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Manny on deck

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  November 27, 2005 11:36 AM

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While the Sox will try to accommodate Manny Ramírez's trade request, they may make one more attempt to persuade him to stay. If that should fail, Anaheim still appears to be the best landing spot.

Though Ramírez's former agent, Jeff Moorad, runs the Diamondbacks, and a Troy Glaus deal could be hammered out, there's much doubt that Arizona would take on the remaining $57 million on Ramírez's contract. Sox principal owner John Henry is on record saying he doesn't like to pay for players not on the roster.

Don't rule out the Mets just yet, even though Ramírez has indicated through his agents and to David Ortiz that he wants to play on the West Coast. The Mets have acquired Carlos Delgado and want to add another bat.

The Sox will intensify their negotiations with Johnny Damon this week, making re-signing him a top priority. Dragging talks out close to Christmas -- as agent Scott Boras did with Jason Varitek last year -- likely won't happen in this case. The Sox may go as high as a four-year, $40 million offer, but don't be surprised if the Sox eventually kick some tires on Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter. After all, they do have some chips in Youkilis, in whom the Twins had some interest last season, and Arroyo, a bargain end-of-the-rotation starter.

The Sox have been pushing a deal for David Wells, but the Padres aren't showing a lot of urgency in making it happen. The Sox are trying to get the Angels and Dodgers involved, in part to get the Padres to move quickly. The most mentioned name is former Sox outfielder Dave Roberts, but the Sox will likely want more.

Both Wallace and Kapstein have been visiting Terry Francona in the hospital after the manager's knee replacement surgery. ''He's been in good spirits," Wallace said. ''Things are always a little more complicated because of some of the medical issues Terry has to deal with, but I think he's doing well."

The Sox hope to get into the hunt for free agent Billy Wagner (they invited him to Boston this week, but he couldn't make it), though the money is already getting crazy. They don't want to inhibit Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, but when will they be ready? The Sox have taken two huge steps toward protecting themselves in case Hansen needs more seasoning by signing Mike Timlin and acquiring Guillermo Mota.

If Keith Foulke can regain his effectiveness, the Sox could have a very strong bullpen. While everyone hears good things about Foulke, as Wallace put it, ''Until you see him throw and perform, you never know for sure."

The more you think about it, the more you have to like Peter Gammons's idea of a Matt Clement-for-Derek Lowe swap. The contracts are similar, and in Lowe, you have a proven end-of-the-season pitcher who can deal with the trappings of Boston.

The Sox have been inquiring about young first basemen -- Texas's Adrian Gonzalez and Milwaukee's Lyle Overbay. Both the Rangers and Brewers need starting pitching, so the obvious names -- Clement and Bronson Arroyo -- have popped up.

Kevin Youkilis might be developing a complex. First the Sox acquire Lowell, knocking him off of third base, and now they're pursuing a young first baseman of the future.

The Sox would love to anoint Dustin Pedroia their starting second baseman when spring training is over, but they are protecting themselves by keeping Alex Cora around and possibly re-signing Tony Graffanino or inking Cardinals free agent second baseman Mark Grudzielanek (who hit .294 last season). The Sox are trying to make things as comfortable as possible for Edgar Renteria, hoping he'll be in synch with his middle-infield partner and have a consistent target at first base.

Excerpted from Cafardo's baseball notes in Sunday's Boston Globe.

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