Boston's offense was the best in the majors in the regular season, but Mark Bellhorn, Orlando Cabrera and Jason Varitek have struggled in the playoffs. Manny Ramirez, above left, and David Ortiz are the most dangerous hitters at their respective positions and Johnny Damon may be underrated. The Yankees may be just as powerful, if not more. Six Yankees hit home runs in the Division Series. Alex Rodriguez, above right, leads the AL in hits in the postseason and is showing he may not be a complementary piece to a Yankees championship, but instead the player who leads New York to a title.
Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was traded in part because of his defensive shortcomings. Cabrera, acquired in that trade, is stellar at his position and helps solidify the entire infield. He has range to both sides and an above-average arm. The outfield defense, led by Johnny Damon, above left, is dependable and there are few better behind the plate than Varitek. For the Yankees, Rodriguez has made a smooth transition to third base, but Derek Jeter, above right, continues to lose range each year. Bernie Williams in center field is no longer able to track down many balls that go over his head.
Edge: Red Sox
The Yankees' starters in the first three games of the Division Series allowed just six runs. Perhaps the most encouraging outing came from Kevin Brown, above right,who gave up one run in six innings in a Game 3 win. But Boston's starting pitching may be better. Curt Schilling was dominant in the regular season, though a tricky ankle injury causes concern. Pedro Martinez, above left, returned, but the Yankees will provide a stiff test. Can Martinez forget he at one point this season considered the Yankees his daddy?
Edge: Red Sox
The Yankees' Mariano Rivera, above right, has a major league record 30 postseason saves, but he enters the ALCS with a heavy heart after the deaths of two family members at his Panama home. Setup man Tom Gordon was spectacular in the regular season (2.21 ERA), but the Yankees don't have a third reliable reliever. Boston signed closer Keith Foulke, above left, in the offseason to provide stability. Mike Timlin can be effective in spots, but he allowed a game-tying grand slam in Game 3 of the Division Series against Anaheim.