Dan Duquette has been involved in a myriad of baseball-related activities, but none major league related, since he was dismissed as general manager of the Red Sox in 2002. Yet the man who some people credit with putting together the core Red Sox team that reached Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS and won the 2004 World Series is reportedly one of four finalists for the Baltimore Orioles vacant GM position.
Red Sox vice president of player personnel and professional scouting Allard Baird is also reportedly one of the finalists.
The Orioles were rebuffed by Toronto assistant general manager Tony LaCava, who chose to bypass the opportunity. Like new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, LaCava is on the “hot list” of teams seeking a GM.
In other American League East news:
- The Yankees, which signed left-hander CC Sabathia to a new long-term deal, are not interested in trading maligned right-hander A.J. Burnett, according to the New York Daily News. Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who just received an extension himself, indicated that the team will keep Burnett in the starting rotation. The Yankees desperately need rotation depth and could bring back Freddy Garcia. They might also be in on Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson and potential Japanese free agent Yu Darvish.
- Remember Dan Johnson, the light-hitting Rays first baseman who blasted a game-winning dinger against the Red Sox a few years ago? He also blasted a game-tying home run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth at Tampa Bay on the last day of September to force extra innings and eventually lead to a game-winning dinger from Evan Longoria that sent the Red Sox home for the season. The Rays outrighted Johnson to the minors, but he refused the assignment is now a free agent.
- The Rays picked up James Shields’ $7.5 million option for 2012. Multiple media reports indicate Tampa Bay will not trade the right-hander during the off-season. The Rays have starting pitching depth with David Price, Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, left-handed phenom Matt Moore, Alex Torres, Alex Cobb and top prospect Chris Archer. The team desperately needs more offense, so chances are the Rays will deal a starter for a bat. Davis and Niemann are seemingly the least appealing arms for other teams, but many ballclubs need starting pitchers, so perhaps the Rays can keep their core arms and bring in a productive bat.
- Media reports, and comments from Theo Epstein, indicate that Terry Francona is not a fit with the Chicago Cubs. Francona could get an interview for the vacant Cardinals managerial job. It is puzzling why the Cubs are not interested in Hall of Fame second baseman and experienced minor league manager Ryne Sandberg. The Cubs icon has been successful climbing the minor league ranks. If he is not hired as a manager this off-season, Sandberg could be named the Phillies bench coach under Charlie Manuel.
- The Red Sox received permission to interview Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. for the manager’s position. Media reports indicate that Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, who interviewed for the Red Sox manager’s job last week, will interview for the Cubs vacancy. It appears that there will be a strong competition among the Red Sox, Cubs and Cardinals, all of which are searching for new managers. It could speed up each team’s timetable for naming a new skipper.
- WEEI reported that the Red Sox parted ways with strength and conditioning coach Dave Page and assistant trainer Greg Barajas. A lack of conditioning was a major factor last season for the Red Sox, though it seems ridiculous to place the blame on Page and Barajas. Ultimately, it is the players themselves who must commit themselves to getting and remaining in prime condition. Yet it is understandable why they were let go. The Sox are moving in a new direction with a new GM and manager, and most of the coaching staff will not return.
- I’m surprised that the Red Sox have not asked permission to interview Rays bench coach Dave Martinez for the managerial vacancy. Martinez is respected by his players and is known as a bright baseball mind who embraces statistical analysis, which is what the Red Sox want. Martinez was an outfielder for 16 seasons.