Beyond that, the team he leads may be quite different than the one that finished this season getting swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALDS.
After the rival Yankees won their 27th World Series championship, the Red Sox aren't looking to stand pat.
Picking up the option on catcher Victor Martinez was the first step of constructing the framework of the 2010 Red Sox. Martinez solves one problem Francona dealt with at the beginning of last season – namely, putting a strong hitting catcher on the field every day. Captain Jason Varitek plans to exercise his player option and will be the backup backstop.
Add to that the fact that the Red Sox have yet to officially make an offer to left fielder Jason Bay (who also filed for free agency) or declare themselves in the running to land Matt Holliday, and the situation becomes even murkier.
By and large, Francona has been a steadying influence for the Red Sox since he arrived in 2004. This won't be the first time he is charged with new players or a staff overhaul. But the hot stove season presents new challenges. Francona is excited about the possibilities.