Meetings notebook

Not throwing money at problem

Costly relievers don’t interest Sox

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 9, 2009

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INDIANAPOLIS - The Red Sox lost relief pitchers Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner to free agency when both signed with the Braves. But general manager Theo Epstein does not plan to acquire any notable replacements.

With Daniel Bard and Hideki Okajima returning as setup men for closer Jonathan Papelbon, the Sox will seek less-heralded pitchers to fill the vacancies and invest their money elsewhere, such as the gaping hole in left field.

“We have a couple of open spots,’’ said Epstein. “It’s probably more likely than not that we’ll have competition for those spots in spring training. We’re accumulating a lot of low-investment type of relievers who we think have the ability, if they put things together, to be effective big-league relievers.’’

The Sox signed Scott Atchison, who had been pitching in Japan, to a one-year deal Monday along with minor league lefthander Fabio Castro. Similar moves are in the works.

Epstein did not rule out the idea of making a significant trade - the Braves have made righthander Rafael Soriano available, for instance - but he said it was not a priority as he builds the 2010 roster.

“Depending on how much it costs to address other needs, we may not acquire a reliever who costs us resources,’’ he said. “We obviously have a very big payroll and we’re lucky to have the resources, but every move we make affects another.

“We don’t tend to invest a lot of money in relievers if we can avoid it.’’

Chapman update
Aroldis Chapman, the free agent lefthander from Cuba, has disappeared from view since switching agents and signing with the Hendricks brothers.

Chapman is expected to throw for interested teams in Houston later this month. If the 100-mile-per-hour fastball he is said to throw actually exists, Chapman will not lack for suitors.

The Sox, Yankees, and Orioles are among the interested teams. The Phillies are not, to the point that GM Ruben Amaro said he would not even bother to send a scout to watch Chapman.

The consensus is that the 21-year-old is not yet ready for the majors.

Cornering the market
The Sox already have a Ramon Ramirez in their bullpen. They could soon have another.

The team has put in a claim on Ramon A. Ramirez, a 27-year-old righthander who appeared in 16 games for the Reds over the last two seasons. He spent most of last season with Triple A Louisville, going 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA. Ramirez appeared in 31 games there, starting 20.

Ramon S. Ramirez was 7-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 70 appearances for the Sox last season.

James honored
Senior adviser Bill James, the groundbreaking analyst, has been named the winner of the Judge Emil Fuchs Memorial Award by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The award is for long and meritorious service to baseball. It will be awarded at the chapter’s annual dinner Jan. 14 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston. Other honorees include Papelbon, Joe Mauer, Lou Merloni, and Casey Kelly.

Tickets are $150 and can be obtained by sending a check to Boston Chapter, BBWAA, Box 7346, Nashua, N.H. 03060.

Holliday can handle it
Because he hit a relatively modest .286 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs over 93 games with Oakland last season, there is a perception that Matt Holliday is better-suited to the National League. But Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, whose team acquired Holliday from Oakland, doesn’t believe that. “There are no restrictions to his game. I would not agree with that,’’ he said. “Based on their All-Star and World Series success, there’s probably a little arrogance right now on the American League side, which means we need to win some games.’’ . . . New Astros manager Brad Mills plans to base much of his style on what he learned while serving as Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston. “I’m going to reflect on a lot of things that went on there, there’s no doubt. How we handle players and people, that’s going to come with that, because that’s the most recent experience,’’ he said. . . . Ex-Angels third baseman Chone Figgins finalized his four-year, $36 million contract with the Mariners . . . Ex-Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny passed a physical, completing his $7.5 million deal with the Cardinals . . . The Nationals reached preliminary agreement on a two-year, $6 million contract with 38-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez . . . Third baseman Mark Teahen agreed to a three-year, $14 million deal with the White Sox, avoiding arbitration . . . When Soriano surprised the Braves and accepted arbitration, Atlanta had to designate outfielder Ryan Church for assignment to clear a roster spot.

Peter Abraham can be reached at; material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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