Your favorite American League team will not reach the World Series in 2009 unless you’re a Boston Red Sox fan.
You may say, “It’s so early in the season, how can you be so sure?”
Well, the point of this article will be to explain to you why exactly it is that I’m so confident in the Boston Red Sox’s chances of winning the American League Pennant, and why I’m so sure your team doesn’t have what it takes.
I will choose the three teams in the American League (outside of the Red Sox) who are considered “contenders,” and break down why I don’t believe they are a World Series caliber team.
If your team isn’t even listed here, it’s because I think it’s laughable even picturing them in the World Series in 2009. I will finish the piece by explaining why the Red Sox are the team to beat in 2009.
Contender No. 1: New York Yankees (13-12)
Pitching wins championships, and the Yankees just don’t have enough.
Even after spending an abundance of money on C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the offseason in an attempt to buy the best rotation possible, the Yankees find themselves with a 5.90 team ERA, which is dead last in all of baseball.
The staff has allowed the seventh most home runs with 31. Also, New York’s BAA, .279, is tied for 24th in the league.
Pettitte has been great (2-1, 2.96), but they aren’t getting the production that they expected from Sabathia and Burnett when they signed them a couple months ago. Those two, along with Wang, were expected to be one of the better 1-2-3 punches in the league heading into 2009. However, they have been anything but that.
The bullpen has been a joke, with Nick Swisher being one of the most effective relievers to this point. The Yankees need Wang to return to top form, which will allow them to move Joba Chamberlain to the pen, where he is best.
The offense is again potent, and will only get better with the return of A-Rod, but like the last few years, it ultimately won’t be enough to allow them to reach the World Series, much less the playoffs in my opinion.
Contender No. 2: Tampa Bay Rays (11-16)
I have to be honest, this is the most difficult team to argue against, especially given their recent track record against the Boston Red Sox. However, I think that there are a few things to think about before anyone considers them more likely to reach the World Series than the Sox.
Aside from Matt Garza (who is a Red Sox killer) and James Shields, the Rays are not getting enough consistent starting pitching.
Their unquestionable ace Scott Kazmir is 3-3 with an ERA of 6.00. He has been the definition of the word inconsistent through his first six starts, most recently giving up six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings against Baltimore.
His first inning Monday was a really good summary of his season to this point, as he walked the first two batters he faced, gave up a three-run home run, and then proceeded to strike out two of the next three hitters to get out of the inning.
If the Rays are going to truly be contenders, they are going to need Kazmir to pitch better night in and night out because right now their other two starters Jeff Niemann and Andy Sonnanstine are also not pulling their weight with ERAs over 5.50 and a combined record of 3-6.
Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler, staples of their dominant bullpen during their World Series run last season, both have an ERA of 7.00.
At this point, the Rays are going to have to lean on David Price upon his return to the majors. The offense has been solid, but I’m afraid it will not be enough to outweigh the problems they have in the starting five.
Contender No. 3: Kansas City Royals (15-11) [Read more...and who will win it?]