The Red Sox's offseason "hot stove" has been heating up with burning urges to sign, trade, and eat salary. While rumors are certainly only rumors, I believe the Red Sox should be relatively steadfast and make very few moves.
After all, this is a team coming off an extremely successful season. Here is what I think needs to be done.
1. Sign Mark Teixeira
I've debated for a while whether the Red Sox really need Teixeira or not, but more and more, I think they do. Perhaps this year there is not a dire need for another big bat (though that is more than debatable), but in the following season, the free-agent class for sluggers is meager including Holliday who's splits away from Coors Field is certainly not elite, Glad Guerrero (See Ortiz/decline), and Andruw Jones, not even going to comment.
The other option would be highly regarded prospect Lars Anderson, but , realistically speaking, he is 21 years old and the Red Sox have no reason to rush him to the show after half a season in Portland.
In my mind, Anderson is the replacement for Ortiz, whom I think will rebound nicely this season but in the next several years I have to admit is likely on the steady decline.
Sadly this means the end to either Ortiz, Lowell, or Youkilis. Trading Youkilis teeters on mental illness, and Ortiz despite injuries was second on the team with RBI. So, if you can find a home for Lowell, unfortunately, I think you have to move him to make room for the future (a.k.a. Mark Teixeira).
Fill in Teixeira and you have a almost fantasy lineup that includes:
CF J. Ellsbury
2B D. Pedroia
DH D. Ortiz
1B M. Teixeira
LF J. Bay
3B K. Youkilis
RF J. Drew
SS J. Lugo/Lowrie
I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions on that lineup.
2. Be very selective on arms
Trading Coco Crisp for Ramon Ramirez looks to be a great trade adding stability to the most overlooked blame for the playoff lost, the bullpen. With that being said, a bullpen consisting of Papelbon, Okajima, Delcarmen, Ramirez, Masterson, and Lopes sounds pretty solid to me.
The rotation also appears solid to me with Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield, and a competitive fifth spot between Buchholz, Masterson, and Bowden. I feel as if a Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett, or Brad Penny signing would be an unnecessary commitment when there is such depth and successful in the Red Sox system.
But regardless you can never have too many arms. I say no big signings, let the kids get their chance.
3. Play hardball with Varitek
If the Red Sox did offer that rumored one-year deal, they are certainly negotiating effectively. This puts the ball in the other teams' court as now to land 'Tek, a team will need to offer a two-year deal which the Sox would likely be willing to match.
If someone does sign him, the Red Sox receive a first-round draft pick, and can then focus on a replacement. I'm sure every possible package will be examined to pry Jarrod Saltamacchia or Taylor Teagarden from the Rangers.
Which ever direction the Red Sox choose this offseason, they are in a great position to stay highly competitive in the increasingly competitive A.L. East.