By Dan Roche, WBZ-TV SportsBy Dan Roche

BOSTON (CBS) — Some offseason thoughts as we turn our attention to the Hot Stove season as Ben Cherington begins to shape the 2014 Boston Red Sox:

–A year ago, Ben Cherington inked catcher David Ross to a two-year deal. At the time, I wrote that it could turn out to be the best free-agent signing the Sox have all offseason. You could make a strong case that it was. Ross became a Jason Varitek type of player for the Sox, especially in the postseason, where he was an integral part of taking the advance scouting info and helping shape a game plan against the opponent. He also caught the final final three games of the World Series and really worked well with the pitching staff. Ross is a guy that will be a manager when he’s done playing … if he chooses to be.

–As for finding a partner to catch with Ross, let’s take a look at a potential lineup before we go any further:

1. Shane Victorino, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Jonny Gomes, LF
5. Daniel Nava/Mike Carp, 1B
6. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS
8. David Ross, C
9. Jackie Bradley, CF

–That would be something close to your starting line up if — if — the Red Sox did nothing this offseason. And by that I mean if they didn’t sign any of their four free agents in Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalmacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew. And, by the sounds of the market explosion, it’s a real possibility. I do think that in looking at it, Napoli is the one guy that you hope comes back. As we saw in the World Series, having Napoli behind David in the order is a huge help.

–I’ll tell you what — with all the talk being a lack of right-handed power in the game, there’s no way I’m giving up on Will Middlebrooks. I have written this before, that in all my years of covering the Sox in Fort Myers, the two guys that wowed me with their raw power the very first time I saw them were David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks. Watch him take BP and it stands out. He has a long way to go and swings at a lot of bad pitches, but you hope with maturity and knowledge he’ll get it one day.

–Despite all the talk that the Sox don’t want to have Xander Bogaerts as their everyday shortstop to start the season, I don’t  think they’re afraid to do it.

–Carlos Ruiz would be a good match with Ross at catcher, but length of the deal may be the problem.

–Just my opinion — a guy to keep an eye on as potential signee is Franklin Gutierrez as an outfielder. Has been with Seattle, but hurt.

Enjoy the Hot Stove season.

Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.



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