Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/13/12

It was a trying season for the Boston Red Sox in 2011. They started off slow in April, played awesome from May-August, and completely collapsed in September, blowing the wild card on the final day of the season after a late-game rally at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. The Red Sox did a lot of retooling in the offseason, and now look to enter the 2012 season with a more solid foundation to their team, and hopefully a playoff appearance. 

Red Sox on TOC
End of the Season Postmortem
Top Ten Prospects
You May Say I'm a Dreamer 

Depth Chart (as of 3/12)
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Dustin Pedroia 
SS: Mike Aviles
3B: Kevin Youkilis
LF: Carl Crawford
CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
RF: Cody Ross
DH: David Ortiz
SP: Josh Beckett
SP: Jon Lester
SP: Clay Buchholz
SP: Daniel Bard
SP: Andrew Miller
CL: Andrew Bailey

New Faces
Boston did a lot of retooling this offseason, but none of the acquisitions were really of the big name variety, save for the acquisition of closer Andrew Bailey to replace the departed Jonathan Papelbon. The team's new right fielder is the rather coveted former Giant and Marlin, Cody Ross. The Sox also brought in former Astros closer Mark Melancon to serve as the setup man for Bailey. Bobby Valentine is stepping in as the new manager, and Ben Cherington takes over as the new GM.

Departures
Former starting shortstop Marco Scutaro was shipped to the Rockies, in a move that was classified as salary relief...which resulted in the Red Sox not throwing big money at anyone. Utility player Jed Lowrie and spot starter Kyle Wieland was the bounty sent to Houston for Melancon. Former closer Papelbon signed with the Phillies for an absurd contrac that the Red Sox showed no desire to match. Long-time catcher (and captain) Jason Varitek retired. Highly paid right fielder JD Drew had his contract expire, and retired. Long-time starter Tim Wakefield also retired after spending nearly forever in Boston. The team also fired manager Terry Francona, replacing him with ESPN analyst (and former Mets and Rangers manager) Bobby Valentine. There was also the mini-controversy surrounding general manager Theo Epstein, who left the team to take the job of president with the Chicago Cubs. 

Impact Rookies
Felix Doubront could take hold of a spot in Boston's bullpen to start the year. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who has been criticized by many for his receiving skills, could end up behind the dish if Saltalamacchia struggles to start the year. Top prospect Jose Iglesias, who is all-glove and no bat, could also take hold of the starting shortstop job if Aviles struggles with the lumber in the early part of the year and Iglesias holds the fort down in AAA Pawtucket.

Position Battles
Boston's major position battles come in the back-end of the rotation, where Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller are penciled into the final two roles. The Red Sox have brought in a host of veterans to compete for those final two positions, including Aaron Cook, Brandon Duckworth, Ross Ohlendorf, and Vicente Padilla. Personally, I think dragging a retread into the AL East would only result in bombs flying all over Fenway Park, and that the Red Sox should just go with the youthful options...at least that way they could claim to having a solid plan.

Injury Concerns
Oh, there are several. Carl Crawford had offseason wrist surgery, and might not be available for Opening Day. Ryan Sweeney would take his role in left field if Crawford isn't ready to go right off the bat. Reliever Bobby Jenks had back trouble last season that's resulted in him being on the 60-day DL, and has put his career into question. Three Boston starters, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey, and Rich Hill, all underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011. Matsuzaka and Hill could have a slight impact in the season's final two months, but it's going to be a lost year for Lackey, who had his surgery in November.  Bench bat Ryan Kalish, who would have normally been ready to fill in for Crawford to start the year, had shoulder surgery this offseason that could postpone the start of his year as well.

Burning Question
Will the back-end of Boston's rotation be adequate enough to hang on in the AL East? This would be a fantastic rotation with Matsuzaka and Lackey filling the final two slots, but based on the crop of starter vying for the four and five positions right now, things could get substantially sticky for the Red Sox.

Best Case
Bard thrives in the rotation, the team stays relatively healthy, and the Red Sox are able to fight tooth and nail with the Rays and Yankees for playoff spots in the American League.

Worst Case
The back of the rotation is a nightmare and the Red Sox get nothing out of them, Crawford has another terrible year, David Ortiz starts showing his age at DH, and the Red Sox have to fight off the Orioles for last place in the division.

Realistic Prediction
I think Boston is a real good team on paper. Offensively, they've got four superstars in Gonzalez, Ortiz, Ellsbury, and Pedroia. If the pitching can hold up, this is a championship contender. If they struggle, it isn't. I think the Red Sox are the third best team in the AL East, but that could be good enough to get them a wild card slot this year with the expanded playoff format.

[follow]

{loadposition content3} 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Lakers apologize for first, get second meeting with Aldridge

Mike Scioscia: Josh Hamilton should apologize to Arte Moreno

Sacramento Kings continue to be an utter disaster

Report: Cowboys believe Bryant is bluffing about missing games

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Steel workers on Kings arena wrote ‘Go Warriors’ on materials

Report: Cavs could put Love on trading block within next year

Red Sox GM: 'Time to think about' team being sellers

Cardinals fire scouting director in hacking scandal fallout

Report: Lakers to get second meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge

Antonio Gates suspended four games for violating drug policy

WATCH: Sean Doolittle gets cup check from teammate

University of Florida developing high-tech smart mouth guard

Pat McAfee is the best punter in NFL history

Mets coach on slump: The only thing left is human sacrifice

MLB teams who will continue to surprise in second half

2015 Women’s World Cup Final: The Rematch

Answering the five biggest questions in NBA free agency

Report: Mavericks sign Wes Matthews to four-year contract

Dwyane Wade celebrates deal with tea, painted toenails

Coach K at fan town hall: 'I have no thoughts on retiring'

Carroll doesn’t just bring skill to Toronto; he brings relevance

Lakers and Knicks: Piece by piece with no shortcuts

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.