Preseason Favorites: Philadelphia Phillies or Boston Red Sox?

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Preseason Favorites: Philadelphia Phillies or Boston Red Sox?
Elsa/Getty Images
Crawford and GM Theo Epstein shake hands.

Well, pitchers and catchers report in exactly 26 days, but as the season begins, one may wonder who will win this World Series.

After last season, anything can happen.

There were six no hitters thrown last season, including two perfect games, but as "The Year of the Pitcher" turns into the 2011 season, anything could happen.

But in each league, there is clearly a preseason favorite.

After several offseason transactions, the Boston Red Sox are clear favorites to win the American League. Their two main transactions were the acquisitions of free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford and their trade for ex-San Diego Padre first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

After an injury-filled season in 2010, the Red Sox have a revamped offense for 2011. From start to finish, the Sox might have the strongest lineup in the MLB.

Their lineup could possibly end up like this:

1) Dustin Pedroia-2B

2) Carl Crawford-LF

3) Kevin Youkilis-3B

4) Adrian Gonzalez-1B

5) David Ortiz-DH

6) J.D. Drew-RF

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Gonzalez drives a ball vs the San Fransisco Giants.

7) Jarrod Saltalamacchia-C

8) Marco Scutaro-SS

9) Jacoby Ellsbury-CF

After catcher Victor Martinez left to the Detroit Tigers, the only player on the Red Sox starting lineup with less than a year of major league experience is catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "Salty," for those who have no idea how to say his last name, has always been highly touted as a prospect, but his inability to simply throw the ball back to the pitcher has caused his career to be halted.

As 2011 rolls around, Salty looks to prove to the rest of the world that he is fully capable of major-league backstop duties. Barring injury this upcoming season, the Red Sox have a very capable lineup, but unfortunately for the rest of the majors, the Sox lineup isn't even their strong suit. 

With a rotation that bolsters five starters that have all had a season in which each has one at least 17 games, the Sox rotation is probably the deepest in the American league.

Their rotation might shape up like this:

LHP Jon Lester

RHP Clay Buchholz

RHP Josh Beckett

RHP John Lackey

RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
Lee discusses his excitement to be with the Phillies.

Lester might be the best left-handed pitcher in the game right now, Buchholz is fresh off of a season in which he recorded a 2.33 ERA and the rest of the staff has been dominant.

The only question marks in this rotation lay within the category of "Health." Josh Beckett only pitched in 21 games last season and Matuszaka only pitched 25. If John Lackey, as well as the rest of the staff, can return to their former glory, the Sox may well have the deepest rotation in all of baseball.

However, only the Philadelphia Phillies may have a better rotation. As the old adage goes, "pitching wins games." So, in an offseason where free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee looked destined to travel to either Arlington or the Bronx, the Phillies swept him up and brought him into their program.

Before the offseason started, the Phillies already had Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton under control, as well as 2010 Cy Young Award Winner Roy Halladay. So the first thing the Phillies decide to spend on? Cliff Lee.

With an unstoppable rotation, the Phillies have become clear cut the team to beat in the National League. But it's fairly tough to win games based solely on pitching. One would think that with that kind of rotation, how is it possible to field a good offense?

Well, with the Phillies 2011 payroll currently residing at $164.825 million, they still have an amazing offense.

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Here's how it might play out:

1) Jimmy Rollins-SS

2) Shane Victorino-CF

3) Chase Utley-2B

4) Ryan Howard-1B

5) Raul Ibanez-LF

6) Domonic Brown-RF

7) Placido Polanco-3B

8) Carlos Ruiz-C

9) Pitcher's Spot-P

As the 2011 season rolls around, the Phillies have two clear deficiencies. 

1: The lack of depth in their lineup.

The Phillies have the above players and...Ben Fransisco? In the playoffs, the Phillies might be able to get away with their 1-5 scoring runs, but the bottom half of their lineup is inconsistent and lacking pop.

Polanco has never hit over 17 home runs and Carlos Ruiz has never had a slugging percentage over .435. Rookie right fielder Domonic Brown has to step up and become a big-time player, because if he doesn't, the Phillies might not be able to score very many runs this season. 

2: Their Bullpen

With Lidge coming off of a subpar (by his standards) season, this bullpen will have to work hard to maintain leads.

They lack a sufficient left handed innings eater and their "dependable" lefty is recently removed from his use of steroids. Although J.C. Romero has good numbers, he walks too many hitters, walking 29 in 32 innings in 2010. 

The World Series is destined to be Boston-Philadelphia, but what does 2011 have in store for us?

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