BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox took two months to hire Bobby Valentine last year, the start of a surprisingly long winter that proved to be one of the least productive in franchise history.
This year, they need to move more quickly.
An offseason that began with another managerial firing must also fill the holes in a roster that opened when the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal relieved Boston of $250 million in future salary obligations, but it also left them looking for key parts of the lineup.
As they head into a true rebuilding year, general manager Ben Cherington will need a new manager along with fill-ins for the players sent to the Dodgers. Also on his agenda: a new deal with free agent designated hitter David Ortiz, a replacement for Daisuke Matsuzaka and a decision on whether to make Jacoby Ellsbury a multiyear offer or risk losing him to free agency in 2013.
"We made a big trade in August that came as a result of recognition on our part that things weren't going the way we wanted them to go," Cherington said after firing Valentine on Thursday after just one year and a last-place finish. "In order to be elite again, we needed to make more than cosmetic changes."
Valentine was hired on Dec. 1 to help change a clubhouse culture in which players, including Beckett, ate fried chicken and drank beer in the clubhouse rather than supporting their teammates during games. But the players who took advantage of Terry Francona's hands-off style during an unprecedented September collapse rebelled against Valentine's abrasive style.
That helped Boston stumble to a 69-93 record that was its worst in almost 50 years. Valentine was fired one day after the season ended with an eighth consecutive loss, and Cherington said that when searching for a replacement he will be looking for some different qualities than the last time.
The team is pursuing current Blue Jays manager and former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, but the Red Sox would have to reach a deal with Toronto on compensation.
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