Theo Epstein mentions team defense and defensive efficiency and the lack of offense outside of Fenway Park as big issues going into the winter.
The foundation of the organization is still strong, we have a pretty good core of prime players, there are probably 10 guys in their mid-20s or right around 30 who we can build around and a strong farm system, with tremendous payroll flexibility going forward.There are concerns throughout the roster:
I think it could go a number of different directions. I think we're always open to change because I think you need change to improve as part of the natural cycle in baseball and in life. Sometimes the market doesn't bear that out. Sometimes there aren't the right fits, sometimes it's not the right free-agent market and sometimes you end up with more status quo than you want.
If that's the case, if we look back three or four months from now and say, "Wow, there weren't major changes," then I think next year will be perhaps the last year of this main group of players. We have a lot of players going into contract years next year. I think it might be one more chance with this group to go out and win the whole thing.
Will Jason Vartiek return as the back-up catcher? What about Mike Lowell, who is due $12 million? If Lowell is not in Boston and Kevin Youkilis moves back to third, who plays first? Who will be the regular shortstop?
What will happen with Jason Bay? How much offense will David Ortiz provide? Will the Sox bring back Tim Wakefield after his back surgery? What kind of turnover will there be in the bullpen? Will Epstein revisit any of the potential deals that were mentioned before the July trade deadline?
Epstein characterizes the negotiations with potential free agent Jason Bay as "really unusual ... [W]e want to keep him and he wants to be here and yet we've been unable to reach a deal. I don't think either side's been unreasonable. ... It just hasn't happened."
If Bay declines to return, Matt Holliday is a possible free agent acquisition. Sean McAdam mentions Bobby Abreu, Chone Figgins and Johnny Damon as possible left field replacements. McAdam also drew attention to Epstein's comment on Monday: "If Ortiz is going to be our DH ..."
Quotes in the Post suggest Billy Wagner is considering retirement. His agent thinks otherwise.
Epstein is pretty much demanding that Daisuke Matsuzaka follow the club's training regimen over the winter:
There are strong expectations that he shows up in February in fantastic shape on Day 1 of spring training next year. I see it as a necessity, not really an option.Michael Silverman looks at some of the Sox's brighter prospects, including pitcher-shortstop Casey Kelly and outfielder Ryan Westmoreland.