Mike Matheny has the defensive reputation (and Gold Gloves), but Jason Varitek may be superior in
blocking pitches in the dirt, critical to handling the staff's sinkerball pitchers. Varitek's game also includes the dimension of offense. But look for Doug Mirabelli, with one postseason at-bat, to be behind the plate for Game 1 starter Tim Wakefield's knucklers.
FIRST BASEEDGE: CARDINALS
Kevin Millar will lose his spot in the lineup for the middle three games, when ALCS MVP David Ortiz
puts on the mitt. But not even that tag-team can match the remarkable Mr. Albert Pujols, who comes off
an NLCS in which he hit .500 and slugged .907. At 24, Pujols is already a 24-game postseason vet.
SECOND BASEEDGE: CARDINALS
Curt Schilling's ankle, meet Tony Womack's back. Womack's wincing efforts in Game 7 were almost as
impressive. But the Cards lose a little if he can't bat leadoff. Mark Bellhorn's strikeouts (15 in 37
postseason at-bats) continue to confound, but his decisive three-run homer in Game 6 was an example of
the threat that keeps him in there.
THIRD BASEEDGE: CARDINALS
Bill Mueller has one extra-base hit and one RBI in 42 post-season at-bats. Scott Rolen had more than that in just the sixth inning of Game 7, and rebounded from his hitless NLDS to hit a strong .310
against Houston. Both are clubhouse anchors, Mueller's sedate personality being particularly important
to the frantic Red Sox.
Edgar Renteria has for years been one of baseball's unappreciated gems, and Orlando Cabrera's coming-out
postseason has almost rivaled that of Carlos Beltran. You're going to see eye-popping 'D' no matter
which team is in the field, but Renteria has a more versatile bat and the World Series experience (1997 Marlins).
LEFT FIELDEDGE: RED SOX
The Quiet Corner: Neither Manny Ramirez nor Reggie Sanders had an RBI in the LCS. But despite that, it wasn't like Manny came up empty. He hit .300, so could be on the verge of another explosive week. Sanders is appearing in his third World Series, with three different teams, in four
CENTER FIELDEDGE: CARDINALS
Two guys who should play the position in crash helmets, Johnny Damon and Jim Edmonds, will put on a
show. In Game 7 against the Yankees, Damon shot out of his slump the way the Batmobile came out of the
Bat Cave. Edmonds has the superior arm and an inside-out swing that can pepper The Wall.
RIGHT FIELDEDGE: RED SOX
Trot Nixon, ignoring the hurt remaining from his injury-filled season, played some scintillating
defense in the ALCS. Larry Walker, who completed the Cards in August, runs better and has the heavier
bat. Fenway's tricky right-field corner can be decisive in a game, and Nixon knows it well. Both are
to be feared in the clutch.
DESIGNATED HITTEREDGE: RED SOX
Ortiz has been a postseason walk-off monster, finishing off the Angels and back-to-backing the Yankees. For the Fenway games, Tony La Russa's choices all bat left-handed, but that's no problem against the Sox's all-righty rotation. Look for John Mabry in the slot, keeping the speed of Roger
Cedeno and Marlon Anderson in reserve.
BULLPENEDGE: RED SOX
Closer Keith Foulke and setup party Alan Embree, Mike Myers and Mike Timlin were juggled masterfully
by Terry Francona. Bronson Arroyo, bumped from the rotation, was a totally different, tougher pitcher
in two ALCS relief outings. Jason Isringhausen pulled a Foulke-like load in the NLCS. Lefty Ray King,
whose assignment will be Ortiz, is key.
BENCHEDGE: RED SOX
Note to Cards: If you see Dave Roberts leave the Sox's bench, expect trouble; he was huge in two ALCS
wins without ever swinging a bat. Millar will join Doug Mientkiewicz, Pokey Reese and Gabe Kapler on the
Busch bench. Cedeno will be the first bat off the Cards' bench, and Anderson's legs could swing a
Terry Francona fed crow to a lot of people who spent the ALCS questioning his seemingly random
pitching moves -- all of which worked to perfection. Working pitchers is also a Tony La Russa
specialty, so we'll have some great chess matches. Wonder if La Russa, a 1969-70 Oakland teammate of
Tito Francona, ever babysat 10-year-old Terry?
INTANGIBLESEDGE: RED SOX
Forget the angle about the vengeful Red Sox
wanting to punish St. Louis for costing them half (1946, 1967) of their shots at a World Series title
since 1918. These Sox can't even remember where they put their combs. The Cards are out to enhance
their wonderful heritage. The soon-to-be-dispersed Red Sox ache to leave their mark.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.