The Yankees and Red Sox will always be the biggest rivialry not only in baseball, but in all of sports. Nothing comes close to the history of these two franchises. But, ever since 2004, the tension has mostly disappeared. The Youk-Joba incident was the first in a long time. We will see if this event carries over to the last Yanks/Sox match-up in Fenway. But mostly, it has been quiet on both fronts. Both teams are still very good, just no bad-blood. Now the media and the fans have just overblown it. But when you look at both of these teams, while they both have experienced superstars, they also have a pool of young prospects and rookies that you can't help but get excitied about. It also shows us that these 2 teams are gonna be fighting for the A.L. East for a long time:
Red Sox- The Red Sox are riding the gravy train now.
Pitching- Clay Buchholz(who looks like he is just going into high school) pitched a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles. In his 2nd big league start. I would say that is a pretty good start to your career. The thing that jumps out at me is that curveball. That thing is ridiculous. You could see the Orioles hitters didn't know what to do with it. Add that with pinpoint control of a darting fastball and you got yourself another pitcher with unlimited potential. It doesn't stop there. This isn't even the tip of the iceberg. You have Daisuke Matsuzaka, who you can tell will already be a workhorse for a long time. Too bad the Yankees murder him. But this is only his first year in the U.S. He is bound to get better. He'll come out with a different pitch every year. Josh Beckett seems older then 27. Maybe because the started young. Beckett has his good moments and bad. This whole year is a good moment. Tied for the MLB lead in wins with 16. When he is not injuried, he can really be a great pitcher. Hence the fact this year, he has not been injuried.Jon Lester would be a #3 starter on the another team but he is the #5 starter on this team.
The only old guys are Schilling and Wakefield. Wakefield could probably pitch for 10 more years and Schilling is gone at the end of the season anyway. Add the fact that Jonathan Papelbon could still become a starter. That would be stupid to make him a starter. Keep him the closer. The Red Sox found something very special in him in the closers role. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Manny Delcarmen is also a young guy who has a good amount of potential. Could become a very good set-up man. The AVG age of all these pitchers is 27. When you have that and your team is in first place, you are in very good shape.
Hitting- The Red Sox weakness has been,believe it or not,hittting. This team doesn't have nearly as much firepower as it once had. Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew have been complete busts. But the hitting can still be very scary(just wait till Manny comes back). Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Coco Crisp(who is still only 27 years old) are the young core who are looking to be cornerstones for this team for a long time. Pedroia is like a 2nd version of David Eckstein, only he is younger. He defense is still raw but he is a pesky guy to face.He will give them finally a 2B to hang on too. In recent years, the Red Sox have had Todd Walker, Mark Bellhorn, Pokey Reese, Tony Graffanino,and Mark Loretta. Doesn't have much power but the Red Sox have enough of that.
Ellsbury is the guy many Red Sox fans are saying will overtake J.D. Drew in right. He could also play center but Coco has been slowly improving. He has plenty of speed,very good at defense, and obviously he has power. Coco has been better then last year. I think they should keep him and put Ellsbury in right. Coco is fantastic at getting balls in the triangle centerfield and his arm ain't as bad as Damon's. He may not be the best leadoff hitter, but a good 7th or 8th guy in the order who gets on base and steals bases ain't bad either. And of course, there is Kevin Youkilis. He is not that young(28 years old) but he hasn't reached his prime yet. .300 AVG-20 HRs-90 RBIs for him seems logical. The Red Sox are in great shape. All there is too it.
Yankees- This team used to be the team that brought every free-agent and signed all the superstars only to disappoint. Now,the Yankees are going back to that method that brought them 3 WS titles in 4 years. Grooming young guys and starting to build a core around them. The Yankees,for the first time in a LONG time, are extremely fun to watch. This team has new blood. If you're a Yankee fan,you have to love the direction this team is heading.
Pitching- Chien-Ming Wang is the first name that comes up. It's kinda funny. In the trade where the Yanks got Randy Johnson, the D-Backs thought about taking Wang but passed. Now,he is the ace of this team. He has 16 wins. Could get 19 just like last year. He may get alot of runs to work with sometimes(remember Josh Beckett has had the best run support in baseball) but he eats innings and gets it done. And when that sinker is on, you can't lift it up. It's like a bowling ball going at 95 mph. Then you have Joba. Joba is a tricky spot. For this year, the Yanks have this thing called the Joba Rules. There are only 2:
1. Joba Can't Pitch On Back-To-Back Days
2. Joba Can't Pitch In Back-To-Back Innings Unless He Has Not Pitched In 2 Days Or More
That is basically it. They could make him a starter or the next closer when Mo retires(which looks like it could be pretty soon). It depends how he does for the rest of this season. I think making him a starter might work alittle better now. He got the fastball that reaches 100 mph and he has got the best slider I have ever seen. And he is so relaxed. Yankee fans are as much in love with him as Red Sox fans are in love with Papelbon.
Phil Hughes has had a very odd season. First he comes up, almost pitches a no-hitter in his 2nd start only to get pulled because of a hamstring injury. Then he comes back. but he has not been doing to good. You would think the Yanks would maybe shut him down but in the middle of a WC race you don't wanna do that. I think they rushed him back. It doesn't seem like he is 100%. With that being said, still has the potential of a dominant ace for a long time. Ian Kennedy, another big prospect the Yankees picked up via the draft, just came up and pitched a very good game for a win against the D-Rays. We'll have to see more of him. The Yankees love him.
The bullpen also has 3 younger guys(Brian Bruney, Edwar Ramirez, and Chris Britton) who have already helped the pen in big ways. Bruney(another mistake by the D-Backs giving him up) and Britton both throw rather hard and Edwar has a couple of very nice breaking pitches. Edwar doesn't have much speed, but if he has control, he could possibly be the next set-up man.
Hitting- The Yank's hitting is still mostly made of superstars, but they are starting to move back to that young,energizing, and clutch style of play. Robinson Cano is gonna win batting titles with that incredibly smooth stroke. When he tries to pull the ball too much, he doesn't hit well. But when he sprays the ball all over,he is a .340 hitting player. And he ain't just a singles hitter. Just take those 2 opposite-field solo HRs he hit off Curt Schilling. The Yankees thought about traded Melky Cabrera for Mike Gonzalez before the season. Turned out to be a good move because Mike is out for the whole year and for most of next year. Melky started out slow(like the whole team)but has been his normal self again. He should be the CF for the Yanks when Damon leaves. He's defense is great and he has a surprisingly strong arm.
Then you have Shelley Duncan, who came out of nowhere and has hit 6 HRs in 50 ABs. He really has alot of power. ALOT. He won't be a regular player, but he seems like the perfect bench guy. A guy who can step right in and smash a 3-run HR into the upper deck. Even Wilson Betemit is looking very good since putting on the pinstripes. He has provided a switch-hitting power bat and his defense has actually been really good at first base. I'm not sure he would be the right guy to take over at third base for A-Rod, since the reason why the Dodgers traded him was he couldn't play everyday like they were planning on at the start of the year. And don't forget Jose Tabata. He is the youngest regular in the minor leagues. He is a OF combo of power/speed.
So, how could these rosters look? I'll take a guess:
Red Sox Rotation-
1. Josh Beckett
4. Jon Lester
2. Phil Hughes
4. Ian Kennedy
5. Tyler Clippard
I can't really do the line-ups because those change so much. But imagine a ALCS in the future which these pitching staffs going at it. It could very well happen very soon. Because these 2 teams are never going anyway. I'm done.