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10/04/06 2:03 PM ET

PROTRADE: Mets over Dodgers

Weakened Shea denizens should still win, but it won't be easy

It doesn't seem as if the Mets and the Dodgers were similar teams in 2006. The Mets were tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball and ran away with the NL East, while the Dodgers had to win nine of their last 10 to outpace the Phillies for the Wild Card.

But they're less different than you might think.

According to PROTRADE's Moneyball system, the Mets had a 16-run advantage on offense, while the Dodgers pitching staff was 26 runs better. The biggest difference was the Mets' stable of Gold Glovers compared to, well, none for the Dodgers. Of course, Steve Trachsel now replaces the injured Pedro Martinez for the Mets, which means they'll see more 10-7 slugfests than they'd like to.


With Pedro's injury in mind, let's look at the starting rotations:

 L.A. Dodgers and N.Y. Mets
Pitcher MBR Pitcher MBR
Derek Lowe 29 John Maine 9
Hong-Chi Kuo 5 Tom Glavine 1
Greg Maddux -9 Steve Trachsel -20
Brad Penny -1 Orlando Hernandez -9

With El Duque moved out of the Game 1 slot, the Dodgers' advantage with Derek Lowe on the hill grows even larger. Both Shea Stadium and Chavez Ravine suppress offense, so neither of these guys will get blown off the mound.

Game 2 sees Hong-Chi Kuo make his first start in front of a national audience. Given how good he's been since entering the rotation, we think he'll announce his presence with authority. Hong-Chi, America. America, Hong-Chi. Game 3 has disaster written all over it for the Mets -- Trachsel takes the mound for a couple of baserunner-filled innings until the bullpen takes over, while the Dodgers send out Greg Maddux, who posted a 3.30 ERA after the joining the Boys in Blue. Game 4 could be like a wash, as an untested Oliver Perez takes on the empty shell of Brad Penny. It will be interesting to see how news breaks in November on Penny's health situation. He certainly looks like he's been pitching with an injury since July, and his month-to-month ERAs support that: 6.00, 5.14, 6.83. Still, we'll have to say: Advantage: Dodgers.

 L.A. Dodgers and N.Y. Mets
Pitcher MBR Pitcher MBR
Saito 11 Wagner 3
Beimel 8 Heilman 6
Broxton 12 Sanchez 11
Dessens -9 Oliver 4
Hendrickson 8 Feliciano -9
Tomko -10 Hernandez 2
Hamulack -12 Bell -5


With Saito and Wagner, both teams have an overpowering closer with minimal platoon splits. The Mets have three other quality relievers (Bradford, Sanchez, Heilman) to the Dodgers' two (Beimel and Broxton). After that, the Dodgers have guys like Tomko who might get the job done, while the Mets have a group to fill the innings between Trachsel and the sixth. Advantage: Dodgers, just ever so slightly.


 L.A. Dodgers and N.Y. Mets
Lineup MBR Lineup MBR
C Martin +14 C Lo Duca +7
1B Nomar +25 1B Delgado +42
2B Kent +20 2B Valentin +13
3B Betemit +1 3B Wright +43
SS Furcal +19 SS Reyes +37
LF Ethier +14 LF Floyd +5
CF Lofton +5 CF Beltran +51
RF Drew +33 RF Chavez/Green +14

And there it is, the Mets' huge advantage: a plus-81 MBR with the bats, including nearly 50 more home runs during the regular season. Boil that down to a five-game series, and it's still enough to swing one entire game in their favor.

Unfortunately for Mets, and unlike the Dodgers, their bench is a giant gaping hole that will get exposed should Floyd get hurt or Green play at his current mediocre level. And against Dodgers' righty closer Saito late in a close game, the Mets could find almost all of their top hitters (Beltran, Delgado, Floyd, Valentin, Green) neutralized. Let's hope Willie Randolph doesn't repeat Bobby Cox's 1985 ALCS pinch-hitting blunders. Even so, it's clear: Advantage: Mets.


 L.A. Dodgers and N.Y. Mets
Dodgers MBR Mets MBR
C Martin -69 C Lo Duca -11

Overall, the Mets are way up, especially up the middle (plus-29 at 2B, SS and CF vs. minus-33 for the Dodgers). Neither team's corners are good, especially with Endy Chavez's Gold Glove-caliber defense neutralized by the butchery of Cliff Floyd and Shawn Green. Don't expect the Dodgers to make the outstanding plays in the field. Advantage: Mets.

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After a coin-flip decision in Game 1, Kuo comes up big in Game 2. Maddux looks good in Game 3, but costly errors give the game to New York. From there on out, the Mets offense takes over, with Carlos Beltran reminding everyone why he gets paid the big bucks. Mets in five.

"If the Mets were a Beatles album, they would be ..."

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ... but with a scratch right in the middle of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." The Mets should be the Kings of Queens, but they haven't had a distinguished season for years. And now with such a great product, they find their best -- and kookiest -- pitcher unusable. The luster has clearly worn off the World Series predictions.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.