When the Philadelphia Phillies won the race to sign left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee in December, baseball analysts everywhere immediately wrote the Phillies down to represent the National League in the World Series.
Likewise for the Boston Red Sox in the American League after the signings of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
Really, who’s going to be able to beat a team with four aces in their starting rotation? And who will be able to stop a team with so much firepower?
Well hopefully, there will be at least a couple teams who can answer those questions for us throughout the season. If not, why even bother with the first 162 games; let’s just skip ahead to the postseason.
This time last year, no one had the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers down for the World Series, but that’s just where we ended up, and while it wasn’t a particularly exciting World Series, at least it caught people by surprise.
Truth be told, the season won’t be a breeze for either of these teams.
Other teams in the AL, perhaps not the AL East will be able to match the Red Sox for hitting power. Red Sox fans more than anyone must know not to count out the New York Yankees, no matter how weak their starting rotation looks.
The Red Sox defense also isn’t stellar, and they may need to score a lot to beat other AL teams.
The Phillies Jimmy Rollins said that with their starters, they could win over 100 games this season. Well, they had the MLB’s best record last year, and look how well that turned out.
As far as the Phillies are concerned, they aren’t the only team with a stellar starting rotation. In their own division, the Atlanta Braves have solid pitching, especially at home, and may have more firepower in their bats depending on injuries.
And each of the Phillies starters, Lee while still at Texas, was beaten in the postseason last year when they come up against the Giants’ own stellar pitching staff.
Personally, I don’t think the Phillies’ Fab Four (Roy Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels) will be together all season long. The Phillies went against form by giving Lee a long-term mega contract and they won’t want to do it again soon. I wouldn’t be shocked if either Hamels or Oswalt was traded in the summer, and I’m more inclined to think it’d be Hamels.
I think the Red Sox have a better shot at making the World Series than the Phillies, but in the end I wouldn’t be surprised if both missed out.
Last season showed more than ever before that as long as you make it to the postseason; you’ve got as much a chance as anyone else to go all the way.