Boston In August, Transition To Playoff Baseball

Alex PotterCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2009

BOSTON - JULY 28:  Rajai Davis #11 of the Oakland Athletics steals second base in the 11th inning as Nick Green #22 of the Boston Red Sox fails to make the tag at Fenway Park July 28, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The A's defeated the Boston Red Sox 9-8 in 11 innings. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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.

The Red Sox have looked a little shaky in 2009, but the acquisition of Victor Martinez changes the approach Boston takes to the hardest part of their schedule.

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 Soxone no one saw coming at the beginning of the seasonis 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 rotationbut 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:

Boston 97-65*

New York 95-67**

Tampa Bay 92-70

Baltimore 82-80

Toronto 81-81

* 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.