With the signing of pitcher John Lackey and aging outfielder Mike Cameron, the Red Sox sent two strong messages. First, they intend to field the toughest rotation in the American League, and they are willing to sacrifice some serious offense to do it.
As it stands right now, Boston's lineup pales in comparison to that of a certain Bronx rival. Gone are the days where Manny and Big Papi lurked in the middle of the order, terrifying opposing pitchers. With the departure of Jason Bay a near certainty, the Sox lack even one true power hitter.
The Yankees, on the other hand, have power to spare. Despite boasting one of the most relentless offensive lineups in baseball, the Yankees went out and improved themselves by signing Curtis Granderson. While his last season was statistically "off", he is still only 28 and fully capable of another 20-20-20-20 season.
After that splashy move, the Sox brass may have realized that trying to keep up with New York's offense is futile. The only way to counter a lineup featuring Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Granderson is to hit it with all the quality pitching you got.
Lackey gives the Sox exactly that. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey and Clay Buchholz represent, perhaps, the most solid starting four in baseball. Throw in a tandem of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield and even the Yankees' lineup does not seem so bad.
As said before, though, the storied Boston offense is going to experience a downgrade.
While the 36-year-old Cameron can still muster 20-homer seasons, he hits for a low average and is no longer a lock for 20 steals. What he will give Boston, alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew, is a fantastic defensive outfield to supplement their pitching staff.
Of course, the are still moves left to make in the off-season. If Mike Lowell is traded to the Rangers for catcher Max Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis could slide in at the hot corner. With first base open, the Sox could grab a star first-baseman like Adrian Gonzalez. If the Lowell deal falls through, they could still make a run at Adrian Beltre to replace him.
In any case, the Red Sox have made it clear they want pitching to be their top priority. Their lineup, once known for its power, now compliments the rotation with added speed and defense.