Here is some thoughts on 2015, something I never hoped to write in early August.
The lineup could very well be set already. Napoli, Pedroia and Ortiz are all but etched in stone. Vazquez is likely the catcher, probably backed up by some veteran free agent, like Ross, Mathis, Laird or Hundley. Bogaerts will take one of SS or 3B, probably SS. 3B will be one of Middlebrooks, Cecchini or Holt, with Cecchini being the least likely in April.
The outfield could be Craig-Cespedes-Victorino or Craig-Bradley-Cespedes. Betts is probably in AAA until there is an injury, which is inevitable with Craig and Victorino.
Basically, it looks like the lineup is already here.
Pitching is tricky. Starters we know of are Buchholz, Kelly and De La Rosa. While fans would appear to like some frontline additions, as that is the roster construction style fans, know, love and cannot perceive of life without, I expect some disappointment in this regard. And the way MLB is moving, offense is becoming the greater premium than starting pitching. . Offense has been dropping across the board for the past few years, likely due to the weaning of steroids from the game, which makes sense as there is an inherent advantage to the pitcher that is part of the basic structure of the game. The days of expecting 30-40% of the payroll dedicated to the starting pitching rotation are slipping away. Look at the type of players the elite pitchers were dealt for, and you will notice not one was a young, heralded starting pitcher or prospect. GM’s do appear to be following this trend. This doesn’t mean a terrific rotation is worthless. But it does mean it isn’t the only avenue to winning. Teams like Baltimore, Toronto, and Anaheim, are all winning with fairly mediocre rotations, as was Oakland before the overhaul. So what this means in Boston is that it is possible a “big name” acquisition like Scherzer or Lester might not happen. I don’t expect the Sox to sit tight, but it would not surprise me if they aimed a little lower, and went after good, but not elite, pitchers like Jarrod Parker and/or Brett Anderson (whose $12mill option probably won’t be picked up by Colorado), and also counted on some of the younger guys like Escobar, Ranaudo, Barnes, Owens and Johnson to fill in. They will need a lot of fill-in time if they go after injury-prone guys like Parker and Anderson, and these acquisitions do look a little “Duquette-ish” to me.
I do expect a trade or two, with some of the likely fodder including Marrero and Webster. (Parker for Marrero and Webster? It looks “Beane-ish” to me in its lack of elite bank-breaking prospects.)
The bullpen could include a few returners like Tazawa, Mujica, and Workman, and some of the kids like Layne, Hembree and Webster, if he is not dealt. I do assume they will try to re-sign Uehara, and maybe bring back Miller. Any acquisition here probably won’t be a major name player, and probably no one more expensive than Miller.