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More from Theo ...

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff  November 7, 2006 04:22 PM

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Besides the news on Foulke, Theo Epstein also talked about the team’s overall outlook heading into the general managers’ meetings next week.

"It's too early to tell [how this offseason compares to other years]," said Epstein. "A lot of teams are doing preparation work. There’s been some discussion between clubs [that's] preliminary in nature. Things will heat up as usual at the GM meetings next week."

"We probably have more needs than we’ve had the last couple of years," said Epstein, "in no particular order: starting pitcher, a couple of relievers [one lefthanded, preferably], a right fielder, a backup catcher, a shortstop, and fill the bench with quality players to complement the regulars." Epstein later added second base to the list.

"Some will be addressed through signing our own players, some will be addressed externally, some internally," Epstein said.

Regarding the reshaping of the bullpen, Epstein said we're going to try and acquire a closer through trade or free agency. If we can't, there are certain options internally where we would turn to next. It's very early in the offseason. So it's not yet clear how our bullpen is going to shape up. Certainly we're in the market for someone with the ability to close games."

More Hot Stove talk from Epstein:

  • Epstein dodged a question about the team’s interest in Japanese star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

    "We never discuss players who are under contract with another organization,” Epstein said. “He still is technically. We’ll have no comment on him until the process complete."

    Bids on the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka are due tomorrow.

  • On the possibility of Dustin Pedroia taking over at second base for Boston next season:

    "Dustin had a very good year at Triple A. We feel he's right on the cusp on being ready, and a lot depends on how the offseason goes both from an organizational standpoint and what he's able to accomplish this winter as far as conditioning to get himself ready to play every day at the big league level.

    "It could go either way. If it broke that way, we'd be comfortable having him in our big league picture."

  • On the possibility of Alex Gonzalez returning as the team's shortstop:

    "We'll see," Epstein said. "Jed [Hoyer] had a conversation with Alex's agent earlier today. We certainly have an interest in bringing Alex back at the right price. We'll keep the dialogue open and see if there is a mutual fit."

  • Regarding the role of pitcher Julian Tavarez next season:

    "We’ll see [if the team ends up using him as a starter or reliever],” Epstein said. “Certainly he's a valuable member of our pitching staff. That will carry over. He showed a lot of confidence in himself on the mound. Whether he's a starter or in the bullpen remains to be seen. It’s more than likely we’ll acquire another starting pitcher and Julian will be back in the bullpen ... but it's too early to see how the offseason plays out."

    Epstein also had medical updates on a couple of players:

  • Epstein said reports on Jonathan Papelbon, who was shut down in September with shoulder fatigue, are terrific.

    "No problems whatsoever with his shoulder," said Epstein. "He's at his normal point in his offseason program. He said his shoulder feels 'great.'"

  • On Coco Crisp, who had season-ending surgery to insert a pin into his left index finger in September, Epstein said, "Crisp met with doctors a few weeks ago and had his cast removed. He's got a follow-up appointment in December to get the pin removed from finger. All indications are that he's healing normally and is on schedule."

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