Once the Red Sox' new general manager is in place, though, there are loads of boring old front office duties to address. Losing an eight-game lead in the final month of the season has that effect.
The issues begin with the starting rotation, which had a rough September on the field but an even tougher October in the realm of public opinion. Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester will try to win back the affection of the fans, while Clay Buchholz looks to bounce back from an injury-riddled season.
In addition to who starts, the Red Sox also aren't sure who will finish games in 2012. Jonathan Papelbon's 31 saves was a career low, but it should not overshadow a year in which he posted career lows in strikeouts per nine innings and home run rate, as well as a 0.933 WHIP. Daniel Bard was having one of the finest seasons of any reliever in Major League Baseball until his late-season meltdowns. Aceves became a fan favorite for his versatility, but will the Red Sox pick up his option?
One pleasant surprise was the production from designated hitter David Ortiz, who at 35 years old posted his highest batting average in four seasons, along with 29 home runs and 96 runs batted in. Ortiz is looking for a new contract, and Epstein's replacement will have to take a hard look at bringing back one of the faces of the franchise.
Whereas Ortiz maintained his status as a Fenway instutition, shortstop and right field were in flux. Injuries and matchups limited shortstop Marco Scutaro to 445 plate appearances, and despite a hot start after replacing J.D. Drew, Josh Reddick slowed down to finish with a .280 batting average. Finding full-time solutions at both positions will give the Red Sox a more well-rounded lineup.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP