After rough season, Sox fans look to rebuild

Joe Gill, Crier Staff

By now everyone has heard about the disaster that was the Red Sox during the 2012 season. Bandwagon fans have given up on the team, and other fans have just completely given up on the team for the next couple years, giving them time to “rebuild.” The Boston Red Sox will not need a couple years to rebuild because with a productive offseason they will be right where they need to be to make a post-season run in 2013.

Now where does a team start after finishing a season with only 69 wins (tied for the 4th worst in Major League Baseball)? The answer is quite simple, and has already been given by Red Sox management. The Red Sox needed a new manager. Bobby Valentine had a great deal of experience in baseball but his tendencies to cause controversy combined with the problems caused by some former players (Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Gonzales)led to a toxic clubhouse atmosphere that would prohibit any team from succeeding.

The Red Sox fixed this problem by firing Bobby Valentine and trading shortstop Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays for manager John Farrell. Farrell is not a new face to Boston; he served as the pitching coach for four years. Farrell was always a player and fan favorite, and is excited to take on the new role as manager.

The biggest question mark that faces the Red Sox is their pitching staff. The Sox will return starting pitchers Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Felix Dubront. General Manger Ben Cherington will also look to sign one or two more middle-of-the-rotation starters to compete with John Lackey, who missed all of last season due to injury, for the final two rotation spots.

The bullpen for the Red Sox will be a little more stable as they welcome back Andrew Bailey, Mark Melacon, and Clayton Mortensen. If healthy, these three relievers can become one of the best combinations in baseball. The only thing that the bullpen is missing is a lefty specialist, which GM Ben Cherington will need to sign during the offseason.

In the infield, the Sox will return third basemen Will Middlebrooks and second basemen Dustin Pedroia to the starting lineup. This will leave holes at both first base and shortstop. First base will be filled by a player who has been in the MLB for a at least a couple years, will bat somewhere around .285, will hit about 20-25 homeruns and is not currently in the Red Sox system. Names like Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher, Adam LaRoche, and Kendrys Morales have been tossed around and are all viable options for the starting job.

The shortstop position is a little bit complicated as the Sox will turn to prospect Jose Iglesias to fill the hole left by Mike Aviles. The only problem with this is that Iglesias is not an everyday shortstop and will not last as a starter. In his two seasons at the AAA level or higher, Iglesias has never batted over .260, causing serious doubt if he could last against big league pitching. Iglesias can be expected to start the year, but before the all-star break Sox utility player Pedro Ciriaco will likely take over the starting job.

In the outfield the Sox will return starters Ryan Sweeney and Jacoby Ellsbury. Sweeney can be seen as an everyday starter in right field, where he was last year before being injured. Ellsbury, whose contract is up at the end up the year, would be an everyday starter, but the Sox star may be traded before the all-star break; the Sox’s chances of retaining him with a new long term contract is low. That leaves one or two open outfielder spots for the Red Sox. General Manager Ben Cherington may pursue veterans like Tori Hunter, Alex Gordon, Jason Bay, Shin Shin Choo, or Cody Ross.

The Boston Red Sox experienced their worst season in 15 years this year, and Red Sox Nation pressed the panic button. There is no need jump off board with this team. Good baseball in Boston will always be a priority and in 2013 the Red Sox will be the team we know and love once again. So Red Sox Nation, stay patient and get ready cause 2013 will be a whole new ballgame.