Red Sox prepare for winter meetings

Red Sox prepare for winter meetings
December 3, 2011, 3:36 pm

BOSTON -- Now that the Red Sox finally have a manager, they can turn their attention to other matters.

I think weve been in a stable place for the last two months, said principal owner John Henry after Bobby Valentine was introduced as the teams 45th manager Thursday at Fenway Park.

But at least now we can move forward with some of the things we need to move forward with.

This was priority No. 1. But weve got some holes to fill.

With the winter meetings beginning Monday in Dallas, general manager Ben Cherington can turn his attention to the issues on the teams list of needs. This is not an insignificant list.

Im sure well accomplish something at the meetings, 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 but 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.

But, it was hard to address those needs without a manager. Free agents may balk at joining a team without knowing the manager or coaching staff.

I think its helpful to have a manager in place before we go to the winter meetings, Cherington said. The winter meetings is a little bit of an arbitrary event as far as the timing. But the reality is a lot happens there because every team is there. So its important to have a managers voice in those decisions.

With that piece of business taken care of, the Sox can now address the roster. It is unlikely the Sox will make as big a splash at these meetings as they did in 2010, when, in a matter of 72 hours they doled out 296 million to two of the most coveted free agents on the market first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford. That doesnt mean, though, that the Sox wont at least be included in the conversations for several free agents.

"We're not going to rule out any avenue, whether free agency or anything, said Sox presidentCEO Larry Lucchino. We need deep depth. You've heard me say that. If we had enough deep depth we may have averted some of the problems we had at the end of the year.

I said once before, we're going to explore it with healthy skepticism. But we're going to explore every possibility: trades, free agents, international signings, everything. Ben has got all those things going on these days."

The Sox have already lost closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies in free agency. How active the Sox will be in the free agent market remains to be seen.

Every free agencys different, Henry said. The players are different, and our needs are different. But we certainly have needs and well be working on addressing those.

Cherington has a meeting in Dallas planned with Fern Cuza, the agent for designated hitter David Ortiz, the Sox other high-profile free agent. Valentine traveled to the Dominican Republic this weekend to meet with Ortiz during his charity golf tournament, a lobbying junket to convince the DH to stay in Boston. The Sox offered arbitration to Ortiz. The deadline to accept is Wednesday. (Reliever Dan Wheeler was the only other player to whom the Sox offered arbitration.)

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

The Sox will be open to trades, as well.

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

And now, finally, the Sox can focus on those.