The Sox season starts off with a bang today. It is the next installment of the best rivalry in sports–– what will undoubtedly be a four-hour-plus marathon, the first of eighteen such emotionally draining contests this year with the Yankees.
04 April 2010
Image: Boston Globe staff photo/ John Tlumacki
There is no question that the Yankees are still stacked this year, especially offensively. They’ve upgraded defensively with Curtis Granderson in center, and they will also have a good bullpen, with Joba Chamberlain moving back to his more suitable role of setup guy. If you don’t have a lead after six innings, it’s going to be difficult to beat the Yankees this year. They are in good shape to repeat as World Series champions and will be the serious impediment to the Red Sox in their quest for a third championship of the decade.
Despite this, though, I feel good about the Red Sox chances because of one critical factor: starting pitching. The Yankees are no slouches in this department, of course, but with the addition of John Lackey to the rotation, the Red Sox have an almost unbelievable set of starters: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey, Tim Wakefield, and Clay Buchholz, with Daisuke Matsuzaka waiting in the wings.
The Sox lineup has some question marks, which might lead to some frustrating innings for the fans, but defensively we are in for a treat. Some new additions, such as Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre, should provide a little more pop in the lineup while filling in positions that have been revolving doors (shortstop) or vacated because of injuries (third). Above all, though, I am looking forward to watching the defensive upgrade in center, Mike Cameron (below), the 37-year-old sure-handed outfielder that I've never gotten to see very much of, particularly in the last several years that he has spent in the AL West and in the National League. It should be great fun!
Image: Reuters and AP photo/ Steve Nesius and Steven Senne
Starting pitching wins in the playoffs, so the challenge for the Red Sox this year will be to ensure that they get the 95 wins that the team is built for––and that that is good enough to make the playoffs. It may not be enough to win the AL East, but if the Sox get the wildcard spot, I like their chances for the ALCS and World Series championships.