The 2013 Red Sox are not likely to be such a troublesome bunch as the 2012 team. But John Farrell could still have plenty of problems waiting for him down the line.
John Farrell has quite a job to do.
No, his work is not cut out for him in the same way that Bobby Valentine's was. Valentine was dealing with the ruins of the 2011 team, and all the baggage that came with the terrible collapse. This is not to excuse Valentine's terrible performance both in the dugout and in the clubhouse, but the Punto Trade of 2012 likely went a long way towards turning the page.
If the biggest problems are gone, there are still a good few left. We all know that a lot has been placed on Farrell's shoulders already in terms of fixing pitchers. Daniel Bard and Jon Lester are quite the projects to fix, certainly. Perhaps his most difficult tasks, though, are yet to emerge--the ones that could be created by the course the season takes.
Consider Jonny Gomes. He's being paid $10 million over the course of the next two years. He's talked publicly about not being just a platoon player, but when it comes down to it the Sox would be ill-advised not to at least start the year in a pretty straight platoon given his and Nava's splits.
Consider Joel Hanrahan. All is well right now because he's closing and that's where he wants to be. But it's entirely possible that his control troubles from 2012 could last into 2013, and force the Sox to go in a different direction at closer with the likes of Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa (not to mention Daniel Bard) in the wings. With just one year left to him before free agency, Hanrahan could certainly use that title to earn him a significant payday. And if not, will Bailey grow frustrated with his role over time?
Consider Jarrod Saltalamacchia, also one year from free agency, but with new competition in David Ross. If Ross becomes the personal catcher of some of the team's most needing rotation arms like Lester (and his defensive prowess is such that he might be just what the likes of Lester need), and starts hitting against all lefties, is Salty going to be upset seeing his playing time diminish?
Consider Alfredo Aceves, who is Alfredo Aceves.
There are lots of stumbling blocks that John Farrell will likely have to navigate in 2013. Of course, problems arise in any clubhouse, but the Sox have a particular blend of high-quality platoon players that could strain against their role. It will be John Farrell's job to weather these storms, big or small, and do so better than his predecessor. If the media circus of 2012 will be diminished and the cloud of failure largely lifted thanks to the new cast of characters and lowered expectations, this is still one of baseball's toughest jobs.