Analysis and preview of Rangers/Cardinals World Series


Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, MLB on FOX’s Emmy Award-winning broadcast team who call their record 14th World Series together, were joined by FOX Sports Media Group Vice-Chairman Ed Goren, and MLB on FOX pre and postgame analysts Eric Karros & A.J. Pierzynski held a a conference call to answer questions and offer previews of this year’s World Series matchup.

McCarver on the emerging importance of middle relief: “I cannot believe that the major stories going into the World Series are the bullpens of the clubs. It used to be that middle relief was the soft underbelly of the pitching staff. This has been such an unusual postseason by the Rangers and Cardinals that the soft underbelly has turned into the core of their pitching staffs.  In the past the only pitchers that fans talked about were the starting pitchers and closers. The middle guys were there for a reason; they weren’t good enough to be starters and not good enough to be closers. This year things have changed in a dramatic way.”

Pierzynski talks about the depth of both teams’ bullpens: “Both managers have so much trust in their bullpens because each guy they bring in throws harder than the last. With the Rangers’ Alexi Ogando & Neftali Feliz and the Cardinals’ Jason Motte, Octavio Dotel and the like, it’s amazing these teams have stockpiled as many arms as they have. It’s why they are here. It seems like as soon as their starting pitching on either side gets into any trouble, they bring in a guy who throws 95, 97 miles per hour and gets them out of jams. Both are so deep and with the off days in these series’ they’re able to bring these guys back for an inning in back-to-back days knowing they’re getting an off day after.  It helps both managers match up a lot and has led to success.”

Karros on bullpens being the catalyst of the World Series:  “The momentum in these games will be from whoever gets their bullpens into the games with a lead. I don’t think there can be any expectations on the starters in this series. If they get excellent starts, that’s gravy but both teams have bullpens that have been successful. If you score first, you have a pretty darn good chance of getting out to a bit of a lead because neither manager is afraid to get rid of their starter in the third or fourth inning and turn it over to their bullpen.  I don’t think that momentum has anything to do with the starting pitcher. It has more to do with getting a lead and getting it to the bullpen.”
Karros comments on how weather in St. Louis may affect both teams offensively: “I’m not seeing a lot of offense the next couple of nights in St. Louis for no other reason than the weather. I can’t imagine 40 degrees and little rainy is a lot of fun for a hitter. Unless guys are kicking the ball around, I don’t see a lot of aggressiveness. It’s so important to go inside. If I’m pitching tomorrow, some guys are getting it in on their hands and if I miss, I’m missing towards the hitter and not towards the plate.  I’d expect some low-scoring games, at least in St. Louis.”

McCarver on the emergence of NLCS MVP David Freese & ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz:  “Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and certainly Albert Pujols can continue to supply the offense for the Cardinals. The most compelling figure has been David Freese.  With all of the injuries that he suffered in 2009 and 2010 and he missed 51 games this year, he has been a marvelous story.  I had no idea that Freese had power to CF and RF like he does.  I knew he had power the other way, but not consistent power the other way.  The same goes for the Rangers and Nelson Cruz. Who would’ve thought after the LDS where he was 1-15, he would come into the ALCS and have eight extra-base-hits? He’s their seventh-place hitter! If you’re getting that time of performance form your seventh-place hitter what are you getting from the rest of the lineup?”

Goren on guest analyst & current White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s broadcast style:  “It’s rather obvious to me that he learned a lot about broadcasting observing his ex-manager Ozzie Guillen.  A.J. is a natural. He has an opinion and he’s efficient in his explanations.  One of the things you like to feel you get from a broadcast, whether it’s Tim up in the booth or Karros and A.J. out in the pregame, is stuff that you might not be aware of even though you’ve watched baseball year after year.  And that great play at the plate with Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli, Tim did a great job with it, but A.J. pointed out on one of the replays how Napoli didn’t plant his spikes.  He sort of softened up so that he wouldn’t be planted and take a hit where he could tear something.  I’d never heard anybody say that before.  So that’s the kind of natural ability he has.  Having a bit of a sense of humor is also helpful and he has that too.”

Pierzynski on names fans should know this World Series:  “Pujols and Hamilton are the two big stars on these teams.  Everyone knows Albert and most people who have seen the Rangers play know Josh Hamilton’s story.  However there are a lot of other guys on both these teams that are really great, not only on the field but off the field –  Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, guys from Texas like C.J. Wilson, Mike Napoli and Michael Young who’s kind of the face of the Rangers, but not a lot of people know how good he is and that’s one of the things at FOX we’re trying to do, both pregame and in-game, is to get these stories out there and let people understand that there’s more to these guys than just on the field.  If we get people to tune in, they’ll find out a lot more about these guys and how great they are personally and professionally.”

McCarver on Rangers Manager Ron Washington:  “I knew him pretty well after last year during the World Series, but it seems to me that Ron Washington is much more relaxed this year than he was last year.  I think it was a matter of trying to prove himself and his team.  This year I detect a much more relaxed individual and I think it’s transferred to his team and they’re playing like that right now.”

Karros, who played on the 2004 Oakland A’s team with Ron Washington as the third base coach:  “There’s no question he’s more comfortable than he was last year, probably more polished.  We show his personality and he does a lot of things, whether it’s running in the dugout or dancing, and that’s great because that’s Wash, that’s his personality.  I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for managing the game, for making moves, for handling his team and for his baseball strategy.  You may not like it, you may have questions with it, but he is very, very smart when it comes to baseball.  Washington has done a great job managing.  Everybody is talking about St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa and what he’s done with the lack of starting pitching.  Washington has done the same thing, if not even more.”

(source; FOX)