Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:20 PM
Ok, now that Lackey is out for the year with TJ, and Dice-K is out until at least August, we can just consider those two as sunk costs that cannot really be recouped for this year. So, plan accordingly and be willing to spend some money.
The offense, even though it was sporadic in September, was one of the very best in the league. I don't expect Ellsbury to have this kind of year again, but I do expect Crawford to get better. Personally, I favor letting Papi walk and signing Willingham for depth and because he's a RHH. So:
C - Salty, Lavarnway
IF - Gonzalez, Pedroia, Scutaro, Youkilis, Aviles, need to add one more IF
OF - Crawford, Ellsbury, Willingham, Reddick, Kalish, MacDonald(?)
Rotate the DH among Lavarnway, Ellsbury, Crawford, Willingham, Youkilis....whoever needs a break or has a particularly good matchup. I think Willingham will save the Sox some $$ over Ortiz. A lineup of...
...should still score a ton of runs.
As for the pitching, I bet they keep Beckett (despite some noise here about trading him). He won't be as good as he was this year, but he should be ok. Lester, I believe, will have a big season, with the lessons *hopefully* learned from this year. And Clay will help. We need, IMO, 3 more starters.
1. Oswalt. Free agent, still solid. His age and recent injuries should keep his price down somewhat. Spend the $13 million per year for a couple of years for him.
2. Take a shot at either Hideki Kuroda or Paul Maholm. Kuroda is 36 but has had four good years in the majors (era+ of 112, 106, 114, and 121). Maholm is 29, had a horrible 6-14 record in 2011, but had a 3.66 era (105 era+) with a respectable 1.29 whip. Definitely a guy who would have some value in the back of a rotation.
3. As a totally different idea, make a major play for Brandon Beachy of Atlanta. They already have Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson, and Lowe, with uber prospects Delgado and Teheran on the way, and other young quality arms there as well (Medlen, Vizcaino, Martinez). They also really need hitting. The rumor is that they're not happy with Jason Heyward, so the Sox could try something like this:
Sox give: Youkilis (Chipper moves back to OF), Reddick/Kalish (Atlanta's choice), Bowden, and another prospect in Boston's 5-10 range.
Braves give: Beachy, Heyward
Atlanta gets a huge offensive upgrade (Heyward to Youks is a big improvement - Heyward had an ops+ of 95; Youks was 123), 3 young players to throw into the system or deal for other needs, and they have tons of great young arms to replace Beachy with (Medlen or Minor, for example, could step right into their rotation next year without difficulty). For Boston, they get a RF with huge potential and a really exciting young pitcher. It would leave a hole at 3b that they'd then have to fill, but there are some options there as well (Wilson Betemit, for example, as a placeholder for Middlebrooks).