Midway through the second week of April and the Red Sox are 2-2 against the Yankees, and 1-2 against the Toronto Blue Jays. I hope that the win on Monday against the Yankees convinced a few of the over-anxious, over-caffeinated, and over-bearing callers and hosts on WEEI. The Sox are 2-4, cancel the World Series plans, take the women and children to the bunkers, and bitch and moan about what a mistake it was to let Pedro and D-Lowe go. Enough already!

Pedro on a two or three year contract is a decent deal. Anyone who is paying Pedro in 2008 is going to be the loser in the deal, end of discussion. The Mets were willing to take that chance. The Red Sox made a calculated business decision and let him go for the long-term future of the team. Good choice, in my opinion, whether Pedro goes 45-2 over the next two years or not, still a good choice not to give him the fourth year. Lowe is finally realizing that he is going out on top, and it is difficult to top that. Forever in Boston he will be remembered for winning the 2004 World Series. Imagine how tarnished his image would be if he followed up his post-season accomplishment with three years looking like 12-15, 9-16, and 8-14.

Letting Lowe and Pedro walk and signing Wells to an incentive-laden contract, picking up Matt Clement, who just needs a few nuts and bolts tightened by Dave Wallace, and taking a flier on Wade Miller and saving enough money to lock-up Varitek long-term and not have to trade Manny to get under budget makes good business sense. That is how the Patriots have had success, and the Red Sox would be fools not to follow the model laid-out before them. Sure there are inherent differences between the football and baseball management, structure, philosophy, etc, but it sure beats throwing a ton of money at Jack Clark and Matt Young.

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OK, no more Twisted Sister references anymore, ever again, I promise. In the American League East this season, I firmly believe that the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the Toronto Blue Jays have improved enough to be stiff foes for the Red Sox and Yankees this season. Toronto is an exciting young team with a staff ace (Roy Halladay, some young power hitters (Vernon Wells), and a great general manager (J.P. Riccardi, a Billy Beane Moneyball disciple). Baltimore, though lacking in starting pitching, has a very strong bullpen and power galore in their lineup. They may win a lot of 9-7 games, but they will win more games than last season. Finally, Tampa Bay continues their youth infusion that will eventually show some dividends. Lou Piniella is inexplicably managing Tampa Bay, not managing the Yankees (Ok, they cannot fire Regular Joe until they lose the Division, we have established his death grip on the position). Piniella is exactly what they Yankees need, but I will be glad to continue to watch Regular Joe wear his team down as they race for the all-important division crown.

The improvement of these three teams, and the fact they each play the Yankees and Sox (and each other) nineteen times this season sets up an exciting division race the entire season. I cannot imagine anyone from the Central stealing the wild care away from the Yankees or Red Sox, but Oakland or the L.A./Anaheim/California Angels could threaten.

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The Celtics are heading for the home stretch in need of a spark. Without the number three seed in the playoffs they are destined for an early exit. They must win four of their last six at minimum, as their lead over Philadelphia is precarious to say the least. With New Jersey playing better than anyone but the Heat (Disclaimer: with Shaq) since the All-Star Break, the Celtics have some work cut out for them over the next two weeks. Personally, the spark is going to come from the Young Guns, and anytime they can get Marcus Banks and Delonte West on the floor together, or Tony Allen and West, or Kendrick Perkins or Big All with Raef LaFrentz and Ricky Davis they are an exciting team. Rest the veterans, give the kids some minutes, and see what good can come from youthful exuberance and energy.

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