Boston Red Sox: 5 Players Who Must Go

William PenfieldCorrespondent IIOctober 11, 2011

Boston Red Sox: 5 Players Who Must Go

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    When any team goes through a September collapse like the Boston Red Sox did, changes need to be made.

    Those changes began when they let manager Terry Francona go and could continue with general manager Theo Epstein jumping ship for Chicago.

    But player changes need to be made as well, and certain players on this team should not be brought back for the 2012 season. 

Tim Wakefield, SP

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    Tim Wakefield has been a nice story for the Red Sox, recording his 200th win this past season, but he is no longer productive enough to hold a position in the starting rotation. 

    At the ripe age of 45, Wakefield posted a 5.12 ERA in 2011 to go along with a 7-8 record.

    He has expressed his feelings about wanting to return and break the Red Sox all-time wins record, but they just can't afford to bring back a guy whom they will put out there every fifth day to be unproductive.

    Wake will be a Red Sox legend forever, but it is time to let go. 

J.D. Drew, RF

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    J.D. has been one of the worst signings in the Theo Epstein era, as he has failed to live up to the high expectations that were set for him.

    Year after year, it seemed as if Drew would just go out and play to collect a paycheck without any fire in his game. 

    He played in just 81 games in 2011, the second lowest total of his career, and hit just .222. He can still play the field well, but Red Sox Nation would be up in arms if Drew was brought back.

    With two young guns, Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish, ready to step in and play right field full-time, there is no need for the Red Sox to bring back Drew for 2012. 

Jason Varitek, C

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    The captain has been the heart and soul of the Red Sox for years, but at the age of 39, Jason Varitek can no longer be a viable option as a catcher. 

    With 15 years behind the plate, it is almost certain that 'Tek's body will continue to break down in the future, as shown by his diminishing offensive and defensive statistics.

    He hit just .221 in 68 games and threw out just 12 of 85 base stealer's against him, an unacceptable number.

    Sure, he is Josh Beckett's comfort zone behind the plate, but Beckett has bigger things to worry about, like not drinking beer in the dugouts on off days and staying in shape.

    'Tek will be missed as a player on this team, but it is his time to go. Although don't rule out the Red Sox bringing him back as some sort of coach in the future. 

John Lackey, SP

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    Possibly the worst signing by general manager Theo Epstein, John Lackey has failed to be even a serviceable starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in his first two years.

    If there is any possible way to get rid of this guy, the Red Sox should do it.

    He is demonstrative on the mound and shows up his teammates and coaches.

    It would be one thing if he was producing and doing these things, but he isn't, which magnifies the issues even more.

    There has been speculation that maybe the Chicago Cubs would take Lackey's contract as compensation for possibly getting Epstein from the Red Sox, and even that the San Diego Padres might trade for him, but don't expect either to happen.

    As much as Red Sox Nation wants him to go, Lackey will most likely be in uniform in 2012. 

Josh Beckett, SP

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    If the revelations are true that he drank beer in the clubhouse on off days and gained 20 pounds during the season, the Red Sox should explore options to trade Josh Beckett.

    This is unacceptable behavior for someone who is supposed to be a leader on a team such as the Boston Red Sox. 

    Not many people will want to trade Beckett, as he is arguably the Sox best pitcher, but sometimes decisions have to be made. If this is how he is going to act, you shouldn't want him on your team.

    Ultimately, the Red Sox will most likely stick it out with Beckett, but this behavior cannot continue if the team wants to be successful.