|GM Ben Cherington: Red Sox ‘unlikely’ to add major pieces before spring training||02.01.12 at 7:16 pm ET|
WORCESTER — The Red Sox have been engaged in talks with any number of free agents throughout the offseason, and according to a team source, the team continues to talk to pitchers Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson. That said, Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he does not expect the team to add either pitcher in the coming days.
“We wouldn’t rule out adding a starter, but I think it’s unlikely at this point,” said Cherington. “I think we’re going to keep looking for ways to improve the team, including the pitching staff, but I wouldn’t expect any major changes between now and the [spring training] report date.”
Cherington is comfortable with that approach. While there are parts of the roster that remain undefined, and several jobs (the last two spots of the rotation, the division of labor at shortstop and right field, the roles in the bullpen) will be subject to spring training competitions, the Sox GM feels that his team is in good shape with the reporting date for pitchers and catchers now less than three weeks away.
“There’s elements we feel really good about and elements that we’d like to be stronger, just like any year,” said Cherington. “We think the lineup is, we hope, a pretty balanced lineup. We think we have some options with the bullpen. That can be a strength. We like the front of the rotation. We’re going to find out more about the end of the rotation in spring training and see which guys step up. That will be a big focus of spring training.”
The Sox roster will remain a work in progress throughout the spring, and indeed, it will likely continue to be reshaped throughout the season. Assuming that the Sox do not commit the needed salary to add a starter like Oswalt or Jackson, the Sox will have money available to have a measure of flexibility to make trades and address needs as they emerge during the season.
That formula worked spectacularly for the 2011 Cardinals, who were able to add a starting shortstop (Rafael Furcal), starting pitcher (Jackson) and relievers (Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepcynski), all of whom ended up playing key roles in a late-season surge towards the World Series. While mindful of the success of St. Louis, however, Cherington cautioned that a team could not assume that it could replicate it.
“We know that teams evolve. We know that our team has evolved. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to go into spring training with every position perfect and the team filled out, because optimally you would. That’s never the case,” said Cherington. “This year, we do have some competition. We have some questions to answer. Hopefully we’ll get some of those answers in spring training. We may not get all of them answered in spring training. We may have more work to do as we get into the season, evaluate and see how guys respond. The roster may evolve over the course of the season, as has been the case with every team.
“The Cardinals are the obvious recent example of a team doing that, but you can’t count on that. You can’t count on that and end up in the same spot they did. All we can do, we have the guys we have now and we’ll keep looking for ways to add to that group and we don’t know when those opportunities are going to come.”
That said, Cherington does feel that a solid foundation exists for the 2012 Red Sox.
“We’re confident that the group we have has a chance to be really good,” said Cherington, “and we’ll do everything we can to add to that if there are opportunities.”
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