MLB Story lines
For the first time in years, the Yankees didn't finish atop the AL East standings.
They still made the playoffs, mind you, though an early-round bounce by the insect-aided Cleveland Indians made that a hollow triumph. Even worse, the Red Sox, who took first place from the Bronx Bombers, won the World Series in dominating fashion.
This calls into question the long-established AL East hierarchy: Yankees on top, Red Sox picking up their scraps. Both teams were very quiet this offseason, showing an unusual degree of restraint. It seems that the American League's warring juggernauts may have once again caught wise to the virtues of young, homegrown talent.
Who truly holds the power in the AL East? Cast your vote now!
What They're Saying
We've collected a sample of what writers, bloggers, and players themselves have said this offseason about the ongoing war in the AL East. For this issue, we've chosen ESPN's Christopher Harris, Yankees' senior VP Hank Steinbrenner, and Red Sox principal owner John Henry:
Christopher Harris: "Sometimes when a championship is won, it comes as the last gasp of a veteran team. To an extent, the '04 Red Sox were like that. Pedro Martinez was going into free agency, as was Derek Lowe. Spark plug Orlando Cabrera was a rental at shortstop, Doug Mientkiewicz and Dave Roberts knew they probably wouldn't return, and Mark Bellhorn and Bill Mueller were ostensible fill-ins who caught fire for a season. This isn't meant to denigrate what was an amazing story. But just two seasons later, 60 percent of Boston's 2004 starting rotation, all members of the bullpen save Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke, the entire starting infield and the starting center fielder didn't play for the Red Sox any longer.
"Then there's the other kind of world champion. The kind that wins even before it's at the peak of its powers. The kind that gets contributions from much-hyped first-year players who weren't really even expected in the majors yet. The kind that scares the bejeezus out of the rest of major league baseball, because it looks like a serious threat to repeat, and maybe more than once. The '07 Red Sox fall into that latter category.
March 1, 2008
Boston Red Sox fantasy team preview
Hank Steinbrenner: "'Red Sox Nation?' What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."
John Henry: "I'm a big Hank fan. Just to ensure he knows how cool Red Sox Nation is, [Saturday] we officially inducted him as a member of Red Sox Nation and we are sending him his membership card giving him access to an array of options including our newsletter, bumper stickers, pins, Green Monster seats and a hat personally autographed by David Ortiz."
The Rundown: Young Yankees
Joba Chamberlain will likely play a big role in the Sox-Yankees rivalry.The Yankees come into 2007 with a trio of highly touted young pitchers. Joba Chamberlain in particular dazzled Yankee fans in his brief 2007 stint, putting up an ERA almost twelve times as good as the league average.
2007 stats: .38 ERA, 1192 ERA+, 34 K/24 IP, .75 WHIP.
2007 stats: 5-3 W-L, 4.46 ERA, 100 ERA+, 58 K/72.6 IP, 1.28 WHIP
2007 stats: 1-0 W-L, 1.89 ERA, 236 ERA+, 15 K/19 IP, 1.158 WHIP
2007 stats: .306 BA, .353 OBP, .488 SLG, 120 OPS+, 19 HR, 97 RBI, 93 R
The Rundown: Young Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia provided a spark for the Red Sox in the World Series.The Red Sox had several young players contribute to their World Series run, including a surprise no-hitter from Clay Buchholz.
2007 stats: 3-1 W-L, 1.59 ERA, 298 ERA+, 22 K/22.6 IP, 1.059 WHIP
2007 stats: 4-0 W-L, 4.57 ERA, 104 ERA+, 50 K/63 IP, 1.46 WHIP
2007 stats: .353 BA, .394 OBP, .509 SLG, 131 OPS+, 9 SB, 20 R
2007 stats: .317 BA, .380 OBP, .442 SLG, 112 OPS+, 86 R, AL Rookie of the Year