Characterizing the General Manager head-hunt during Theo Epstein’s winter sabbatical as “fraudulent”, the Hartford Courant’s David Heuschkel pines for the one that got away.

Among the people who Larry Lucchino spoke to in his attempt to find Epstein’s successor was Connecticut native Wayne Krivsky (above), who later was hired as Reds GM. Maybe Lucchino didn’t ask Krivsky the right questions during their interview at the GM meetings in Palm Springs, Calif., in November. Or perhaps Lucchino didn’t listen closely to the answers.

Because in his first season in Cincinnati, Krivsky has shown the same moxie Epstein had in previous years. He traded young major league talent (Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez) and several minor leaguers to overhaul one of the worst bullpens in baseball. It is no fluke the Reds are leading the National League wild card and closing on the Central-leading Cardinals.

The Red Sox, who added a left-handed bat Thursday by acquiring Eric Hinske from the Blue Jays, could use a lefty specialist in the bullpen to face Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon in the late innings this weekend. Scott Schoeneweis was available, that is until Krivsky acquired him from the Blue Jays for a player to be named or cash, something the Red Sox have in abundance.

“We’re always looking, but the pitchers that are available right now are available for a reason,” Epstein said. “It’s a tough time of the year to acquire a pitcher who will be able to make a difference.”

The players Epstein has acquired, Jason Johnson, Kyle Snyder, Javier Lopez and Bryan Corey, haven’t exactly been difference makers. Astros ace Roy Oswalt probably would have been, but Epstein deemed the price too steep, just as he did with other pitchers available. Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes, a former assistant under Epstein in Boston, acquired righthander Livan Hernandez from the Nationals in a post-July 31 trade.

Strangely, Heuschkel neglects to mention which players, either from Boston’s current major league roster or others in the organization, he’d have advocated trading for Schoenweis or Hernandez.

Though Hinskie went 3-4 in his Fenway debut earlier today, the Yankees pounded Jason Johnson, Kyle Snyder and Rudy Seanez, starting this weekend’s quintet of games winning a 12-4 rout. Johnny Damon (above) was 3 for 6 with a two run HR off Johnson in the 5th, and collected 4 RBI’s. Chien-Mien Wang ran his record to 14-5, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, one of ’em a solo HR by Manny Ramirez, his 33rd.

The Cards hit 6 HR’s against Cubs pitching this afternoon, including Albert Pujols’ 36th and a solo dinger from Preston Wilson in his St. Louis debut, as the Redbirds romped, 11-3. Jason Marquis earned his 13th win, and perhaps he’ll hit 16 by the time his ERA goes past 6.00. David Eckstein (above) left early with a strained oblique muscle.

The A’s have a 1-0, 2nd inning lead over the Royals
at Andy Kauffman Memorial Stadium. I can’t remember the last time we were graced with 3 matinee games on a Friday, and despite two of the 3 being part of doubleheaders, I’d hope that Phil Mushnick has a) written a thank-you letter to Major League Baseball and b) has told John Mark Karr that his services as Mushnick Family Nanny are no longer required.