Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of the series.
Yankees: The two-headed monster is down to one as Melky Cabrera mans the position alone while Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner heals. Melky has emerged as a hitter but still enjoys trying to throw the ball out of the stadium instead of to the cutoff man.
Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury has had a consistently solid season. Not great, just solid. His defensive skills are top-notch.
Yankees: Nutball Nick Swisher is doing his thing, getting on base (.371), hitting for power (18 homers) and butchering balls in the OF on occasion.
Red Sox: J.D. Drew hasn’t been worth the money for Boston. He is down to .248 with only 12 homers.
Edge: Yankees. A random rain drop could bruise Drew en route to the game and knock him out for a week.
Yankees: Damon chases after fly balls like Helen Keller but he has a .877 OPS and finds right field at the Stadium on a regular basis.
Red Sox: Jason Bay has faded away and how has a sore hammy. That MVP talk has quieted down, hasn’t it?
Edge: Yankees. Johnny had a good road trip and would love to heat up against his old teammates.
Yankees: Jorge Posada has overcome shoulder surgery and is having a fairly typical season, which is to say he’s one of the better offensive catchers in the game.
Red Sox: Jason Varitek is much better than he was last season, which isn’t really saying much.
Edge: Slight edge to Posada. He’s a better hitter and Varitek is better behind the dish. Both are old cranks at this point.
Yankees: Mark Teixeira is the MVP of the team and maybe the MVP of the league if the Yankees win the division.
Red Sox: Looks like newcomer Victor Martinez will get most of his playing time here. He’s a valuable addition, but he’s no Texeira.
Edge: Decidedly to the Yankees.
Yankees: Robinson Cano — and I sincerely believe this — is playing Gold Glove-level defense this season. But he’s terrified whenever runners are in scoring position.
Red Sox: Reigning MVP Dustin Pedroia won’t repeat. But he’s still one of the elite players at this position.
Edge: Slight edge to Boston.
Yankees: Derek Jeter is one of the five greatest living Americans. He is the defender of all that is good and right.
Red Sox: Nick Green or Jed Lowrie look like they should parking Jeter’s new Ford Edge.
Edge: C’mon on now.
Yankees: Alex Rodriguez is having a weird year. He’s not hitting (.261) but he’s getting on base (.379) and hitting home runs, although not lately. He has lost a step and a half in the field.
Boston: Kevin Youkilis, like him or not, is a terrific player. Plays first base well, plays third base well, hits all the time (an insane OPS+ of 153) and plays hurt.
Yankees: People will miss Hideki Matsui when he’s not around next season. He scored from first last weekend and is still recovering. But if you need an RBI, he’s still the man.
Red Sox: David Ortiz is a cheating goon. The Yankees would never have such players in their midst. Never. (By the way, if you chant “steroids” at Ortiz this weekend, you’re a huge hypocrite. Leave that to Fenway Park).
Edge: Yankees. It going to be a long, long weekend for Big Papi.
Yankees: The crew of Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jose Molina has proven adequate. Ramiro Pena could be on the way.
Red Sox: Mike Lowell will get in the mix at third and DH. New guy Josh Reddick has played four games.
Edge: Boston, only because Lowell is essentially a starting player. He’s the best bat either team can bring off the pine.
Yankees: Mariano Rivera is having one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career. Phil Hughes is a beast as a set-up man. It gets chancy after that. Phil Coke is better when he faces fewer hitters and Alfredo Aceves may or may not have a sore shoulder.
Red Sox: He still makes that really, really mean face. But Jonathan Papelbon isn’t scaring anybody with that 1.3 WHIP. Ramon Ramirez, Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima have been strong all year and Daniel Bard throws wicked hard.
Edge: I’ll call it even. Yanks have a better closer, Sox have more depth.
Yankees: They have Joba Chamberlain, A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte lined up. Joba is the hottest starter in the league right now and the three veterans all have second-half histories on their side.
Boston: John Smoltz has a 7.12 ERA and should have retired. Josh Beckett is a Cy Young candidate and Jon Lester has fanned 158 in 140 innings. Clay Buchholz is showing why he was in the minors.
Edge: Yankees have their best four on the mound. Plus they know how to pitch at Homer Haven in the Bronx.
Yankees: Joe Girardi: He has loosened up since last year, which is good because he was about to explode. Still prone to occasional lineup wackiness. But greatly improved from 2008.
Red Sox: Terry Francona is Joe Torre Lite at this point. He wins, he gets respect, players listen to him, he puts out the fires efficiently.
Edge: Boston. Can’t ignore the rings.
So there you have it. Prediction: Yankees take three games.