After a catastrophic 7-20 record in the month of September, the Boston Red Sox plummeted out of the playoff picture and became a punch line throughout the sporting world. Manager Terry Francona lost his job, general manager Theo Epstein bolted for the Chicago Cubs, and veteran players such as Jonathan Papelbon and Jason Varitek were allowed to leave as free agents.
New general manager Ben Cherington reined in spending this winter, looking for cheap options to fill holes on the roster rather than shelling out huge dollars for a marquee free agent. Indeed, the biggest splash this team made was tabbing Bobby Valentine as their new manager, a radical shift from the player-friendly Francona.
As the Red Sox look to return to the playoffs after a long absence (for them), here are 10 things to watch for as they begin spring training in Ft. Myers, Florida.