Why the Phillies will win: Phillies have excellent offensive balance and can find multiple ways to win ballgames.
Why the Rays will win: Rays have an extreme homefield advantage that will be difficult to overcome.
Why the Dodgers will win: Throw out the regular season. Joe Torre always said the postseason was a crap shoot, and he rolled a 7. The Dodgers are as hot as a summer day in the Inland Empire, their three starters are solid and they have Manny.
Why the Red Sox will win: The Rays are extremely solid and more talented than people think, and the Red Sox are hurting right now. But it remains to be seen whether Tampa is experienced enough or possesses a knockout punch when it counts.
Why the Phillies will win: Forget Manny. The Phillies should be more worried about the Dodgers staff that allowed fewer runs per game than any in the NL. L.A. should fear Philly's lineup that's powerful, speedy and versatile. If it comes down to defense, though, the Dodgers are in trouble.
Why the Rays will win: The difference could be Josh Beckett. If he's as hurt as he was in the ALDS, that's a big blow to Boston. Experience? Overrated in this case. If the Rays haven't blinked yet, don't expect it now.
Why the Dodgers will win: The Dodgers are a different team since adding a certain All-Star to their lineup. Manny? Yeah, him, too, but the real difference-maker could be Rafael Furcal, who transforms their lineup. Add in superior pitching, and the Dodgers will advance.
Why the Rays will win: Boston's injury issues are a major concern, and the Rays have a crucial homefield advantage for teams that are otherwise pretty evenly matched.
Why the Phillies will win: Forget the irresistible storylines of an LA-Boston series. Bottom line: Philly is the better team, with a pitching staff that continues to get ignored. As long as Charlie Manuel -- who has pushed all the right buttons so far -- doesn't let Manny beat him, the much-maligned skipper will lead the Phillies to the World Series.
Why the Rays will win: Tampa's no-name bullpen is the reason they'll topple Boston. Josh Beckett may say he's healthy, but he didn't look quite right in his division series start, and Jonathan Papelbon simply isn't the lights-out closer Boston needs him to be.
Why the Dodgers will win: Los Angeles (17-8 in September, 3-0 in the postseason) is simply a much, much more dangerous team than they were pre-Manny, and I believe they?ll get two wins from Chad Billingsley ? his first start will come in Game 2 - and extend Philadelphia?s string of seasons without a championship to 28.
Why the Red Sox will win: Yes, the Tampa Bay won the season series 10-8, but Boston outscored them by 20 runs and beat up on top starters James Shields (2-2, 5.85 ERA against the Sox) and Scott Kazmir (0-2, 9.00). The Rays' wonderful ride will end here.
Why the Dodgers will win: With Joe Torre?s experience, Manny Ramirez?s energy, and a crop of young players simultaneously coming of age, the Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball. And at this time of year, hottest team wins.
Why the Rays will win: For six months, everybody waited for the Red Sox to catch the Rays, and it never happened. So why should it happen now, with Mike Lowell out, Josh Beckett ailing, and the Trop rocking as never before?
Why the Dodgers will win: The National League is loaded with fabulous young starting pitching (Tim Lincecum, Edinson Volquez, Cole Hamels), so it's easy to see why Chad Billingsley flies under the radar a bit. This is the postseason when he becomes a national darling, a la Josh Beckett in 2003.
Why the Rays will win: Stop disrespecting Longo, Bossman Junior and "Big Game" James -- there's no such thing as a 166-game fluke. Anyone still waiting for Tampa Bay to fall apart obviously hasn't watched this team very closely. With a clean bill of health -- which is much more than Boston can say -- Cinderella's not quite ready to leave the ball.
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