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Sports

March 24, 2008

Red Sox preview: The perfect mix Pieces in place for Sox to win it all again

Here we go again. That word, "perfect," has returned to the New England sports lexicon.

This description is a little different. The Boston Red Sox will not go 162-0. And their "perfect" sweep of the Colorado Rockies to win the World Series was more the exception than the rule.

But the 2008 Red Sox are not only defending champs, winners of two World Series titles over four seasons, but they are the barometer.

They have replaced the Yankees as the team to beat and emulate.

They have starting pitching. They have relief pitching. They have speed. They have power. They have defense. They have young players. They have veteran players. They have money, lots and lots of money.

And they have someone special pulling the strings.

"They are in the midst of a potential 10-year run of dominance that could be unparalleled — the byproduct of strong management and extremely high resources," said Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro. "For some strange reason, these two dynamics have not aligned often."

This does not mean the Indians, Tigers and, especially the Yankees will roll over and play dead when the Red Sox come to town.

But the reality is the Red Sox have all of the pieces. So many pieces that they were not going to mortgage away a generation of young talent to acquire one of the best pitchers in baseball, Johan Santana.

"When a player like Johan Santana is available, you have to inquire," said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. "Remember, you have to pay (Santana) as well."

Nobody is complaining. At least not in March of 2008.

***

In football, as the nearly perfect Patriots learned the hard way, defense wins championships.

In baseball, it's pitching.

The teams with the best combination of starters, especially an ace, and relievers, especially a bona fide closer, usually are around in late October. Like the Sox last year.

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