Print and Go Back Baseball [Print without images]

Friday, November 7, 2003
Red Sox have permission to talk to Maddon

Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Red Sox plan to talk next week with Anaheim Angels bench coach Joe Maddon about their manager opening.

Another possible candidate, Angels pitching coach Bud Black, removed himself from consideration Friday.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein received permission Friday from Angels GM Bill Stoneman to interview Maddon, who has been on Anaheim's major league staff for 10 seasons. They're expected to talk at the general managers' meetings beginning Monday in Phoenix.

The Red Sox already have interviewed Los Angeles third base coach Glenn Hoffman and Oakland bench coach Terry Francona, but no decision is expected for a while.

"We're just going to keep going until we have the right man," Epstein said during a conference call. "I'm sure it will continue for the next couple of weeks."

Black, who has never managed, was believed to be reluctant to leave the West Coast. He is a native of San Mateo, Calif.

The Red Sox announced on Oct. 27 that they would not pick up manager Grady Little's option. He led the team to records of 93-69 and 95-67. The Red Sox reached the seventh game of the AL championship series this year but lost to the New York Yankees, who then were beaten in the World Series by Florida.

Epstein said that he expects a lot of player movement in the offseason and that the Red Sox could be in the thick of it.

"It's safe to say that our payroll next year will be at least as high as it was in 2003," he said, "and there's a chance that it will be slightly higher."

Epstein wouldn't address the decision to place left fielder Manny Ramirez on irrevocable waivers on Oct. 29 in an attempt to unload a contract worth $101.5 million over the next five years.

Ramirez remained with Boston when no one claimed him by Oct. 31. Afterward, his agent, Jeff Moorad, said Ramirez hoped to be traded to the Yankees.

"There's a difference between Jeff saying it and Manny saying it," said Epstein, who doesn't think Red Sox fans will hold the remark against Ramirez. "Boston fans can be forgiving."

Unloading Ramirez's contract could help the Red Sox keep Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon. All can become free agents after next season.

"I wouldn't say we were hamstrung" financially, Epstein said. "We're not going to sit here and complain about our lot in life. We have tremendous resources and have a payroll that's well over $100 million.

"We have enough flexibility to acquire players that are going to help us."

The Red Sox are unlikely to spend the money it probably would take to keep second baseman Todd Walker, who hit five homers in the playoffs and wants to return.

Walker made $3.9 million in 2003, his first year with Boston, which seems unlikely to pay what he can get in arbitration. The Red Sox have exclusive rights to sign him until Monday and must decide by Dec. 7 whether to offer arbitration.

Epstein also said talks were going well to bring reliever Mike Timlin back, but that he told starter John Burkett that he wants to explore other options before making a final decision on keeping the 38-year-old right-hander.

If the Red Sox decide to offer Burkett a contract "it would be very late in the offseason," Epstein said.