Alex Rodriguez: Why Red Sox Should Be Worried About Yankees

The New York Yankees were never supposed to be realistically contending with the Boston Red Sox in 2011 after the offseason the Red Sox had.

The Red Sox picked up two of the most prized hitters in baseball in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, and on top of that, the Yankees did virtually nothing to seriously improve their pitching.

But this is why you play the game, folks.

With less than 40 games remaining in the 2011 baseball season, it is the Yankees who are ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East.

They've done so by scrapping together veterans like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia and getting unbelievable performances out of both of them. And they've done so with a young second-year pro in Ivan Nova, who, despite his ups and downs, has a 12-4 record this season.

When third baseman Alex Rodriguez went down with an injury that would sideline him for a month and a half, that was supposed to be the other sign that the Yankees would finally collapse and everyone's favorite World Series-contending Red Sox would rise.

Well, that didn't happen, either.

The Yankees went 25-13 in Rodriguez's absence, somehow rising above the Red Sox in the process.

Now Rodriguez returns on Sunday, and that is even more concerning for Red Sox fans. Especially when their No. 3 starter, Clay Buchholz, is likely out for the regular season and every starter below Josh Beckett and Jon Lester is struggling (there's still hope for Erik Bedard if he doesn't injure himself again).

It's not like the Red Sox aren't a good team; in fact, they are still one of the best in baseball. But the Yankees are somehow in this thing, and it doesn't appear they are going to go away.

Then again, it's not baseball if the Yankees and Red Sox aren't at each other's throats.

-Ryan Rudnansky