The Red Sox just out-classed and ousted the Los Angeles Angels in 5 games. The Angels had just come off of their franchise’s first-ever 100-win campaign. They finally had two big bats to put around Vladimir, had two of the best starters in the league–Lackey and Santana–and had a completely dominating 8th and 9th inning tandem in Scott Shields and Fransisco Rodriguez. Still the 94-game-winning Red Sox made short and easy work of them.
This isn’t easy for a Yankee fan to say, but the Red Sox are much like the mid-to-late-90’s New York Yankees.
They have a very deep, dynamic pitching staff, with Fireballing aces like Lester and Beckett, creative gritty pitchers like Matsuzaka and inning-eating knuckleballers like Tim Wakefield. On any given day, you’re faced with a different-look starter from the Sox, who can come out and shut down any opposing lineup. And the great thing about these starters, is that all of them–with the exception of the ever-infuriating, yet unbreakable Daisuke Matsuzaka–will pitch late into a ball game.
Once the Sox starters do what they have to do, opposing teams have to face guys like Manny Del Carmen, Hideki Okajima and Jon Papelbon. For where they slot, they are near-tops in the league at what they do. 7th inning reliever has an ERA in the lower 3.00’s, 8th inning reliever has an ERA below 3.00 and the Closer has an ERA of 1.84 since arriving on the scene full-time in 2006.
The position players are all fundamentally sound defensively, and all seem to have that Champion grit and determination. Everyone, from top-to-bottom, seems to have the knack of hitting in pressure-packed situations. That is about as clutch a lineup as you’re ever going to see. I don’t know where this personality comes from, but I’m going to have to point my finger at Terry Francona; he instills something in these players, which gets the best out of them, much like Joe Torre did for the Yankees so many seasons. Francona is a world class manager.
I think the Red Sox are going to advance past the Rays and onto the World Series(although I’m, of course, rooting for the Rays). I think we will wind up seeing a Red Sox/Dodgers world series. Who will win that series, I do not know, because the pitching is so dynamic on each side. And each side seems to have a lineup which rises to the occasion, when it is most important.
I do know this: If the Red Sox repeat as World Championships–and there’s a strong possibility they will–the Franchise will have an official Dynasty. As a Yankee fan, I’m already prepared for that annoyance, so I’d suggest other fans prepare for it as well.
Brian Cashman, I hope you have some major cards up your sleeve for the 2009 season.