A few thoughts on the roster:
1. Red Sox declined option on Matt Thornton. I think he may be all done.
2. I see a lot of comparisons to Red Sox last to first. Red Sox started w a core group of Lester, Buchholz, Pedroia, Ortiz. Middlebrooks showed promise coming off his rookie year. That was pretty much it.
3. They had Lackey and Ellsbury coming back from injuries and both had very solid seasons.
4. They added Gomes, Ross, Carp, Napoli, Dempster, Victorino, Drew and Uehara. Overall that group produced although Gomes despite late season heroics was basically a 4th outfielder.
So the Red Sox overall had a lot of things fall into place. They went into spring training w 2 closers and both ended up on DL for season. But Uehara , who they got as a set-up becomes a dominant closer at 38. Lackey and ellsbury really bounce back from injuries. Middlebrooks tanks but they bring up Inglesias and he hits .320 for 4 months. A guy who hit .250 at AAA for 2 years. Then Buccholz goes down and they trade him for Peavy who filled in as a starter.
So they certainly started w a better core group than the White Sox have but they got solid years from a lot of guys that were not star players.