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Now that the Los Angeles Angels, my spring training pick to win the World Series, and the New York Yankees have been eliminated, there are only two teams, the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. Both teams won 96 games in the regular season, but the Red Sox draw home field advantage due to winning the season series. Here’s a closer look at the 2007 American League Championship Series.

Offense
Boston Red Sox – If I had told you that Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell would be leading the Red Sox offense all season long, you would have laughed at me. But they have. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the Sox’s dangerous duo, were not their normal selves the entire season, but if Ortiz can carry over his Ruthian .714 batting average from the series against the Angels and Ramirez keeps the power coming, order may be restored.

Cleveland Indians – Those great Indians teams of the past were built on offense, and this one is not too different. The power is there in the form of designated hitter Travis Hafner and catcher Victor Martinez, while leadoff man Grady Sizemore is shaping up to be the best player not taken in the first round of fantasy drafts. If second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera keeps this up, their lineup from 1 to 4 might be good enough to carry a team.
Advantage – Boston Red Sox

Starting Pitching
Boston Red Sox – Josh Beckett is turning into a shutdown ace, while Curt Schilling is looking like the guy with a career 1.93 ERA in the postseason. However, you also have to combine that with right hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who allowed three earned runs in only 4.2 innings in his first start and either Tim Wakefield, who is fighting a balky back, or John Lester.

Cleveland Indians – When your rotation starts with a Cy Young candidate followed by a Cy Young candidate, things are shaping up pretty well. But when Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd are your third and fourth starters, you begin to worry. If the Indians are to win this series, they need three victories from their two aces and one from the other two.
Advantage – Tie, and if that’s not good enough, slight edge to the Indians

Relief Pitching
Boston Red Sox – There’s not much you can complain when looking at the Red Sox bullpen. Hideki Okajima and Manny Delcarmen are first class relief pitchers, while closer Jonathan Papelbon is the best still in the postseason and maybe a top three guy in the majors. Outside of these three, the Red Sox’s amazing depth can be seen in their 3.10 bullpen ERA, which ranks second in the major leagues to the San Diego Padres.

Cleveland Indians – The Indians feature an amazing right-left duo in Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez, but there’s not much else out there. Closer Joe Borowski is best classified as heart attack waiting to happen. Because of this trio, the Indians’ relief corps finished with a 3.75 bullpen ERA, sixth-best in the major leagues.
Advantage: Boston Red Sox

Bench
Boston Red Sox – Jacoby Ellsbury is the most dynamic player the Red Sox feature on their bench. Ellsbury could pinch hit for either JD Drew or Coco Crisp and not look bat with the glove. Eric Hinske stands as another option, especially with his ability to man the corner infield and outfield spots.

Cleveland Indians – There are only two potentially decent hitters to come off the bench, outfielder Jason Michaels and second baseman Josh Barfield. Most of the talent the Indians have accrued is starting, and this makes for a depleted bench. The Indians better hope they don’t have many long games.
Advantage: Boston Red Sox

Manager
Boston Red Sox – Terry Francona has led his team to a World Series before, and he definitely looks like he could do it again. Francona does not do too much tactical work, but he seems to get the best out of his players.

Cleveland Indians – Eric Wedge has the look of a manager who is more of an inspirational leader, rather than one who sits on the bench the entire game. He got the most out of his team this year, one that doesn’t seem like it should have won 96 games.
Advantage: Cleveland Indians

Intangibles
Boston Red Sox – The Curse has been broken, so the biggest intangibles the Red Sox have going for them is their fan base. In Boston, tickets are already being sold for more than $500 each. That rabid fan base is very likely to follow them to Cleveland as well.

Cleveland Indians – The Indians are still living with the Curse of Rocky Calavito. The Tribe traded away Calavito, a big-time slugger, and has not won a World Series since then, despite coming close so many times.
Advantage: Cleveland Indians

Prediction: Cleveland Indians in 7. This will be remembered as one of the best ALCS's in recent memory, too.