We can start to pack it in and I am not only talking to Red Sox fans. Clearly, this isn’t the year for the red sox. A team supposedly bit on pitching and defense has allowed 222 runs this year the most in the AL, and the offense is what everyone thought it would be: average. Epstein should use this year to develop young talent and get something in return for the wilting flowers of the locker room known as JD Drew, Mike Lowell, and David Ortiz.
Conversely, the Yankees have been playing fairly well. Sabbathia and Hughes have carried the rotation. Robinson Cano is having an MVP year and Jeter, Rivera, and Pettitte refuse to get old. But if you look at the facts it seems unlikely the Yankees will repeat. And the reason for that is obviously : The Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays are the best team, and I stress team, in baseball and it is not even that close. They have enough pitching to choke a horse, a dynamic lineup, and if you have see the Rays play, it seems like they can get to any ball hit in the field of play.
Another important factor is this is likely the last year for a few key players in Florida. This is their chance to win the Series. They will pull out all the financial stops and get the best team on the field. They have the experience of the 2008 postseason under their belt and a manager who seems smart enough to get out of the way.
I know some fans of the blog will remind me that there is another league of teams to consider, but none of them are as complete as the Rays. The Giants can pitch and if they get into the playoffs could give some teams problems. The Phillies are good, but not unbeatable. They have a weak bullpen and lack depth at the major league and minor league level. [On a sidenote: I heard a report by a scout say something like the Rays have something like 12 major league ready pitchers in the organization. (5 in Tampa Bay and 7 other in the minor leagues. 7!!!)] If someone is hurt or loses focus they can be replaced easily and at a low cost.
This is the year of the Rays and it is not even that close.