When August rolls around tempers flare, rivalries renew and injuries carry greater significance. But most importantly, the countdown to the World Series begins.
Most people say August is too early to determine how the final standings will play out.
I beg to differ.
The last two seasons, not only did I predict the division winners in the A.L., but also I predicted the MVP.
I can assure you this year will be no different.
With the Martinez trade, Terry Francona has finally found the right cog to Boston’s run-producing machine.
But solving Boston’s recent hitting struggles only fixes part of the problem.
The major problem facing the Red Sox — one no one saw coming at the beginning of the season — is starting pitching.
Tim Wakefield’s stint on the disabled list and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s crazy trip to Ft. Myers, Fla. has crippled Boston’s rotation.
Management thought the solution to this problem was Clay Buchholz. But like in 2008, Buchholz has not provided the relief the Red Sox are so desperately seeking in 2009.
Theo Epstein then made another mistake by trading away Justin Masterson, an effective spot starter, leaving the Sox with many gaps and no plugs.
Talking October baseball with this pitching staff could be a thing of humor. But stranger things have happened.
When Tim Wakefield returns from the DL, he should add some stability to the rotation—but not enough to punch Boston’s ticket to the World Series.
Daisuke Matsuzaka cannot be considered an option in the 4- or 5-man rotation in the playoff system, and neither can John Smoltz nor Clay Buchholz.
With September call ups less than a month away, Sox fans await the likely debut of Michael Bowden. Hopefully, Bowden can join fellow phenom Daniel Bard and add depth to the middling Boston bullpen.
Now finally for the much anticipated standings prediction:
New York 95-67**
Tampa Bay 92-70
* Denotes Leading the AL in Wins
** Denotes a wild card Berth after a tough battle with Texas
Feel free to share your feelings of how the AL East will pan out, and whether Boston will make it to the World Series or not.