The Official Boston Red Sox Death Watch thread
BOSTON -- Ben Cherington was in his first year in a major league front office -- as an advance scout for the Cleveland Indians -- when he came across Sandy Alomar Jr.
"He didn't know who I was, in '98 with Cleveland," said Cherington, who is now the Red Sox general manager and leading the search for a new manager in Boston. "But I saw him in the clubhouse -- I was in the clubhouse all the time -- and I saw the leader he was back then, the respect he had in that clubhouse. I've been sort of following him since then."
It was that respect that led Cherington to add Alomar to the short list of candidates interviewing to replace Terry Francona as the Red Sox manager. Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin have already been in to discuss the job; former Pirates and White Sox manager Gene Lamont and Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo are scheduled to come in later this week.
Cherington said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of additional candidates.
Alomar is also on the Cubs' managerial list and will be interviewed by Chicago on Friday.
Alomar, who spent parts of 20 seasons catching in the majors -- most notably as the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year and a six-time All-Star for the Indians -- has been the first base coach in Cleveland for the past two seasons. He is the only candidate the Red Sox have acknowledged who has no managerial experience.
"His name kept coming up as a guy with a ton of respect in baseball," Cherington said. "We felt that, in spite of the lack of managerial experience, it was worth getting to know him better. ... He's going to be a major league manager. Whether that's in 2012 or sometime after that, I'm very confident to say that he'll be a big league manager sometime."
The Red Sox parted ways with Francona this fall after the team's unprecedented September collapse, the result of a 7-20 record down the stretch that left them one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card race. After allegations of players fattening up on fried chicken and beer during games, each managerial candidate has been grilled by reporters on his approach to clubhouse discipline.
"The goal for a manager is to let your players manage themselves. In order to do that, you have to let the guys play," Alomar said. "I am a guy that lets the players play the game. You have some rules, but you respect the players (and) they respect you back."
The 45-year-old Alomar also played for the Padres, White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers and Mets. He had a lifetime average of .273 with 112 homers and 588 RBIs.
He said he has played for nine managers, all of whom reached the postseason in their careers; six of them reached the World Series, and two of them won it. His father, Sandy Alomar Sr., spent 15 seasons in the majors as a second baseman, and his brother, Roberto, is in the Hall of Fame.
So it's no surprise that when asked to describe his managerial style, he said, "I like the family atmosphere."
"We are a family. We bonded -- coaches, players," he said. "That's the way I would handle it."
Red Sox in contact with Papelbon & Ortiz
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington suggested he's not planning any seismic moves this offseason and provided an update on where talks stand with his own high-profile free agents, David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon, in a meeting with reporters on Wednesday.
Cherington told reporters that he has been in contact with both Ortiz's and Papelbon's agents, but that talks with Ortiz have been more specific because the market for the designated hitter is considerably smaller (no National League teams).
"I've actually traded messages with David but I've spoken with his agent a couple times," Cherington said. "I think with David, I think it's in some ways a little bit more clear in terms of what his market could be. It's a little easier to have the conversations earlier in the offseason and start to get into what we might be able to do, so we're starting to do that. I still don't know when there will be a resolution, but there's been more dialogue because I think it's a little bit easier to frame what the market probably is.
"With Pap, it's a little bit more difficult, because more options in terms of the National League, more unknown about what's out there," Cherington told reporters. "So less dialogue with him, but keep the door open certainly and we'll talk again I'm sure next week."
Cherington said he didn't necessarily expect the Papelbon camp to give the Sox a chance to match another team's offer if the closer nears an agreement elsewhere.
"Those things can happen fast sometimes," Cherington said. "He doesn't owe us a call. I don't think we expect that. We expect we'll keep the door open and keep talking. But if he gets something that he really wants and there's a deadline on it he can take it."
Cherington told reporters he has traded messages with free agents Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, but hadn't connected with either to talk yet.
As far as the rest of the free-agent market, Cherington downplayed any thoughts the team would make a big splash after signing big-ticket players Carl Crawford and John Lackey the last two offseasons.
“This offseason is going to be more about fixing what’s under the hood than it is about buying a new car,” Cherington said. “We’re going to make moves and we’re going to build pitching depth and we’re going to be active.”
Cherington didn't limit the areas the Red Sox would try to improve.
“Across the board,” Cherington said. “It’s really early. The vast majority of the market is going to see what’s out there and that process unfolds over time and it’s still very, very early in the offseason.”
I permitted the off season baseball thread to be started but that is the only baseball thread that will be permitted until the new season begins.