The Boston Red Sox need change. Not in management, not in coaching, but in their roster. There are players to let go and holes to be filled that will improve their clubhouse chemistry and their ability on the field. Assuming the Red Sox keep both David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon, and with the staring rotation unfortunately under contract, the holes are at shortstop, right field and catcher. Boston has three options at their disposal: look for a trade, promote from the farm system, and search the free agent market. The Red Sox will need to use all three options to better this team and prevent a repeat of this year.
Shortstop has been a problem ever since Nomar Garicapara was shipped out of town. Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Alex Gonzalez, and Marco Scutaro have all played the position. The Red Sox have their shortstop of the future in Jose Iglesias. He is a defensive wizard, but leaves much to be desired with his bat. Because of him, Boston should target Alex Gonzalez instead of a player such as Jimmy Rollins or Jose Reyes. He is a cheaper option that can handle the position until Iglesias is ready to be called up. With the lineup the Red Sox have, they can afford to have a shortstop specializing in fielding.
Right field has been home to J.D. Drew for the past five years, and fans cannot wait to see him leave. Because of the never-ending injuries of Drew, the Sox constantly had find temporary replacements for him. Now it’s time to find a player that not only has talent, but reliability as well. Josh Reddick looked to be a capable replacement when he first came up, but his shine quickly faded away, and Ryan Kalish is coming off an injury plagued year and needs to prove he can stay healthy before he can take the next step. Michael Cuddyer would be a perfect fit for right field. He can hit for average, power, and most importantly, stay healthy. He will be 33 years old at the start of the season, so he will not be a long term solution, but he can be a good right handed bat that many have wanted for a couple of years.
It is time for Jason Varitek to go. He will be turning 40 next year, and he behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the depth chart. Bring up Ryan Lavarnway. While he isn’t the best defensive catcher, he is a great hitter and a potential replacement for David Ortiz down the line. Defense can be taught and Lavarnway is still young enough to develop the skills. He can step into Varitek’s role and continue to grow while learning the staff as Saltalamacchia starts.
Unless the Red Sox are able to trade John Lackey, or even Josh Beckett, don’t expect any big names to join Boston next year. The team underperformed as a whole this year and their areas of weakness need to be addressed. Look for Boston add low-key players that will have a significant impact on the club in 2012.