|Red Sox GM Ben Cherington: Sox ‘can kind of let the market come to us’||12.16.11 at 5:04 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an appearance on “Inside Pitch” on the SiriusXM MLB Network Radio, discussed his efforts to build depth in his pitching staff while dealing with what he characterized as less payroll flexibility than the team had in other recent seasons. As the Sox explore both free agent and trade options, Cherington acknowledged that the Sox have been in contact with a pair of free agents, starter Joe Saunders and closer Ryan Madson.
“We’ve had conversations with the agents for both guys as well as several other free agent options. We’ll continue dialogue,” said Cherington. “We don’t have as much room in our payroll as we’ve had in previous years, but we’re trying to figure out ways to improve our pitching staff. Maybe we have to be a little more creative this winter in doing that than in some other winters, but we’re not ruling out anything. We’ll certainly continue dialogue with a handful of free agents and then obviously also the trade front.”
Cherington added that the team recognizes the need to build significant starting depth. It’s efforts this offseason are focused in that direction, rather than on top-of-the-rotation options.
“We’re still focused on adding to the pitching staff, looking at free agent options and looking at trade options in order to do that,” said Cherington. “We feel pretty good about where we are at the top of our rotation. We’re looking to build depth and quality depth. When you look back at 2011, that’s really where our problem ended up being. We just ran out of depth. We were running into situations late in the season where we were just hoping to get into the fifth inning with a starter, and that makes it hard to win. We placed so much of a burden on the bullpen. So that’s really been our focus of this offseason.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington talks Mark Melancon, Nick Punto, Kelly Shoppach and Jason Varitek’s future||12.15.11 at 10:30 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington held a conference call Thursday morning to explain what two of his recent roster moves would mean for the team going forward. On Tuesday, the Red Sox signed catcher Kelly Shoppach, who appeared in 87 games with the Rays during the 2011 season, to a one-year contract. The move seems to eliminate veteran backstop Jason Varitek as the primary backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but, during the conference call, Cherington still expressed a desire to keep Varitek around the club.
“We just feel like Shop helps us strengthen the position overall and helps compliment Salty,” Cherington said. “As far as Tek is concerned, we have incredible respect for Tek. I have incredible respect on a personal level. We, as an organization and ownership, have incredible respect for him and the contributions he’s made. Our hope is that Tek will always be a part of the Red Sox in some way. As far as what that means immediately, what we want to do is keep talking to Tek and not discuss that in a public forum, but have an opportunity to continue talking to Tek and [agent Scott Boras] and figure out what’s best for the Red Sox and what’s best for him.”
- Cherington also discussed adding utility infielder Nick Punto, whom the Red Sox signed Wednesday, to the organization in order to strengthen play on the field and the dynamic within the clubhouse. Punto has seven seasons of American League experience, as he played for the Twins from 2004 – 2010. He spent last season with the World Series champion Cardinals with whom he played in 63 games, hit .278 and registered a .388 on-base percentage.
“Nick’s a guy we’ve had interest in in the past and the timing has never quite worked out to get him here,” Cherington said. “He’s a guy who plays really good defense, a smart baseball player. He gives you a good at-bat. He’s really good in the clubhouse. He’s just a smart, smart baseball player who understands his role on a winning team.”
- Cherington noted that, in light of the recent September collapse that sparked allegations of clubhouse disconnects, the Red Sox factor in clubhouse reputations in their discussions but do not use clubhouse character as a drive for their decisions.
“I think we felt that adding the guys that we’ve added, adding players who as a compliment are guys that get it and know how to win is important, but it’s just part of the equation,” Cherington said. “Nick’s a talented player too. He has good at-bats, plays good defense. He knows how to run the bases. He’s a smart player. He can play all over the infield and work in a lot of areas, so we’re just glad to have him. But the clubhouse dynamic is something that is an area of discussion but not necessarily the drive when we’re making these decisions.”
- Cherington noted that while the Red Sox believe recently acquired right-hander Mark Melancon could close for the team, the Red Sox are still leaving their options open as to who will pitch the ninth inning. Boston traded for Melancon on Wednesday, sending pitcher Kyle Weiland and infielder Jed Lowrie to the Astros in exchange for Melancon.
“We believe he’s definitely capable of closing and capable of pitching the ninth inning for us. But those are questions that [manager] Bobby [Valentine] and whoever else is the pitching coach, during Spring Training both will answer and figure out the right roles for,” Cherington said. “We feel pretty good about the way the back of the bullpen is shaping up. But there’s certainly time between now and Spring Training and we’re going to continue to look for ways to make the team better.”
- Cherington would not commit to who would close for the team at this point. He said that while the team prefers to have a definied closer before the start of the season, it is not a necessary requirement for Boston.
“I don’t think it’s completely necessary [to have a closer identified before Spring Training],” Cherington said. “We have in the past and there’s a couple years when we haven’t. I think that that we’d like to have a defined closer on Opening Day and we believe Melancon is fully capable of doing that. We’re willing to keep working on that and again, I think that Bobby will make those decisions with help from the pitching coach during Spring Training.”
|Ben Cherington: Red Sox are in ‘good position’ on pitching||12.08.11 at 1:08 pm ET|
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.
–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. …
“We’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: Read the rest of this entry »
Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning in order to promote Christmas at Fenway and Fenway 100th Birthday celebrations as well as discuss the Red Sox’s managerial search and Hot Stove approach. Lucchino explained that the profile of the type of manager the Red Sox were looking for did change because the team noticed a window of opportunity to win something in the near-future.
“It’s fair to say that what you saw initially is not necessarily what everyone internally was talking about,” Lucchino said. “You saw some inexperienced managers who we thought had a significant upside. But as the process went on, we looked at what we had, and the window of opportunity to win was in our view wide-open and potentially short-term given the perishability of players as they grow older. It evolved into a situation where we agreed that we wanted someone with managerial experience. We didn’t necessarily insist on that at the beginning.”
Lucchino also discussed Theo Epstein‘s still unnamed compensation, as he admitted that the Red Sox and Cubs still cannot agree on just how much Epstein was worth. Chicago must compensate Boston for Epstein because Epstein was still under contract with the Red Sox when the Cubs interviewed Epstein of the Chicago job. After Epstein’s departure, the Red Sox named Ben Cherington as their new GM, and as such t is now up to Epstein, Cherington and the clubs to figure out who goes to Boston as part of the deal.
“[What is holding up talks is ]a general disagreement on what constitutes ‘significant compensation,”‘ Lucchino said. “At the very first discussion with the Cubs, it was made clear that this would be, we would permit this provided that if they did hire him, there would be ‘significant compensation.’ That’s an elastic term I suppose. It has one meaning to us and another meaning to them.”
|Red Sox roundup: Sox await Ortiz decision; trade candidates; the shifting pitching plans||12.07.11 at 6:52 pm ET|
DALLAS — It is the last night of the winter meetings in Dallas. A year ago, the Red Sox swore that things were going to remain quiet on the way out of the annual gathering in Orlando, only to reach agreement with Carl Crawford on his seven-year, $142 million contract hours after GM Theo Epstein suggested that he was putting the final touches on a relatively boring meetings.
This year, perhaps there will be another bolt from the blue. But certainly, GM Ben Cherington did not give that impression in his meeting with the media. Instead, he suggested that the past four days in Dallas have been more or less an information-gathering exercise that will lay the groundwork for future activity on the pitching front.
The details of his daily session with the media:
–David Ortiz and his agent, Fernando Cuza, have not told the Sox whether or not he will accept salary arbitration, despite numerous reports suggesting that the DH will do so. Reliever Dan Wheeler has informed the Sox that he will decline arbitration.
–Cherington said that the team has made some headway in terms of its understanding of the market for pitching, but said that, as expected, the winter meetings have been more of an exercise in information-gathering than acquisition.
“We’ve made progress, we’ve certainly made progress as far as understanding more what it’s going to take to acquire pitching of all sorts of flavors and I think we felt like that’s what this was going to be about for all of us. It was going to be more information gathering than execution, most likely, these days in Dallas,” said Cherington. “It’s been good in that regard. We’ve got a good feel for what’s out there, what it might take and we’ve just got to keep balancing the options and figure out one or more than one that makes sense. … We have a good sense of what’s out there and what it would it take to acquire pitching in all different varieties.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington says Red Sox unlikely to pursue high-end free agent pitchers||12.05.11 at 8:23 pm ET|
DALLAS — The Major League Baseball winter meetings are typically the peak of insanity when it comes to the rumor mill, but the Red Sox likely will approach the hot stove with caution. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in a discussion with writers, said that the Sox are content to wait to see what happens in this winter’s market rather than trying to set it.
That stands in contrast to what took place a year ago. Last December, in the span of four days, the team finalized its trade with the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez and signed free agent Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal. Whereas the Sox were the talk of baseball at last year’s winter meetings in Orlando, this year, the team may remain relatively quiet during the convention of the baseball industry in Dallas.
“Our needs are a lot different this year than they were last year,” said Cherington. “We may be less likely to go out and sort of set the market this year than we were last year. The timing of things may be different.”
It may be a while before the Sox make their key signings, and when the Sox do add players, they may not be the so-called top-tier free agents whom the team acquires. Cherington has said several times this winter that the Sox are unlikely to be aggressive in the free-agent market. Despite persistent rumors connecting the Sox to the top available pitchers (such as C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle), Cherington cast doubt on the likelihood of deals for such players.
“You never say never, but I think it’s more likely we’ll be pursuing other options,” Cherington said during his session with the Boston media at the baseball winter meetings. “We always want to stay involved to the extent we have the latest information and keep your options open because you never know what may come your way and how that may change things. I would say it’s less likely we’ll be involved in those top tier guys as relative to the past.”
Here are other notes from Cherington’s session: Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington on M&M talks Bobby Valentine, Theo Epstein, rabid Sox fans||12.02.11 at 12:41 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning, one day after introducing Bobby Valentine as manager.
Cherington took the hosts through the process of how Valentine was selected, explaining why he was added to the list of candidates late.
“I met with Bobby, I think it was the first week of November, third or fourth, somewhere around there,” Cherington recalled. “I had a couple-of-hours meeting with him where we really just talked baseball, talked about the managing job, talked a little bit about our team. That was the first time I had met him. And I was impressed. He struck me clearly as a really smart guy, engaging, passionate guy, cared a lot. And he really wanted another shot at managing in the big leagues. And he was particularly interested in Boston, he fit and the chance to win and all those things.
“After that meeting I began to think about it more, but still focused on the candidates that we were bringing in formally. I think a couple of things happened as the process moved forward. No. 1, we got to know a lot of candidates and really enjoyed that process. Everyone we talked to would be capable of being an excellent manager. Certainly, Dale Sveum‘s going to get that chance in Chicago.
“But we did feel as we moved deeper into the process that experienced mattered. I think [it was] when we went from thinking about our next manager in sort of a theoretical sense to thinking about it in more of a practical sense and a real sense. It’s not just philosophy and qualities and the sort-of softer subjects, but the guy’s got to hit the ground running and know how to navigate the land mines that exist in a clubhouse and put our team in a position to be good right away. We did start to emphasize experience more as we got deeper into the process.
“As that happened, we talked to Gene Lamont. And as we were doing that, I was doing more research and doing work on Bobby and getting to know him better through other people. At that point we decided to include him in the process formally. And as I said yesterday, there was an interest on our part to sort of shorten the window that he was included as a public candidate because of the position he was in at ESPN and the potential conflict there. I just thought it would be uncomfortable for everyone, including Bobby and certainly ESPN, to have him out there publicly acknowledged as a candidate while he was doing that job.
“So, there was a variety of factors for it. In the end we felt that Bobby and Gene were the best two candidates for the job and worked a lot on it, again over Thanksgiving thought a lot about it, that weekend after Thanksgiving. And ultimately, I can’t remember exactly when it was, but sometime Monday I recommended to ownership that we offer him the job.”
Cherington said that while Sveum was a solid early candidate, in the end he might not have been the right fit for the Sox this year.
“I don’t think so,” Cherington said, explaining: “As we got deeper into it and we actually got into formal interviews and talked about X’s and O’s and talked about what actually would you do in this situation and this situation, what would you do on May 15th when this happened — those sorts of questions, the real questions – it sort of came to light for me that experience really did matter in this particular situation for this team at this moment. Given where we are, that became more important. So, I do feel like we were going to be sort of headed in that direction. And ultimately that’s why Gene and Bobby ended up being the finalists.”
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