McDonald: Winter Meetings preview

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
12:45
PM ET
BOSTON -- The baseball world will gather for four days at the annual winter meetings next week in Dallas, and no doubt the Boston Red Sox and general manager Ben Cherington and Co. will be busy on both the free-agent and trade markets.

But the first step in his offseason blueprint is some housekeeping within the organization.

"I'm sure we're going to accomplish something [in Dallas] but I don't know what it's going to be," Cherington said. "I can't guarantee when player moves will happen, but we've got a pretty good idea of the landscape and our needs. I've said it before, and it sounds like a cliché at this point, I really do believe the biggest work we have to do, the biggest job we have to do is really internally."

After missing the postseason the past two years, and with an already potent lineup in place, Cherington needs to fill out his baseball staff.

Getting Bobby Valentine in place as manager was the first major hurdle for Cherington. Valentine has already decided to retain hitting coach Dave Magadan. If Valentine decides to keep the current staff (third-base coach Tim Bogar, bench coach DeMarlo Hale and bullpen coach Gary Tuck) in place, Boston still needs a pitching coach and a first-base coach.

Cherington also needs to hire a new strength and conditioning coach after the club fired longtime staffer Dave Page last month. The club also needs to add to its training staff. Those aspects of Cherington's to-do list may not be as sexy as player transactions, but those people are just as important in order to have a winning product on the field.

During his introductory news conference Thursday at Fenway, Valentine said he would hit the ground running, and he wasted no time in doing that. The new manager left Boston on Friday for the Dominican Republic to participate in David Ortiz's charity golf event, and show his goodwill toward the free-agent slugger. Ortiz appreciated the gesture.

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Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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