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Ben Cherington: Red Sox are in ‘good position’ on pitching

12.08.11 at 1:08 pm ET
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DALLAS — Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and the rest of the team’s baseball operations group headed out of the Hilton Anatole this morning, with the winter meetings having wrapped up. The concrete developments at the meetings were few. Among them:

David Ortiz accepted salary arbitration, a process that projects to give him a salary next year of at least $14 million. It also ensures that the Sox will have a tremendous middle-of-the-order force back in the fold, with Ortiz in Boston for a 10th season. That being the case, Cherington said it is unlikely that the Sox will focus their limited offseason resources on offense.

– Manager Bobby Valentine made progress in assembling his coaching staff, retaining Dave Magadan as hitting coach and Gary Tuck as bullpen coach. Tim Bogar will return, though it remains to be seen if he will be a third-base coach or will serve the team in another capacity. DeMarlo Hale will leave the organization, likely to coach for the Orioles.

–The Sox lost left-hander Cesar Cabral in the Rule 5 draft when the Royals selected him and then traded him to the Yankees. Cabral must stick on a major league roster all year or be offered back to the Red Sox. The Sox also added a minor league right-handed pitcher, Marco Duarte, through the minor league Rule 5 selection process.

For more on Duarte, click here. For more on Cabral, click here.

Andrew Miller returned on a one-year, $1.04 million contract. He will train to start in spring training and compete for a roster spot.

The Sox did not add any new pitchers to address some of the undefined spots on their roster. Nonetheless, Cherington suggested that the Sox did not feel any anxiety while watching both closers and starters come off the board.

“We have some internal options. Being out front on things doesn’€™t always lead to the best outcome in the long run. We’€™re in a good position, frankly, from the perspective of closer because we have guys we think can do it. If there’€™s a deal that makes sense to acquire someone this offseason, we’€™ll pursue that,” said Cherington. “On the pitching front, we felt like, all along, this was going to be an all-winter project. Some of the moves will be very under the radar, and there may be some that are more on the radar. We have a much better idea of what’€™s out there and what it might take now than we did on Monday. …

‘€œWe’€™ve made progress, but nothing close. We’€™ve continued to do a lot of work,” added Cherington. “We have a good idea of what we may or may not be able to do.”

Here are Cherington’s thoughts on a number of topics on his way back to Boston:

On the return of David Ortiz:

“We’€™re happy about it. One of the best hitters in the American league back on the team so it’€™s a good outcome and wanted him back one way or another and this was one way to do it. We’€™re happy about it and look forward to having him in the lineup again.’€

On whether the team will continue to negotiate with Ortiz, perhaps on a multi-year deal:

“There will be a lot more talks because we have to go through the arbitration process and what the outcome of those are, I don’€™t know. I think this sort of focuses the conversation, at least a little bit, because we have to sort of both work in under the frame-work of the arbitration system. He’€™ll be back on the team.”

On whether the Red Sox ever considered a creative move to pursue superstar Albert Pujols:

“Not really. That would have had to be pretty creative, given where we were. You can throw all sorts of things against the wall, but when you start to think about making huge, fundamental changes to your roster to try to fit something in, usually the end result isn’€™t that good. I feel like we have a really good team that really just needs some good complements and needs to be put in a better position to win over a six-month stretch. That’€™s what we’€™re focusing on.’€

On whether the Sox will pursue Yu Darvish:

‘€œI’€™m not sure the timing of this offseason puts us in a position to be the most aggressive team. But he’€™s a good pitcher, and we have a lot of respect for him. We’€™ll certainly discuss it and figure out if a post makes sense. We’€™ve got a lot of commitment to the starting rotation, as you guys know, and we feel pretty good about the front end of our rotation. If a team is going to be posting and trying to sign him, it’€™s to be part of the front end of the rotation, and we feel pretty good about that part of our team.’€

On whether the return of Ortiz means that the Sox won’t pursue one of the top outfielders on the market:

“To some degree, yes, to some degree. It doesn’€™t mean we would rule out making an addition to the outfield. But David is a huge bat in the outfield, so I don’€™t think that, I don’€™t think we’€™re in a position where we need to add a lot more offense. There’€™s other things we’€™d like to do, but I don’€™t think we’€™re in a position where we have to add a lot of offense at this point.”

On whether the Sox are too left-handed:

“There’€™s been a lot made of that. In a perfect world, you’€™d like to go left-right-left-right-left-right. But our lineup last year, even with down years from a couple guys because of injuries, was one of the best offenses in baseball. I’€™m not really that worried about it. We have some left-handers who hit lefties, and we have some right-handers, Youk, guys like that, who we expect and hope for a more complete season out of. So yeah, in a perfect world, every team would like to have a perfectly balanced lineup, but I think our lineup will be pretty good and we’€™ll score a lot of runs.”

On the status of compensation negotiations with the Cubs:

“Loosely, we’€™ve loosely defined a strategy of talking at some point in the near future. Yeah. We’€™ll resolve it at some point I’€™m sure.”

(Former Sox GM Theo Epstein stopped in the session, it is worth noting. As he commutes between Chicago and Boston (where his family still reside), Epstein and Cherington joked that the former GM would simply continue to show up in the offices of Fenway Park. Asked whether Epstein was joking about such a notion, Cherington mused, “Probably not.”)

On whether the Angels’ moves for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson impacted the Sox’ view of the competitive landscape:

“I’€™m not sure it’€™s that difficult as far as our offseason. We’€™re trying to build the best team we can, however many teams are in the playoffs is not going to affect that. We’€™re trying to build a team that wins as many games as possible. If we do that, it gives us a good chance to get into the playoffs. So I’€™m not sure it affects our offseason. I don’€™t know what other teams’€™ perspective is on it, but we’€™ve always tried to build a team that wins the most games possible and then let the chips fall where they may.”

Read More: Albert Pujols, ben cherington, David Ortiz, Hot Stove 2011
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