Its becoming quite apparent that both Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo are locking down the International League. Jake Peavy should be on his way out soon which will open up one more rotation spot which will in all likelihood go to Rubby De La Rosa (rightfully), but based on the scouting reports I've read, it still seems as though both him and Brandon Workman will be optimized in bullpen roles, unless RDLR can quickly get a major league ready third pitch, but for the time being I am happy to watch 2 young pitchers succeed. I do expect Webster and Ranaudo to take the 4 and 5 spots soon enough, but whether that will come at the expense of Workman or RDLR, or due to Clay Buchholz's continued struggles is unclear. A Jon Lester/John Lackey trade would also open the door but I still haven't decided if that's a route worth exploring.
Unfortunately there seems to be very little help on the way for the offense despite the much more pressing need. Most of the hitters in Pawtucket continue to maintain inconsistent success or sustainable mediocrity but with Mookie Betts gone, I see little in the way of major league offensive support down there with Garin Cecchini really scuffling and Devin Marrero still not acclimated to even Triple A pitching. Blake Swihart looks like the next homegrown bat that will really contribute and he seems to be at least a year away, optimistically, considering they still passed over him for the promotion to Triple A to replace Christian Vasquez. After that there is a bit of a dearth of talent until you look at the low minors. Manuel Margot seems to be on the brink, and i'm hopeful for a Betts like breakout from the still very young outfielder, and Wendell Rijo continues to show promise as do the newly drafted Michael Chavis and Sam Travis. The one wild card is Sean Coyle, who continues to display power defiant of his stature, but the key for him will be staying healthy, but like Swihart he continues to be kept in Double A, so perhaps the team doesn't view him as a player close to making contributions to the majors (Interestingly Coyle is not even on the 40 Man roster and will be Rule 5 eligible if he is not added this year, but I fully expect them to do so).
But it is Rafael Devers who continues to have me foaming at the mouth as our best bet to finally capture that elusive long term 30-40 homer power that we never replaced when Manny left; hopefully he can fast track it a little bit so that the interim between the end of Ortiz and the dawn of Devers is a brief one. With this examination, my best assessment is that the Sox really ought to add another bat via Free Agency or trade if they hope to compete in the short term. Perhaps Cuban Yasmani Tomas is the answer? Barring an unlikely blockbuster, there only other option may be to continue to invest in short term contracts with veterans like they did with Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, and hope they don't miss like they did with AJ Pierzynski.