The Sox are 2 games out of 1st place and the Cubs are 3 games out. Both are in the thick of very crowded wild card races. Seems like the same story we have been telling and listening to all season. Should we still believe that both our teams can make the play-offs?
Reasons to believe the Sox will make it:
1) Jake Peavy. Nuff said.
2) Alex Rios is the first multi-tool centerfielder the Sox have had since... maybe since Mike Cameron... Even Aaron Rowand didn't have Rios' power.
3) Mark Buehrle is a lot better than he has been in the last few weeks. He'll show up for September... won't he?
4) Speed and confidence. Rios is the latest fleet-footed addition to a group, including Scott Podsednik, Chris Getz, Jayson Nix, Alexei Ramirez and others--that has gotten very aggressive on the bases. Add to that a sense of confidence: This team seems to be in every game right to the end, and is often best in do-or-die 9th inning situations.
Reasons to believe the Cubs will make it:
1) Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano both should be back for the play-off run. The Cubs full starting staff is the best in the divison top to bottom.
2) Milton Bradley is on fire... in a good way. He's finally hitting. Of course, Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto are not, for reasons related to injuries, but Bradley as a run-producer may rival anyone in the line-up, and we'll see even more of that in the month or so to come.
3) Jake Fox. He's here to stay. With two catchers now reasonably healthy, Lou can use him selwhere without reservation, and at least hitting-wise he could prove to be a fine replacement for A-Ram.
4) Lotsa lefties. The bullpen isn't as bad as it's been recently. The pen for a while was keeping this team afloat. Getting southpaw John Grabow more opprtunities could be the key to avoiding Carlos Marmol meltdowns and the occasional Kevin Gregg misstep. When the starters are full healthy again, the Cubs will be able to turn to Grabow, Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny in the bullpen in key situations rather than trying to decide how late to wait before using the only left arm in the pen--that was a problem the last two years, and is a big problem still for most teams.