1: Is John Farrell the answer as manager?
Farrell (above) is the third manager in as many years, and the Red Sox desperately need him to click with a team that has shown little sense of purpose since the final month of the 2011 season. Farrell was 154-170 in two years managing the Blue Jays, but Sox executives believe he can turn the franchise in the right direction. He built up a reservoir of credibility as pitching coach from 2007-10 and will need ever ounce of it.
2: Can the Sox stay healthy?
Injuries have ravaged the Sox for two years now. The Sox had 24 players go on the disabled list 34 times last season and they missed 1,495 games. The season hasn’t started yet and there are already concerns about whether a hip condition will restrict the play of new first baseman Mike Napoli. And David Ortiz is not fully recovered from an Achilles’ tendon strain that caused him to miss most of the second half of last season.
3: How will all the new guys fit in?
The Sox signed Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Koji Uehara, and Shane Victorino as free agents and traded for Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. The Sox went for volume rather than investing their payroll dollars in a star like Josh Hamilton. The idea was to change the look of the team and the tenor of the clubhouse. GM Ben Cherington was given free rein to remake the team, and he took it.
4: Is there enough starting pitching?
The Sox open camp with Dempster, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey as their five starters. Relievers Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales will work as starters for much of camp in case they’re needed. Young righthander Rubby De La Rosa, who was obtained from the Dodgers last summer, could make a bid, too. That looks like enough. But recent history suggests the Sox will need to develop more depth to guard against injuries and poor performance.
5: Will the bullpen sort itself out?
The Red Sox have 10 pitchers in competition for seven spots in the bullpen. One solution would be to make a trade, and the obvious candidate would be Andrew Bailey, who lost his job as closer when Hanrahan was obtained. But Bailey would have to rebuild some value by pitching well, as he appeared in only 19 games last season. Daniel Bard, once dominant as a reliever, is an unknown quantity after failing as a starter last season.
Peter AbrahamPeter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.