Ben Cherington needs his stars to address their shotcomings.
The 2012 Boston Red Sox failed for a number of reasons, but the biggest one may have been stars failing to deliver when needed.
Whether it was due to injuries, inconsistency or poor performance, several of the Red Sox's best players need to address these issues during the offseason if the team is going to rebound in 2013.
Dustin Pedroia needs to stay healthy.
When you look at the final stats for Dustin Pedroia, he looks like he had a good year.
He batted .290 with 15 home runs, but several key numbers were down, and most of the struggles he had throughout the season can be tied to injuries.
For a player that usually only has a handful of off days in a season, Pedroia missed 21 games due to a nagging thumb injury.
The results: his OBP was 40 points lower, he scored 21 fewer runs and he batted in 26 less runs than he did in 2011.
If Ortiz returns, he needs to stay healthy.
Similar to Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz’s per-game statistics were very good; however, a worse-than-advertised Achilles injury forced Ortiz to miss the second half of the season.
If Ortiz returns, which many expect, he needs to stay healthy and be the dangerous middle-of-the-order hitter that this team lacked in the second half of 2012.
Though the Red Sox would have struggled either way, they missed his on-base ability and power when he was out of the lineup.
Jon Lester needs to return to Cy Young form.
One of the main reasons the Red Sox failed in 2012 was poor starting pitching.
Jon Lester was supposed to be the ace of this staff. Instead, he had arguably his worst season since becoming a major leaguer.
Lester’s 4.82 ERA was a career worst, he allowed a career-high 216 hits and his 166 strikeouts were his lowest total since 2008.
If the Red Sox are going to have any success in 2013, Lester needs to attack the strike zone more and return to being the dominant power lefty that he once was.
Clay Buchholz needs to take the next step.
With Josh Beckett gone, Clay Buchholz needs to step it up and be a force in the starting rotation.
While he showed flashes of greatness this past season, he was still inconsistent and needs to attack the strike zone more.
After pitching a career-high 189 innings, Buchholz must use this offseason to prepare and take his game to the next level.
The last thing the Red Sox need is for Buchholz to regress or have another one of his injury-plagued seasons.
The Red Sox badly need Jacoby Ellsbury to play like he did in 2011.
After returning from a shoulder injury he suffered early in the season, Jacoby Ellsbury was never able to recapture the MVP-caliber form he showed in 2011.
Ellsbury had a career low in batting average (aside from the 18-game stint in 2010) and never found his groove in the batter’s box.
All the physical tools seem to be there, and this offseason may be the most important of Ellsbury’s career.
If he is going to want a big free-agent contract, he will need to show that 2011 wasn’t a fluke. In the end, the pressure will be on to perform in 2013, and that could be a good thing for the Red Sox.