December 25, 2012

Tom Caron: A new look, with plenty of questions

It's too late for last-minute changes to the shopping list. The Boston Red Sox went on their spree before the holidays and we've got a pretty good idea what the team is going to look like in 2013.

Ryan Dempster
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Ryan Dempster

Shane Victorino, Ben Cherington
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Shane Victorino, right

Additional Photos Below

General Manager Ben Cherington has one last Christmas wish as he opens his presents today. He's hoping most of his players have bounce-back seasons.

We know the bulk of his pitching staff from 2012 needs to return to its previous form. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz can't be happy about this past season. Fans need to hope that their professionalism and pride lead them back to the type of success they had before September 2011.

They're not alone.

John Lackey is hoping he's nothing like the pitcher he was in 2011. He didn't pitch at all last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and some Sox fans think that was a big improvement from the year before.

Lackey was a dependable part of the Angels' rotation for eight years, compiling a 102-71 record with a 3.81 ERA in Anaheim.

His ERA in 2011 was nearly double that -- a 6.41 abomination that led to the discovery of his elbow injury.

Ryan Dempster was brought in to be the positive veteran influence that Josh Beckett clearly wasn't.

Dempster had a solid season last year (12-8, 3.38), yet his ERA ballooned to 5.09 after he was traded from the National League to Texas.

The pitching staff has plenty to prove, but so do the new additions to the offense.

Shane Victorino hit .255 for the Giants last season, some 20 points below his career average.

Stephen Drew spent most of last year injured, and hit just .223 when he played (he hit .252 the season before).

Mike Napoli is still in limbo while the team tries to rework its agreement with him based on a troublesome medical report on his hip.

Assuming he's Boston's first baseman, he'll look to rebound from a season that saw him hit just .227, with 24 homers and 56 RBI. That's 93 points lower, six home runs fewer and 19 RBI less than in 2011.

It's not exactly like Cherington is buying low to save money. Victorino, Drew and Dempster all got big money. So will Napoli once the deal gets done.

What the GM is hoping is that 2012 was an aberration for each man, a one-year dip and not the start of a downward trend.

All those players are proven veterans, as is catcher David Ross.

Cherington is hoping they are experienced enough to correct the issues they fought through last year.

If they can, this should be a competitive team next season. Cherington has addressed nearly every issue facing the Sox this winter, even closing in on a trade to bring closer Joel Hanrahan in from Pittsburgh.

Hanrahan should fit right in with his new teammates.

A two-time All-Star, he saw his ERA jump up nearly two-thirds of a run last season. Like the rest of the Red Sox, he'll be opening 2013 with plenty to prove.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.

 

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John Lackey
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John Lackey

  


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