Now that the Boston Red Sox have named John Farrell as the team's new manager, here are the five next steps that general manager Ben Cherington needs to take to get the Red Sox rebuilding efforts on track.
Sign David Ortiz to a multi-year deal
Big Papi is one of the faces of the franchise, and the last remaining link to the 2004 Red Sox who broke the 86-year curse and won the World Series. He is coming off one of his best offensive seasons, despite missing over 70 games with an Achilles injury. Signing the potential free agent to a multi-year contract to continue as the designated hitter guarantees some power in the lineup, helps sell tickets and ensures a good role model will be around for the young players coming up.
Trade Jacoby Ellsbury
The centerfielder is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the 2013 season, and the Red Sox are unlikely to sign him to a long-term deal given the past history of his agent, Scott Boras. Nor should they. He has had one outstanding season, and many more injury-plagued years. If the Red Sox can get a front-line starter for him - and Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland has been linked to Ellsbury in trade rumors - they should pull the trigger while his value remains high.
Find a pitching coach
Farrell obviously will have tremendous influence here. He was hired on the basis of his own stint as Red Sox pitching coach, including the 2007 World Series winners. Getting the starting rotation back to its potential, especially Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, is key to the Red Sox becoming contenders, perhaps as soon as 2013.
Sign Cody Ross
Ross was an unheralded pickup prior to the 2012 season, but the right-handed hitting outfielder proved a perfect fit for Fenway Park, providing more power than the team expected. He is more of a platoon player than an everyday outfielder, and should be paid accordingly. But he can provide lineup protection in the batting order behind Ortiz, and seemed to be a positive influence in the clubhouse.
Find value in the free agent and trade markets
The Red Sox promising young stars are probably not due in Boston until 2014. So veteran players on short contracts - similar to the deal the Red Sox made with Adrian Beltre a few years ago - could bridge the gap between now and then. First baseman Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins might fit this bill. If they believe in his contrition, so could former San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, whose price might remain low given his suspension this season.
Rick Blaine, an award-winning broadcaster and columnist, is a lifelong Red Sox fan. Follow him on Twitter @RickBlaineCT.
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