We all know that Tampa has improved and has a chance to win the division this year. But who honestly believes that they will? The American League East has always been about the Red Sox and Yankees.
For the fans of these two teams, we all want to believe our team is the best. The Red Sox and Yankees have made some pitching moves to improve their teams this offseason, and I would like to break down these moves to see who gets the edge for this year's rivalry.
Truth is, the Yankees had to improve if they wanted to stay in the race. They did not hold back in spending the money on good players.
Let's begin with the No. 1 pitcher. The Yankees went out and got the ace they were looking for in C.C. Sabathia. Last season, the 29-year-old started out pretty bad and got traded. After the trade, he was very dominant, winning 17 games overall and losing 10. His ERA was a good 2.70. In 2007, he won 19 games and lost seven.
That year he had a 3.20 ERA. He is a great pitcher that has never won 20 games, much like Mike Mussina until last year. He is in his prime and will definitely help the Yankees this year.
The Red Sox have Josh Beckett. Last year was not his best, as he played injured and won only 12 games while losing 10. His ERA was 4.03. Beckett is also 29 years old. In 2007, Beckett won 20 games and only lost seven while pitching to a 3.27 ERA.
In 2006, he won 16 games in his first year with the Red Sox. He is a workhorse who will return to the form he has always displayed. Still, the advantage goes to the Yankees.
The Yankees also bring on Chien-Ming Wang. He has signed a one-year contract after an injury-filled year. He is also only 29 and went 8-2 last year. The two years before, he won 19 games a season. If healthy, he is a very tough pitcher.
The Red Sox will probably have Daisuke Matsuzaka as No. 2. At 29, he is really adjusting to the major leagues. He won 18 games last year and lost only three. He pitched to a very good 2.90 ERA. He flirted with numerous jams, walking far too many batters, but when he needed to get tough, he simply did.
In his first year with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka won 15 games. Again, this is a pretty close match-up, but the edge goes to Dice-K and the Sox.
The third pitcher for the Yankees will be A.J. Burnett. He is 32 and went 18-10 last year, his best year in wins despite a 4.07 ERA. The two years before that were filled with injuries and 10-game wins.
The Red Sox bring one of the brightest spots in their rotation to the No. 3 spot, 25-year-old Jon Lester. He pitched a no-hitter last year, winning 16 games and losing six. His ERA was only 3.21. He is undoubtedly becoming one of the best lefties in baseball. The edge again must go to the Red Sox.
The fourth pitcher for the Yankees will probably be Andy Pettitte. He is 37 and went 14-14 last year with a 4.54 ERA. He is showing wear and tear as the time flies by. He simply is not the pitcher that he used to be and has not won more than 15 games per season in the last three years.
The Red Sox are not much better if it is Tim Wakefield they put in this position. Wakefield is 43 and has had a losing record for two out of the last three years. He always has an ERA over 4.00.
My hope is that Brad Penny will be the Sox starter here. He was 6-9 last year coming back from injury, but won 16 games both in 2006 and 2007. This man can throw and is in his prime at age 31. So, if it is Wakefield, the edge goes to New York. If it is Penny, the edge goes to Boston.
Last, the Yankees probably bring on 24-year-old Joba Chamberlain at No. 5. He goes from starting to relieving but looks solid as a starter. He has great stuff. If no one else steps up, he is a very good option here. He only won four games last year, but had a 2.60 ERA. There are questions on his endurance, though.
The Red Sox will probably have John Smoltz coming later in the season, if all goes well. Most would tell you that if he does make it, the edge would go to the Red Sox.
Until then, my hope is that Masterson, who is only 24, will be in this position. If given the chance, now that the Red Sox have so much depth in the bullpen, he could have quite a career as a starter. He throws anywhere up to 94 mph and has a great sinker.
Masterson looks like he could be even better than Derek Lowe. His composure in games last year was above what manager Terry Francona ever expected. For that reason, he was heavily depended on in the playoffs as the setup man to Papelbon. I believe the Sox cannot lose with either decision.
So, although both are very close, the starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees goes to the Sox.