Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro were the lone bright spots for a team that had the biggest collapse in baseball history
Fresh off an epic collapse, the Boston Red Sox are trying to pick up the pieces from possibly the most disappointing season in Red Sox history. With no manger and a handful of overpaid players, Theo Epstein and the front office have their work cut out for them. That is, if Theo is still around...
With a long offseason in front of them, the Red Sox need to make some big changes to a team that was once thought of as a team certain for a 100 win season.
Here are 5 things they need to address.
With JD Drew almost certainly a goner, through retirement or free agency, the Red Sox need to decide what direction they want to go in in Right Field.
The emergence of Josh Reddick halfway through the season led many to believe he was the Right Fielder of the future. But with his late-season drop off, critics question whether he can be an everyday player.
Ryan Kalish is another option for the Sox. Kalish impressed the team last year with the little playing time he got. This season, he was plagued by injury and was never fully healthy.
Perhaps the Red Sox want to add a veteran to bridge the gap until they feel that Kalish is ready or perhaps they will do a platoon-like situation and have Reddick and Kalish split time.
Whatever it may be, the Red Sox must find production from Right Field.
Marco Scutaro was one of the hottest hitters in all of Major League Baseball in the month of September. He finished the season with a .299 average, batting near the bottom of the lineup most of the year.
It is hard to find this kind of value at the bottom of any order and Scutaro has proven he play almost everyday. With Jose Iglesias still not ready to contribute at the Major League level, the Red Sox need to pick up his six-million-option.
Jed Lowrie has again and again proven he can not be counted on to be an everyday player, and while Scutaro isn't flashy with the glove or the bat, he is the best option for the Red Sox.
Before the season, many believed this would be David Ortiz's last go-around with the Red Sox. However, after a brilliant and rejuvenating season, Ortiz has earned at least two more seasons with the team.
With question marks surrounding team chemistry, Ortiz is a veteran presence who has been through two World Series runs and dealt with many different personalities in the club house.
Ortiz batted .309 with 29 HR's and 96 RBI this season, which would be hard to find with other DH's around the league. And with not many options on the market better than Ortiz, Boston's best bet is to bring Big Papi back.
Kevin Youkilis has been a dominant presence in the Red Sox lineup the last few years, but he may have worn out his welcome with fans and fellow teammates.
Youkilis plays the game as hard as any player out there, but his antics on the field turn a lot of people off. He is constantly showing up the umpire by arguing balls and strikes, and throws his bat and helmet almost every game out of frustration.
With injuries starting to be a concern with Youk, the Red Sox need to trade him while his value is still high to get a quality return.
Will Middlebrooks is one of the Red Sox top prospects and might only be a couple of years away from being a big leaguer. With the Sox hurting in the starting pitching department, Youkilis may be a trading chip.
John Lackey has been a major disappointment for the Red Sox the past two seasons and he will almost certainly be sent packing. Dice-K is in the same boat, so the Red Sox will be on the hunt for quality starters to fill their rotation that already includes Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz.
Beckett and Lester seem to be the aces of the Sox' staff, but their lack of clutch pitching down the stretch is reason for concern. Beckett was dominant most of the season, but you never know what you are going to get year in and year out.
There are many quality starters on the market this offseason including C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and Hiroki Kuroda. Wilson will probably command top dollar on the market, which may eliminate the Red Sox because of high spending offseason in 2011. However the Red Sox went after Kuroda at the trade deadline and Buehrle has proven to be a viable starter over his career.
Whether it be through trade or free agency, the Red Sox MUST address the starting pitching or they face a long season again in 2012.