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Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘Skeptical’ about making splash in free agent market

12.08.11 at 10:08 am ET
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Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning in order to promote Christmas at Fenway and Fenway 100th Birthday celebrations as well as discuss the Red Sox’s managerial search and Hot Stove approach. Lucchino explained that the profile of the type of manager the Red Sox were looking for did change because the team noticed a window of opportunity to win something in the near-future.

“It’s fair to say that what you saw initially is not necessarily what everyone internally was talking about,” Lucchino said. “You saw some inexperienced managers who we thought had a significant upside. But as the process went on, we looked at what we had, and the window of opportunity to win was in our view wide-open and potentially short-term given the perishability of players as they grow older. It evolved into a situation where we agreed that we wanted someone with managerial experience. We didn’t necessarily insist on that at the beginning.”

Lucchino also discussed Theo Epstein‘s still unnamed compensation, as he admitted that the Red Sox and Cubs still cannot agree on just how much Epstein was worth. Chicago must compensate Boston for Epstein because Epstein was still under contract with the Red Sox when the Cubs interviewed Epstein of the Chicago job. After Epstein’s departure, the Red Sox named Ben Cherington as their new GM, and as such t is now up to Epstein, Cherington and the clubs to figure out who goes to Boston as part of the deal.

“[What is holding up talks is ]a general disagreement on what constitutes ‘significant compensation,”‘ Lucchino said. “At the very first discussion with the Cubs, it was made clear that this would be, we would permit this provided that if they did hire him, there would be ‘significant compensation.’ That’s an elastic term I suppose. It has one meaning to us and another meaning to them.”

Following are more highlights from the convversation. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. On whether the guidelines for a potential manager changed mid-process: “Well we looked at different models, to be sure. There was no perfect model in mind. We knew there were at least a couple of different approaches to it. So yes, it did evolve in time, although, as we said before, it was a collective process, and people brought different perspectives to it. Some favored one type of manager. Some favored another. We all had different points of view on it.”

On what underwhelmed ownership during the meeting with Dale Sveum in Milwaukee: “I don’t accept the premise, but Ben was advocating for a couple of people at the earliest stages of the process, and getting them in and making sure the process got complete. Milwaukee was just an opportunity for all of us to meet Dale. Actually I had met him previously, but in this context. So there was a slight acceleration because there was a good opportunity for all of us including Dale to be together.”

On whether Bobby Valentine is his guy, not Cherington’s: “”That’s also not true. I was an advocate for Bobby Valentine to be sure in the process, but these decisions, as we’ve been trying to tell you guys for I guess going into 11 years now, that there’s a collective process of governance that takes place with the Red Sox on major policy and personnel issues, and that’s what we just went through.”

“We went through this process with active participation from a number of people. At the end of the process, the Monday after Thanksgiving, when we all adjourned and stayed away from any discussion or search or anything further on it, Ben made a recommendation to us, and we accepted it with alacrity.”

On what makes Valentine a good pick for the Red Sox: “He is a son of New England. We offered him a team that has an excellent chance to compete and perhaps win next year. He clearly wanted this job and he attacked it with a certain zeal and energy, and humor and up-beat nature that has been a real shot in the arm for a lot of us in the franchise.”

On what he expects out of Cherington and the team in the free agent market: “One of the things we talked to Ben about when we gave him the job was the ‘Be bold’ admonition. We said to him, ‘Be bold, Ben, as general manager; and I think he is looking for ways to be bold. That doesn’t necessarily mean a gigantic free agent signing. You can’t go out and spend $250 to $300 million every offseason. That runs into real money, as the saying goes. But there are various ways to do things that are big and important. But having said that, you also have to look at the context. We have a solid team. We have a core of returning veterans, and this team was an excellent, excellent baseball team with the best record in baseball through much of last year, at least going into September. You have to pick your places, pick your times to do big things. But our general admonition to Ben is to be bold. ‘€¦ Major free agent splash? I’m skeptical about that, but a major trade? Always a possibility.”

On the status of veterans Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield: “We have enormous respect and gratitude for those guys and to those guys. I don’t think any final decision has been made yet. Ben has had some conversations with each of them about what role might be available going forward. No final decisions have been made on them. It’s very hard to address those issues because there’s a lot of respect and sentiment that gets caught up tine decision as well. But we haven’t closed any doors with those guys just that.”

Read More: ben cherington, David Ortzi, Larry Lucchino,
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