Given the significant tumult the Red Sox lineup has faced this season, I felt like doing a little prediction for next year's team.
Players who are signed for next year that will not be on the team:
Ryan has struggled on multiple occasions this year, with consistency issues. While there is some speculation that he will be in the bullpen based on his past I do not feel that he is needed there. I predict a trade for a low end prospect from a team looking for a late rotation starter.
Lester's lack of consistency is something that the Red Sox need to get rid of. While his competitive nature has been a compliment to this year's team, his entitled nature has not. He frequently whines about close pitches rather than being professional. While his contract for next year is a club option, I do not feel he will be on next year's team.
That said, let's get to...
Boston Red Sox 2014 opening day lineup:
Jackie Bradley, Jr., CF
Bradley's offense in 2013 has brought many questions, but his AAA performance has gotten increasingly encouraging as the year has gone on. With Ellsbury likely gone to free agency, expect Bradley to take his place starting in center field.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Pedroia's contract has him with Boston for a very long time, and next year will see him in the two hole where he belongs.
Mike Carp, LF
This one will surely raise some heads. Carp's performance as an occasional player has been nothing short of brilliant. Daniel Nava's slide back down to earth has been swift, and while I can see this team bringing him back, I believe Carp, whose slash line displays excellent consistency and great power, will get the starting nod and excel batting third.
David Ortiz, DH
This needs no explanation.
Brandon Snyder, 1B
Mike Napoli is not coming back. Brandon Snyder has shown defensive adequacy at third that should translate to great first base defense and a plate approach that, when combined with his significant power, should land him in the 25-30 HR range.
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Much has been said about Bogaerts during this year. When Middlebrooks imploded he was discussed by the public as an option. He has a great plate approach and offensive performance, but is unproven at the big league level. If, when he comes up, he performs well, he may switch positions in the order with Carp in the three hole.
Shane Victorino, RF
His lower position in the lineup may draw questions, but it will be an appropriate place for him in a talented offense, while it will also provide some spark in the back end of the lineup.
Brock Holt, 3B
A natural second baseman with a wildly powerful arm, Holt has shown flashes of brilliant defense. While he has shown some poor offensive decisions and has yet to hit a home run, he has decent offensive performance that lands him lower on this lineup.
While the Red Sox have multiple prospects at catcher that they have plans for in the future, Ryan is the club's best option at this point. He is by no means elite, but with Salty likely getting a good offer in free agency, expect to see Lavarnway batting ninth.
Red Sox 2014 starting rotation
A true ace, Clay will be back to the mound, and barring injury will be the club's number one starter.
Despite being one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, the Red Sox realize Felix's value. His club record for most consecutive starts with three ER or less by a LHP is outstanding and he will earn this spot in the rotation.
Workman has been nothing short of brilliant in his first few big league starts and will take his rightful place here. In most other clubs he would be higher in the rotation, but this club will have excellent starting pitching.
Peavy's Red Sox debut was excellent. He is no longer a Cy caliber pitcher, but is a solid fourth man.
Lackey's ace like stretch was an encouraging sign that he is back on track. Unfortunately, he is not always consistent, leading to his landing in the fifth spot.
While there are questions here, there is promise. Potential arms include:
Britton has yet to give up an earned run in the bigs. Enough said.
This knuckleballer has struggled at times and been brilliant at others. While he could be a starter, he will be in the bullpen, and likely take care of spot starts and long relief.
Despite giving up a game tying home run in a recent game, he has been solid.
Despite starting roughly for Boston, he has settled down and been solid. Barring injury he could be solid for the Sox in 2014.
This has been a revolving door, and while Koji has been an absolutely brilliant, lights out closer, fact is he is old. He is fragile. He's starting to show signs of durability issues, as his pitch counts are up and his strike percentages are down.
These are my predictions for the 2014 season. This is 100% based on opinion and speculation, so feel free to differ.