Is it over yet, this Boston Red Sox season that never felt on track? Almost. Sunday is the last day. John Henry can give Derek Jeter a piece of the Green Monster and a gold watch, and the 2014 Boston Red Sox can then call it quits.

The 2014 season went sideways in so many ways that it’s hard to pinpoint one place when it came completely unglued. But for argument’s sake, let’s try. It would be easy to look at the 10-game losing streak in May and say, “That’s it. That’s when it went bad.”

That slide into baseball oblivion was followed by a seven-game win streak, and the Red Sox actually gave fans hope that they might linger around .500 a little while longer.

The season really went sour on July 22 in Toronto. That was the day after the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, 14-1, to extend a modest winning streak to five games. On July 22, the Blue Jays took a 7-3 win over the Red Sox. It was the first game in a five-game losing streak, and the start of a run that saw the Red Sox win just twice in 13 games. It’s the stretch of the season that convinced management that it was time to blow it up. Blow it all up and send Jake Peavey to San Francisco, John Lackey to St. Louis, and Jon Lester to Oakland.

At this time in 2012, we couldn’t wait for the season to end. We wanted Bobby Valentine to go away, and we made a vow to each other to never speak of the season again. In late September last year, we were eager for the playoffs to begin, and the season was such a beautiful surprise we never wanted it to end.

Coming off a World Series win, 2014 has to be considered a disappointment for the Red Sox, but this time the contempt so many fans had for the team after 2012 isn’t there. Yeah, there’s frustration, but with so many young players getting a shot over the last few months, there’s a lot of hope, too.

That hope makes it easy to look forward to 2015, rather than wallow in the failures of this season.

Eleven pitchers started at least one game for the Red Sox this season. If you went to Las Vegas before the start of the season and put a few bucks down on Clay Buchholz leading the team in starts, you’re a super gambling genius who will probably be banned from every casino on the planet. Assuming Buchholz makes the start in Sunday’s season finale, he’ll finish the season with 27 starts, seven more than his former teammates Lester and Lackey. Buchholz is either very bad or very good, there is never middle of the road with this guy, and like it or not he looks like the anchor of the pitching staff in 2015.

A veteran to be named later will join Buchholz at the top of the rotation. Whether it comes via trade or free agency or both, somebody with a deep resume of big league innings will be pitching for the Red Sox next season. Joe Kelly will be in the mix, and I’d like to see Rubby De La Rosa and Anthony Ranaudo get the first cracks at the back of the rotation spots.

There doesn’t appear to be many spots open in the lineup. Mike Napoli has one more year on his contract and will be back at first base. Dustin Pedroia will heal and return to second base. Young players Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez will be back at short and catcher, respectively, although Blake Swihart is probably ready to platoon with Vazquez behind the plate.

The problem, if it can be considered a problem, is what to do with Mookie Betts. Manager John Farrell said the team sees his future in the outfield. Right now, those spots appear locked down by Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig. Shane Victorino is expected to return from back surgery.

Where does that leave Betts?

Hopefully, not trade bait. Unless the Red Sox somehow pry Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins, I can’t see an available pitcher that’s worth a deal involving Betts. I would tell him to spend the winter someplace warm, playing third base, and trade Will Middlebrooks. Full of potential and disabled list stints, Middlebrooks reminds me of Aaron Sele.

Remember Sele? In the mid-1990s, he was a top notch pitching prospect for the Red Sox who could never quite put it all together in Boston. Prior to the 1998 season, Sele was traded to Texas, where he won 19 games in ’98 and 18 in ’99. He went on to pitch well for the Seattle Mariners, too. Maybe Middlebrooks will someday be that 30 home run, 90 RBI guy we’ve been told about, but I have a feeling it will never be in Boston.

The season is just about over. It’s a season Red Sox fans will not remember fondly, but with young players comes hope for the future, so it shouldn’t go down as one of the all-time duds, either.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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