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Nobody wants to believe it, but it's true.
The Boston Red Sox aren't a threat to the Yankees.
In fact, look for them to win about 85 games and not make it to the postseason.
There. Someone finally said what many are afraid to say.
Are they going to finish in last place in the American League East? No. Will they lose every single game to the Yankees this season? No. Will the Red Sox stop the Yankees from defending their championship come October? No way, no how.
|These days, Big Papi doesn't have enough pop to stop the defending world champs.|
The Yankees and Red Sox open the 2010 regular season Sunday night in Boston. For sure, many will tune in to ESPN2 see this country's greatest sports rivalry.
It's only natural to figure these two teams will do battle for the top spot in the division. It's been that way for a long time.
Plus, it's hard to discount the Red Sox, who finished second last season, because of their pitching. In the opener, the Red Sox will send ace Josh Beckett to the hill to face the Yankees' CC Sabathia.
For sure, the Red Sox have a deep rotation, with six potential starters. After Beckett, you have Jon Lester, free-agent pickup John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield.
That's strong, even when you consider Daisuke is really a roll of the dice, because you're not always sure what you're going to get. And Wakefield is 55, going on 60.
Many still believe the Yankees have a better rotation than the Red Sox. Plus, the Bronx Bombers also have an edge in the bullpen with Joba Chamberlain joining Mariano Rivera. The last time we saw Jonathan Papelbon -- when it mattered most -- he was flat-out awful.
Even if you called it even with the rotation and the bullpen for both teams, the Yankees have a big advantage when it comes to hitting and scoring runs.
The Red Sox bottom of the lineup is scary, scary bad with Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro. You have to be able to get production from there. Otherwise, you strand runners on base like crazy and wind up like the Detroit Tigers -- not in the postseason last year despite leading the division most of the season after May.
And you replaced Jason Bay's power bat with Cameron? Good luck. The same people who can't stop picking the Red Sox are the same who pick Tom Brady and the Patriots to win the Super Bowl every year. You hate to break it to them, but the Patriots haven't won since 2005.
And that great team that won three Super Bowls doesn't exist anymore. The same goes for the Red Sox.
Those two championships in 2004 and 2007 are old news -- not because they were long ago, but because the people who helped them win those aren't around anymore.
The reason the Red Sox broke that nearly 100-year championship drought wasn't because of pitching and defense alone. Yes, both things win championships. But you also have to have clutch hitting.
That's what Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz supplied. Back then, they were feared hitters who seemed to come through in so many big situations.
Ramirez is long gone -- and Ortiz might as well be, too.
Yes, we know Big Popup, er, Big Papi came back nicely last season after a terrible start. Ortiz didn't hit his first home run until May 20. He finished with 28 homers and 84 RBIs.
Good luck if you think you'll get that same production. And even then, it's not enough.
The Yankees have firepower even with the loss of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, starting with Alex Rodriguez, who is free from here on out to just play baseball. The postseason hex/failure talk is history.
Better yet, the Yankees have assembled one of the best infields in baseball history, both with the glove and at the plate.
Mark Teixeira tied the league lead in homers with 39 last season. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano were the first double-play combo in baseball history to each collect 200 hits in the same season. A-Rod knocked in 100 runs despite missing the first month of the season. In all, the foursome's 2009 totals were 112 homers, 373 RBIs and a .310 batting average.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still living in the past. Manny Ramirez and the good David Ortiz aren't walking through that door. Look it up. The reason the Red Sox have failed the last two postseasons is because of hitting.
Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.