The chaos will continue in the coming days.
When you've experienced the worst September collapse in Major League Baseball history, have players suggesting this was "worst clubhouse" they've ever been a part of, and all of a sudden find yourself in the middle of managerial turnover, the uneasiness that was kick-started with the Red Sox' season-ending loss last Wednesday wouldn't figure to be dissipating any time soon.
Still, as fascinating as it is to dissect what happened in 2011, it's now important to start thinking about what will transpire as the Red Sox head into '12. So, here is a look at what potentially lies ahead for the Sox' position players (with a similar analysis coming regarding the pitchers Tuesday).
As recently as August, it didn't appear as though Scutaro's return was likely. But thanks to his presence as one of the few standouts during the Sox' slide, he is very much in the mix to return.
From Aug. 5 until the season's end, Scutaro hit .352 with a .913 OPS, ending up with numbers (.299/.781) in line with the 2009 season in Toronto that he used to get his current deal.
Scutaro has a club option for $6 million, along with a player option for $3 million. If he did hit the open market, even at the age of 36, he would be likely the second-most coveted free agent shortstop, behind only Jose Reyes.
The impetus for the Sox not picking up Scutaro's option is that he will be worth at least one draft pick (and possibly two) as a Type A or B free agent (assuming he is offered arbitration). There is also concern about whether the shortstop can make it through an entire season healthy.
But not exercising the option would present a gamble considering the likelihood that Scutaro would find a starting job somewhere -- which is his priority -- thereby making the chances of accepting the player option unlikely. The original plan might have been to have Jose Iglesias ready to go by the time Scutaro's deal ended, but that doesn't seem to be an option.
It appears Youkilis will likely undergo sports hernia surgery Tuesday (although he is being briefed on non-surgical options Monday), a procedure that carries a recovery time of 4-6 weeks. If an operation is performed, he is expected to have no limitations hitting spring training with the usual amount of momentum.
The 2012 season could be Youkilis' last with the Red Sox, with the team carrying a club option for $13 million for '13. In two years, rookie prospect Will Middlebrooks may be in line to begin his big league clock. What is also working against the third baseman is his questionable durability, as he's averaged 119 games per season the last three years.
There's no question Youkilis' numbers suffered because of his ailments in '11, leaving him with his worst OPS (.833) since '06. But it should be noted that through July, the 32-year-old had the best OPS of any third baseman in baseball.
If healthy, Youkilis will remain one of the best at what he does. And if he does stay healthy, and puts up his usual numbers, even with Middlebrooks in the picture, $13 million for another year won't look so bad.
Pedroia is the captain of this team (although don't hold your breath waiting for another 'C' to be sewn onto any Red Sox uniform). There was no player doing more to try to pull the Sox out of their doldrums. And as the days dwindled, along with the Sox' lead, nobody was hit harder by the failures of the club.
It should be noted that along with Pedroia's leadership, the second baseman also took his game to another level. Even with a screw in his foot and a knee that needed three separate Synvisc shots, the 28-year-old finished with a career high in games played (159) while notching career bests in home runs (21), stolen bases (26), walks (86) and OBP (.387), with the second-best OPS (.861) of his career.
He underwent successful surgery to remove the screw in his left foot -- which he battled throughout the season more than most know -- and is scheduled to resume workouts in 4-6 weeks.
Pedroia is locked up through 2014 with an $11 million club option for '15. It won't come as a surprise if the Red Sox and/or the second baseman look to extend their contractual commitments this offseason.
For a guy who was getting paid $5.5 million for '11, Gonzalez gave a lot of bang for his bucks. For the fifth straight season, he played in at least 159 games. The first baseman finished with a career-best on-base percentage (.410) despite walking 19 fewer times than in '10, thanks in large part to a career-high .338 batting average.
Now comes the hard part for the 29-year-old: living up to a different kind of contract. Starting in '12, Gonzalez will make at least $21 million a season over the next seven years.
The good news for Gonzalez is the injured calf he experienced in the final month isn't an offseason concern, and his surgically repaired right shoulder, while weakened by the wear and tear of the season, figures to be improved by the start of spring training.
Simply put, the move to the American League hasn't changed the player on whom the Red Sox are banking a big part of their future. As he pointed out, when swinging at pitches in the strike zone he's one of the best hitters in the big leagues -- as his major league-best .421 average on balls in the zone this season attests. And considering Gonzalez saw the exact same percentage of pitches in and out of the zone as he did a year before in San Diego, nothing figures to be changing.
Just before the Red Sox' final game of the season, Ortiz said when asked about his contractual future with the team, "I did my part." True.
The DH finished with the fourth-best OPS in the American League (.953) and his best batting average since '07, hitting .309 with 29 homers. Most impressive, however, was Ortiz' work against left-handed pitching, jumping his batting average against southpaws from .222 in '10 to .329 this season. Another example of the 35-year-old's metamorphosis came in the form of his .396 average against lefties in the seventh and eighth innings, compared to his .118 clip in such situations a year ago.
Ortiz wants to return to the Red Sox, and the Sox could undoubtedly use him. No team in baseball had more protection out of its lineup's No. 5 spot, and that, in itself, shows the designated hitter's worth.
There are teams out there who would seemingly value having the kind of American League-best DH production the Red Sox enjoyed, some of which (Orioles, Angels, Mariners -- all of whom finished in the bottom four in DH OPS in the AL) would have the kind of financial means to lock up Ortiz.
The ball appears to be firmly in the Red Sox' court. They could go the route of letting Ortiz go and leaving the spot a bit fluid to offer rest to Youkilis and Gonzalez, but if Ortiz continues down this road, that sort of value doesn't seem to add up.
As valuable he was at times in '11, this might be it for the captain with the Red Sox.
The 39-year-old once again finds himself as a free agent. In 68 games he hit .221 with a .723 OPS. The real problem came in the final month, when Varitek went just 2-for-26. In fact, from July 1 until the end of the season, the catcher hit just .190 with a .689 OPS.
The other issue was Varitek's inability to throw runners out in the final three months of the season, with base-stealers going 42-for-45 against the backstop during that span. Making the stat even more painful for the Sox is that the veteran catcher they chose not to take a chance on, Russell Martin, led the majors by throwing out 35 baserunners.
Varitek clearly wants to play, but with the emergence of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the potential of Ryan Lavarnway, this figures to be the most logical time for the captain's exit from the organization.
As one team executive observed, Salalamacchia's season mirrored that of his team -- poor at the beginning, good in the middle, and then subpar at the end.
Still, Saltalamacchia showed enough in '11 to allow for some optimism for the Red Sox heading into the future. For one, he threw out the third-most base-stealers in the American League (28). The downside catching-wise for the backstop was that his catching ERA was just about a full run more than Varitek's, and (thanks in large part to his work with Tim Wakefield) he led the majors in passed balls (26).
As for hitting, Saltalamacchia's batting average went into a tailspin after the middle of August. From Aug. 14 until the conclusion of '11, he hit .183 with just two walks in 111 plate appearances. The good news? Prior to that stretch the 26-year-old hit .282 with a .917 OPS over the previous three months, the best production among AL catchers in that time.
Saltalamacchia is in his second year of being arbitration eligible, having signed a one-year, $750,000 deal heading into '11. If he continues to progress, the catcher could fall into the category of young players the Red Sox prioritize locking up beyond their arbitration years.
Regardless of what Crawford made in '11, the season was a disaster for the outfielder. In his eight full seasons as an everyday player in the American League East, he had never experienced anything close to the .255 batting average, .694 OPS kind of production turned in this season. And that's not even mentioning a defense in left field that actually rated out below average using some metrics.
More? Only two everyday outfielders n the American League -- Vernon Wells and Alex Rios -- had a lower on-base percentage than Crawford. In a nutshell, there have been few players who came through Boston that let the environment affect them like Crawford did.
The 30-year-old needs to rediscover his confidence, while earning a spot somewhere in the top two-thirds of the batting order. He wants to hit higher than No. 7, but when hitting anywhere in the order's top five spots Crawford went just 11-for-85 (.129).
So what now? Odds are that Crawford figures it out to some degree. He's not going anywhere (as the six years, $128 million left on his contract would suggest), so, for the Red Sox' sake, improvement better be around the corner. He has suggested that after three years away, he may return to working out at Athletes Performance in Arizona this offseason.
He scored the third-most runs in the American League (119), hit the fifth-most homers in the AL (32), stole the fourth-most bases (39) and claimed the fifth-best batting average (.321). You could go on and on.
The thing that should be noted when it comes to Ellsbury is that the Red Sox have discovered another MVP-caliber player -- and perhaps the premier leadoff hitter in baseball -- and now they have to figure out a way to keep him.
While Ellsbury will go back to workout at Athletes Performance in Phoenix for a third straight year, it is assumed his agent, Scott Boras, will be approached once again by the Red Sox in an attempt to lock up the 28-year-old long term.
Finding common ground on a long-term deal will be difficult, and may simply lead Ellsbury to sign another one-year deal, avoiding arbitration for a second straight season. This contract, however, figures to be exponentially richer than the $2.4 million deal he worked under in '11.
Will the commitment to Crawford hamstring the Red Sox' quest to ink Ellsbury? Will the prospect of hitting the free agent market following the '13 season (which isn't flush with top-tier outfielders) be too tantalizing for the center fielder to pass up?
Enjoy Ellbury's talents while he's here, because the way things are trending, this might be one long-term deal that might actually escape the Sox.
Upon walking out of the Red Sox' clubhouse for what figures to be the last time on Wednesday night, Drew insinuated that he had been leaning toward retiring, but with the way the season had played out he wasn't sure if that was the kind of note on which he wanted to end his 13-year big league career.
Drew was able to play in the last week of the season in large part because of a cortisone shot he received in his broken finger at the beginning of the Yankees series. The avulsion fracture he experienced while swinging a bat in his rehab assignment in Pawtucket finally calmed down enough by Sunday that he was able to squeeze out 15 more at-bats -- and four more hits -- from the '11 season. It allowed the 35-year-old to complete his 81-game season hitting .222 with a .617 OPS.
Drew, who doesn't figure to be a Type A or B free agent, most likely finishes his Red Sox career hitting .264 with 80 home runs and an OPS of .824. With Drew in the lineup, the Sox were 351-255, with the right fielder averaging 121 games per season.
Lowrie will be arbitration eligible this season, having made $450,000 in '11. When healthy, and on the field, the infielder is far more valuable than his contract would suggest. He is a potential everyday infielder who tears up left-handed pitching -- as his .330 average against southpaws would hint at. The problem is keeping Lowrie on the field and productive from both sides of the plate.
It shouldn't be forgotten that at various times over the the past few years, Lowrie held his own when allowed to compete for the starting shortstop job, first against Julio Lugo and then with Scutaro. But each time an injury or ailment sidelined the Stanford product.
At the very least, Lowrie could be perceived as an extremely valuable utilityman, especially considering his ability to hit from both sides of the plate. Best-case scenario, however, would have him healthy enough to take another whirl at competing for the shortstop job. It should also be noted that Lowrie's value has regained steam in the world of the majors, potentially leading him to bring back some legitimate value (perhaps in the form of a pitcher) this offseason.
This was a positive move for the Red Sox, especially considering what they had to give up to get Aviles (Yamaico Navarro). While there were various costly miscues, such as being thrown out to end a game in Toronto and making a pair of costly throwing errors during the Sox' final homestand, overall, the 27-year-old struck a solid tone for his new team.
With the Red Sox, Aviles hit .317 with a .775 OPS in 38 games while playing five positions.
Aviles, who works out with former Red Sox reliever Brandon Lyon in Utah during the offseason, will be arbitration eligible after working under a one-year, $640,000 deal in '11. He also still has one option left.
Overall, it was a positive season for the outfielder. In 87 games with the Red Sox, Reddick hit .280 with seven home runs and a .784 OPS. The lapses Reddick had been prone to throughout his professional career, when he would lose plate discipline, weren't as prevalent, as his improved .327 on-base percentage might suggest.
Defensively, there was some concern over Reddick's occasional lackadaisical approach to some fly balls, but his overall hustle, fearlessness and speed left a positive impression as to how the rookie handled what ultimately amounted to full-time duty in right field.
Reddick is far from a lock-solid certainty to replace Drew as the Red Sox' everyday right fielder. In the final two months he went just 2-for-18 against left-handed pitching and was basically benched for the final week of the season. Internally, the 24-year-old's biggest competition would still be fellow prospect Ryan Kalish, whose surgery on a bulging disk in his neck was less intrusive than originally thought and would appear to allow him to be ready for spring training without limitations.
The '11 season didn't work out quite as McDonald had hoped, with the 33-year-old never quite gaining the kind of momentum the Sox had hoped he would after a promising '10 campaign, especially against left-handed pitching. Against southpaws, McDonald finished with a .260 batting average and .804 OPS.
McDonald did show some signs of life in September, hitting .382 (13-for-34) with a .950 OPS.
Unfortunately for the outfielder, he missed Super-2 arbitration status by just a few days, keeping him under the Red Sox' control at a more-than-reaonsable rate. (He made $470,000 in '11.) Because of his versatility, McDonald will be in camp with the Red Sox in '12.
Partly because of a knee injury suffered just days into his stint with the Red Sox, Jackson wasn't able to offer his new team much while playing in 12 games. He managed three hits in 19 at-bats, hitting a home run during his time with the Sox, going 1-for-9 against left-handers.
The 29-year-old is a free agent without any sort of compensation coming the way of the Sox if they did offer him arbitration. Jackson had been working under a one-year, $3.2 million contract.