Destiny’s children: The ’04 Sox and the ’07 Sox go head-to-head

October 1st, 2007 → 12:18 pm @ // 9 Comments

The 2004 Sox went 98-64, peaked in the second half of the season, and won the Wild Card. The 2007 Sox went 96-66 (which wouldn’t even have been good enough to make the playoffs in ’04), peaked in the first half, dethroned the Yankees to win the AL East, and tied for the best record in baseball. The 2004 Red Sox faced the Angels in the ALDS; the 2007 Red Sox will face the Angels in the ALDS. In ’04, obviously, the Sox won it all. In 2007, who knows what’ll happen? But let’s look at how they fare in a head-to-head matchup…

Catcher: V-Tek v. V-Tek: Sorry, 2006 Varitek; your 2004 self whips your 2007 self’s pasty white ass. 2007, 0, 2004, 1.

First base: The Battle of the Kevins: By the end of ’05, Millar’s shtick had become real old. In ’03 and ’04 he had real value, though. Youk, meanwhile, anchored down his corner of the IF with defense that, if not exactly Mientkiewiczian, was pretty damn good. On the other hand, he hit well below .250 the second half of the year, was surprisingly prone to strike-out, and had the corner on the Paul “If I look really pissed when I don’t succeed then it means I’m gritty” O’Neill market. 2007, 1, 2004, 1.

Second base: The Battle of Who Could Care Less: OK, fine…that hed doesn’t work. (And if it was the criteria, Bellhorn would seem to be a clinch.) I love(d) Mark, and he sure as shit should have been the ’04 WS MVP, but Pedroia gets the clear nod here. 2007, 2, 2004, 1.

Shortstop: O-Cab v. Lugo: This isn’t really a contest: it’s O-Cab in a landslide. 2007, 2, 2004, 2.

Third base: Lowell v. Billy Ballgame: Mueller won a batting title (in ’03, granted). Lowell picked up the offense and played better defense. 2007, 3, 2004, 2.

Left field: Manny being Manny v. Manny not being Manny quite as much: He didn’t deserve that WS MVP, but Man Ram circa ’04 tops Man Ram’s ’07 without really breaking a sweat. 2007, 3, 2004, 3.

Center field: Johnny Jesus v. Coocoo for Coco Crisp: My crush on Coco is well-documented; the rest of the world’s crush on Damon is just as well documented, if not more so. I’m tempted to mark this one a draw, but I’ll give JD the nod, even though I still believe Coco’s defense was one of the two or three most important components of the ’07 team. 2007, 3, 2004, 4.

Right field: Trot “The original dirt dog” Nixon v. J.D. “Why wait around for the division-clinching celebration?” Drew: I assume pretty much everyone is going to give Nixon the upper-hand here (Tony Mazz probably summed up the feeling of a lot of RSN when he gave Drew an F in his year-end report card) but I’ll go all counter-CW here and give it to Drew. His defense was arguably as consistently good as we’ve seen in right since Dewey, and he’s been raking during the last month. Plus, the ’04 Trot wasn’t exactly great shakes. (And, it’s worth pointing out, was a lot less durable than JD.) 2007, 4, 2004, 4.

DH: Huge Papi, ’04, v. Big Papi, ’07: Even before his heroic playoff performance, Papi had one of the all-time great years in ’04. 2007, 4, 2004, 5.

Josh Beckett v. Curt Schilling, ’04 edition: Schilling was great; Beckett was better. And hopefully won’t need to resort to cutting up his ankle. 2007, 5, 2004, 5.

SP: Daisuke Matsuzaka v. Pedro Martinez: Draw.

SP: Curt Schilling, ’07 edition, v. Bronson Arroyo: The Big Schill takes it over Saturn Nuts. 2007, 6, 2004, 5.

SP: Tim Wakefield, ’07 edition, v. Tim Wakefield, ’04 edition: Still as likely to be brilliant as terrifying. To Sox fans, that is. Draw.

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon v. Keith Foulke: Draw. It’s easy to forget how incredibly good Foulke was in ’04 due to how bad he was in ’05. Along with Ortiz, he should have been the playoff MVP.

Bullpen: Okie, Tavarez, Lester, Delcarmen, Gagne, Lopez v. Lowe, Timlin, Embree, Swilly, Myers, Leskanic: Since we’re doing this regular-season awards-style and thus can’t take D-Lowe’s playoffs into consideration, and since the Sox had the best bullpen in baseball this year, this goes to ’07. 2007, 7, 2004, 5.

Bench: Cora, Hinske, Mirabelli, Ellsbury v. Youk, Kapler, Malphabet, Mirabelli: Ellsbury is the obvious wild-card here. I’m gonna give a slight edge to the ’04 gang. 2007, 7, 2004, 6.

Manager: Tito the rookie v. Tito the vet: Terry’s managing of the squad during the ’04 playoffs was brilliant; his managing during the ’07 campaign was too. Once again, since it’s a regular season thing, this year wins. 2007, 8, 2004, 6.

Chemistry: Cowboy Up v….well, what are we supposed to call them, anyway?: The fact that the ’07 team has no kind of slogan makes the answer obvious. 2007, 8, 2004, 7.

And there you have it. The nod would seem to go to this year’s team, but, of course, we’re not grading the rest of baseball. And all categories are not created equal. (Example: Ortiz would obviously beat out Greg Norton in the DH category…but the difference would be a lot greater than, say, Papelbon v. Mariano.) But if we want to look at the totality of the ’04 season and what will, in a month, be the totality of the ’07 season, regardless of what happens from here on out, ’04 wins. The Sox will never again win their first WS in more than eight decades. (At least we hope so.) The Sox will not beat the Yankees in a seven-game series after being down 3-0 a year after losing a seven-game series in extra-innings because of the bone-headed move by a Gumpian manager. The Sox will never again break the curse. The Sox will never again experience the last-gasp transition from the Duquette era to the Epstein era. The Sox will never again have David Ortiz truly embody the whole hackneyed David v. Goliath thing.

But that doesn’t mean the next month of baseball isn’t going to be fun.

***

Nostalgic for the ’04 season? (Who isn’t? Who won’t be for the rest of their lives?) If you want to relive the insanity and bliss of ’04, and if you want to learn everything there is to learn about the team leading up to the World Series win…and everything there is to learn about the year (plus) after that same win, make sure to get Feeding the Monster, the Boston Globe and New York Times bestseller that’s been called “Red Sox porn” and the only book written by someone who was embedded with the team for a full year. It’s available from Amazon for only $10.20 (cheap)…and you can even get your copy inscribed with one of these free, signed, personalized bookplates. They’re really nice. Seriously: ask anyone you know who has one.


Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & 2007 Playoffs

9 Comments → “Destiny’s children: The ’04 Sox and the ’07 Sox go head-to-head”


  1. Neil

    10 years ago

    You said 2004 Manny tops 2007 Manny but you gave 2007 Manny the point.

    Reply

  2. makome

    10 years ago

    Dude,
    your math is incorrect. After your left-field Manny comment the score should be 2004-3, 2007-3, making the final score 2004-7, 2007-8…much closer. I also think the 2004 intangibles were a much bigger factor than this year’s team. I always had the feeling in 2004 (except after game 3 against the Yanks) that this team could win it in their last at bat. I don’t get that same vibe from this team. Sure, that may all change in a week, but when Manny comes to the plate do you still have that “he’s going to do something awesome feeling”?? I don’t. Same with J.D. Drew, Tek, Youk, and Lugo. However, maybe the faces have changed this time, Ellsbury=Roberts, Lowell = Mueller (mr. clutch), Ortiz=Ortiz, Schilling or Lester = DLowe…Here’s hoping! Go Sox

    Thanks (and thanks to comment above) – it’s now fixed…
    Seth

    Reply

  3. tinisoli

    10 years ago

    I agree with most of the post except for the tangential arguments about who deserved to be playoff and WS MVPs. Manny could’ve lost the latter to Foulke, but not Bellhorn. Bellhorn had some bombs but Manny was very productive and he nailed Larry Walker at the plate (most exciting play of the WS, in my opinion). Plus, he had foreseen his Series MVP in the Olympia Sports commercial. Without Ortiz’ heroics in the ALCS, the Sox do not get to the World Series. Foulke was good, but Papi enabled him to make those appearances. Two walk-off hits = MVP. Foulke was vitally important, but Papi is the one who turned the tide more than any other.

    Reply

  4. amos

    10 years ago

    I guess I’m not sure why 2004 Ortiz is Huge Papi and 07 is only Big Papi. Sure he hit more homeruns in 04, but if you’re just looking at the regular season, I think you’ve got to say that 07 was at least as good.

    04: .301/.380/.603
    07: .332/.445/.621

    all in about the same number of PAs. How was regular season Papi so much better in 04?

    Reply

  5. Jack

    10 years ago

    Wait…you wrote a book?

    Reply

  6. CursedNoMore

    10 years ago

    Seth, by your own account in your book, Pedro Martinez was a legit Cy Young candidate until the final four starts of the season, when he inexplicably turned into John Burkett. Despite that, he still finished the year 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and having the confidence of a Nation, who were expecting him to be part of the best 1-2 starting punch in all of postseason baseball. Besides the obvious statistical difference (with Matsuzaka at 15-12, 4.40 ERA and 1.32 WHIP), Dice-K has most people HOPING he can do his best — BIG difference. Pedro was a much better # 2 than Dice-K.

    Reply

  7. djslippyb

    10 years ago

    every time manny comes up I still believe he will do something great. his swing is a work of art.

    and papi is a much better hitter against the shift now than in 04.

    it all depends on the starting pitching and we have as good a three man rotation as ever.

    Reply

  8. royco31

    10 years ago

    Just to elaborate on ’04 Ortiz vs. ’07 Ortiz. Well, first, I would hardly call his ’04 season on of the all-time great years. Second, not only was his season this year clearly better for him than 3 years ago, but this was actually his finest season yet (I say this knowing full well his HR output was down 35% this year). His true power numbers may be down but his slg is still a tidy .621 – higher than in ’04. And his OPS is the highest it’s ever been (1.066 vs .983 in ’04 – HUGE edge to ’07). So what’s the secret to his success? He had a .445 obp!!! Much higher than his .380 rate 3 seasons ago, and his bb/k rate almost doubled in that time span. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s had much more command/discipline over the strike zone every year since ’04 and that he’s improved every year since. His eqa in ’04? .309. ’07? .338, a pretty sizeable advantage by all accounts. And yes, it’s even higher than his prolific and historic 2006 season – .326. It’s not like we could point to defense to possibly even out the differences, so I just don’t understand how it’s even close between the 2 seasons, let alone the ’04 edges him out! And before there are arguments about him being “clutch” in 2004, remember we’re talking about the regular season, not playoffs. His wpa in 2004 was 3.51 vs. 4.81 this year, another decisive edge going to ‘current’ Papi vs. Huge Papi. And just for good measure, his rc/27 this year is more than 2 runs better than it was 3 years ago – 10.86 vs. 8.55. /rant

    I guess I just needed to get that off my chest, people simply do not realize how great a season David Ortiz is having/had simply because the HR’s aren’t there and I think that’s actually quite a shame. He deserves a ton of credit for carrying this offense all year long (kudos to Lowell’s fine season).

    Reply

  9. daltonjones

    10 years ago

    On comparing the ’04 slogan and (lack of an) ’07 slogan, a small point: “Cowboy Up!” was ’03. … Don’t believe it survived into ’04, when there was only, if memory serves, Schilling’s “Why Not Us?” T-shirts.

    Reply

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