Notes: Cherington discusses Red Sox roster moves


Notes: Cherington discusses Red Sox roster moves

BOSTON -- Shortstop is a position of depth for the Red Sox, with veterans Mike Aviles and Jed Lowrie under the club's control and prospect Jose Iglesias waiting at Triple A.

Still, the Red Sox liked Marco Scutato enough to exercise the team's option for 6 million last weekend.

"He finished the year as the starter," said GM Ben Cherington, "so I would see him going into spring training as the starter."

Scutaro's contract included a 4 million player option which he could have exercised had they passed on the team option. But the Sox decided not to chance losing him.

"We see him as an above-average major league shortstop," said Cherington. "He certainly performed that way this year. We felt like a one-year deal at 6 million was very fair value for him.

"He was a guy who we knew was going to be coveted this off-season if he became a free agent. We knew allowing him to get into free agency, there was a risk that he could get a better deal than that. We wanted to keep him."

Scutaro hit .299 with seven homers and 54 RBI in 113 games with a .354 on-base percentage. In contrast to many of his teammates, he also finished the season strong with a .387 batting average in September and an OPS of 1.019.

The Sox can presumably now deal either Aviles or Lowrie and still have adequate depth at the position.

On Monday, the team declined the options on two veteran relievers-- Scott Atchison and Dan Wheeler -- though it's possible that both could return to the team in 2012.

The team had an option for Atchison for next season that would have paid him 200,000 over the the minimum major league salary, but elected not to pick it up. The team controls him, however, and could tender him a contract at a lesser number before the deadline date in December.

"It was just a matter of whether we locked in that rate or not," explained Cherington.

The option for Wheeler was more expensive at 3 milion and, according to Cherington, "we just didn't feel like we could commit to that money at this point in the off-season. We have a lot of respect for Dan and he's a pro. He pitched really well after coming off the DL (in May). We'll keep the door open and continue dialogue with him. We just weren't ready to commit to that salary this early on."

Wheeler finished the year at 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 47 games. He got off to a miserable start, but after returning from a calf injury, was far more effective, with a 2.54 ERA May 21 on.

Cherington and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein continue to negotiate compensation for Epstein leaving the Red Sox to become president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, with seemingly little progress made.

The two clubs have until Tuesday to arrive at an agreement before commissioner Bud Selig steps in as a third-party arbiter.

"We're still talking," said Cherington. "It's a difficult deal to work out. It's hard to quantify the value of Theo Epstein. I have an idea of it and Theo doesn't think he's worth as much as I do. We haven't been to bridge that gap yet."

Cherington said having Selig intervene "was always a possibility . . . I think both sides are comfortable with that outcome if it happens that way."

There have been no discussions about how the process would work if Selig must rule on compensation, but Cherington's belief is that each team would present its side to the commissioner and a ruling would follow.

Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona


Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona

The Red Sox lost another key member of their front office Monday, when vice-president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye followed former general manager Mike Hazen to Arizona.

Sawdaye will be the Diamondbacks' assistant GM. As stated by Rotoworld, he had been instrumental in building up the Red Sox' young big league talent and farm system.

The Boston Globe reported today that the Red Sox may not fill the GM vacancy created when Hazen left, instead using "other staffers to take on Hazen’s administrative duties". President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski handles many of the duties traditionally associated with the general manager's position, leaving the actual GM's job in Boston as "essentially an assistant [position] with a lofty title but little power".

The Red Sox have also lost two other front-office members this offseason: Senior baseball analyst Tom Tippett, who had been with the organization for eight years, and director of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek, who had been with the Sox for five years.

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

Sometime over the next 10 or so days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the 2016 World Series.

Naturally, that will mean one of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises will end their championship drought. Either the Cubs will win their first title since 1908, or the Indians will win for the first time since 1948.

That alone should make for an epic World Series.

But there's another bit of history at stake, too - one of legacies.

In addition to the great discomfort felt by Red Sox ownership -- which fired the manager of one participating team and was seemingly happy to hold the door open for the exit of an executive now running the other - it will also almost certainly result, eventually, in either Terry Francona or Theo Epstein being enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Epstein would go down as the architect who helped two star-crossed franchises win titles - the Red Sox in 2004, and the Cubs this fall.

The Red Sox went 86 years between championships; the Cubs would be ending a run of futility that stretched across 108 seasons.

That would provide Epstein with an unmatched resume when it comes to degree of difficulty. It's one thing to win it all; it's another altogether to do so with the Sox and Cubs, two clubs, until Epstein's arrival, linked in ignominy.

Epstein could become only the fourth GM in modern history win a World Series in both leagues. Frank Cashen (Orioles and Mets); John Schuerholz (Royals and Braves) and Pat Gillick (Blue Jays and Phillies).

He would also join a short list of executives who have won three rings, a list that includes contemporaries Brian Cashman and Brian Sabean.

Of course, Epstein can't claim to have constructed the entire Cubs roster, no more than he could have done when the Red Sox won in '04.

In Boston, Epstein inherited key players such as Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Similarly, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras pre-date Epstein's arrival on the North Side.

But Epstein is responsible for nearly the remainder of the roster, and hiring manager Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and most of the Baseball Operations staff, including GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod.

Francona's influence on the Indians is just as obvious.

Hired in late 2012 after spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, he inherited a team which had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In the five previous years before Francona's hiring, the Indians averaged just over 72 wins per season.

Since his arrival, the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, with two playoff appearances, while averaging 88 wins per season.

It hasn't seemed to matter to the Indians that they've been without two of their three best starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) this postseason or arguably, their best offensive player for all but 11 games this season (Michael Brantley).

The Indians don't make excuses for injuries, or bemoan their modest payroll. Under Francona, they just win.

This postseason, he's made up for the absences in the rotation by masterfully utilizing reliever Andrew Miller anywhere from the fifth to the ninth inning.

A third World Series would put Francona in similarly rare company. Only 10 managers have won three or more World Series and just six have done so since World War 2 - Walter Alston, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy Sparky Anderson and Casey Stengel.

The individual accomplishments of Epstein and Francona won't take center stage this week and next -- that attention will, rightly, go to their respective beleaguered franchises.

But the subtext shouldn't be overlooked. Once the partying and the parades come to an end, a path to Cooperstown for either the winning manager or winning president of baseball operations can be cleared.