GM Meetings notes: Sox won't look to add to their rotation

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GM Meetings notes: Sox won't look to add to their rotation

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Don't expect the Red Sox to be among the most aggressive bidders for the thin class of free-agent starting pitchers this winter. With their rotation featuring five veterans set, the Sox don't have a lot of room.

But do expect that the Sox will be looking to improve their organizational starting depth, helping to provide some insurance should injury or poor performance deplete their major league rotation.

That could include taking a chance on a veteran coming off injury (Brandon Webb, Jeff Francis).

"We'd like to add some starting depth, in one form or another,'' said Theo Epstein. "Whether it's someone coming off an injury who might help us in the second half of the season or it's a really good minor-league free agent who we could have at Triple A. Through one form or another, we'd like to add some depth.

"That's an area we'd like to address.''

The Sox are counting on Felix Doubront to, for the time being, help out in the bullpen. Meanwhile, beyond Michael Bowden (who has struggled in the major leagues) and Junichi Tazawa (coming off Tommy John surgery), there are a lot of options internally.

Free agent Victor Martinez lives in nearby Orlando, but Epstein said he didn't feel the need to go meet with the catcher face-to-face.

"We had a lot of talks, heartfelt exchanges,'' said Epstein. "I think he knows how we feel. We know how he feels, certainly. I would do it in a second if I thought there was something to be gained from it, but he knows how we feel.''

Detroit remains the clear front-runner to sign Martinez, though the Tigers' pursuit of Adam Dunn could impact that. Others with an interest in Martinez: Baltimore, Texas and Colorado.

With the quarterly owners' meetings overlapping with the ongoing GM meetings, the two groups met for several hours yesterday to talk (again) about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, which expires after the 2011 season.

Among the items discussed: possible changes to the current amateur draft -- including official slotting and the introduction of a worldwide draft -- allowing teams to trade draft picks, and the elimination of the current compensation system for losing free agents.

Next summer's draft is regarded by many scouting directors as one of the best in recent years.

Epstein was asked how that might impact his moves this winter -- knowing that signing free agents will cost picks that are even more valuable than usual, while losing free agents will result in picks in a deeper-than-usual draft.

"If the draft is particularly strong or particularly weak,'' said Epstein, "I think you allow it to be one determining factor out of many. If you're talking about nuances, where 'It might be strong,' or 'It might be weaker,' then that doesn't change anything. It's hard enough to tell on draft day whether it's a good draft, let alone this far out.''

The draft is said to be deeper than usual for both college and high school pitchers.

Epstein raved about recent international free agent signing Juan Carlos Linares, who defected from Cuba, signed with the Red Sox last July and is currently winding down his season in the Arizona Fall League.

"He's really opened some eyes,'' said Epstein. "He's very toolsy and it looks like he's really going to hit. He was centering everything, showing significant opposite-field power and pulling the ball with authority.''

Linares is considered an above average outfielder with the ability to play all three outfield spots. In 17 games, Linares hit .397 with 3 homers and 14 RBI, with a .423 OBP, .662 slugging percentage and OPS of 1.084.

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

Rangers have used medical staff to recruit players

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Rangers have used medical staff to recruit players

Acquiring pitchers who stay healthy hasn’t been the easiest for Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski since he got to Boston.

The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, seem to be having success taking pitchers with prior injury concerns and revitalizing them.

Righty Andrew Cashner has been on the disabled list seven times. The first was for a rotator cuff strain. Elbow, shoulder, biceps, it’s all there on his body’s rap sheet. He has a 3.18 ERA.

Another Rangers starter, A.J. Griffin, has been to the DL six times. He doesn’t have the best ERA at the moment, 5.02, but he is in the rotation. 

Tyson Ross, who has great upside if healthy, is getting close to a return to the big leagues on a minor league rehab assignment. He's coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

It’s been a catchphrase for major league executives: the medical arena is where the most valuable advances will come now that advanced on-field statistics are so readily available.

Have the Rangers figured something out more broadly, or are Cashner, Griffin and Ross just case-by-case discussions?

Rangers president Jon Daniels explained on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast. 

“There’s some of both,” Daniels said. “I think that there are certain injuries, there are certain body types, there are certain medical histories that probably lend themselves to coming back more than others. But the biggest [matter] is about the individual, both the individual player and then the individuals on your medical staff and your coaching staff and how do they handle it. 

“One of the things that I’ve become so acutely aware of, whether it’s sports medicine or it’s the real world, real-life medicine, it matters dramatically. If you have a heart attack, you have a stroke, it matters dramatically which hospital you go to and which doctor you see. And so by the same token, when you’re putting a medical team together and they’re all highly qualified, and yet there’s still an enormous difference between — and not just in medical practices, but in bedside manner. Kind of the ability to communicate with the players, get the most out of them, have players trust them. Our whole medical team, top to bottom, has been a real asset for us and has helped us both recruit players and then get the most out of them when they’re on the mend.”

Daniels said his medical staff has grown in recent years. Team physician Dr. Keith Meister has a sports medicine facility that players take advantage of.

“The personnel there, the [physical therapists] there [are] really really gifted. And so we work very closely with them. We have given some, with [Yu] Darvish … we’ve been open to some different like styles of treatment.”

Daniels didn’t specify the treatments, but noted they weren’t too far out there.

“I don’t think it’s like anything crazy, and I don’t think we’re the only ones doing it,” he said. “When you’re exposed to just different mindsets, you explore it a little bit, you end up taking the best of each world and kind of incorporating it into our plan. Jamie Reed, long-time major league trainer, he’s our medical director and he gets people, he gets players and he gets sports medicine. And he’s been instrumental in putting together a lot of really good people on our medical side. When you look at some of the better medical staffs out there, Arizona and Tampa, he’s been directly involved with training some of those guys.

“Like anything else, you can have like the best ideas in the world,” Daniels continued. “If you don’t have the right people executing it, it doesn’t matter. It comes down to the people and really proud of the group we’ve got together.”