The unpredicted September collapse of the Boston Red Sox was legendary. Not only did it embarrass the Red Sox, the ownership and the fans, it now has brought an entire spotlight of unwanted attention. It seems like with each new day, we learn new information about how many problems this Red Sox team, that had such high expectations for a season, really had.
It has led to the departure of the best manager in their history, who clearly lost control of his entire clubhouse. And now, their general manager Theo Epstein, has departed for the Chicago Cubs.
No one could have predicted this would be the end of an era in Boston.
Now that we have a firm understanding that the Sox manager and general manager won't be back for the 2012 MLB season, here are 10 moves the Red Sox need to make this offseason in order to save their organization.
Theo Epstein's days remaining as Boston's GM could turn into only hours. Epstein has already agreed to a five-year deal with the Chicago Cubs and unless anything drastically changes, that will become official in the next 24 hours.
Ben Cherington needs to be the next guy for the job. Cherington was first hired by former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette. He has been Epstein's assistant since Theo became the Red Sox GM in 2002.
Cherington was named co-GM with Jed Hoyer when Epstein left the first time in 2005. He has experience in the big market and has been in on a lot of the signings that Epstein made these past few seasons, the good and the bad.
There is a reason that the ownership has not stopped Epstein from going to Chicago, it's obvious that they have faith in Cherington and feel like he can step into the role of general manager and rebuild the Red Sox.
When it comes to finding a manager for the Red Sox in 2012, the front office needs to stay away from two things; hiring an "in-house" candidate and hiring a big-name manager.
The last thing the Red Sox need is to hire a manager that was around during this collapse. They need to start fresh with a guy who won’t put up with any of the antics the 2011 Red Sox pathetically displayed in the second half of the season.
The front office also needs to stay away from a big name manager such as Bobby Valentine, Tony Pena or Dale Sveum. None of these managers will help this team better than Francona could have.
The Sox need to hire current Tampa Bay Rays bench coach, Dave Martinez. Joe Maddon is one of the best managers in baseball and was one of the finalists for the Sox managerial position in 2004. If you can't get Joe Maddon, sign his right-hand man and next best thing.
Martinez has learned under Maddon for five seasons and is the best manager candidate for the Red Sox.
Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek have been two of the best players to ever don a Red Sox uniform. The two have 32 years of service to the Red Sox combined. Having said that, it's time for the Red Sox to depart ways with both of them.
Varitek hit .221 on the season and hit .077 in the month of September. He has a weak arm, no bat speed and his leadership was absent all season long when it was clear the team needed it more than ever.
Wakefield had a losing record on the season and had an ERA over five. He is no longer an effective presence for the Red Sox anymore and revealed his selfish side when saying us fans “deserve to see him set the franchise win record." Both players shouldn't be re-signed or relied on for the Red Sox in 2012.
John Lackey has been nothing but a team cancer for the Boston Red Sox since he arrived a season ago. Every time he pitches, Sox fans shake their head at the thought that he was given a five-year, $82 million contract. What makes matters worse is that he still has three years remaining on his current contract.
Besides having a disgraceful 6.12 ERA, a 12-12 record and gaining a ton of weight, Lackey became part of the "drinking beer, eating chicken and playing video games during the game crew" this season. It really is no shock that Lackey is one of the worst pitchers in the American League. His work ethic and effort clearly is at the bottom of his list of things to care about.
If management wants to prove to the world that the selfishness and lack effort of the 2011 Red Sox is a thing of the past, they will find a way to move Lackey. His act is getting old and the Sox cannot take anymore of his excuses, even if it means eating some of his contract.
Josh Beckett is coming off one of his best seasons as a pitcher. He went 13-7 on the year with a 2.89 ERA and shut down the Yankees all season. He is signed through 2014 and right now is possibly one of the best times to make a deal for him.
Beckett was also part of the "drinking beer, eating chicken and playing video games during the game crew" and is also a negative influence on the clubhouse. With Beckett's injury history with his back and lack of conditioning, it will be interesting to see how long he can remain a top-of-the-rotation starter.
At this point, the Red Sox could probably get solid pitching prospects for Beckett, but no one who could match his success or accomplishments.
Kevin Youkilis has been a solid contributor to the Red Sox since 2004. However, he will turn 33 this upcoming season and has averaged 111 games played in the past two seasons.
In 2011, Youkilis batted .258 and missed the last couple months of the season when the Sox needed him the most. Youkilis is also considered to be a cancer in the clubhouse, mainly when it comes to upcoming star, Jacoby Ellsbury.
His value is low right now but the Red Sox need to highly consider trading Youkilis. He is injury prone and with upcoming third basemen Will Middlebrooks emerging; Youkilis's window in Boston could be closing.
Even though Jonathan Papelbon's season ended ugly by him blowing a save, he still had a strong and convincing season posting 31 saves and a 2.94 ERA.
Papelbon was one of the most consistent arms in the bullpen and one of the leaders in the Red Sox clubhouse. He's earned $27.6 million in arbitration these past three seasons and is due for a payday from the Red Sox.
Papelbon has never really had a "down year" since being with the Red Sox and right now the team needs him. With Daniel Bard having a completely awful September, the Red Sox aren't exactly sure Bard is ready to take over. Papelbon will remain a sock and receive a long-term deal.
For being 36, David Ortiz doesn't seem to lose a step, or a swing. Ortiz hit .309, belted 29 home runs and batted in 96 in 2011.
Big Papi is still a solid middle-of-the-order threat and was one of the reasons the Red Sox offense was so explosive for most of the season. Even though he faces free agency, his options will only be limited to American League teams.
Ortiz said he isn't interested in the Sox drama and might sign with the Yankees, but the Yankees already have one or two players suited for the DH position when Jorge Posada retires. The Sox have already learned their lesson on letting their own players go and backing up the brinks truck to pay other team's players. Ortiz will also get his payday from the Red Sox and remain with the team.
Alfredo Aceves was a nice surprise for the Red Sox during the 2011 season. Aceves had a 2.61 ERA, struck out 80 batters and had a WHIP of 1.11.
Aceves's relief ERA was remarkable, 2.03 in 51 appearances. Aceves record is 24-3 as a starter.
Aceves became the Red Sox go-to-guy when the game was on the line in the month of September. He wants to become a starter; he just needs the Red Sox to give him the opportunity.
CJ Wilson has had two great consecutive seasons. He was won 31 total games, pitched over 200 innings and struck out 376 batters.
All signs should point to the Red Sox signing Wilson. Jon Lester and Wilson could be two lethal lefties but the Red Sox should not pursue him. Wilson has not proved he can pitch for a big city like Boston. Wilson is also going to be 31 and is not worth the money at this stage of his career. The Red Sox should know not to pay big money for a starter who isn't a true ace and already in his 30s.