If we assume that the mega-deal with the Dodgers goes through - where does that leave the Red Sox? Here's how I see them and some thoughts on what else should be done.
The Red Sox offensive line-up actually remains in pretty good shape. I am going to assume that the team will be smart enough to give David Ortiz the 2-year $25 million contract he wants and also that they will re-sign Cody Ross whose swing seems made for Fenway Park (a .975 OPS in 52 home games this year). I think Ross could be signed for a reasonable 3-year $15 million deal. Here's what the 2013 Red Sox line-up could look like:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury - CF
2. Dustin Pedroia - 2B
3. Will Middlebrooks - 3B
4. David Ortiz - DH
5. Cody Ross - LF
6. Ryan Lavarnway - C/1B
7. Jarrod Saltalamaccia - C/1B
8. Mike Aviles - SS
9. Ryan Sweeney/Jerry Sands RF
That's not a bad line-up - especially when you think that RF and SS are basically placeholders for top prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts.
The rotation would be Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Franklin Morales, John Lackey and Rubby De La Rosa. I would feel much better if the Red Sox traded Lackey for $.50 on the dollar and used his rotation spot to trade for Cliff Lee and his mega contract which suddenly becomes much more affordable with the salary dump deal with the Dodgers. Chances are John Lackey will bounce back and be a very good number 2 or 3 starter next season - I just don't want him in Boston.
The bigger question is what do the Red Sox do with Bobby Valentine. I pray to God that they don't bring him back. My hope has long been that Boston brings John Farrell back but not as manager. Bring him back to be the team President. The same role that Theo Epstein holds for the Cubs. The Blue Jays would have to let Farrell go for a promotion like that. This would also mean that Larry Lucchino would be out as far as baseball operations are concerned - bonus. Farrell would allow Ben Cheringon to continue in his role as GM and the new manager could focus on being just a manager not a sideshow Bob Valentine type personality.
The Red Sox ownership must know that this team is oh so close to becoming likable again. A more likable team means better ratings on NESN and better ratings on NESN means more ad revenue for the bottom line. Just do the moves outlined above and fans like me will be glued to the TV again and may even break out a couple of Benjamins to see a game at Fenway again.
So let it be written - so let it be done.