Victor Martinez is reportedly going to the Tigers. The odds are not favorable that Adrian Beltre will return to the Red Sox and even if he does, there is no guarantee he can repeat what looks like an outlier of a season. Injuries wrecked the team last year and Youkilis, J. D. Drew and David Ortiz are all another year older. Sounds like reason to be singing the blues if you are a Red Sox fan, But consider that Francona coaxed 89 wins out of that banged up team last year even though it couldn't pitch and couldn't field. The Red Sox will find a way.
Kevin Youkils and Dustin Pedroia will be back and they are two great players. This Fan would no fool around and move Youkilis over to third if Beltre leaves. He is a terrific first baseman and there is less chance of injury over there. Ortiz should finish with an OPS+ of 120 or so, which is just fine for a DH in the American League. The DH position has really sagged in recent years and Ortiz will remain one of the best at least for another year.
Marco Scutaro is just average, but on this team, average is okay for its shortstop after so many sub-average seasons there. So what about third base? May this Fan suggest Jed Lowrie? Lowrie got into 55 games last year and finished with a 139 OPS+. It seemed like he really found his stride as a player. He's a shortstop by trade, but if he can at least repeat what he did in the minors with a career .825 OPS, he should do well at third defensively and replace most of Beltre's offense. If Beltre does come back, then Lowrie should play short over Scutaro.
If the outfield includes Kalish in center, Ellsbury in left and Drew in right, you have the makings of a very good outfield. This Fan really likes Kalish and he is a better fielder than Ellsbury who should thus be moved to left permanently. If Ellsbury returns to his form after a lost year, he is one of the most exciting players in baseball. The Sox would then have a terrific bench of Cameron, Nava and others.
The biggest question mark for the Red Sox is at catcher. Martinez is gone. Varitek is old (if they even sign him) and they seem to have a crush on Jarrod Saltalamacchia (ye gads, that name is way too long). This is a concern because the Rangers had a long crush on him too and it never panned out. But, he is only 25 and if any team can turn him around, it's the Red Sox.
Signing Curt Young as their pitching coach was brilliant and this writer has no doubts about the Red Sox pitching staff. Beckett will come back and be useful. Lester will get even better. Lackey will be slightly better than average and Buchholz might end up better than Lester. And this Fan also thinks that Young can turn Adrew Miller around too. It's unclear at this point what they will have in Matsuzaka or if he will still be with the team on opening day.
The bullpen will be fine. If Papelbon is back, he should rebound from a off year. Bard is terrific and there are enough other pieces for Francona to work with.
There has been a lot of speculation about the Red Sox going after Adrian Gonzalez and/or Justin Upton. Upton could be a potential upgrade for Drew, who should be included in the deal if it comes to that. This Fan doesn't see a need for Gonzalez as Youkilis is first rate and as mentioned, Lowrie could be a terrific third baseman. The Red Sox have some good talent in the minors at first and if Lowrie didn't work out, Youkilis could still move to third to make room. This Fan is not on board for trading talent for players that may or may not be better than what they currently have.
If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you probably know this Fan's opinion of Terry Francona. He is probably the best manager on the planet and given enough pieces, he will make it work. He is a master and his 89 wins in 2010 should have earned him Manager of the Year. This Fan doesn't see the Red Sox situation as dire at all. They can still have a terrific team if the pitching comes together and if Kalish and Lawrie can live up to their promise. Anyone who counts the Red Sox out is due for a grand disappointment.