Craig Breslow waits to be introduced as the new chief baseball officer of the Boston Red Sox during a news conference at Fenway Park on Nov. 2. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Major League Baseball’s General Managers Meetings are all about laying down the groundwork for the coming season. Rarely are there major deals announced at the meetings, which are held just days after the end of the World Series.

So it was no surprise that this year’s meetings lacked any real news. The biggest news to come out of the desert was the apparent virus that hit front-office members of virtually every team. Because of the outbreak, the meetings ended earlier than expected.

We’ll always remember Craig Breslow’s first league-wide event as Boston’s chief baseball officer as the meetings where everyone got sick. Now comes the real test as we see if he’s able to stomach the tough work that lies ahead. The meetings may have been shortened, but the work for the long haul is well underway.

“I think we were largely able to get in what we needed, but not without some concern and shuffling and flexibility,” said Breslow. He went on to say the trade market was just beginning to take shape, and that Red Sox were trying to touch base with every team to get a feel for who might be available.

Breslow has been clear about one thing. Starting pitching is Boston’s top priority. He said the Red Sox are meeting with representatives of every top pitcher available on the market.

So are most other teams. And it was clear in Scottsdale, Arizona, that the leadership of those other teams has a lot of respect for Breslow. A pitcher who played for seven big-league teams before working in the Chicago Cubs’ front office, Breslow has plenty of personal contacts in the game.


One is Ben Cherington, who built a championship Red Sox team in 2013 and is now running baseball operations in Pittsburgh. He traded for Breslow and got to know him well. Like many others, Cherington believes Breslow has what it takes to succeed in Boston.

Cherington was one of many execs I spoke with who talked about “drinking from the fire hose” to explain what it’s like in the early days overseeing an operation. There is just so much to do, and not much time to do it.

As a pitcher, Breslow adapted early to many of the tools that are now used by teams to help pitchers get the most out of their ability. He used pitch-tracking cameras in his offseason workouts long before teams began to implement them into their everyday training.

“I think that just reflects a competitiveness, a curiosity, a willingness to dig for the truth and be challenged and then make adjustments,” Cherington said of Breslow, “and those are all things that translate into these jobs pretty well.”

The hope in Red Sox Nation is that Breslow will be able to blend his understanding of modern baseball analytics with his experience as a pitcher in Boston. He and Manager Alex Cora are a rare combination of baseball leaders who have won it all in the city they now work in as management. They know what it takes to win in Boston and how to handle the inherent pressure of playing at Fenway Park.

“It’s a special place to do the job, without question,” said Cherington. “There aren’t many places like it and he and I have had a little chance to catch up on that. He experienced it obviously as a player. He understands the kind of energy and the intensity around it and that does make it a special place. He doesn’t need any advice from me. He’ll do well.”

Mike Elias, the Orioles GM who was named MLB Executive of the Year at the meetings, played with Breslow at Yale. I asked him if he could share a little dirt that we could use, a story or two from Breslow’s college days. Elias laughed and said Breslow – who majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry while trying to get himself drafted – had no time for college hijinks.

Now he’s trying to slow down time as he continues his first month on the job, while trying to beat other teams in the race to land the best available players. With his first meetings behind him, class is fully in session.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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