Tom Tippett's Diamond Mind site (www.diamond-mind.com) always has a wealth of baseball information. Tom runs the seasons projections (100 seasons worth of play, three seasons worth of statistics used) with his text-based program (Diamond Mind Baseball) and projected the Yankees (97 wins) to top the Sox by a game, with Minnesota and Oakland also reaching the AL playoffs.
The importance of winning early in the season is also discussed in another article http://www.diamond-mind.com/articles/espn9809.htm.
Observations on the early season are preliminary and obvious. Absent Curt Schilling, the starting pitching has been mediocre at best, with two quality starts and three poor starts. The bullpen hasn't been any more consistent, with Neal and Halama just plain shaky, Foulke unable to find his groove thus far, and Timlin and Embree average to above adequate.
The Schilling and Wade Miller watch will be moving to the front burner.
We know that Manny Ramirez will hit (.300, 35, 120 if no injuries) and the rightfield production should increase presuming that Nixon stays healthy. Nixon appears to have lost at least 15 pounds. Hmmm.
In the infield, Renteria has gotten off to a very slow start both offensively and defensively, while the remainder of the infield has produced about what we can expect. David Ortiz appears poised to follow up his breakout year with sustained productivity.
Matt Clement goes Sunday as the Sox attempt to capture the rubber game of the series before returning home for Opening Day.
Down on the farm, the PawSox have gotten off to a slow start while the talent-laden Sea Dogs (Hanley Ramirez, Brandon Moss, Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, et cetera) are 3-0. Abe Alvarez (the very poor man's Mark Buerhle) got rocked in his first AAA start of the season. For the first time in years, the Sox appear poised to have prospects one to two years away from possible big league action.
Examination of the current Sox roster shows only Trot Nixon as a regular contributor and Kevin Youkilis off the bench.