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Saturday, November 19, 2005
White Sox's Wilder interviews for Red Sox GM job

Associated Press

BOSTON -- David Wilder plucked Bobby Jenks off the waiver wire and rode the rookie closer to a World Series title.

He'll need to do more of the same if he gets the job as Boston Red Sox general manager.

Wilder, who has been the director of player development for the Chicago White Sox the past two seasons, interviewed with Red Sox executives on Saturday for the job that Theo Epstein walked away from on Halloween.

If he leaves the current World Series champions for the preceding ones, he'll have to replace starters at first, second and third base, find a closer and deal with the possible defection of center-fielder Johnny Damon. Also, right-fielder Manny Ramirez has requested a trade.

Wilder said he wouldn't hesitate to trade Ramirez, if -- and that's a big "if" -- he can find a way to make the team better. That's one of the things the Red Sox asked him about during about four hours of interviews.

"It all depends on what the deal is for," Wilder said. "If not, you've got one of the better hitters in the last century."

Wilder met with Red Sox part-owner Tom Werner and president and chief executive officer Larry Lucchino, along with other members of the baseball operations staff. Lucchino was not present when Wilder met with the media at Fenway Park, instead sending his adviser Jeremy Kapstein to speak about Wilder.

"There are a lot of people in the game who have great respect for not only what he has done but the kind of person he is," Kapstein said. "Kenny Williams and Dave Wilder are the two leaders of that franchise in terms of putting that club together. And we all saw what that club did."

The Red Sox have also asked Jim Beattie, former Orioles executive vice president, and Washington Nationals' general manager Jim Bowden to come back for second interviews.

The most successful general manager in Red Sox history, Epstein left for personal reasons that reportedly stemmed from a breakdown in his relationship with Lucchino. Several prospective replacements have pulled out of the running; although no one has said it aloud, the word around baseball appears to be that the Red Sox front office isn't such a great place to work.

But Wilder said he wasn't scared off by talk that Lucchino is too hands-on for a general manager hoping to be his own man (or, in the case of Dodgers' executive Kim Ng, her own woman). On the contrary, Wilder said he is confident enough in his own opinions to weather confrontation.

"It depends on your personality," he said. "The opportunity to be interviewed with this type of organization is an honor."

Among those passing on the Boston job was Dayton Moore, the Atlanta assistant general manager who is expected to succeed his boss, John Schuerholz, when he retires. In Wilder, Boston would get another graduate of the Braves front office, which has built 14 consecutive division champions.

Wilder, who spent 5½ years in the Braves organization, said Schuerholz was the primary influence on his career.

If hired by the Red Sox, Wilder would be the first black GM for a franchise that was the last in the majors to field a black player.

Although leaving the White Sox right after they ended their championship drought -- one that ran two years longer than Boston's -- would be difficult, "it's too appealing" to pass up the opportunity, Wilder said. Wilder interviewed for the job in Seattle and Baltimore last year, and Arizona earlier this offseason before the Diamondbacks hired former Red Sox assistant GM Josh Byrnes.

He felt he was ready then. He thinks he's even more ready now.

"The longer you're in the game, the more prepared you become," he said. "So I feel like I'm better prepared now."

And, he's got a ring.

Wilder began his player development career with the Oakland Athletics in 1990 after a seven-year minor-league career as an outfielder in the Oakland and Chicago Cubs systems.

He was assistant director of scouting and player development for the Atlanta Braves from 1991-95; farm director and assistant general manager with the Cubs from 1996-99; and vice president of player personnel and special assignment scout with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000-03, before joining the White Sox in 2004.

He oversees Chicago's entire minor-league department and player development staff as well as the club's Latin American operations.

Wilder also was a member of the United States Olympic Baseball team's selection committee in 2000, helping assemble the team that won the gold medal at the Sydney Games.