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Terry Francona on D&H: ‘I’m a Big Kotchman Fan’

12.17.09 at 2:38 pm ET

Red Sox manager Terry Francona appeared on the Dale & Holley Show to discuss his excitement for the shape that the 2010 Red Sox are taking. In the aftermath of the signings of John Lackey, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro this offseason, Francona suggested that the team is positioning itself to win consistently. He also suggested that he thinks the club, as currently constructed, doesn’t need any further changes, and that he would be comfortable with Casey Kotchman as his everyday first baseman.

A transcript of highlights from the interview is below. To listen to the interview, click here.

On Mike Cameron:

He’€™s a good kid. I know you heard this yesterday, but I go back a long way with this guy. It’€™s kind of come full circle. He was a nice kid. Now that he’€™s a 37-year-old, he’€™s a good teammate. That’€™s for sure.

You scared 17, 18 year olds, telling them they’€™d end up working in 7-Elevens?

I don’€™t remember that word for word. My guess is, it wasn’€™t the hitting part. My guess is it was a day that we were taking infield, and we didn’€™t even complete infield because, you’€™re dealing with 18-year-olds, it was raining. We had to quit taking infield because we ran out of balls. I think that’€™s the day that statement came out.

Cameron is a 37-year-old ‘€“ why can he play everyday at this stage of his career?

He’€™s kept himself in great shape. If you just look at him, that’€™s not a problem. We didn’€™t sign him until he’€™s 41. And we have some protection. We have Hermida if he’€™s banged up or needs a day. He’€™s a pretty good fit right now. Sometimes, that’€™s almost as important as the guy you’€™re getting, is how he fits in. We’€™ve talked a lot this winter about wanting to improve our defense. We’€™re trying to get better. Rather than go out and chase every bat that’€™s available and playing softball, I think we sat down a lot and talked about pitching and defense and trying to be better than the other team. And I think we all feel pretty good about that right now.

Have you decided on your centerfielder for 2010?

No, I actually just hung up with DeMarlo [Hale, the bench coach and outfield instructor] a minute ago. What I think I need to do, and I kind of explained this real quick yesterday, is I need to sit down with Theo ‘€“ it’€™s been a busy few days for him ‘€“ with DeMarlo. I have some ideas on this, but I want to talk with Jacoby and Cameron a little more about this, and then we’€™ll figure it out. I have some ideas, but I really want to talk to everyone involved before we do this.

Are you comfortable with either of those guys in left field or right field?

We don’€™t need them to play right field. I think you’€™re maybe talking about left or center. And, yeah ‘€“ they both can do both. We’€™d like to put ourselves in what we think is the best position, and take a little bit of time to think about it and also to talk to everyone involved. But either way, we’€™ll be okay because both of these guys can catch the ball.

You said that you always want more pitching. Did you think you would be able to land the best available free-agent pitcher this offseason?

No. I really didn’€™t. It’€™s funny. I kind of alluded to it yesterday, because every time Theo asked me in the meetings ‘€“ in fact, one time he asked me and then stopped and said, ‘€˜I know your answer’€™ ‘€“ every time he asked me about somebody, I’€™d always come up with a pitcher. It’€™s the way I think we can be good not only in the short term, but also sustain it in the long term. What we found out in ‘€™06 was, as many things as went wrong, when we lost our pitching we couldn’€™t overcome it. That was a horrible feeling. I guess maybe, you’€™ve heard me say it before, when you think you have enough [pitching], go get more. I guess I’€™m always going to feel that way. We made a good staff a lot better. I’€™m glad for that.

Were you active in the recruiting of these guys?

Not really. I guess Theo knew my history with Mike Cameron, but I think sometimes, Theo has a great way of doing this, when things need to get done, he does it quietly and gets them done. When too many people get involved, things have a tendency of getting out there. When he needs to get it done, he goes out there and does it. I respect that a lot.

You have to feel that Ellsbury-Cameron-Drew gives you as good a defensive outfield as there is in the league.

Yeah, we’€™re pretty excited about that. We banged our heads against the wall and tried to figure out ‘€“ how can we get better? How can we get more consistent? It’€™s easy to say we can get six guys who can hit 30 home runs. But by catching the ball, having it end up where it’€™s supposed to, and having really good pitching, we felt like that was our best way to get better. We just didn’€™t do a good enough job consistently last year defensively.

What does Scutaro bring to your lineup and the shortstop position?

This is quietly a really good signing for us. You saw what happened last year. We had so much fluctuation at shortstop for a lot of different reasons. And then when we got [Alex Gonzalez], and it really settled things down. Now you have a guy who’€™s going to be really consistent catching the ball, and you add some really strong on-base skills, he’€™s a good baserunner, he’€™s just a really good ballplayer. From day one, we’€™re going to have a guy who we can run out there everyday. Whether we hit him at the top of the order or the bottom of the order, he’€™s going to get on base. He’€™s going to be a good addition. I think the fans are going to respect and enjoy this guy really quickly.

How does Scutaro compare to the ‘€™09 version of Alex Gonzalez defensively?

That’€™s going to be interesting. Anytime you’€™re comparing someone to Alex Gonzalez defensively, that’€™s quite a compliment right there. Gonzie, like you kind of alluded to and I agree with the assessment, he made plays that made you kind of scratch your head. Now, he lost some range, but he’€™s still so good defensively. Marco, if you look at some of the defensive metrics, actually rates above Gonzie in some of those. Now, those aren’€™t perfect. But I think the point is, this kid’€™s pretty good defensively. He may not be as flashy as Gonzie ‘€“ I don’€™t know that anybody is ‘€“ but he’€™s going to be a very good defensive shortstop.

Can you compare who Scutaro was for most of his big-league career to who he’€™s been in the last couple years? How has be become a full-time player?

I think that’€™s a better question for him. He came up with Cleveland, he was a good utility player, and then somebody finally gave him a chance to play. Maybe it was out of necessity. Maybe somebody saw something. But we’€™ve all seen what he’€™s done as an everyday player. He’€™s taken his skills, and he’€™s actually become better. Some guys can’€™t do it. They play everyday and they can’€™t do it for some reason ‘€“ whether it’€™s physical or mental. He’€™s gotten better. He’€™s at a little bit of an older age. But again, we got him for two years, and we’€™re all excited. He’€™s going to be a good part of our team.

Have you figured out who will play first and third?

I know that you’€™re kind of alluding to Mikey Lowell. Out of respect to him, we kind of need to let this play out. I’€™m sure Mikey’€™s name comes up a lot the last couple winters. It’€™s probably not the most comfortable situation. One way or the other, something will resolve itself, and then we’€™ll have a lot to talk about, one way or the other. Just out of respect to Mikey, it’€™s probably better for me to leave that alone right now.

Youkilis will play anywhere ‘€“ do you think he’€™d prefer first base or third base?

I think if he had his choice, he’€™d be a third baseman. I think he views himself as a third baseman. He’€™s kind of referred to himself as Happy Gilmore a few times. Now, he’€™s a tremendous first baseman, but I think that his first and true love is third base.

Do you like your team better today than you did two days ago?

Yeah. Because I get to talk to Theo and the guys, I can see some of these things coming. But I’m probably more comfortable with our team than maybe a lot of other people are. I think people are maybe clamoring for more moves. I’m a big Kotchman fan. I think Kotch kind of goes under the radar because he came over and he didn’t play and he didn’t say anything and he just kind of went about his business. We can do just fine with Kotch playing first, hitting down toward the bottom of the order and catching everything in sight. I’m pretty comfortable with that.

Read More: Casey Kotchman, john lackey, marco scuatro, mike cameron
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