I'm told that an Oprahism is the question, "are you better off with him or without him?" Oprah must have stolen this line from numerous MLB general managers, who have asked themselves this question since the days of Hack Wilson and his alcohol-aided runs batted in.
For the Sox, Oprah's refrain echoes throughout America's Most Beloved Ballpark. At the top, John Henry must be wondering where his commodity traders' risk management skills went, along with his dough. Regarding Theo, obviously Henry decided that the Sox were better with the Boy Wonder than without.
Last year the Sox jettisoned Derek 'the Driller' Lowe, allowed Paydro to follow the money, and followed it up with a pitching staff makeover this season worthy of the Fab Five. We'll presume David Wells will be hitting the road, and for argument's sake, Matt Clement, too, whether fairly or unfairly. I doubt that Wells, just younger than Methusalah, will fetch a lot, but he probably wouldn't win 15 again either.
Beckett and Tavarez are keepers, and we'll see about the Riske business. Currently, with seven starters, Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield, Papelbon, Arroyo, Wells, and Clement, seven's a crowd.
Varitek's the man, but who carries the lunchpail the other days? Somehow, Huckaby, Flaherty, and Bard sound more like a law firm than an answer to the backup catcher question.
When is Snow in September a good thing? When he's protecting a lead at first base defensively. Youkilis has to produce more than Kevin Millar, and we can only hope that Lowell goes well. A-Gone ain't A-Rod or Juan Gone with the stick, but his glove should stick.
Manny being Manny on the field is plenty, Ortiz is the team's offensive and spiritual guru, and Coco should get a lengthy honeymoon in center. Can Trot have a career year in his contract season? If he can stay healthy, he will put up the numbers against righthanders, and Mohr should be decent as a fourth.
Hope springs eternal, that somehow time and statistics will line up for the Sox. But as Earl Weaver would say, "the only thing that matters is what happens on that little hump in the middle of the field." Which means that Foulke, Schilling, Beckett, and the local orthopedists are the most important guys in the house.