Timlin, Wakefield, Cora??? Wow, this is worse than I thought. I realize that the Hot Stove has just been lit, but how can this version of the Sox be rebuilt in one off-season?
In my opinion, it can't. For a team looking to get better, I can see holding on to Wakefield, but Timlin? The guy was solid in years past, but his injury last year really took something out of him. Maybe he'll get it back, but more than likely he is headed the way of Embree. Bad signing.
Cora is a great backup infielder, no doubt about that. He shows patience at the plate, and can play both SS and 2B. However, how many light hitting (read :no power), middle infielders do the Sox need? Perhaps he is insurance for Pedroia. However, the Sox are looking to re-sign Gonzalez, and they are still speaking with Loretta. With Youk staying at first, this is an infield with no power (and this includes Lowell at third).
But what are the alternatives? The Sox seem to really like Youkilis at first. The guy is a gamer, no doubt. But the Sox need another huge bat on the infield. They are looking at a Japanese player with some power as a possible upgrade over Lowell. But take a look at Matsui. I'd love to have him in the Sox outfield, but the guy is not a "power" hitter. If they re-sign Gonzalez, have Pedroia play second, Youk and first and Lowell at third, how many homers do you see out of those guys combined? 55? 60? Let's not even speak of the combined averages of Gonzalez and Pedroia.
Varitek had a down year offensively, and looking at how far behind on fastballs his swing was, I can't see him getting much better this year. They have a very young backup (acquired in the trade for Wells), but how much time is he going to see? How much power from Tek and the new guy? 15-20 Hrs?
Now to the outfield. Manny will be back. Coco in CF. And there is a right-field position open. It is obvious that the Sox need not only someone with a good arm out there, but also a lot of power. This is, of course, the reason the Yankees exercised Sheffield's option. Not sure who else is available that could fit this bill, but this has to be a position on which the Sox focus.
Wow, that bottom of the order is not good. A solid hitting middle-infielder could do wonders down there. Also, and I know that his fielding is questionable, but wouldn't Soriano in the 2-spot or 5-spot make you feel much better about this lineup?
So, seeing that there are many, many holes to fill on this team, what is the one move that could really make them a contender? The answer there is a top starting pitcher. This means a legit #1. And you give up a lot to get it. If you get a horse that throws 7-innings of nearly lights-out ball 4 out of 5 starts, then go to Schilling, then Beckett, and have Papelbon and Wakefield at the back-end of your rotation, you can get away with a weaker pen. Delcarmen, Hansen, Tavarez, and Timlin don't look too bad at that point, and the weaker hitting infielders aren't so glaring.
So, what's the point of all this? Well, as the Sox sit right now, don't hold your breath for next year. There are a ton of questions, and not many available "exciting" players to fill them.