BOSTON (CBS) – The 2013 Boston Red Sox had the best offense in all of Major League Baseball.

The Sox led the bigs in runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, total bases and were top five in virtually every other offensive category en route to their third World Series title in 10 years.

The 2014 lineup will look much different.

No Jacoby Ellsbury, no Jarrod Saltalamacchia and no Stephen Drew (for now anyways).

Filling those positions are an unproven Jackie Bradley Jr., a 37-year-old A.J. Pierzynski and a prospect everyone likes but is also unproven in Xander Bogaerts. And Will Middlebrooks, who was sent down to the minors last year for a stretch of games for lack of plate discipline, is slated to see more playing time but is also unproven.

There’s a lot of question marks, but WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche is confident in this offense and its potential to be just as good as last year – if, and only if the infusion of youth can provide contributions.

“They can be a lights out team offensively if their three young guys (Bogaerts, Middlebrooks and Bradley Jr.) go above and beyond, or even play to where you think they can be. If those three guys perform to where they project at the Major League level it can be a devastating lineup, but that’s the big question mark going in with these three young guys. Will three of them succeed? Two of them succeed? Will one of them succeed? That’s what you don’t know. Down the road it can be great, but can it be that good now? That’s the tough part.”

Switching gears now, look up the definition of “hometown discount” in the dictionary and you’ll see a big picture of Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia agreed in July to a 7-year deal worth $100 million, or roughly $14.3 million per year. Juxtapose that with his second baseman contemporary Robinson Cano at 10 years and $240 million, and you realize the amount of money left on the table.

So when Jon Lester told reporters at the 75th annual dinner of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in January, quote, “I want to win and if that means taking a (Dustin) Pedroia deal where you stay here for less money to be happy and be competitive and win every year, let’s do it. Let’s get it done” – we were all thinking $18-20 million per year, which is a considerable discount from his pitching peers.

Roche told Toucher and Rich Tuesday morning that he’s not sure Jon Lester even knows what he wants in terms of a contract but is “curious” to see how things played out, which could mean he and the team are in for a lengthy contract negotiation.

It’s clear from Sunday night’s interview with Roche that his definition of a hometown discount is much different than we previously imagined, so the question becomes: Would you pay Lester $25 million per year in a long-term deal?

Listen below for the full discussion:


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