10 Things We Want to See from the Boston Red Sox in 2013
The Boston Red Sox had a terrible 2012 season with a 69-93 record. The upper management hope to bounce back with a new manager and new veteran players to get back into the postseason in 2013.
The Red Sox not only need to win more games, but pitchers and batters need to to step it up in 2013 if the team has any chance of making the playoffs.
Jon Lester Returns to 2010 Form
Jon Lester has really struggled on the mound the last two seasons after a 19-9 season in 2010.
In 2012, he really hit a wall with a 9-14 record and a 4.82 ERA. This was his first season with an ERA over 4.00 since his 2007 campaign.
He did make 33 starts and pitch over 200 innings for the fourth time in five seasons, but he was unable to really find a groove.
John Farrell may be able to tweak his mechanics just enough to help the young lefty to get back to pitching like an ace in 2013.
Clay Buchholz Keeps Getting Better
Clay Buchholz, even with his early struggles, was the best starter the Red Sox had in the 2012 season. He finished with 29 games started, an 11-8 record and a ERA of 4.56 in 189.1 innings pitched.
After missing most of the 2011 season with a back injury, Buchholz really struggled with his fastball command and velocity early in the 2012 season. But he was able to settle down, and he had a stretch where he lasted six or seven innings without giving up many runs. He became the ace of the staff for a two-month stretch during the summer.
If Buchholz can stay on the field, expect a 15-win season for the 28-year-old.
John Lackey Pitches Well After Tommy John Surgery
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
John Lackey has not pitched since September 2011 because he required Tommy John surgery.
Lackey will return this spring training and will look to prove his worth to a team that really struggled with its starting rotation in 2012.
A Lackey who wins 10 or so games will be something very special for the Red Sox since no one knows what to expect from the veteran pitcher after his surgery. Will he be able to get MLBers out on a regular basis, or will it be the struggles of 2011 all over again?
Daniel Bard Returns to Bullpen
Tony Medina/Getty Images
Daniel Bard was in the starting rotation to begin the 2012 season but really lacked the command to be a five-inning pitcher.
The Red Sox need to stick him in the bullpen with no clear role until he can show that he can control his pitches for a prolonged stretch of time.
This means not hitting batters and keeping his walk total down for at least a two-week stretch.
Yes, it may take some time for his confidence to return, but it will be worth it in the long run, since the starting staff is full for the time being.
Ellsbury Has a MVP-Type Season
Let's face it. Jacoby Ellsbury was not that great in 2012 because he missed almost 100 games due to an injured shoulder.
Ellsbury is heading into a year where he will likely end up as a free agent, and he wants to earn a big contract after the 2013 season.
This means he has to be a productive hitter, fielder and base stealer for 150 (or more) games and produce like he did in 2011. That year, he was second in the MVP voting because Justin Verlander pitched out of his mind.
If he can stay on the field for a majority of the games in 2013, expect to see at least 25 homers and 40 stolen bases from the 29-year-old.
David Ortiz Plays Almost the Full Season
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
David Ortiz was one of the most productive hitters in 2012 before he hurt his Achilles' running around the bases on an Adrian Gonzalez home run. He earned a two-year contract after several seasons playing for a yearly contract.
The 37-year-old hit .318 with 23 home runs and 60 RBI through 90 games before missing the last few months and basically ending his season.
His age may soon catch up with him, since he seems to take longer to recover from injury, but he is still a force with the bat.
Dustin Pedroia Gets a Contract Extension
Al Bello/Getty Images
One of the few bright spots in the 2012 season for the Boston Red Sox came in the form of Dustin Pedroia.
Yes, he did miss some time with injuries, but he still played his heart out even when dealing with those injuries.
The 29-year-old is signed through the 2014 season, but the Red Sox are interested in signing him to a contract extension.
Signing someone like Pedroia to an extension would be a smart move for the Red Sox. He plays every at-bat and ball like it is his last and will likely be cheaper now than when he becomes a free agent.
Play Well Against the AL East
The Red Sox really struggled playing anyone in 2012, but the AL East play was just dreadful.
As a whole, the Red Sox were 26-46 against the AL East.
A 5-13 record against the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees really didn't help much. A 7-11 record against the Toronto Blue Jays is something that can be improved upon. The Red Sox finished at .500 against the Tampa Bay Rays at 9-9.
If the Red Sox can regain some confidence in 2013, the AL East needs to be where they start.
Win 90 or More Games
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Red Sox have many new veteran leaders on this team and now have a manager who knows the system in John Farrell.
I am not saying it is the perfect mix to win 90 or more games, but it is a start.
The Red Sox need a lot of things to go right for a 90-win season to happen, but they now have a better bullpen with the addition of Joel Hanrahan at closer.
The Red Sox need their pitching staff to remain healthy, their lineup to produce and their bullpen to shut down the opponent to be a quality team.
It may be another rebuilding year for the Red Sox, but it also could be a season in which they are able to get it together.
A Postseason Berth
The last time the Red Sox were in the postseason, Jonathan Papelbon blew a lead against the Los Angeles Angels, and the Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs.
I'm not saying that the Red Sox will definitely make the playoffs in 2013, but there is a chance that a turnaround season is in the near future.
If all the AL East teams beat up on each other, it could be an open field for the division and the two wild-card spots. If the Red Sox win 89 or so games, they might be in contention for that second wild card.
It might be a stretch to say a playoff berth is a reality for the Red Sox in 2013, but there is a chance that this could be the year the Red Sox return to the postseason.