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December 24, 2012

The Sox have a new lineup, but success is far from certain

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitchers ranked 25th in ERA (4.82) in 2012 and GM Alex Anthopoulos has tried to resolve the issue, acquiring NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, durable Mark Buehrle and talented Josh Johnson via trades.

Boston Red Sox starters ranked 27th in ERA (5.19), but GM Ben Cherington has added just one starter, Ryan Dempster, whose statistics against American League teams are unimpressive.

The Red Sox have been busy this offseason. They re-signed designated hitter David Ortiz to a two-year deal. They signed five positional free agents (including Mike Napoli, whose contract still must be completed) to deals of three or fewer years. They signed Dempster to two years and right-handed reliever Koji Uehara for one year.

So what exactly is Cherington’s plan?

By offering short contracts and not adding a legitimate slugger (such as Josh Hamilton) or frontline starter (Zack Greinke or someone via trade like Dickey), the Red Sox essentially have told us they believe in the core of position players and pitchers with the team or in the minors.

They believe these players can lead them to the playoffs in the coming years.

Boston is building a bridge to 2014. Heck, maybe it’s a two-year bridge. The length of the bridge isn’t the most interesting unanswered question so far.

The more relevant question is what are the Red Sox bridging to? Do they have enough combined talent in the majors and minors to compete for a World Series in two or three years? Will Boston’s plan work or fail miserably?

It’s debatable.

Farrell promises improvement

When I say the Red Sox believe in their major league core of talent, I’m specifically referring to Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks and Felix Doubront.

As I’ve written many times, championship teams are centered on strong starting pitching. Obviously, Lester’s and Buchholz’s ability to regain their pre-2012 form is crucial.

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