With Round 1 of the 2011 renewal of the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry set to begin this afternoon at Fenway Park in Boston I reached out to SB Nation Boston editor Ryan Hudson for some thoughts. From my perspective the only unfortunate thing about this whole Q&A is that I sent Ryan questions before the Red Sox had fallen to their historically awful 0-6 start.
Question: Forty-five ESPN baseball experts were asked to pick a winner in the AL East. Every last one picked the Red Sox. Of course you are biased (and so am I), but do you really see it as that cut and dried? Red Sox win. Yankees don't. Let's not bother to play the rest of the regular season?
Answer: If you asked me this question a week ago, I would have said yes, it is that cut and dry -- I really thought the Red Sox were THE team to beat in baseball before the season started. (Which isn't to say the Yankees are a bad team, of course -- I fully expect them to win their standard 90-95 games this season.) But now? Well, they're still a very good team, obviously, but now they have a bit of work ahead of them. To win the East, they probably need to win 95 games, which means they need to win 61 percent of their remaining games ... winning three of every five games from now until October is no easy task.
Question: Look at the Yankees' roster. Is there one thing about the Yankee team that scares you? Better yet, put it this way? Is there one area where you would clearly say the Yankees are better?
Answer: The Yankees are better at the closer position, and will be until Bud Selig finally makes it illegal to use robots. But otherwise, I give the nod to Boston -- they have a guy who hit 35 home runs last season batting sixth, their rotation is full of very above-average pitchers and they went out and fixed their biggest weakness this offseason, the bullpen. But the Yankees offense will always scare me. 859 runs last year!
Question: Flip that question. One area where you feel the Red Sox are clearly superior to the Yankees?
Answer: Starting pitching. I'll take Lester-Lackey-Buchholz-Beckett-Dice-K over Sabathia-and-four-other-guys any day.
Question: How do you feel about these early-season meetings between the Yankees and Red Sox? We seem to get some of them every year, and I hate them. I wish the two teams wouldn't meet until a little later in the year when both have settled in a little bit.