You might expect declines, but I see no reason why the expected decline from Ellsbury would be greater than the expected improvement in a McDonald/Sweeney platoon over the combination of Drew/McDonald/Reddick in 2011.
Absent an expensive (and on current evidence of front office priorities, rather unlikely) replacement outfielder, McDonald will be starting in LF until Crawford recovers. He will be hitting against righties as well as lefties, and he will be 33 years old. Repeating last year's .704 OPS is no lock, much less improving on it. It's what happens when a career minor leaguer and platoon player is overexposed. The 2012 Red Sox will be over-exposing a lot of bench players as starters.
Most lefties, aside from strictly pull hitters like Crawford, improve their performance on coming to Fenway because of good hitting visibility, small foul grounds, and facing a preponderance of right-handed pitchers, so I would expect Sweeney to show a small improvement over his three-year Oakland OPS of .740 -- but don't expect any power out of him. He may be the feeblest 6'4 225 outfielder in existence. On the bright side, his defensive reputation is strong, although he is unlikely to be as good as Drew: Fenway's RF takes some practice to play well.
Not really the right comparison. As the Red Sox allowed Cameron to play injured in 2010 based on both the lack of a viable alternative and his history of being a well above average player signed for nearly 8 figures a season; in 2011, they cut bait very quickly.
If you think Cameron is a poor comparison, propose another. Otherwise you are sniping without substance.
Lack of a viable alternative? The 2012 Red Sox are shaping up to have no viable alternatives to starting bench players -- or players who should be on the bench -- at more positions than at any year in the last decade.
And the number of outstanding plays made by Scutaro over the past two seasons was....
Scutaro's calling card in Toronto was snaring the high bouncer to his backhand and making the over-the-shoulder throw to first base on the run. He made several of those in June-August 2011, as well as performing better on the double play than in 2010, although his fielding deteriorated in September even as he got hot at the plate. He is both more athletic and more sure-handed than Aviles, not to mention a better hitter against RHP.
Or, you know, they could make another trade or sign a stop gap free agent. It is only January 22.
Could be, could be. Or not. What we've seen about Cherington is that he clears payroll before he replaces talent, and most of the talent is a downgrade. Do you see any attractive trade options on the market at shortstop?