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Cherington talks shop before winter meetings

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 1, 2012 07:22 PM

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The Red Sox had general manager Ben Cherington meet with reporters in a drafty hallway at Fenway Park this morning, just a few feet away from where snow was falling.

“I hope this is going to be quick,” said Cherington, who had left his jacket behind.

It wasn’t. There’s just too much going on with the Red Sox and so many questions that need answering.

In the two months since their 93-loss season ended, Cherington has fired manager Bobby Valentine, hired John Farrell and replaced nearly the entire coaching staff.

The Sox retained David Ortiz, signed backup catcher David Ross and picked up outfielder Jonny Gomes. Compared to most teams, the Sox have actually been busy.

But they still need a first baseman, a right fielder and at least one starting pitcher. At the moment, the Sox have less than $100 million in payroll spoken for — well below the $175 million they spent last season.

With the winter meetings starting in Nashville on Monday, the Red Sox have three significant holes and the resources to sign virtually any free agent they desire.

But tickets are now on sale and the pressure make a significant move is rising. After Cherington met with reporters, he spoke to fans attending the annual “Christmas at Fenway” promotional event. Those diehards were happy to see the ballpark on a cold December day and get a few autographs. But most fans want action in the form of big names being added to the roster.

One the one-year anniversary of the team’s ill-fated decision to hire Valentine as the manager of an expensive team of mismatched stars, Cherington sounded like an executive determined to get it right this time and not be rushed into anything.

“There are things we know we could do right now. Things we’re not ready to do right now. Things we’re choosing not to do right now,” he said. “I still see the weekend before the winter meetings as pretty early in the offseason. There’s a lot of time before pitchers report and plenty of time to do stuff.”

Here's Cherington on a few different topics:

The outfield: “We’d certainly like to add one [outfielder]. We wouldn’t rule out more than that. … There are things we’d like to do and then there’s a price you’re willing to pay. We’re still working through that with the different options.”

The rotation: “Generally it needs to improve. The performance of the rotation wasn’t good enough last year. I think that [improvement] will mostly come from the guys that already here. That’s going to make a bigger difference than anyone else we add, likely.”

On making a splashy move: “I can’t handicap it. You can’t rule it out. I certainly wouldn’t rule it i. I think if there’s a deal that we feel really makes the organization stronger short and long term, we’ll pursue it. Some of those could fit into that category.”

On the idea of trading a starter: “Anything’s possible but it certainly gets harder to do that, to subtract somebody."

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