The Boston Red Sox Face a Lot of Questions Heading into Next Season

Nick VennochiContributor IOctober 25, 2009

BOSTON - OCTOBER 11:  Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after allowing three runs in the ninth inning to blow the save against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Game Three of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Fenway Park on October 11, 2009 in Boston,  Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox are coming off a season where they won the AL Wild Card and 95 games, but there are more questions heading into the 2010 season than answers.

The days of the "idiots" are long gone.

At the moment, three positions have a guaranteed person occupying them: second base with Dustin Pedroia, center field with Jacoby Ellsbury, and right field with J.D. Drew.

You could throw catcher in there with Victor Martinez, but if other transactions occur, he could end up at first base.

But the other five positions are completely up in the air.

The potential first baseman is Kevin Youkilis, who arguably was the most consistent player last season for the Sox.

Shortstop has been a revolving door for the BoSox since the real No. 5 was sent to Chicago in 2004. But I believe that Theo Epstein has seen the light and will sign Alex Gonzalez to a short-term deal because Jed Lowrie (the SS of the future) hasn't proven he can take the job.

Third base is also undecided because of the shaky hip of Mike Lowell. Will he be able to stay healthy, and will he still be on the Sox for the entire 2010 season? I would say yes because the Sox owe him $12 million.

Left field was once a sure thing with No. 24 cutting off throws from the outfield, but now with Jason Bay putting on his best Ron Tidwell impression, it looks like Manny Ramirez's replacement will be streaking in someone else’s uniform next season.

Martinez was a great trade for the Red Sox at the deadline, and because he played so well, it looked like the beginning of the end for our dear captain. But because Jason Varitek has a player option for $3 million, the Sox may have to give him a $3 million dollar handshake and release the only remaining starter from the 2004 World Series title.

The pitching staff as a whole seems to be in pretty good shape. The starters go as follows: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and, if his back still works, Tim Wakefield.

The only real question is whether Jonathan Papelbon signs a short-term deal for a little less money, a la Pedroia, or waits till the end of '11 and sees the offers he gets from other teams. I don't think that they will let him wait that long if it looks like he isn't going to sign. Josh Bard is the well-known future closer, and let's face it every closer falls off unless you wear 42 in pinstripes.

I saved DH for last. We saw David Ortiz look human this season. It was his first full season without his bash brother in the lineup. In a season where both names were linked with steroids and both players had subpar seasons, it may be time for a change for the Sox.

Ortiz did things that no baseball player should and has done. He made it look too easy in the clutch over the years. Even though you could have heard me yelling "bum" at the TV this season, you also could have heard me say, "He never has to get a hit again," because of what he did in the ALCS in 2004. 

It is sad to say, even though the sox owe him $12.5 million next season David Ortiz may be done as the DH for the Boston Red Sox.

This season was filled with up and downs, but this offseason will be an interesting one. The names may change for the Sox, but with Theo at the helm, Red Sox Nation shouldn't fret. As long as the core of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester, and Beckett is there, they should be all right.