A couple of new bullpen additions are on the way, but the Red Sox search for a closer will go on.
Sox GM Theo Epstein spoke to the media in a conference call today about the acquisitions of relievers Brendan Donnelly and J.C. Romero, and the return of catcher Doug Mirabelli.
“I think Donnelly can be a very interesting piece of the puzzle in the bullpen,” Epstein said when asked if the former Angels All-Star would be in the closer mix. Epstein added that Donnelly always wants to pitch and has a very tough makeup. “It’s too early to start assigning exact roles other than to say that they guys who are pitching the best will have the most important roles.”
Epstein said Romero emerged as one of the top left handed closers in baseball a couple of years ago. “It’s hard to say from afar how much the WBC affected Romero,” said Epstein when asked if he felt Romero’s 2006 season was affected by participating in the World Baseball Classic last March. “He’s a talented guy who had a very difficult year.” Epstein said Romero had trouble getting into a rhythm and that was part of the reason why he was available at relatively low cost. “He’s a buy-low guy,” said Epstein. “He’s someone who really makes sense at this cost.”
Epstein said it was hard to remember the last time in June or July that the team wasn’t looking around for league average relievers. “The more quality options we have, the better off we’ll be.”
“We don’t have an assigned closer, but we will find that guy,” said Epstein when asked if the team was still looking externally for a closer. “Yeah, the search is still going on for a closer,” Epstein confirmed.
On reacquiring catcher Doug Mirabelli, Epstein admitted that last year was disappointing for the backup catcher. “He has a lot to prove,” said Epstein. “He wants to prove that he’s an integral part of this club, a valuable contributing member of the team… he’s working hard to have a more fundamental role. Last year was not the real Doug Mirabelli.”
Epstein said the club thinks very highly of catcher George Kottaras, who was acquired in a trade for David Wells last July. “He needs another year of development before he’s major league ready,” said Epstein. “It will be a different story in 2008.”
“We really like Seibel as a pitcher and a person,” Epstein said about the minor-league lefthander who was sent to the Angels for Donnelly. “It’s the best rehabbing we’ve ever seen from Tommy John surgery.”
Epstein also said he would be speaking with agent Scott Boras over the weekend to resolve language issues on outfielder J.D. Drew’s contract.