The Red Sox need to keep all of their top prospects. In your opinion, will they keep Xander Bogaerts, Bryce Brentz, Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley?
-- John C., Plymouth, Conn.
I do think that the Red Sox are going to reprioritize the development of prospects rather than put them in package deals for marquee players. Owner John Henry basically said as much recently, admitting that he should have stopped the team from trading so many talented Minor Leaguers in recent years. Of the players you mentioned, I would think Bogaerts and Barnes are untouchable, unless you are talking about getting Felix Hernandez.
Is there a chance that David Ortiz gets a longer-term contract?
-- Mary N., Berlin, Vt.
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After relieving themselves of so many financial obligations in the trade with the Dodgers, and considering there won't be a lot of star power on the open market this winter, I think the time might finally be right for Ortiz to get the multiyear deal he's been seeking for the last couple of years. In addition, it became painfully obvious late this season how different the lineup looks without Ortiz. I don't think either he or the Red Sox want to see him wearing a different uniform for the rest of his career.
At the risk of asking the obvious, what is your take, beginning to end, on went wrong? And, more important, what do they do to fix it for next season?
-- Mark F., Burlington, Vt.
I think general manager Ben Cherington was refreshingly candid about the main thing that went wrong. His belief was that last September was a fluke of a bad month, not a big-picture problem. But that proved to be wrong, as that collapse was a precursor for the way that roster was going. The Dodgers helped Cherington and the Red Sox cleanse themselves from that particularly core group.
The best way to fix it is by complementing the existing core -- Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Will Middlebrooks -- with a continued infusion of prospects and smart additions on the free-agent and trade markets. It might take a couple of years for the roster to be championship-caliber again, but I'm guessing the 2013 Red Sox will be a far more competitive team than this year's group.
What are the plans for Daniel Bard?
-- Dave N., Castaic, Calif.
The first plan is to let him decompress as soon as the season ends and let him think about something other than baseball. Once he gets a little break, he will start from scratch and try to rediscover what made him one of the best relievers in baseball for a three-year period. There are many players throughout history who have had nightmarish seasons and returned to form. Remember Mike Lowell in 2005? It's way too early to count out Bard, particularly because his problems appear to more mental and mechanical instead of physical.
When MLB.com released its top 100 prospects, I noticed newly acquired ex-Dodgers pitcher Alan Webster in Boston's top 20. When I couldn't find Rubby De La Rosa, one of the supposed "players to be named later" in the blockbuster deal, I thought there was a mistake. However, a quick search on the pitcher showed him still sporting Dodger blue. Are the Sox still getting this guy?
-- Alex S., Red Bank, N.J.
Yes, but the De La Rosa acquisition can't be made official until the season ends because of waiver rules. He will be with the Red Sox in 2013 and beyond.
Do you think the Red Sox will keep Mike Aviles or give Jose Iglesias a shot?
-- Colin L., Natick, Mass.
Iglesias sure has been fun to watch on defense. Assuming he can make a leap offensively, I think he will be the starting shortstop in 2013. If Aviles is willing, he'd be a great fit as a utility player. He offers defensive versatility and some pop while also being a good baserunner. Maybe he can get back to trying to learn the outfield, something that was put on hold when he became the starting shortstop this season.
What are the chances that Jason Varitek returns to Boston next year as the manager?
-- Max J., Corte Madera, Calif.
Because of the rave reviews that Robin Ventura and Mike Matheny have received this season as first-year managers, for the White Sox and Cardinals, respectively, this question was bound to come up. The difference is that Ventura played his final Major League game in 2004 and Matheny finished his career in '06.
I don't think Varitek has had enough separation from his playing career just yet to fully go headfirst into managing. I think it would be a little awkward for him to manage so many former teammates. Varitek will probably develop into a fine coach or manager in the not too distant future, but I think it's a bit soon to be talking about that.
Whatever happened to J.D. Drew?
-- Jay C., Albuquerque, N.M.
Drew never officially announced his retirement, so I suppose it's feasible -- if highly unlikely -- that he could resurface with another team. From what I can gather, nobody from the Red Sox has really seen or heard from him since the end of last season. Hopefully he's doing well in his hometown of Hahira, Ga.
What does the trade with the Dodgers mean for Theo Epstein's legacy in Boston? I always thought that he would be remembered fondly for rebuilding the farm system and instilling new values and approaches within the organization, as well as for the two Series titles, but what remains of the former contributions?
-- Solomon R., Brookline, Mass.
The World Series banners from 2004 and '07 are permanent, and Epstein's fingerprints are all over them. How do you look at his legacy? He did a great job his first six years and made some high-priced moves that blew up on him his final three years in office. Overall, Epstein was a highly successful general manager, and in the ensuing years and decades, he'll be remembered more for the good times than the bad.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.