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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Help us make a Red Sox to-do list

By ESPNBoston.com

Now that their manager is in place, the Red Sox have key decisions to make and big holes to fill that will determine the direction of the 2013 team.

The Red Sox have about $110 million coming off the books and just $45 million currently devoted to 2013 salaries, so they certainly have money to spend. They’ve pledged to make “disciplined” decisions going forward, but what does that mean? Will they be players for big-ticket free agents? Determining a 2013 budget will determine what kind of players or trades they pursue.

Below is our attempt to outline the major questions that need answering and what Ben Cherington, Carmine and Co. are working on over at 4 Yawkey Way. Click HERE to rank the to-do list below in the order of importance.

* Re-sign Ortiz and Ross: The team is already close to a deal with David Ortiz, according to a source, and Cody Ross said talks have begun for an extension for him as well. Locking these guys in early would be a good first step in building the roster.

* Find a first baseman: There’s a big hole on the right side of the infield and few quality free agents to fill it with. Internal options are bleak as well. First base is traditionally a spot that provides pop in the lineup. Will the Sox be able to count on that in 2013?

* Find a shortstop: Jose Iglesias is already an elite fielder at the position, but can the Sox afford to carry his bat in a lineup that might not be as stacked as it’s been in previous seasons? Iglesias hit just .118, and .031 with men on base. Can the Sox afford that, or will they seek a stopgap option via free agency?

* Find a left fielder: The trade of Carl Crawford left another hole in the outfield, one the team will need to decide whether to fill with an internal option -- Ryan Kalish or Daniel Nava, perhaps? – a free agent -- there are some intriguing options -- or perhaps via a trade.

* Fill out the rotation: The Red Sox have at least one hole in the rotation and perhaps two, and in any case will need to add some depth here. The question is, do they need to think big and add an ace? Or are you counting on bounce-back seasons from Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz? Will Alfredo Aceves be an option here?

* Choose a catcher: Is it going to be Jarrod Saltalamacchia (25 homers but just a .222 average) or is it time to give Ryan Lavarnway (hit just .157 in 153 at bats) a shot?

* Role players: Are guys like Pedro Ciriaco, Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava going to be with the Red Sox next season?

* The Bard project: Can Daniel Bard be saved? The Sox have abandoned the idea that he can be a starter, but will a fresh start and John Farrell’s help get Bard back to being an elite setup man in 2013? Or will Bard perhaps be used as a trade chip this offseason?

* Make a call on Ellsbury: He’ll be a free agent after 2013, so his trade value might never be higher than it is right now. That said, the Sox might also want to try to sign the outfielder to a long-term contract, an unlikely prospect considering he is repped by Scott Boras. But if the Sox can’t ink him to a long-term deal and can’t afford to lose him via trade, they risk being left empty-handed if Ells signs elsewhere after next season.

* Fill out the coaching staff: We know Torey Lovullo will be on board, but the identities of Farrell’s other coaches are still to be determined. As Bobby V learned the hard way, Farrell will need to fill his staff with guys he can trust.

* Fill out the bullpen: The Sox are getting their closer back in Andrew Bailey and Junichi Tazawa has proven to be a reliable setup man. You can expect Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon and perhaps Franklin Morales to be contributors as well. Do they need to do anything major here?