10/22/08 3:29 PM ET
Tough pick between Rays, Phillies
Voices from around baseball weigh in on who will win
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Of course this was not exactly the World Series matchup that pundits -- or fans for that matter -- predicted when the 2008 season began, which just goes to show you how accurate predictions can be.
Orlando Hudson, D-backs second baseman: "Them boys in Philly hit the ball, I'll tell you what. It's going to be a fast-paced game with a lot of long balls. It's going to be the Rays pitching with [Scott] Kazmir, [Matt] Garza, [James] Shields and [David] Price against the Phillies' hitting. Let me tell you, you got some hitters on that Philly team. J-Roll [Jimmy Rollins], [Chase] Utley, [Ryan] Howard, [Pat] Burrell and you got [Shane] Victorino in there, too. You can't pitch around everyone. And don't go to sleep on [B.J.] Upton and [Evan] Longoria, I don't know what got into them, but they've been swinging the sticks. My prediction is Carl Crawford is going to take this series over. He's my boy. You watch. I'm telling you."
Willie Bloomquist, Mariners infielder: "I am picking Tampa Bay in six games. I think they are on fire right now, and the Phillies have had a long layoff. If the World Series started four days ago, I might pick them, but they've been sitting around for five days and that doesn't help them. It's similar to what happened to Colorado last year. Not that Philly isn't talented -- they are, and I like the team -- but I think it will take them a couple of games to get back into the swing of things, and the AL has had the NL's number. That, coupled with the layoff, gives Tampa Bay the edge."
Josh Byrnes, D-backs GM: "Both GMs did a nice job putting together bullpens. David Price will be an interesting weapon, giving the Rays a few options to deal with Utley and Howard in late innings. They appear to match up with each other pretty well. The Rays have shown that they can be explosive offensively like the Phillies."
Todd Jones, recently retired closer: "Rays in six. Don't underestimate the fact that the bullpen guys have to get an inning on Wednesday for the Phillies just to stay sharp."
Bob Melvin, D-backs manager: "I am rooting for the National League and therefore the Phillies, but I think Tampa Bay has an excellent chance due to the momentum they've built up. They are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now."
Bud Black, Padres manager, speaking to the North County Times: "The Rays have an advantage. That is the thing people don't realize, that if you have the starting pitching and can run those guys out there for 162 games, that is what enabled Tampa Bay to be the team that it is. They have Shields, Garza, Kazmir, [Andy] Sonnanstine ---- those are good pitchers."
Aaron Rowand, Giants outfielder: "I'm not going to comment on anything. I'm not getting myself in trouble. I'm rooting for everybody."
Cookie Rojas, former MLB player and current Marlins Spanish language TV announcer, likes Tampa Bay in six games: "I've always liked Tampa. I think what they've done with a young club is truly remarkable. You saw when they lost those two games to Boston, everybody thought they'd give it up. But they came back in Game 7."
Reggie Smith, hitting coach for Team USA: "It's one of those series that should go six or seven games, and games are going to come down to those last two at-bats. If you pinned me down, I'd have to take Tampa Bay because they play so well at home. Joe Maddon has made all the difference there. Those young guys like Evan Longoria and Upton are coming into their own. They had all those high Draft picks, and they've all come together at the right time."
Don Sutton, Hall of Fame pitcher: "I love what the Rays have done -- they've been the first thing I look for in the paper every morning. But I also like the Phillies. It's an emotional tug of war for me. One thing I can tell you is I don't think there will be any 1-0 games. Put my head in a vice, and I still can't pick one right now. I need more time to think about this one."
Dave Niehaus, Mariners Hall of Fame broadcaster: "First of all, a premonition I had already is down the drain. I thought Derek Lowe, Manny Ramirez and Nomar would go back to Boston and beat up on the Sox. I sure missed on that one. As far as the Phillies and Rays are concerned, both have power and good young pitching. The way I see it, it's very even. When it comes down to it, I like Tampa Bay, because they have the extra home game and get to use the designated hitter in those four games. It's a big advantage playing four games at home. I think the Phillies have better depth in bullpen and a better closer, but I think the Rays will win in seven games."
Jose Mota, Angels broadcaster: "I have the Rays in six. The team has been tested and doubted in so many ways, that I can't see them slowing down. Joe has his players enjoying the moment."
Daron Sutton, D-backs TV broadcaster: "Tampa's rotation is deeper than the Phillies, and Joe Blanton, who will be a key pitcher, has struggled mightily against the Rays. Don't forget that Joe Maddon was the Angels' bench coach in 2002, when they rode the arm of an inexperienced kid named Francisco Rodriguez to a title. Joe's new weapon is David Price, and he will make life difficult for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But the Phils' 'pen of Romero, Madson and Lidge will keep this series close. The Rays win it all in seven games. Congrats to both!"
Al Downing, former Major League pitcher: "I'm going to go with Tampa Bay in seven. I really like their young guys, their athletes, and their power pitchers. Power pitchers tend to dominate this time of year, after guys have been playing all year and bats might slow down just a little bit. Philly is a good team, don't get me wrong. But Tampa Bay reminds me of the 1969 Mets -- only the Rays are more talented. Those Mets won with power pitchers."
Kyle Stark, the Pirates' farm director: "I think, being a National League guy, I have to go with the Phillies. But you've got to admire what Tampa Bay has done. I think both teams have had a pretty amazing run and are hot going into the series. And with what Tampa Bay has done, I guess you can't discount the momentum that they will have coming in. But I'll stick with the Phillies."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.