Wow...as soon as the money is off the books, the Sox spent it. Good for them. Let's face it, the Yankees (despite losing to Texas in the playoffs) still have a hell of a team. Add to it the fact that the Rays are stacked, and the Sox had to do something to remain relevant in the AL East.
The offensive side of the ball is pretty much set for the Sox. Projected lineup:
Despite being HEAVILY left-handed, this is a very potent and YOUNG lineup. You have two guys with 50+ stolen base capability, and three legit sluggers.
Now to the pitching. The starting rotation was supposed to be a strength for this team last year, but basically failed on most accounts. I am still wary of this rotation despite the names.
Beckett and Lackey last year were not dependable. Beckett started 21 games going 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA and gave up 151 hits in 127 and 2/3 innings. Lackey was durable throwing the most innings by any starter. He was 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA. Maybe the expectations were too high for him going into last season. But he was considered the 1 or 2 in the rotation originally. He was number 3 at best. At $17MM, is it not fair to expect more?
Lester and Buchholz were brilliant. Lester threw 208 innings, posted a 19-9 record with 225Ks, and a 3.25 ERA. Buchholz was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in just over 175 innings. Similar years are expected from both.
Matsuzaka was not great, but he is a number 5 starter that would be a 3 or 4 on most other teams, so it is difficult to complain about him in the larger picture.
Your rotation should lineup:
However, there is no way that Francona makes Beckett the number 4. Not that it matters much once you get past that first part of the season.
There is no bullpen to speak of at the moment. Bard should only improve over his very good year as a setup man. Papelbon better come in prepared this year or he'll lose that coveted closer spot to Bard. He blew 8 saves last year, and the clean innings were few if any. Maybe the competition will be good for him. Maybe not. Another proven setup man would be the way to go for the Sox making Wakefield and a Michael Bowden type the long men in the pen.
The lineup? Great
Starting Pitching? Good