The Sox are rebuilding, in the wake of dumping the huge salaries of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett (thank you, Dodgers!). At the same time, they're trying to stay competitive, and have been very active this winter. The goal has been to fill out their line-up without compromising the future by giving away any of their top prospects (which the Jays have done with their deals this off-season). They've stayed away from the big-name free agents who would have cost them a draft pick (e.g. Josh Hamilton), and loaded up on guys who, for various reasons, didn't have great years last year, but might thus be undervalued--Shane Victorino, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli (the latter hasn't been finalized and might fall through yet). The general feeling is that the Sox have overpaid for these guys on a per-year basis, but in so doing convinced them to accept shorter contracts, two or three years. (Drew has signed for one, as he wants to rebuild his value and go into the market again, as Adrian Beltre did a few years ago.) Thus they will have greater flexibility going forward, while still staying well within their payroll budget. They're looking ahead to the projected arrivals of hot-shot prospects Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Rubby De LaRosa, among others. The new players are all the sort of grind-it-out batters who can work a count, which the Sox value (look for plenty of 4:30 games with the Yankees, who do the same thing), but more important, they are all players with a reputation for good character and positive clubhouse presence. I think they are expected to be good role models and mentors when the young kids do come along. The starting pitching needs improvement, and so far they've made no moves there, but part of the hope is that, with Farrell back on board, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz will return to form after off-years. John Lackey (whom everyone in Boston hates) will be back, too, after missing a year for Tommy John surgery.
There are a lot of people here who don't like these signings, and there's a lot of anger in the Nation, at least judging from the Boston.com comment boards. Sox fans have developed a sense of entitlement after so many years of being a top-flight contender. I think it's going to be an interesting year. It's really hard to judge how good they're going to be right now, but I think they're going to be a much more likeable and fun team to watch than they've been the past two years.
Glad you asked?