Panic Room of Nine Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report

Not that the offseason is over, but let’s double-check the shopping list before leaving the store:

1. Leadoff hitter: No.
2. Centerfield: Not really.
3. Improved speed: Well, Owens is faster than Swisher. . .
4. Younger core: Check. Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez, John Danks and Gavin Floyd should provide a solid foundation until they become too expensive or too injured (or both) and the Chris Getz/Brent Lillibridge cabal at second certainly points in the right direction.
5. Better overall defense: No (see below).
6. Replacement or upgraded #4 pitcher: Depends what you mean. The Most Interesting Man in Baseball was certainly ready to let down a legion of hopeful fans, but at least the guy wasn’t going to get hurt covering first or have surprise work done on his arm. So we’ll just wait and see on this one as well.
7. Legitimate #5 pitcher: Maybe. Clayton Richard at least showed promise towards the end of the season, and that’s more than this team has been able to say for a seemingly loooong time.
8. Second base: Too early to tell. Everyone loves Getz even though the guy has yet to give anyone reason to cheer.
9. Third base: Behold the big stick and ever-improving glove of Josh Fields.
10. Lower payroll: Javier Vazquez. + Nick Swisher + Juan Uribe + Joe Crede + Orlando Cabrera = Salary Dump x 5. But, you know, fiscal responsibility wins championships.

So now all the Sox need to do is. . . what, exactly? On paper they’ve done everything they needed to so long as you equate “change” with “improvement.” To put it another way: with the latest move to effectively trade one 35-year-old outfielder for another 35-year-old-outfielder, would the Sox address any real, substantial needs?

In some ways yes, and in some no. Thirty-five or not, Abreu still swiped 22 bases last year, perfect for getting into scoring position for Carlos Quentin, Jim Thome or Paul Konerko to hit a home run, and he bats left-handed which surely explains his, umm, err. . . lone sac fly in 2008.

Snarky statistical inquiries aside, a slightly more well-rounded Dye would do this team a world of good and if Quentin and Konerko can assemble even two mere Konerkonian seasons between them, the Good Guys would be wise to con Abreu into taking the pay cut (especially as the team starts crying poor ahead of schedule).