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Two holdover scouts are let go

In what could be the start of an offseason purge that includes the decision not to pick up Grady Little's contract, the Red Sox also let go of major league scouts Eddie Haas and Tom Mooney late last week, according to a source in the scouting department.

Haas and Mooney were both hired by Dan Duquette but were kept on board while Mike Port was interim general manager last year and through this season under Theo Epstein. Mooney was with the team for three years, and one of the players he highly recommended was Kevin Millar. Haas was one of Duquette's top advisers.

Mooney came to the Red Sox from the Houston organization. While with the Astros, he recommended that they seek Double A prospect Jeff Bagwell from the Red Sox in exchange for reliever Larry Andersen in the infamous 1990 trade. In his days with the Seattle organization, he also scouted and signed Ken Griffey Jr.

Port, a prominent GM candidate in Seattle, might be the next to go.

Skinner receptive

Cleveland Indians third base coach Joel Skinner said he would be very receptive to interviewing for the Red Sox managing job but has not been contacted. Nor has he been told by Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro that the Sox have asked for permission to speak to him.

"I'd be flattered," said Skinner last night from his suburban Cleveland home. "It's certainly a goal of mine to be a big league manager and Boston would be a great place."

Skinner was interim manager of the Indians in 2002 after they fired Charlie Manuel at the All-Star break. He went 35-41 to finish the season, but Shapiro hired former Sox catcher Eric Wedge as manager for '03.

Skinner would be on the list of "new-breed" candidates that also includes Anaheim pitching coach Bud Black, Oakland bench coach Terry Francona, and Dodgers third base coach Glenn Hoffman.

"It's enjoyable to deal with the players and put them in a position to succeed," said Skinner.

Asked if he uses tools such as scouting reports and statistics in his decision-making, Skinner said, "Sure. It's very important, but there are many tools you use as a manager depending on the situation."

Manuel adds up

Both Epstein and Larry Lucchino mentioned that they're looking for a manager with many of Little's qualities in terms of handling players and the clubhouse. Manuel might fit that description. Manuel, who last season was a special assistant to Phillies GM Ed Wade, employed Little as a bench coach in Cleveland and is considered similar in style, though he considers himself a "stats nut." Manuel, who said he pores over scouting reports and statistical matchups, said of the Boston job, "I'd love it. It's a great team, a great organization, and I'd love the chance to manage the players and get back on the field managing." Manuel, who was fired halfway through the 2002 season after getting the Indians to the playoffs in 2001, also has valuable experience in managing Manny Ramirez. "I've always been able to manage Manny," Manuel said. "Manny wants you to be playful with him, but he also needs someone to kick him in the pants. I always talked to Manny and made it clear to him what I expected. I remember telling him many times, `Manny you've got to run down the [expletive] line!' " After Manuel led the Indians to the playoffs, the team decided to rebuild, dropping big-name players such as Jim Thome and Bartolo Colon. "I did a good job in Cleveland," he said. "I can look back on it and be proud of what we accomplished."

Biding his time

A source close to Little said the ousted manager had yet to hear from the Orioles or White Sox about their openings. Little was feeling less pressure to find work since he received $310,000 from the Sox, including a $250,000 parting gift and $60,000 in performance bonuses. He plans to look for the right fit as a big league manager before he weighs returning to coaching. Openings would abound for him as a bench coach, with the most intriguing possibility being the Yankees, as a successor to Don Zimmer. Yankees manager Joe Torre is considered unlikely to return when his contract expires after next season . . . Though the Sox had marginal interest last year in Hideki Matsui when he filed for free agency in Japan, they said at the time they were more interested in Kazuo Matsui, a 27-year-old shortstop who filed for free agency yesterday after batting .305 with 33 homers and 84 RBIs for the Seibu Lions. The trouble is, the Sox want Matsui (no relation to Hideki) to move to second base, which he is unwilling to do . . . To be unveiled this week at the Baseball Hall of Fame are the bat Aaron Boone used to hit the walkoff homer in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series; a container of dirt from the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium commemorating the showdown between Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez in Game 7; and a container of dirt from the mound at Fenway Park marking the matchup of Clemens and Martinez in Game 3 of the ALCS, the Rocket's final appearance in Boston.

Bob Hohler of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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