Not throwing money at problem
Costly relievers don’t interest Sox
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 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.
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.
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.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; material from the Associated Press was used in this report.