Let's examine the AL contenders.
1. Cleveland. Grady Sizemore can hurt you. Casey Blake can hurt you. Jhonny Peralta can hurt you. Travis Hafner can hurt you. Victor Martinez can absolutely abuse you. They're not the Yankees, but they're all heating up at the same time. That's a lot of guys you don't want to see up, if you know what I mean.
RSSG: What do you mean, Bob? Was there supposed to be some innuendo there? And you listed 5 of their hitters and simply said they "can hurt you." Isn't it pretty easy to do the same with the Red Sox lineup? Let's see.... Jacoby Ellsbury can hurt you. Mike Lowell can hurt you. David Ortiz can hurt you. JD Drew can (yes, he can, but will he?) hurt you. Jason Varitek can hurt you. Dustin Pedroia can hurt you. Manny Ramirez, when in the lineup, can hurt you. There. That was pretty easy analysis.
What scares me is what C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona can do to your batters. The 6-foot-7-inch, 290-pound Sabathia is at the peak of his game, and Carmona has games in which he is laughably unhittable. Paul Byrd and his 1937 windup could easily produce six or seven solid innings in a playoff setting.
RSSG: Couldn't anyone produce "six or seven solid innings in a playoff setting"? I mean, where's your backup, Mr Ryan? You're just guessing. Has he ever pitched in the playoffs? Why yes, he has! In 5 games, he has an ERA of 5.40 and a 1.60 WHIP. Bet you didn't look that up, did you, Bob?
And suddenly the Indians have great setup people, led by former Red Sox farmhand infielder Rafael Betancourt (1.46 with 70 strikeouts and - gulp - 9 walks). How Joe Borowski has managed to close 42 games in 48 opportunities, given that he has a 5.04 ERA and has allowed 70 hits in 60 2/3 innings (Papelbon has allowed 29 hits in 55 innings), may be baseball's greatest supernatural mystery, but that is what he's done.
RSSG: Is it really that big of a mystery? Borowski has a handful of extremely bad outings mixed in with a ton of very good ones, skewing his numbers. He is their closer in the most extreme way; they don't have guys warming up to relieve him. He's going to close out the game either by saving it or losing the game for them.
Recent history teaches us that two great starters, excellent setup people, and a closer who can close are all you need.
RSSG: Ummm.... and a little offense? You kind of need some hitters. But maybe that's just me.
2. New York The lineup is sometimes ridiculous, even without Jason Giambi. Did you know that Jorge Posada has an OPS of .972? The reason they have not won since 2000 is that their starting pitchers have failed them in the playoffs. Period. End of story. Are Pettitte, Wang, Clemens, and Mussina good enough? If they are, there is no reason the Yankees can't win.
RSSG: "If they are" - good call. Nice analysis. Well if the Red Sox offense pulls through and their injuries go away, there's no reason the Sox can't win. Wait, this is easy. If Anaheim's pitching is good enough, there's no reason they can't win. And if Cleveland's pitching is good enough... you get the point. It's easy to state things, but it's much more effective when you back them up with something. Anything.
RSSG: Clever. No one's ever thought to tease the Angels about their location before.
They're the chic team of the moment. By the way, hate to tell you that Orlando Cabrera has driven in 83 runs.
RSSG: No you don't. You love it. And we already knew that.
Now here's a team that can manufacture a run.
RSSG: Ugh. I hate this cliche.
And assuming his right triceps tendinitis doesn't hamper him, Vladimir Guerrero is the flat-out scariest all-around hitter in the AL.
RSSG: How about Ortiz? ARod? Hafner? I mean, if they're all healthy? Even Manny!
But do John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, and Jered Weaver really frighten anybody? Give me C.C. and Dr. Faustus.
RSSG: Actually, yes. They are 3 very good pitchers. And you just pointed out that 2 great starters are part of the equation of winning it all.
Mike Scioscia's the best manager in the derby, however. That's a fact.
RSSG: Crap, there's that backup I asked for. "That's a fact." Actually, Bob, that's the exact definition of an opinion. Some would still say Torre is for getting his team out of the position they were in. Some even say Francona is. But you say Mike Scioscia and back it up with "That's a fact." Nice.
4. Your Sawx Simply put, I fear that their best baseball is behind them, that what you saw as they were getting out to that 36-16 record and that big spread over the You-Know-Whos was the best baseball they could produce.
RSSG: So a .692 winning percentage was the best baseball they could produce? Wow, imagine that! A 112 win pace and they couldn't do any better. It stands to reason that they'd come back down to earth. It sucks that it had to be in September, but it happened.
Sure, if they could have started the playoffs in June when they were getting quality start after quality start and Okey-Dokey was untouchable and Youkilis was on base every five seconds and a few other things, they would have won. Then.
But this is now. Is this a team that inspires confidence?
RSSG: Actually... well, not really. But you still suck.
Yeah, they could get lucky. Didn't the 83-79 Cardinals win last year?
Here's a better bet: Go, Pats.