The first upgrade has already been made.
Last season, the Sox starters compiled a 5.19ERA and a 1.47WHIP.
The team received 62 starts from Beckett, Bard, Matsuzaka, Cook and Stewart. In those games, the starters compileda 6.08ERA and 1.51WHIP. (327IP). In these games, the team record was 20-42.
They received 100 starts from Lester, Buchholz, Morales, and Doubrount totaling 601.3IP and compiling a 4.72ERA and 1.42WHIP. In thee games the record was 49-51.
So by cutting some deadweight, they shaved half a run off starter ERA. Good start. The first group of pitchers have all been jettisoned, except Bard. Hopefully Bard never starts another game.
They do have to replace those 327IP, and really, get more, because only KC, cleveland and Minnesota worked their bullpen ahrder in all of the AL. Lackey will come back. De la Rosa and Webster will be in AAA. And the Sox should defintiely sign a starter or two to one ofthose minor league depth deals that the same fans whine about every year no matter how many times you try to explain it to them. Good options would be names like Chris Young, Tim Stauffer, Chien-Ming Wang and Dustn Moseley.
The Sox do need a starter, no doubt. If for no other reason to throw 200IP. But how good?
The Sox were roughly a .500 team with the group of pitchers they are keeping. So even if we assume they stay at that levela and Lester and Buchholz do not imrove one bit, etc, the Sox would probably need to with 39 of those 62 games, or roughly 2/3. If Lackey starts half and wins half his starts (15-15), the final pitcher the Sox add would need to go 24-8 for this team to contend. Despite that being a team record in starts, that is still not happening.
So clearly the Sox need Lester and Buchholz to step back in line. Lester has really given many reason tothink he can bounce back, and every team win these two can improve does create some allowance for that 24-8 record. If the team wins 3 more starts from each, they only need the last starters to allow for an 18-14 record. Get two more from Doubront, etc. you get the idea.
So my point is that while the Sox really should get the best SP available, they need to fix what they have and get a guy who can give them innings. The actual improvements they need from Lester, Buchholz, Doubront etc are not really astronomical. And this team made huge strides getting rid of a lot of deadweight on that staff.
And after all that, I still hope they do not sign Dempster or Lohse. I'd rahter see Sanchez or Liriano. McCarthy and Marcum scare me as both are bigger threats to the needd volume if IP. If we are going to gamble on injury risks, Jair Jurrjens is probably a lot safer than either of thsoe two. And if no one offers Dallas Braden anything, get him a minor league deal. Dude was imrpoving by leaps and bounds prior to surgery.
Also, as he is available. The Sox really ought to check in on Rick Porcello. I keep readings posts about how the Soxneed to let their kids play, etc. and guys like Brentz deserve to "grow into" MLB. blah blah balh. OK, well Porcello is a classic case of a player growing up into his role at the MLB level. He is still on 23 (for like 3 more weeks) and he has 4 years of MLB experience under his belt while being a whopping 3 days older than the guy many want to annoint immediately as the future of RF. If you are a fan of this type of player development, then you should ignore Porcello's stats and assume he will continue to grow into his role.