Cards Vs. Giants

Best of seven

Cardinals players listed first

Nlcs Scouting Report

October 09, 2002|By Peter Schmuck

1B: Tino Martinez vs. J.T. Snow: When the Cardinals went out and got Martinez this year to replace retired slugger Mark McGwire, they had to expect him to contribute more than 21 home runs and 75 RBIs, but Martinez is a strong defensive first baseman who made a solid contribution this season. He went 0-for-11 in the Division Series, but still has more offensive potential than Snow - a rare defensive specialist at a traditionally offensive position. Snow doesn't hit for a lot of power, but he did bat .316 in the first round.

EDGE: CARDINALS.

2B: Fernando Vina vs. Jeff Kent: What a contrast. Kent is one of the best offensive players in the game, and his offensive skills are magnified by the fact that he has Barry Bonds hitting behind him in the lineup. Vina is the reigning Gold Glove winner at his position and hit .600 (9-for-15, all singles) to lead St. Louis past the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Division Series. But his big playoff performance belies a big weakness. Vina does not walk much, so he's not the perfect leadoff man. He scored only 75 runs during the regular season, despite 684 plate appearances.

EDGE: GIANTS.

SS: Edgar Renteria vs. Rich Aurilia: Renteria may be one of the most underrated players in the game. He plays good defense, hits for average and drives in runs. What more could anyone ask? He had three hits and no RBIs in 12 at-bats during the Division Series, but his regular-season success against the Giants may portend a big playoff series. He batted .542 in the six-game season series. Aurilia is coming off an injury-marred season in which his offensive production fell off considerably. He batted just .257 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs this year and was not a huge factor in the Division Series (.238).

EDGE: CARDINALS.

3B: Miguel Cairo/Albert Pujols vs. David Bell: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa still is figuring how he will handle his third base situation in the absence of injured star Scott Rolen. Cairo went 4-for-4 in the final two games of the Division Series to play a key role in the Cardinals' sweep and will start Game 1, but Pujols could move in from left field to make room for outfielder Eli Marrero in the lineup. Either way, the loss of Rolen was a huge blow. Bell batted just .188 in the Division Series. If Pujols plays regularly, there's no question who gets the nod here, but he probably won't.

EDGE: UNDETERMINED.

C: Mike Matheny vs. Benito Santiago: Veteran Matheny didn't exactly set the world on fire at the plate this year, with a .244 average, three homers and 35 RBIs, but he is the guy La Russa has entrusted with the postseason. So far, so good. Matheny had four hits in nine at-bats and did his usual solid job behind the plate in the Division Series. Who could have expected that venerable Santiago would end up batting behind Barry Bonds in the Giants' lineup? But he has done a solid job of exploiting Bonds' terrific on-base percentage with some big hits this year.

EDGE: GIANTS.

LF: Albert Pujols/Eli Marrero vs. Barry Bonds: Bonds will be one of the lightning rods of this series, and why not? He's the game's premier home run hitter, the National League batting champion and the kind of controversial figure who makes things interesting whenever he's around. Pujols, whether he plays left field or third base, also is a great all-around offensive player - 34 home runs, 127 RBIs during the regular season - but he's not Barry Bonds. La Russa could play Marrero in left if he decides to use Pujols at third, but the focus will be on Bonds, who cast off questions about his postseason performance with three home runs in the Division Series.

EDGE: GIANTS.

CF: Jim Edmonds vs. Kenny Lofton: Edmonds has averaged 34 home runs per season since he was traded from the Angels to St. Louis for the 2000 season. His run-production numbers dropped off a little this year, but he remains a major offensive threat at the heart of the Cardinals' lineup and ranked among the NL leaders with 11 outfield assists. He had three hits, including a home run, in 11 at-bats in the Division Series. The Giants got veteran leadoff man Lofton during the season to punch up their lineup. He plays solid defense and provides speed and contact at the top of the lineup, but he no longer is the impact player he was in Cleveland.

EDGE: CARDINALS.

RF: J.D. Drew vs. Reggie Sanders: Sanders (.250, 23 homers, 85 RBIs, 121 strikeouts) did not put up the kind of regular-season numbers the Giants were expecting when they signed him as a free agent last winter, but he is a dangerous hitter who has yet to assert himself during this postseason (.222). The focus will be on Kent and Bonds, but Sanders could be the offensive wild card for the NL wild-card winner if he can put his bat on the ball consistency. Drew also failed to put up big offensive numbers during the regular season, but hit a couple of big homers in the final week of the regular season and had a home run in Game 1 of the Division Series.

EDGE: GIANTS

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