SNOW IS ON THE GROUND, but single game tickets for next season went on sale today. And, just like Butch asked Sundance, Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe asks what we’re all asking: “Who are these guys?”

So, we ask again: Is this progress? Loretta and Lowell have been productive players, but they’re both coming off subpar seasons. The Sox are high on Youkilis, and he should certainly give them more production than Kevin Millar did. If a Tejada deal is a nonstarter, Gonzalez, the free agent shortstop who was not offered arbitration by the Marlins, is a terrific fielder. Marte could be a jewel, a throwback (Lajoie’s word) third baseman who might wear out the Wall. The plan is for Marte to move up as the need arises, though some Sox insiders still wonder if the team would be willing to give up Marte for a pitcher such as Javier Vazquez.

Loretta’s presence gives top prospect Dustin Pedroia another year to develop, too.

If Damon and Ramírez stay, the offense should still be potent. The pitching will be better with Josh Beckett, and the bullpen is already better with Guillermo Mota.

But what we knew about Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller and Tony Graffanino and John Olerud and Doug Mirabelli and Wells is that they knew how to win.

The new guys from Florida can flash World Series rings, but the imports still have some proving to do here.

NEXT, IT WILL BE LOCUSTS. The Red Sox have now humiliated the Yankees for two games in a row. They’ve gone from seven and a half games back to one and a half games back in the space of two weeks. Obviously, there’s something off in the world – in a good way.

Of course, this is probably just the tantalizing lead up to the crushing disappointment. Here are two quotes describing the self-flagellation that is the condition of being a Sox fan. In the Globe, David Halberstam recounts the experience of a fan who inherited his love for the Sox down through the generations:

First they killed my father. Now they’re coming after me.

And another, off the tee-vee:

Being a Sox fan is like watching the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy and Toto die at the end.

Anyway, here’s to October. Or did I speak too soon?