Ben Cherington sounds an awful lot like Theo Epstein, but he will have his own voice. He spent years and logged hundreds of thousands of miles beating the bush as an amateur and international scout. He will certainly use modern analytical tools to do his job, but he's got an eye for talent and the training that comes with years in the trenches.
He's also a good hockey man, skating once a week in a pickup league in Boston and bringing his hockey bag to Fort Myers every year to get in a few skates during spring training.
I mention this because I'll be hosting the season premiere of The Instigators with Jack Edwards, Billy Jaffe and Ian Moran on Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. And I'm not one to miss the opportunity for a shameless plug. So watch the show Thursday night, and let me know how I do replacing the irreplaceable Mike Milbury.
And read on, as we open up the virtual mailbag once again. By the way, about half the questions were about trading John Lackey, but I eliminated those from contention once he elected to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Would the Sox benefit from bringing a right-handed hitter in, since the lineup has a lot of left-handed hitters? We could also use a lefty in the pen.
Yes. That's why you should know the name Michael Cuddyer. He's a free-agent right fielder who bats right. His numbers won't blow you away, but he could be a guy the Sox could get for a decent value, and use him as a platoon with Ryan Kalish (or Josh Reddick if Kalish isn't ready to go when the season starts.)
And you can always use a lefty in the pen. Or two.
Who can you see as a manager for the Red Sox? And do you think we at least going to make it to the postseason next year?
–Darlin, Providence, R.I.
I’ve said all along that I'd love to see Joe Torre take the job. Not sure if he’d want to leave his cushy gig with the commissioner's office, but you'd have to think the three years in L.A. during the McCourt disaster left him wanting one last crack at managing a contender. He'd obviously command the respect of the clubhouse, and wouldn’t put up with some of the stuff that happened down the stretch.
Realistically, though, I think you may end up seeing a bench coach like Trey Hillman, Dave Martinez or Pete MacKanin take over, in the hopes that one of them will become the next Joe Maddon.
Hey Tom, did they ever consider hiring Emilio Estevez as a manager? He had some good championship runs in those Mighty Ducks movies AND he had those shenanigan-causing preteens under control — seems perfect! I'm just joking. All of those stories about the clubhouse are probably blown way out of proportion. My real question is, what type of personality are the Red Sox looking for a manager?
–"Window", Amherst, Mass.
Not sure the "Flying V" would work in baseball. The Sox need to find a manager who will command respect in the clubhouse, and implement simple rules that will keep the team (notably the starting pitchers) in line and on a program.
There has been talk of moving Daniel Bard to a starting pitcher. Do you believe it's the right move?
–Anthony, Middletown, Mass.
No. I know Bard struggled in September, but he has generally excelled in late-game, high-pressure situations. Why take him out of that important role and put him in a role he is not guaranteed to succeed at? He hasn't started in years. With Jonathan Papelbon likely headed to free agency, I think it's more important to keep Bard in the bullpen than ever before.
Hey Tom, I was wondering what the Sox' odds are of landing a starter like Roy Oswalt. Do you think that's more likely or do you think it's more likely they move Alfredo Aceves from the pen to the starting five?
–James, Carlisle, Iowa
Oswalt will be an intriguing option for someone next year. He's 34 years old, so it would have to be a short contract. But if you could get him for two years, why wouldn’t you? He'd be a much cheaper alternative than C.J. Wilson, who's bound to cash in big time.
Oswalt was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA for the Phillies last season, and pitched 140 innings. He probably wouldn't be able to post the same numbers in the AL East, but he'd be a pretty good fourth or fifth starter.
That said, it's definitely time to give Alfredo Aceves a shot at the rotation. He proved his worth down the stretch last season, and wants to be a starter. With two starters recovering from Tommy John surgery when the 2012 season begins, why not give Aceves a chance to crack the top five?
With all the turmoil within Red Sox Nation, what do you think the Sox need to do in order to regain the confidence of their fans. Maybe a big-name player or big-name manager?
–Parick, Naugatuck, Conn.
The first step will be for players to come clean and talk openly to fans about what happened last season. Some, like Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, have already done so. Others, notably Josh Beckett, still need to. If you want the fans to trust this team, the players who make up that team need to apologize and move on.
Then they have to win. Everyone loved this team at the start of September, and if they can start 10-2 instead of 2-10 next season, fans will be back.