When the dust settles in October this year, the Boston Red Sox will be World Series Champions. For the first time since 1995 they will also be the American League East Champions.
Let's start with the offense. Leading off for the Sox is Coco Crisp. He is a younger, and faster Johnny Damon for about 1/3 of the price. Over the last two years their power numbers were very close, as well as OBP. Only difference is Damon is in his 30's and declining, while Crisp is 26 and still improving. Through the first few games, Crisp also showed he's not afraid to steal bases, something Damon never really tried to do in Boston.
Next we have Mark Loretta who is a one year removed All-Star. He's a career .300 hitter. He doesn't need to put up good power numbers to be succesful, all he has to do is get on base because of the next two guys.
David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are the best duo in any lineup in baseball. Better than ARod and Sheffield, better than Pujols and Edmonds, better than Delgado and Wright. Both guys will put up 40+ HR and 130+ RBI. The RBI numbers could even rise with a real #2 hitter in front of them now.
I won't go through the whole lineup, but we can obviously see one of the best hitting lineups in baseball, second only to the Yankees. Some names we haven't even mentioned yet are Nixon, a guy who can put up 25 HR when healthy, and Varitek, a 20 HR guy in about 450 AB.
Next we'll take a look at the defense. Last year the Sox scored plenty of runs. The problem was they gave up quite a bit as well. Renteria led the majors with 30 errors, and Bellhorn and Millar won't be considered gold glove candidates anytime soon. This year Mike Lowell comes to 3B with a gold glove, Alex Gonzalez is widely regarded as one of the best fielding SS, and Youkilis has shown he can field 1B, along with J.T. Snow another gold glove winner for late inning defense.
The Red Sox have a much improved pitching staff as well. A healthy Curt Schilling has returned to his 2004 form where he won 21 games after an injury ridden 2005. Josh Beckett brings a fiery presence to the mound. He has had blister problems before, but still managed to put up good numbers in those seasons. He's shown he can handle the Boston atmosphere as well. Another gaping hole from last year has been filled with Jon Papelbon. He's perfect in save situations so far and still hasn't given up a run. In a few appearences last year he was also lights out, showing he can handle the majors.
Last year the Sox won the wild card without a true ace or closer. This year they have 2 aces, a closer, and a great fieldeing team. The Yankees have a great offense, but lack the great pitching the Sox have shown so far, which is why I pick them to win the AL East.
Another big factor is that the Sox have Playoff and World Series experience on their team. Schilling, Beckett, and Manny are all former WS MVP's. Just a side note: Beckett's WS MVP came in a victory against the Yankees.
This time around the Sox don't have a "curse" against them. They don't have the pressure of 86 years on them. They do have a better team in 2 of 3 categories than the team that tied the Yankees for the AL East last year, and no slouch in the third though.