In response to bald-predictions' comment:
Softlaw is usually ahead of the curve on these things, but I hope you're wrong this time.
Of course, one is always ahead of the curve if they predict bad outcomes and some of the results come to fruition. I can just as easily predict improvements in the performances of some players, and I will be correct sometimesalso. Of course, Softy's world is a hypothetical one far removed from reality. He boasts of transactions he advocated that would never have been made by the other GMs.
Now, if my money was riding on any of it, I wouldn't bet on the Red Sox winning more than 87 games. What I would predict is the following for the staff:
1. Both Lester's and Buchholz's performances will improve over last season. At least one of them will improve significantly.
2. I'm not expecting too much from Dempster, and I was not crazy about this acquisition, but even still, he will outperform the 2012 Josh Beckett, although not by much. Throw in Dice-K's hideous numbers (8.28 ERA; 1.71 WHIP) to make up the difference for the Beckett shortfall in outings and innings, and you have a decent gain overall.
3. Even if Lackey gave us his 2010 numbers (4.40 ERA; 1.419 WHIP), which I predict he will best by a little, it will still be a significant improvement over a combination of Aaron Cook (5.65 ERA; 1.47 WHIP) and Daniel Bard (6.22 ERA; 1.74 WHIP).
4. Doubrant is a wash. I predict his performance will even decline a little. However, if he doesn't progress, the shortfall will made up by a pitcher to be inserted later, be that Morales, Tazawa, Aceves, one of the ex-Dodgers, or a player to be acquired. In the end, performance in the slot should come out about even.
5. All of the above will be bolstered by a deep and well-leveraged bullpen, which should easily adjust to underachievement or injuries to one or even a few.
Conclusion: Pitching overall will improve significantly, especially under Farrell's leadership. Last year's skipper was an absentee manager.
As far as offense:
1B: Even with A-Gon's significant lead over Napoli in BA, A-Gon's OPS was .812 as a member of the Red Sox last season. Ironically, Napoli's 2012 OPS was .812 also. Playing in Fenway with a lot performance incentive, he will beat this. Still, a loss in defense will offset these gains. Overall, it's a wash.
2B: Dusty is about as consistent as they get. He was below career norms in OPS last season. Expect a slight improvement.
SS: Drew will return to career norms and beat Aviles's 2012 .663 OPS by at least 50 points. Not a significant upgrade on D, but a slight upgrade nontheless. If Iggy emerges, Drew is gone. Hopefully, someone badly needs a shortstop at the deadline.
3B: Middlebrooks will likely play more than 75 games. Even if his averages slip a little, this will be a big net gain.
OF: A combination of Gomes, Bradley (it's only a month, impatient ones), Ellsbury with a lot at stake, Victorino, Nava, and the Professor and Mary Ann to possibly replace Ellsbury, will still be a big improvement over last season's outfield, even taking into account the loss of Ross's power numbers. This year's leftfield platoon will be enough to offset the loss of rightfield production, which Victorino makes up a bit for in defense and speed on the basepaths. A net gain overall, with Ellsbury, JBJ, and the rest greatly besting a 2012 Ellsbury and company.
C: I expect about the same from Salty with an overall slight net improvement with the addition of Ross.
DH: OK glass-half-emptiers, you've got me here. Even if Papi plays as many games, he will not likely come close to measuring up to last year's production. A patchwork leftover from the Gilligan Island cast (see OF), maybe including Lava, might be it. Not good. Still, net gains overall at almost every position should offset the loss here by a lot.
Conclusion: Gains almost everywhere and a watchable team. Good for at least 15 more wins. A lot of the money is tied up in placeholders until the calvary arrives in a couple of seasons. Postseason and beyond is not likely, but still within the realm of possibility. Some of the pieces may be flipped for futures. While it's not a great return on investment, it is at least an investment and not inaction, which would result in watching something only slightly better than last season's post-trade AAA team. I'm certainly not buying into Softy's hypothetical acquistions of what would never have happened in any seeming reality.