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A look at the Cardinals, Red Sox World Series

Posted: October 23, 2013 - 12:02am
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Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz waits to take batting practice during baseball practice Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, in Boston. The Red Sox are preparing to play the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)  Darron Cummings
Darron Cummings
Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz waits to take batting practice during baseball practice Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, in Boston. The Red Sox are preparing to play the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Wednesday, at Boston (8:07 p.m.); Game 2, Thursday, at Boston (8:07 p.m.); Game 3, Saturday, at St. Louis (8:07 p.m.); Game 4, Sunday, at St. Louis (8:15 p.m.); x-Game 5, Monday, Oct. 28, at St. Louis (8:07 p.m.); x-Game 6, Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Boston (8:07 p.m.); x-Game 7, Thursday, Oct. 31, at Boston (8:07 p.m.). (All games on FOX). x-if necessary.

Season Series: Did not play.

Projected Lineups:

Cardinals: 2B Matt Carpenter (.318, 11 HRs, 78 RBIs, .392 OBP; led MLB with 199 hits, 126 runs and 55 doubles), RF Carlos Beltran (.296, 24, 84), LF Matt Holliday (.300, 22, 94, .389 OBP), C Yadier Molina (.319, 12, 80), DH Allen Craig (.315, 13, 97, MLB-best .454 average with RISP), 3B David Freese (.262, 9, 60), 1B Matt Adams (.284, 17, 51 in 108 games), CF Jon Jay (.276, 7, 67, 10 SBs) or Shane Robinson (.250, 2, 16 in 144 ABs), SS Pete Kozma (.217, 1, 35) or Daniel Descalso (.238, 5, 43).

Red Sox: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.298, 9, 53, 92 runs, MLB-best 52/56 SBs), RF Shane Victorino (.294, 15, 61, 21 SBs), 2B Dustin Pedroia (.301, 9, 84, 42 doubles, 17 SBs), DH David Ortiz (.309, 30, 103, .959 OPS), 1B Mike Napoli (.259, 23, 92), LF Jonny Gomes (.247, 13, 52) or Daniel Nava (.303, 12, 66), C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.273, 14, 65), SS Stephen Drew (.253, 13, 67, 8 errors), 3B Xander Bogaerts (.250, 1, 5 in 44 ABs).

Projected Rotations:

Cardinals: RH Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA, 223 Ks, NL-high 241 2-3 IP), RH Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 in 15 games, 9 starts; NLCS MVP), RH Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69 in 37 games, 15 starts), RH Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97).

Red Sox: LH Jon Lester (15-8, 2.75, 213 1-3 IP), RH John Lackey (10-13, 3.52, 2 CG), RH Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74), RH Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 with White Sox and Red Sox).

Relievers:

Cardinals: RH Trevor Rosenthal (2-4, 2.74 ERA, 3 saves), RH Carlos Martinez (2-1, 5.08 in 21 games), RH Seth Maness (5-2, 2.32, 16 GIDP in 62 IP), LH Randy Choate (2-1, 2.29 in 64 games), LH Kevin Siegrist (3-1, 0.45, 39 2-3 IP, 17 hits, 50 Ks, 18 BBs), RH John Axford (7-7, 4.02 in 75 games; 1-0, 1.74 in 13 games with Cardinals after trade from Milwaukee), RH Edward Mujica (2-1, 2.78, 37/41 saves), RH Shelby Miller (15-9, 3.06 in 31 starts; led MLB rookies in wins).

Red Sox: RH Koji Uehara (4-1, 1.09, 21/24 saves, 101 Ks, 9 BBs, 73 games; ALCS MVP), RH Junichi Tazawa (5-4, 3.16, 71 games), LH Craig Breslow (5-2, 1.81), RH Brandon Workman (6-3, 4.97 in 20 games, 3 starts), LH Felix Doubront (11-6, 4.32 in 29 games, 27 starts), LH Franklin Morales (2-2, 4.62), RH Ryan Dempster (8-9, 4.57 in 32 games, 29 starts).

Matchups:

While these teams haven’t run into each other in interleague play since June 2008, they have met in three memorable World Series throughout the years: St. Louis won seven-game thrillers in 1946 and 1967 before Boston rolled to a 2004 sweep that halted its 86-year championship drought. Aside from Yankees-Dodgers, there hasn’t been a more frequent matchup since that first Red Sox-Cardinals clash. ... Each one left its own mark in baseball lore. There was Enos Slaughter’s “mad dash” home in 1946, when Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky appeared to hesitate on the relay, deciding a World Series that pitted Ted Williams against Stan Musial. There was Bob Gibson denying Carl Yastrzemski and Boston’s “Impossible Dream” in 1967. And there was Curt Schilling’s bloody sock and the end of The Curse of the Bambino nine years ago. The Red Sox never trailed in that Series. ... Both model franchises rank among the most successful in baseball over the past 15 years. The Red Sox are seeking their third World Series title in 10 seasons. The Cardinals are going for their second in three years and third since 2006. ... Both clubs won 97 games this season, tying for the best record in the majors. It marks the first time since the Yankees swept the Braves in 1999 that the top teams in each league have met in the World Series. ... St. Louis led the National League with 783 runs. Boston topped the majors with 853. ... The designated hitter creates key questions for both teams, as it often does in the World Series. Craig seems a perfect choice for the Cardinals when AL rules apply in Boston — he said Sunday he has recovered enough from a sprained left foot that’s sidelined him since early September. And if Craig is healthy enough to play first base, then Adams could slide to DH. Holliday and Beltran could also be candidates, opening room in the outfield for two superior defenders in Robinson and Jay. But when there is no DH allowed in the NL park, the Red Sox have a difficult decision to make. They can keep Ortiz in the lineup at first base, but that puts Napoli on the bench. A proven postseason slugger, Napoli hit two big homers in the ALCS. He used to be a catcher, but hasn’t caught all season. ... Wainwright took a tough-luck loss in the NLCS but is 4-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 4 saves in 16 career postseason games, including 7 starts. He even helped St. Louis to a championship as a rookie closer in 2006. ... Wacha, the NLCS MVP, has been almost unhittable lately, displaying remarkable poise for a 22-year-old rookie. He lost a no-hit bid against Washington on an infield single with two outs in the ninth inning of his final regular-season outing, then pitched 7 1-3 hitless innings at Pittsburgh before Pedro Alvarez homered in Game 4 of the NLDS. With the Cardinals facing elimination, Wacha won 2-1 to send the series back to St. Louis. In the NLCS, he outpitched Kershaw twice and threw 13 2-3 scoreless innings. He is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in 3 postseason starts. ... With plenty of speed at the top of the lineup, the Red Sox like to run. With a rocket arm behind the plate, Molina makes it tough — he threw out 19 of 45 runners trying to steal this year. That matchup should be interesting. On the other side, St. Louis is short on wheels and rarely tries to steal. It’s a role reversal of sorts — traditionally, the Red Sox have built their offenses on plodding sluggers, while the Cardinals love jackrabbits who can scoot. ... More than a dozen players remain from the Cardinals team that won the 2011 World Series. ... Boston is 8-0 in World Series games since losing Game 7 against the New York Mets in 1986. ... Few in this matchup have faced the opposing pitchers, but Victorino and Gomes, two former NL players, each have homered off Wainwright.

Big Picture:

Cardinals: After winning their 19th pennant, the Cardinals are seeking their 12th World Series title. They nearly repeated as NL champs in 2012 before blowing a 3-1 lead against San Francisco in the NLCS. This year, they opened a 3-1 lead over Los Angeles before dropping Game 5. But the Cardinals closed it out by thumping Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the Game 6 clincher. ... When the season is on the line, nobody’s been better than St. Louis. After winning the final two games of their best-of-five division series against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals are 8-1 when facing postseason elimination the past three years. ... The pressure was on throughout the regular season and the Cardinals (97-65) pulled away at the finish from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati to win the NL Central after never leading by more than four games nor trailing by more than four. To win another championship, they’ll need a long list of youngsters to keep coming through for second-year manager Mike Matheny. ... After setting a franchise record by batting .330 with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals’ potent lineup was minus a big bat in Craig during the playoffs. Adams hit eight homers filling in at first base down the stretch but can be vulnerable against lefties. His two-run homer in the eighth inning all but sealed Game 5 against Pittsburgh. ... Kelly was a fill-in for the second straight year but ended up being the team’s most consistent starter for about six weeks. ... The 23-year-old Miller also is a top-end talent, but he was left out of the playoff rotation and has pitched only one inning of relief this postseason. ... The bullpen anchors are also young, led by the hard-throwing Rosenthal. He has been dominant since taking over as the closer late in the season. ... Cardinals rookies had a major league-high 36 wins. ... St. Louis had plenty to overcome this year after losing longtime ace Chris Carpenter, closer Jason Motte and shortstop Rafael Furcal to season-ending injuries before the season even started. Still, the Cardinals racked up their most wins since 2005, when they won 100 games. ... Wainwright tied Washington RHP Jordan Zimmermann for the NL lead in wins and joined Dizzy Dean (1934-35) and Mort Cooper (1942-43) as the only St. Louis pitchers to lead the league twice. ... According to STATS, Adams became one of three rookies to reach 17 homers and 50 RBIs in fewer than 300 at-bats — the first to do it in the NL since Tom Haller for the Giants in 1962.

Red Sox: Boston (97-65) returned to the postseason for the first time since 2009 after one of the most tumultuous periods in franchise history. Following an unprecedented collapse in September 2011, the Red Sox brought in manager Bobby Valentine to restore order to a clubhouse that had grown complacent under two-time World Series champion Terry Francona. Players rebelled against Valentine and the team won just 69 games — its worst finish in almost half a century. The rebuilding began with the August 2012 trade of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers. ... The AL’s victory in the All-Star game gives them the extra home game in the World Series. ... Under new manager John Farrell, the Red Sox became the second AL team in the three-division era to go from worst to first. Then they defeated the wild-card Rays 3-1 in the division series, winning both home games. Boston beat Detroit 4-2 in the ALCS to capture its 13th pennant, going 2-1 at Fenway Park despite nearly getting no-hit in the opener. Grand slams by Ortiz in Game 2 and Victorino in Game 6 rallied the Red Sox to victory. ... This was Boston’s first AL East title since 2007 and just the second since 1995. ... Ortiz is the only player remaining from the 2004 World Series title team. Pedroia, Lester and Ellsbury were also on the 2007 champions. ... The Red Sox never lost more than three games in a row this season, the first major league team to do that since the 2005 Cardinals. Boston has dropped three straight only twice since May. ... The Red Sox were successful on 86.6 percent of stolen base attempts, the best in AL history since baseball started keeping track of caught stealings in the 1920s. Boston was successful on its final 39 tries during the regular season and 11 of 13 in the playoffs. ... This is the fourth time Gomes has been a part of a big turnaround. The 2008 Rays won 31 more games than the year before; the 2010 Reds won 13 more, the 2012 Athletics won 20 more and this year’s Red Sox won 28 more than the previous season.

Watch For:

— Welcome To The Show. One of the greatest hitters in playoff history, the 36-year-old Beltran has finally reached the first World Series of his 16-year career after three painful losses in Game 7 of the NLCS. Now, an even bigger stage for the eight-time All-Star, who can become a free agent after the season.

— Lights Out. Neither closer came into the season with that role, but both have been sensational. Featuring a 100 mph fastball, Rosenthal has 3 saves and 9 strikeouts in 7 scoreless innings this postseason. Uehara inherited the job in Boston when former All-Stars Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were injured. The 38-year-old right-hander was phenomenal all summer, compiling 27 straight scoreless outings and retiring 37 batters in a row during one stretch. Previously a playoff flop with Texas, he gave up a game-winning homer against Tampa Bay in the ALDS but took home ALCS MVP honors with 3 saves and a win against Detroit. He is 1-1 with 5 saves, 13 Ks and a 1.00 ERA in 9 innings this postseason.

— Youth Movement. The Cardinals aren’t the only team with an impressive rookie or two. Late in the ALCS, Farrell benched slumping 3B Will Middlebrooks in favor of Bogaerts, a touted 21-year-old prospect with a keen eye and pop at the plate. Showing poise and patience beyond his years, Bogaerts has a .727 on-base percentage in limited postseason action, with 3 doubles and 5 walks. He’s also scored 7 runs.

— Home Turf. The Cardinals went 54-27 at Busch Stadium this season, the second-best home record in the majors, and 5-1 during the playoffs. But they were 2-3 on the road vs. Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, and won’t have the luxury of home-field advantage in the World Series. Meanwhile, the Red Sox went 53-28 at Fenway Park during the regular season. They were 4-1 at home during the playoffs and 3-2 on the road.

SEE A POSITION-BY-POSITION MATCHUP ONLINE AT WWW.JUNEAUEMPIRE.COM/SPORTS

How the Cardinals, Red Sox match up

A position-by-position look at the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox going into the World Series, starting Wednesday night at Fenway Park:

First Base:

Cardinals: Matt Adams. Though he looks like a beer league softball player, Adams can really hit. Quick hands and a sound swing helped him post 17 homers and 51 RBIs in only 296 at-bats, impressive numbers for a rookie who has filled in admirably since cleanup man Allen Craig was injured in early September. Adams is prone to strikeouts, however, and can be vulnerable against left-handed pitching. Defense is not a strength.

Red Sox: Mike Napoli. After a hip condition showed up during his physical last winter, Napoli settled for an incentive-laden, one-year contract with the Red Sox after the sides had agreed to a $39 million, three-year deal. But the former catcher stayed healthy at first base and fit perfectly in Boston with his ample beard, patient approach and powerful swing. A proven postseason hitter, Napoli had two big homers in the ALCS against Detroit but also struck out 11 times in 20 at-bats.

Edge: Red Sox.

Second Base:

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter. Catalyst for the NL’s highest-scoring offense, Carpenter had a breakout season that earned him his first All-Star selection. He led the majors in hits (199), runs (126) and doubles (55), making the leadoff man a surprise MVP contender. Carpenter held his own at second, too, after switching from third base in spring training. Just coming out of a slump, he started to find his stroke in the NLCS against the Dodgers.

Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia. The heart and soul of the gritty Red Sox since their 2007 championship, Pedroia plays with a dirty uniform and an all-out gusto that translates into leadership and wins. It also inspires a string of clichés about the 2008 AL MVP. But there’s no denying how good he is — regardless of size — and how crucial this mighty mite has been to Boston’s success.

Edge: Even.

Shortstop:

Cardinals: Pete Kozma. A light-hitting glove man, Kozma has a knack for feisty at-bats in October. But his true value is on defense, where he really shines. He’d better, because Kozma isn’t much of a threat at the plate. Daniel Descalso also sees playing time at shortstop.

Red Sox: Stephen Drew. The brother of two big leaguers (J.D. and Tim) from a baseball family, this Drew has plenty of talent himself. After hitting .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBIs in his first season with Boston, he slumped to 3 for 35 (.086) in the AL playoffs but kept playing superb defense.

Edge: Red Sox.

Third Base:

Cardinals: David Freese. A hometown favorite in St. Louis, Freese was the NLCS and World Series MVP when the Cardinals won it all two years ago. Coming off a mediocre regular season, he’s hitting .189 with four RBIs this October. Still, he remains a threat. Descalso is often a late-inning sub for defense.

Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts. A premier prospect, Bogaerts was called up in August and hit .250 in 44 at-bats over 18 games. But late in the ALCS, he replaced slumping Will Middlebrooks in the starting lineup and it’s easy to see why. The 21-year-old rookie from Aruba shows a sharp eye and pop at the plate, with poise and patience beyond his years. Can he keep it up on the World Series stage?

Edge: Cardinals.

Catcher:

Cardinals: Yadier Molina. Baseball’s best defensive catcher has turned into quite a hitter, too. Molina batted .319 with 44 doubles and 80 RBIs this season, not to mention his gifted handling of St. Louis’ young pitching staff. No wonder he’s a top MVP candidate. Possessing a rocket arm, Molina threw out 19 of 45 attempted base-stealers this year. The Red Sox like to run, so that could be an intriguing matchup.

Red Sox: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. A switch-hitter with power, “Salty” is another hairy member of Boston’s beard brigade. He strikes out an awful lot, but when he gets a hold of one he can hit it a long way. And he probably hasn’t received enough credit for the job he’s done with an eclectic Red Sox pitching staff. David Ross also gets the occasional start behind the plate.

Edge: Cardinals.

Left Field:

Cardinals: Matt Holliday. A six-time All-Star, Holliday is a streaky hitter who nevertheless puts up consistent power numbers by the end of each season. He remains a legitimate thumper in the middle of the lineup, though his defense can be shaky. That could come into play at Fenway Park with the Green Monster right behind him.

Red Sox: Jonny Gomes or Daniel Nava. Another one of the gritty and grizzled newcomers contributing to Boston’s success, Gomes brings a power bat and an upbeat attitude. Yes, he’s prone to strikeouts, but he’ll also work a walk. Sound familiar in this lineup? The Red Sox are 6-0 when he starts this postseason. Nava is an underrated switch-hitter who batted .303 with 12 homers and 66 RBIs this year.

Edge: Cardinals.

Center Field:

Cardinals: Jon Jay or Shane Robinson. While his best attribute is a quality glove, Jay can hit the ball in the gap or steal a bag. He batted .206 without an extra-base hit in the playoffs, so Robinson started against a lefty in the NLCS clincher. With more power than expected for a little guy, Robinson is 3 for 8 in the postseason with three RBIs — including a pinch-hit homer at Dodger Stadium. He also is a solid defender.

Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury. The speedy sparkplug that gets Boston going, Ellsbury is a big reason the Red Sox scored 57 more runs than any other team this season. He spent most of September on the disabled list with a broken right foot, yet barely missed a beat. After leading the majors with 52 steals (in 56 tries), he swiped 6 of 7 in the AL playoffs while batting .400. He can become a free agent this fall, and while Ellsbury already is recognized as one of baseball’s best leadoff hitters, a big World Series could only boost his asking price.

Edge: Red Sox.

Right Field:

Cardinals: Carlos Beltran. With 12 RBIs this postseason, the 36-year-old Beltran has only added to his resume as one of the game’s greatest playoff performers. He’s finally in the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career after three painful losses in Game 7 of the NLCS. An eight-time All-Star, Beltran doesn’t run as well as he used to, but he’s still a frightening force at the plate in clutch situations. The switch-hitter can become a free agent again after the season.

Red Sox: Shane Victorino. One of those winning players who is much better than his statistics will ever show. As manager Joe Maddon of the rival Rays put it, the speedy Victorino “drips with intangibles.” In a fascinating move, he gave up switch-hitting this season, his first with Boston after signing a $39 million, three-year deal, and now bats exclusively right-handed. That has led to more power (15 homers to go with 21 steals) from “The Flyin’ Hawaiian.” He beat Tampa Bay in the division series with an infield single and finished off Detroit in the ALCS with a grand slam.

Edge: Cardinals.

Designated Hitter:

Cardinals: Allen Craig. St. Louis banked on Craig when Albert Pujols left as a high-priced free agent following the 2011 World Series title. That move has paid off handsomely. An RBI machine, Craig batted a major league-best .454 with runners in scoring position this season and knocked in 97 despite missing most of September with a sprained left foot. He was sidelined throughout the playoffs, but appears poised to return for the World Series. With a DH allowed under AL rules in Boston, that gives the Cardinals a perfect opportunity to ease Craig back in during the first two games — potentially a huge boost to their already-potent lineup. Perhaps he’ll even be ready to play first base at some point in the Series.

Red Sox: David Ortiz. After his 2012 season was shortened by an Achilles injury, “Big Papi” bounced back with 30 homers, 103 RBIs and a .959 OPS at age 37. There’s no better DH in the game, and Ortiz has a long history of clutch hitting in October — including his tying grand slam against Detroit in the eighth inning of Game 2 that swung the ALCS. The nine-time All-Star started six games at first base this year, so he can probably still play there when NL rules prohibit a DH in St. Louis. But that would put Napoli on the bench, a bummer for Boston.

Edge: Red Sox.

Starting Pitchers:

Cardinals: The young staff is led by Adam Wainwright, a reliable ace who went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA and 223 strikeouts in an NL-high 241 2-3 innings this season. He’s often at his best in October, too. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 4 saves in 16 career postseason games, including 7 starts. He even helped St. Louis to a championship as a rookie closer in 2006, but missed the title run two years ago while recovering from major elbow surgery. The rising star is 22-year-old rookie Michael Wacha, drafted in the first round out of Texas A&M last year. He made only nine big league starts this season but has been almost untouchable since barely falling short of a no-hitter in his final regular-season outing. He went 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three playoff starts, outpitching Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw twice to win MVP honors in the NLCS with 13 2-3 scoreless innings. Wacha gets the ball in Game 2, probably followed by Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. The back half of the rotation is where St. Louis could be vulnerable against Boston’s deep and powerful lineup. Talented right-hander Shelby Miller, who had a 3.06 ERA and led major league rookies with 15 wins, was left out of the playoff rotation. He is expected to remain in long relief.

Red Sox: Much improved over last year, the Red Sox rotation begins with left-hander Jon Lester, who was 15-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 213 1-3 innings this season. He went 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in three playoff starts and has a 2.49 ERA in 11 career postseason games. Behind him is Clay Buchholz, along with veterans John Lackey and Jake Peavy. Lackey rebounded nicely from Tommy John surgery this year and won both his playoff starts, beating Justin Verlander 1-0 in Game 3 of the ALCS. Back when he was a rookie in 2002, the right-hander won Game 7 of the World Series against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Buchholz went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA during an injury-interrupted season. Peavy struggled in two playoff starts, compiling an 8.31 ERA. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a July trade. This is his first World Series.

Edge: Cardinals.

Bullpen:

Cardinals: The closer is another hard-throwing rookie, Trevor Rosenthal. Flashing a 100 mph fastball, he has excelled since assuming the ninth-inning role late in the season after Edward Mujica faded. Rosenthal has three saves and nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings this postseason. New setup man Carlos Martinez, right-hander Seth Maness and lefty Kevin Siegrist all have good stuff. Right-hander John Axford and lefty specialist Randy Choate provide plenty of depth and experience.

Red Sox: Koji Uehara has been a lights-out savior as the surprise closer in his first season with Boston since signing a $4.25 million, one-year contract that turned into quite a bargain. The 38-year-old right-hander only inherited the job when former All-Stars Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were injured. After a phenomenal regular season, Uehara gave up a game-winning homer against Tampa Bay in the division series but took home the ALCS MVP award against Detroit. He is 1-1 with five saves, 13 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in nine innings this postseason. Steady setup man Junichi Tazawa did a great job neutralizing Miguel Cabrera in the ALCS, and lefty Craig Breslow is much more than a big brain from Yale. He had a 1.81 ERA this year and tossed seven shutout innings in the playoffs. Brandon Workman along with regular starters Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront round out a unit that’s been a dominant strength in October.

Edge: Even.

Bench:

Cardinals: The addition of Craig would make the Cardinals deeper at home and give them a couple more options on a weak bench that lacks pop. Robinson is the best available bat, and the versatile Descalso provides solid defense. Pinch-hitter Adron Chambers went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts in the playoffs.

Red Sox: All sorts of depth and power available, including Nava or Gomes, Middlebrooks or Bogaerts, Ross or Saltalamacchia, and Mike Carp. Add in Napoli to the mix when Ortiz starts in St. Louis, and the Red Sox have plenty of desirable weapons to employ if they need a big hit — or walk. Quintin Berry offers blazing speed and an outfield glove, too.

Edge: Red Sox.

Manager:

Cardinals: Mike Matheny. Smart, serious and very well prepared, an inexperienced Matheny had big shoes to fill when he replaced Tony La Russa, who retired after the 2011 championship. But in two seasons at the helm, Matheny has guided St. Louis to Game 7 of the NLCS last year and now the World Series. He knows how to manage a pitching staff and appears to possess the golden touch with young players. Before concussions shortened his playing career, Matheny was a four-time Gold Glove winner. He was the primary catcher, with Molina as his 21-year-old rookie backup, for the 2004 Cardinals — a 105-win team that got swept by Boston in the World Series. “That was one of the toughest experiences in my baseball career,” Matheny said. “You don’t forget that.”

Red Sox: John Farrell. Following a successful run as Boston’s pitching coach, the no-nonsense Farrell returned this year to manage the team when the Red Sox traded infielder Mike Aviles to Toronto as compensation. Farrell spent two non-descript seasons managing the Blue Jays, but he’s been the perfect antidote to Bobby Valentine in the Boston clubhouse. Lester, Buchholz and Lackey returned to form under Farrell’s watch, and he’s done a brilliant job with the bullpen. He’s not afraid to make bold moves, like inserting Bogaerts into the starting lineup. And he hasn’t hesitated to use Uehara for more than three outs in October, a huge key for the Red Sox.

Edge: Even.

Pick: Red Sox in 7.

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