Cherington heads to Dallas with to-do list

Cherington heads to Dallas with to-do list
December 4, 2011, 1:02 pm
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BOSTON -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has plenty of items on his to-do list at the winter meetings, which begin Monday in Dallas.

Im sure well accomplish something, Cherington said. I dont know what its going to be. I can't guarantee when player moves will happen, but weve got a pretty good idea of the landscape and idea of our needs.

"I mentioned this earlier, and it sounds like a little bit of a clich at this point, but I really do believe that the biggest work we have to do, the biggest job we have to do is really internally. Hiring a manager is a huge part of that. There are other parts of the operation weve been restructuring. Were going to make player moves, but weve got a lot of good players and weve made some big moves last offseason. I think the work we do this offseason is going to be a little bit different in nature, but certainly therell be player moves and we have been working on that. Theyll start happening soon.

Weve been working on both the trade and free agent fronts. Theres been things we could have done and chose not to. Its like any other offseason. You're trying to find the right opportunity, the ones that make sense for us.

So, Bobby Valentines trip to the Dominican Republic the day after the new manager was introduced at Fenway Park -- certainly cant hurt the teams efforts to keep free agent designated hitter David Ortiz in a Sox uniform. Whether Valentines lobbying actually helps, though, remains to be seen.

Ortiz is hosting his charitable golf tournament in the Dominican this weekend.

"I've been involved with this activity," Ortiz told Comcast SportsNet on Friday. "My agent knows I've been so busy with putting this together here, I told him, 'Only let me know if we are getting close to what we want. Other than that, you talk to them. You deal with everything, and at one point we catch up'. "

Ortiz will be one of the top priorities. The Sox offered arbitration to the free agent DH, who has until Wednesday to accept.

"I haven't thought about it," Ortiz said. "I haven't been in this situation before. So it's something you talk to your agents about, and then decide what's better for you and the team."

Cherington plans to meet with Ortiz agent, Fern Cuza, in Dallas.

We offered arbitration and thats significant because he has a decision to make on Wednesday, if we dont reach an agreement before then, Cherington said. Weve had continued good dialogue. And well get together with Fern and his other agents in Dallas.

The Sox also need to address:

Starting pitching
Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz will return to the rotation. Beyond those three, it is uncertain. Cherington is reported to have a meeting in Dallas arranged with Bob Garber, the agent for left-hander C.J. Wilson and righty Roy Oswalt, both free agents. The Sox have internal options in Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, both of whom Cherington has said could start. Aceves appeared in 55 games in 2011, making four starts. Bard has not started since 2007, his first professional season, making a combined 22 starts for Single-A Greenville and High-A Lancaster.

Bullpen
The loss of Jonathan Papelbon, to the Phillies in free agency, has created a major void and questions in the bullpen. If Bard is not the closer, who is? If Bard is the closer, who takes the set-up role? Will Bobby Jenks be able to perform in either role? Along with Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Heath Bell are already out of the free-agent pool. Any potential replacement is likely to be a poor substitute for Papelbon. Right-hander Dan Wheeler is the only other player the Sox offered arbitration. A potential move into the rotation of Aceves, who played a vital role in the bullpen, would also leave a void.

Right field
J. D. Drews five-year, 70 million contract is off the payroll and into the history books. A right-handed hitting right fielder to complement the left-handed hitting Car Crawford in left field and Jacoby Ellsbury in center would be ideal. Michael Cuddyer is a possibility, as is the switch-hitting Carlos Beltran, both free agents. If the Sox are not able to bring in someone by free agency or trade, the spring training competition for the spot would likely be between Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish, both left-handed hitters. Kalish lost all but 24 games, all in the minors, because of injury, while Reddick had surgery on his left wrist last month.

Coaches
After the departure of Terry Francona, the coaching staff was given permission to seek other opportunities. Pitching coach Curt Young returned to the As. It could be difficult to lure pitchers to Boston until they know who their pitching coach will be. The contracts of first-base coach Ron Johnson and staff assistant Rob Leary were up and were not renewed.

"As I've said all along, we've got four coaches under contract, and we think highly of all of them," Cherington said. "It needs to be the right fit for them. It needs to be the right fit for Valentine. Bobby will get a chance to talk to all of them very soon, I would think."

Hitting coach Dave Magadan was contacted by Valentine Friday, the day after the new managers introductory press conference, and asked to return. The Yankees were reportedly denied permission to speak with bullpen coach Gary Tuck, who also will likely return. Leaving the status of bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who is also a candidate for the Orioles third base coach job, and third base coach Tim Bogar uncertain.

Valentine was asked if he would consider bringing in Bill Buckner, with whom he has a long friendship.

"Bill Buckner was my college roommate," Valentine said. "He's been a friend for years, we played together with the Dodgers. We played together in the Dominican Republic. I've watched his kids grow up and I respect his every opinion in baseball and in worldly matters. Whether or not Bill Buckner would be on this staff is a decision that Ben and I will talk about. Or if anyone else is going to be on this staff, Ben and I will talk about it to find out the right composition of a staff."

"It's not about friendship and it's not about who is here in the past. It's about who it is that can do the specific jobs that need to be done, who it is that will communicate the information that I need communicated to me, and who it is that can communicate to the players and their respective fields best."

Compensation for Theo Epstein
The Sox and Cubs have yet to work out compensation for allowing Epstein out of the final year on his contract to become president of baseball operations in Chicago.

We haven't made any further progress on that, Cherington said. Im sure well get together in Dallas.

Cherington is hopeful or working out an agreement by the end of the meetings on Thursday, but . . .

I said that before.

And in the meantime, he will have plenty to keep him busy.

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