digit steals–led by Chone Figgins and, believe it or not, Bobby Abreu (30 steals). The Red Sox have three, but only Jacoby Ellsbury is a legitimate threat. Rest assured that Mike Scioscia will “release the hounds” at every opportunity against both Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek.
So, the task for John Farrell’s staff will be to keep the speedsters off the base paths to begin with. That means lots of first-pitch strikes, pitching to contact and trusting the Red Sox defense. If the ALDS turns into a track meet, we may be “running” to Blockbuster for our October entertainment needs.