12/06/2002 7:17 pm ET
Mike Port to stay with Red Sox
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BOSTON -- A valued member of the Red Sox front office for nearly a decade, Mike Port has elected to stay in the organization in his role as vice president/baseball operations. That was the role Port filled for nearly six years until becoming the team's interim GM on Feb. 28, when Dan Duquette was fired.
After the 2002 season ended, Port was a candidate to land the GM job on a permanent basis. However Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino ultimately decided to promote assistant GM Theo Epstein to that role instead, making the move official on Nov. 25.
Port was immediately invited by Lucchino and Epstein to stay on as vice president/baseball operations, but wanted to get a better definition of what his role would entail before making up his mind. That decision came Friday, and Port isn't going anywhere.
"We are very pleased to announce the great news that Mike is staying on as vice president/baseball operations," said Epstein. "We've talked about building a great baseball braintrust and I don't know if it would have worked without Mike. We are extremely happy he's staying."
The Red Sox have brought in front office veteran Bill Lajoie to be a top evaluator at all levels, and it will soon be official that Rockies assistant GM Josh Byrnes will be coming to Boston to fill that role. Special assistant Lee Thomas, also a key evaluator, is expected to stay on board.
So where does that leave Port? Heavily involved, according to the man he will directly report to.
"Mike will be a key decision maker," said Epstein. "His responsibility will be evaluating minor and Major League talent, negotiating contracts ... I can't think of too many things we do that Mike won't be involved in."
Port, the GM of the Angels from 1984-91, has developed a fondness for the Boston area in his nine-plus years with the Sox. He was happy that he still fit in.
"My job is to be as informational and supportive of Theo as I can, and to help the team move forward," Port said.
Epstein is planning on unveiling the entire baseball operations structure on Saturday, at which time, among other things, the hiring of Byrnes will become official.
"We'll have some announcements (Saturday) including some new staff, promotions," said Epstein.
It will be an eventful weekend for the Sox. On Sunday, they kick off their organizational meetings. Virtually every key member of the baseball operations staff has been asked to partake, and Epstein estimates roughly 100 employees on hand.
"The emphasis of these meetings is scouting and player development," said Epstein. "We will take a detailed look at where we are in terms of scouting and player development. Where we are, where we need to go, and how we need to get there."
Manager Grady Little will be in town for the sessions, which should enable the Sox to finalize their Major League coaching staff for next season. They've yet to name a hitting coach or a first base coach.
D-day: Saturday is also be the day the Sox must decide whether to offer arbitration to their nine existing free agents. If they don't, they lose rights to the player until May 1.
The players up for free agency are, as follows: Outfielders Cliff Floyd and Rickey Henderson; second baseman Rey Sanchez; first baseman Tony Clark; utilitymen Carlos Baerga and Shane Andrews; closer Ugueth Urbina; right-handers Frank Castillo and Dustin Hermanson.
It's likely the Sox will offer arbitration to Floyd, as they've stated that bringing him back is a priority. It's not likely that Urbina will get an offer. The Sox re-signed power lefty Alan Embree in November and eye him as a potential closer for 2003.
The one that truly bears watching is Sanchez. The Sox are trying to decide if another Sanchez -- rookie Freddy -- is ready to take over second base.
Epstein indicated that his decisions might not come until right around the deadline, which is midnight, or as the GM jokingly said, "Saturday Night Live time."
Sox announce minor league staffs: Among the most notable aspects of the Sox minor league announcements, which came Friday, is that Buddy Bailey will return as the manager for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. Bob Kipper, who was Boston's bullpen coach in 2002, will remain with the organization as the pitching coach of the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.
Mike Griffin will be the pitching coach at Pawtucket, moving up from Double-A. Former Royals shortstop U.L. Washington joins the Red Sox organization, serving as hitting coach for the PawSox.
Rob Johnson returns for his second season as Boston's Double-A manager. The Sox Double-A affiliate moves from Trenton to Portland this season. Mike Budaska, new to the Sox organization, will be the hitting coach for the Sea Dogs.
McDonough moving on?: Sean McDonough, a television play-by-play man for the Red Sox since 1988, is contemplating taking an announcing position with the Mets. He will take the weekend to think it over.
The Red Sox are changing their broadcasting structure for 2003, as NESN will produce all 162 games, and parcel roughly 30 to 35 games out to WBZ 4 and its sister station, UPN38, which are both non-cable outlets. McDonough has always done his Sox games for non-cable stations, most recently FOX 25.
According to McDonough, the Sox are planning on keeping current NESN play-by-play man Don Orsillo in that role. That would leave McDonough with the other 30 to 40 games on free TV. At this point, it doesn't sound like it will be enough for him to stay on.
"I have a very nice offer from the New York Mets," McDonough said Friday during his drive-time radio program on WWZN-AM in Boston. "They would like an answer quickly, which I understand. It's been hard. I've done a lot of soul searching. What the Red Sox want me to do is just the over-the-air TV. That would be between maybe 25 and 30 to 32 games from the 70 we've done the last few years. I asked the Mets for the weekend to think about it because it's a major life change."
McDonough is a native Bostonian and though he's had plenty national broadcasting exposure, he has always maintained that his Red Sox duty is what he enjoys the most.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.