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Sox to Finish THIRD???

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John Donovan at SI.com has put together his AL East preview for 2006. According to Mr. Donovan, the Red Sox will finish third behind Toronto and New York.

Let's not forget Donovan's AL East Hot Stove Grades from January 18th, when he slammed Boston for not having a SS, or CF/leadoff hitter. Well Johnny, they've filled the holes, upgraded the pen, upgraded the defense, upgraded the starting pitching, and didn't overpay for Johnny Damon. Guess that means third place.

Personally, I didn't like his article. That's no surprise, I usually think Donovan's less than objective. No big deal. There's just a little too much Yankee Loving in this one. All of New York's weaknesses are covered by their majestic lineup, and despite the upgrades in the Sox bullpen, it's still "shaky". He calls Papelbon the closest thing to a difference-making rookie, though he's "technically not a rookie".

For the Sox, they'll need to have career years from Coco, AGon, Loretta, Schilling, Youkilis, Lowell, and Foulke. For the Yankees? Eh....their lineup will score 10 runs a game. Who cares how bad their starting pitching is. Besides, they've got the best bullpen in the AL East.

Oh, and Josh Beckett better "get tough and make 30 starts for once."