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Larry Lucchino on D&C: Red Sox would have handled Theo compensation differently

02.26.12 at 12:55 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox CEO and President Larry Lucchino, in a visit with the Dennis & Callahan show, said that in retrospect his team would have handled the matter of compensation for the departure of former GM Theo Epstein differently.

When the Sox accepted Epstein’s resignation so that he could leave to become the president of baseball operations for the Cubs, they did manage to get a concession that Chicago would give them player compensation. However, the two sides did not agree on precisely which player or players would go back to the Sox. In the end, Lucchino said, the Sox were “a little disappointed” that their yield on the deal was right-handed relief prospect Chris Carpenter and a player to be named.

“[Carpenter is] a very strong-armed young pitcher who pitched in the major leagues last year, pitched quite well last year in relief, very low ERA in September when he pitched with the Cubs. He’€™s a guy who throws 95-100 mph,” said Lucchino. “The short answer to your question, and this is not meant to be a reflection on Chris Carpenter ‘€“ we’€™re excited to have him and pleased to have him. Overall, are we disappointed in the process? I think the answer to that is yes. I think the Commissioner’€™s Office feels the Cubs are disappointed. They didn’€™t want to lose Chris Carpenter and another player who is going to be named later. They didn’€™t feel any player compensation was appropriate.

“They’€™re disappointed. We’€™re a little disappointed. The Commissioner’€™s Office probably says to themselves, ‘€˜If both sides are a little disappointed, no one feels that this is a clear win, maybe we did our mediation job right.’€™”

While Major League Baseball might feel that the right outcome was achieved, Lucchino said that the Sox do wish that, with the benefit of hindsight, they’d brought the issue of compensation to greater resolution before agreeing to let Epstein go.

“We did at that point secure the fact that player compensation had to be provided. We did get something at that point,” said Lucchino. “Certainly, if we were doing it over, there would be greater clarity about the specifics of the compensation. That’€™s the way Major League Baseball would like to have it done.”

Still, while the Sox would have liked to have received a player with a different profile, Lucchino said that the Sox were satisfied with the outcome of Epstein’s departure. He believes that the Sox are well positioned to succeed in Epstein’s absence, which opened the door for Ben Cherington to become GM of the Sox.

“The net result is that we have a change,” said Lucchino. “Theo is where he wants to be. He didn’€™t want to be in Boston, he wanted to be in Chicago, so he’€™s out there. Ben Cherington could not be hungrier, happier, more prepared guy to take the reins of the baseball operations department. And through that process, we ended up with Bobby Valentine. So we don’€™t just look at the compensation of these two players. We look at the state of the franchise right now. Is it in good shape? Is it poised to have the kind of positive successful season that we want? I think the answer to that is yes. In that sense, the offseason was successful.”

Lucchino also touched on several additional topics during his appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show. Highlights are below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

On the meeting between owners and members of the team on Saturday morning: The spirit of it was quite positive. There was a sense that there’€™s a new chapter to be written. We cannot do much about 2011 at this stage, nor should we try. It is about the newness of 2012 ‘€“ the new team coming together, the new baseball leadership provided by Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine, and it’€™s about the new opportunity that we have in 2012 to prove something. I would say that phrase was used. ‘€˜We have something to prove.’€™

What emotions have you felt since September? Is the team motivated by the September collapse? Yes. To answer that last part, I would say yes. I think this team is motivated. Individuals feel a keen sense of motivation. I know we in the front office, that ownership feels a keen sense of motivation. There is something exciting about this year. Because of the way it finished last year, the disappointment, that creates a higher sense of responsibility and expectation for this year. The 100th anniversary [of Fenway Park] creates a sense of excitement and expectation. The newness of this [spring training] facility creates excitement and expectation. Some of the new young players create excitement and expectation. And some of the question marks around the team create excitement and uncertainty that makes it interesting.

What I sense now is today is the first day of the 2012 season. … The 2012 season begins now and we have something to prove.

Are you embracing greater fiscal austerity in team building? There’€™s not the big brand name guy that’€™s come in, the household name. But there are some good talented players who have come. You know my philosophy: It’€™s about balance. It’€™s about 25 guys. You don’€™t win just with the guys. You win with the Joes. You’€™ve got to have depth ‘€“ deep depth and balance. As to austerity, I hope we’€™ve proven over 10 years that there’€™s a commitment to winning. Our payroll this year will be the second highest in all of baseball. Our payroll will be well over, I don’€™t know where it will end up ‘€“ it’€™s a dynamic thing.

If we have to, if the right opportunity presents itself, we will (spend in-season). Just so you know, we’€™re talking about a payroll that’€™s going to be in excess of $190 million by most anybody’€™s expectations, by anyone’€™s standard of measurements. … If that means we have to pay a payroll tax, we’€™ll pay a payroll tax.

Is that more of less than Liverpool? I don’€™t know what the Liverpool payroll is.

On the trade of shortstop Marco Scutaro: We traded Scutaro for a bunch of reasons. It was a baseball operations-inspired idea. They made an assessment that we could get the same quality of performance by different deployment at shortstop, and that that money could be used better to strengthen a couple of other areas. It was a combination of baseball operations evaluation of the productivity of the position and an eagerness to have more payroll flexibility at that moment so that they could go out and bring in some missing pieces.

On how long the Sox will wait before Jose Iglesias is in the big leagues: I think you’€™re going to have to wait at least several months, but I don’€™t know. Those are calls that will be made by Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine. But I’€™ve loved this kid since the day we got him. I saw him this morning. He’€™s full of energy and life. He has a spark to him that’€™s really contagious. We all know he can field at the major league level and then some. The question is, he’€™s only 22. His English has gotten quite good compared to a year ago. I think that’€™s a metaphor for his whole game. If we wait a little bit for his development, tempting as it is to watch a light as he is, a bright light that he presents, if we can be patient enough, we’€™re going to get something that’€™s really fun to watch.

On the idea that the Sox are picked for third by many in the AL East: Good. Good. I talked to my friend Paul Beeston, the CEO of Toronto. He thinks we should be very worried as well about the Blue Jays overtaking us, too. Put us fourth, too. Put us anywhere you want in February. We don’€™t care. In fact, the lower the better. We know we have something to prove. We don’€™t have to be reminded of it. Pick us anywhere you want. Who cares?

Why wasn’t Bobby Valentine hired by a major league team in the last 10 years? Why was Jeremy Lin sitting on the bench? It’€™s not a perfect science, evaluation of playing talent and managerial talent. Images get formed. Bobby wasn’€™t just sitting at home whittling wood. … I said this today, that I think Ben Cherington and Bobby Valnetine are guys who have hit the ground running and are the right people at the right time for this franchise.

Read More: ben cherington, Bobby Valentine, Chris Carpenter, Jeremy Lin
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