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Sports Illustrated writers recently picked the Red Sox to win the World Series in 2011. They were picked to hit the century mark of 100 wins and take down the Athletics, Twins and Giants on their way to the crown. Notice any powerhouses missing from the yellow brick road? I thought so. Now let’s check on on this projected path to another title for the first time in four years (feels like 86, eh?).
There are three teams in the AL West for which you could make a case. Aside from the Mariners, all three others have retooled and revamped, attempting to vault each other in a division that isn’t as clear cut as others. Texas has Adrian Beltre, Los Angeles has Vernon Wells. The Athletics have a pitching staff that can be quite good, and has gone largely under the radar. They’re a trendy upset pick, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a shocker, either.
First of all, SI picked the Twins to beat the Yankees in the postseason. Has anyone been paying attention the past two years? Yes, the Yankees have only half a good rotation, but they have the defense and the bullpen to back it up, along with their power. Much of the Twins’ power potential has been negated in their new pitchers’ park. Right now, the Yankees are looking like a better option, despite having their final two rotation spots held by Thing 1 and Thing 2.
But either way, Boston still has a decent staff; they’re kind of in the same situation as the Yankees. Their power could take down the lesser of the Yankees’ pitchers, and their speed and OBP could frustrate Minnesota’s options.
The first thing I notice in SI’s World Series thoughts is the absence of Philadelphia’s mega rotation. San Francisco has a good one themselves, but Philadelphia has the deepest level of talent from #1-#5. Add to that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and the rest, and they should be considered amongst the favorites. Boston still has plenty of holes in their staff, much more than Philly, which would make a huge difference. Even if Philly doesn’t make it in, there’s plenty of talent following Tim Lincecum too. Boston will really need to improve their pitching to keep pace with either option.
Lester? Good. Buchholz? Good. Lackey? Meh. Others? Maybe those angels that helped L.A. in the movies will show up. Lester and Bard, arguably Boston’s two best guys, or if not definitely way up there, were hammered and looked more like Beckett and Papelbon on opening day. Still, they’ll have to stink again for those results to be believable. Boston should get a whole lot of runs, which they’ll need if they give up a lot.
And while Boston should make the postseason easily, going deep into October will be much more of a challenge.