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Theo's toughest job ahead

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  December 15, 2010 11:19 AM

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I'm sure Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein worked long hours and did a great job pulling off a deal for Adrian Gonzalez and signing free agent Carl Crawford. But his biggest job? Trying to piece together a bullpen.

Good luck with that.

We first reported the Sox' interest in Matt Albers, but as a primary guy, not really. He'll likely be the guy who pitches when the team is behind. The real challenge here is putting together a bullpen that works, that flows, that is able to exploit opposing lineups.

In today's baseball, good bullpens are imperative to winning.

The Red Sox have lefty Brian Fuentes and former Twin Jesse Crain as priorities. If they get those two, their winter is complete. Looks like Matt Guerrier is about to be a Dodger.

On the trade front, they would love to deal for Justin Masterson and put him in the role he had with the Sox before the Victor Martinez deal. He's very effective in a role in which he can pitch two or three innings and dominate righties. The Tribe has been reluctant to move him. Joe Smith and Rafael Perez are a couple other Indian relievers who could be on Boston's radar.

The A's are always willing to listen. They have lefties such as Craig Breslow and Doug Blevins and guys with funky deliveries such as Brad Ziegler and Michael Wuertz who could be interesting pieces.

The Mariners would listen on Dave Aardsma, who pitched for the Red Sox at one time. Mark Lowe is an interesting arm in Texas.

The other semi-intriguing free agents include Bobby Jenks, Jon Rauch, Grant Balfour, Octavio Dotel, Pedro Feliciano, Randy Choate, Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, Kerry Wood (whom the Yanks are pursuing again), Arthur Rhodes, and Kevin Gregg (who may soon be an Oriole).

Nobody really jumps out. Everyone has flaws. Everyone has inconsistencies.

Piecing together an effective bullpen is Theo's biggest challenge.

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