GM Meetings notes: Red Sox expect more calls on Scutaro

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GM Meetings notes: Red Sox expect more calls on Scutaro

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The GM meetings are traditionally where ideas for future deals germinate and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on his way out of the meetings and headed back to Boston Thursday morning, expressed hope that something may soon come of some of the talks he held here.

"Time will tell," said Epstein as he departed the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. "I hope so, anyway. There was plenty of talk. Whether it was effective or not, we'll see. But yeah, I think there was a good exchange of information."

Epstein said most of the trade talks here were a continution of things started, via phone calls, before the meetings began.

"Most of it was following up on discussions we had previously," said Epstein. "There was nothing really brand new."

Expect the Red Sox to field additional calls on shortstop Marco Scutaro, who has attracted interest from a half-dozen clubs.

Scutaro stands to make an affordable 5 million in 2011 and a number of teams -- including the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants - are searching for shortstop help.

The Giants would like to re-sign Juan Uribe, but if that falls through, Scutaro could be an option.

The Sox would move Scutaro if they could acquire some bullpen help for him. They would then start the season with Jed Lowrie as their shortstop, with Jose Iglesias perhaps ready to jump to the big leagues by midseason.

Commissioner Bud Selig, who briefed owners and general managers Thursday morning, met with reporters and answered questions on a number of issues.

Selig said his on-field committee will meet at the winter meetings next month to discuss a possible expansion of the current playoff format, adding an additional wild card team in each league, probably for the 2012 season.

"I have said we will consider it and we are," said Selig. "It has a lot of different of variations. My committee will meet at the winter meetings and that will be a primary topic of discussion. We'll continue the discussion.

"We have a lot of constituencies. We'll continue to pursue that. There were a lot of differences about the right format in the room. But we'll move ahead, and move ahead pretty quickly."

Selig wouldn't comment on whether he believed a one-game wild-card faceoff would be "too radical." Others have proposed a best two-of-three series.

"I don't want to comment on specifics until, in my own mind, we've decided what we want to do," he said. "I don't want to rule anything out."

Mike Hazen, the director of player development, has been traveling across the country, interviewing candidates for the Pawtucket managerial opening.

The organization will meet Friday to further discuss candidates.

"We're still maybe looking to interview additional candidates," said Epstein. "We're looking for either experience, or someone really dynamic. It's always an important job. It's kind of an extension of the major league staff."

The Sox still have to finalize some roster moves by Saturday, including placing some minor-league players on the 40-man roster so as to not leave them exposed for the Rule V draft which takes place next month at the winter meetings.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox do not need Sonny Gray, and they know it

Red Sox do not need Sonny Gray, and they know it

BOSTON — Sonny Gray is not what the Red Sox need.

As of Monday, the power rankings of their trade targets should go as such: 1. Third baseman 2. Reliever 3. Back-end starter.

When he was addressing the addition of Doug Fister three days ago, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski noted that a premier starter is not what he lacks.

“Unlike maybe some other clubs, I don't believe that we need to add a top-of-the-rotation-type starter,” Dombrowski said. “We have [Chris] Sale. I think David Price continues to make strides to come back. His stuff is good he's just got to get back. [Drew] Pomeranz has thrown well for us. [Eduardo] Rodriguez has thrown well. We know Rick Porcello is a good pitcher.

“So we're not, maybe other clubs are looking for that No. 1, No. 2 type starter. That's not really important for us. I think it's more important to be in a position where we add depth for us, somebody that can help us win major league games if needed.”

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan on Monday reported that the Red Sox “have quietly sent some of their most respected evaluators to his last two starts. This could fall under standard due diligence, but one source familiar with their intentions said the Red Sox are keen for Gray – and when president Dave Dombrowski targets a player, the price for other teams jumps accordingly.” 

Due diligence is indeed all the Red Sox are up to, a baseball source with knowledge of the team’s thinking told CSNNE.com on Monday.

The Red Sox’ trade chips are limited, if they don’t want to drastically diminish their farm system. Gray is very close with David Price, but Gray's 4.45 ERA isn’t inspiring. He has a 3.60 FIP — fielding independent pitching — and has great talent. But again, he doesn’t play the hot corner.

Offense on a whole is a greater need. The Sox entered Monday with the third lowest slugging percentage in the AL. Hanley Ramirez is now battling some left knee pain as well as his shoulder issue, after he took a pitch off the knee Sunday.

It’s warmed up, but the Sox power bats have not also warmed up.

“I wouldn’t hinge this all on just temperature,” manager John Farrell said Monday. “And I don’t know that we use that as an excuse prior. . . Over the last three or four weeks, it’s kind of stagnated a little bit. I think the biggest thing for us as a group is to still maintain a consistent approach at the plate. When we think about getting too much muscle in a swing, eventually the strike zone expands, you don’t get the pitch that you’re looking for. We can’t afford to maybe go away from that approach for the sake of maybe trying to drive the ball with greater consistency.”

Tzu-Wei Lin was starting for the Sox on Monday, yet another in the third-base carousel. Jhonny Peralta and Pablo Sandoval (rehab assignment) are going to alternate time at third base starting Tuesday with Triple-A Pawtucket. 

That’s where they need help.

The bullpen can’t be overlooked either. Carson Smith started a throwing program again Monday, but it’s unclear when he’ll be able to return, or at what effectiveness.

Carrabis: Red Sox coaches were upset at John Farrell's usage of Craig Kimbrel

Carrabis: Red Sox coaches were upset at John Farrell's usage of Craig Kimbrel

Jared Carrabis says he was told that some Boston Red Sox coaches were not happy with the way John Farrell was over-using Craig Kimbrel, perhaps because he was trying to save his job.