Epstein turns his focus to arms race
Sox GM committed to rebuilding bullpen
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Red Sox have made the two biggest moves of baseball’s offseason, trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford.
But as the winter meetings end today, general manager Theo Epstein still has some work to do on the 2011 roster.
The Red Sox need at least two relief pitchers to add depth to a bullpen headlined by Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard.
The Red Sox have been linked to numerous relievers, including lefthanders Scott Downs, Pedro Feliciano, Brian Fuentes, and Ron Mahay.
Righthanders under consideration include Kevin Gregg and Matt Guerrier.
Epstein said he has offers out to a number of relievers but has not heard back. He expects that once one of the setup men makes a decision, others will quickly follow.
Still well-stocked The signing of Crawford will cost the Red Sox their first-round pick in the 2011 draft, which will go to Tampa Bay as compensation.
But the Red Sox will receive Detroit’s first-round pick, No. 19 overall, as compensation for the loss of Victor Martinez along with a supplemental first-round pick. Two more picks will come once Adrian Beltre signs.
The Sox also hope to receive a third supplemental first rounder as compensation for Felipe Lopez. Those five picks gave the Red Sox ample cushion to sign a Type A free agent such as Crawford and forfeit their own pick.
A comebacker? Free agent lefthander Rich Hill of Milton, who pitched in six games for the Sox last year, has indicated he wants to return to the team, and Epstein said they want him back . . . The Sox met here with lefthander Andrew Miller, who was acquired from the Marlins in November but was non-tendered last week. The Sox met with him in Boston while he was under their control and hope to re-sign him to a more economical deal . . . The Rule 5 draft of unprotected minor leaguers is this morning. Epstein said that if the Sox take a player, it likely would be a pitcher. They expect to lose a player or two.
No bones about it The seemingly endless debate about whether Jacoby Ellsbury’s cracked ribs have healed appears to be clarified. Sox manager Terry Francona said yesterday that he misspoke Tuesday when he said Ellsbury was still feeling something in his back. Agent Scott Boras reiterated yesterday that Ellsbury is “doing great.’’ Added Boras, “He’s been working out. He’s taken time. He went through the season where his ribs really never fully healed. He attempted to come back a number of times. Now with the time, he’s able to let his bones and fractures [heal].’’ . . . Martinez insisted on the final day of last season that he wanted to be a full-time catcher in 2011. Then he signed a four-year deal with the Tigers, who have no plans for that to be the case. “I don’t think he’ll catch 100 games,’’ said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “I think Victor will be in the lineup every single day either by way of catcher, DH mostly.’’ Leyland said the Tigers want Alex Avila to be their primary catcher and that Miguel Cabrera will be used at first base. Martinez will be the DH and second catcher. “Victor’s versatility is a big factor, but we got Victor because he can hit,’’ Leyland said.
Stephenson honored Jerry Stephenson, a former pitcher and longtime scout for the Sox, was posthumously honored with Major League Baseball’s Director’s Award last night. After a 12-year career on the mound that included pitching for the Sox in the 1967 World Series, Stephenson scouted for the Dodgers from 1974-95 before rejoining the Sox. He retired last fall. His son, Brian, a scout for the Dodgers, accepted the award for Stephenson, who died in June at 66.
Pena is a Cub Carlos Pena, the former Haverhill and Northeastern star, signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs despite hitting .196 last season, albeit with 28 homers and 84 RBIs. “I’m extremely confident,’’ said Pena. “I don’t tend to look back on my failures and dwell upon them.’’ . . . The White Sox and Paul Konerko agreed to a $37.5 million, three-year contract. The four-time All-Star hit .312 with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs for Chicago last season . . . Outfielder/DH Jack Cust agreed with Seattle on a one-year deal for $2.75 million . . . The Reds kept infielder Miguel Cairo for two years and $2 million . . . Outfielder Jeff Francoeur is headed to Kansas City for one year and $2.5 million . . . Cardinals manager Tony La Russa predicts a contract extension for star Albert Pujols will come either before spring training or after the season — not in between. “I know Albert well enough that once he gets into spring training, he doesn’t like distractions,’’ the manager said.
Feller hurting Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, 92, was moved into hospice care in Cleveland. His health has been in decline in recent months. Feller won 266 games for the Indians over 18 seasons . . . Baltimore outfielder Luke Scott did an interview at the winter meetings Tuesday in which he claimed President Obama “does not represent America’’ and was not born in the United States. The Orioles released a statement saying, “Luke Scott’s comments do not reflect the opinion of the Baltimore Orioles organization. The fact is that Barack Obama is our President, duly elected by the people of the United States. End of story.’’ . . . Longtime Expos and Marlins play-by-play announcer Dave Van Horne won the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting.