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Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘No way of knowing’ who the leak was

08.23.12 at 1:34 pm ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about the firing of pitching coach Bob McClure, what’s wrong with the Red Sox and who’s to blame for the team’s failures. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The front office elected to fire McClure on Monday due to the team’s pitching struggles as the staff ranks 11th in the AL.

“This is a performance-driven business,” Lucchino said. “The instability of the starting pitching, the ineffectiveness of the starting pitcher has been our basic problem. You put that next to the epidemic of injuries, I think those are the two obvious points that one would turn to. So it was a question of performance. Now, in retrospect should we have done it earlier? Perhaps. But we did it when we came to the conclusion that the performance did not justify him remaining in that spot.”

Jeff Passan,who wrote the Yahoo! Sports article that exposed that Red Sox players had ripped Bobby Valentine in a July team meeting, covered the Royals when McClure was with Kansas City. This led people to believe that this connection could make McClure the one who leaked the story.

“I’m well aware of the overlap in Kansas City,” Lucchino said. “That’s not a surprise to me. That was called to my attention. But, again there’s no way of knowing so I’m not going to make any baseless acquisitions.”

The meeting that took place in July has been a source of numerous rumors for the Red Sox since it happened on July 26.

“I have no way of knowing who that person was [that leaked the story],”the president  said.”The person did break a code of confidentiality understanding we’ve had for many years. The reference to the round table is that this meeting was of course, somewhat different. It followed the same code of confidentiality we begin at round tables and we began this meeting in New York with this statement, ‘What we say in the room, stays in the room.’ And I say it every time. I don’t think there’s been a meeting with the players, round table, whatever you want to call it, that has not begun with a statement from me or someone, generally from me, about how confidential these things are. … Bob McClure was not in that meeting.”

On the heels of that leaked story, there have been some rumblings this season that the media has negatively affected the team.

“I didn’t blame the media for our win-loss record,” he said. “I was talking about the unnecessary hysteria, the melodrama around some of these side issues, the peripheral issues and the fact that the media might have had a different attitude towards things than our fans. … Absolutely, I didn’t say that. It’s terribly misleading. It makes me look like a fool. You can’t blame the media for the performance on the field.”

The Red Sox are 59-65, 8 1/2 games back of the second wild card leading Athletics and while not mathematically eliminated, they’re not exactly where they wanted to be with their original expectations. Playing for 2013 might just be Boston’s new plan.

“While technically we’re still in the hunt,” he said. “I think we see the same facts, the same numbers, the same standings that our fans see and we recognize that this has been a disappointing season below our expectations to be sure. But, we want to play interesting, competitive baseball every time we take the field. So while we’re absolutely playing for this year to finish strong and to show some resilience and to see some performances improve, we also keep a little bit more of an eye on 2013 to be sure.”

When things go horribly wrong, there’s always someone to blame, but Lucchino chose the high road when playing the blame game.

“We all share some of the blame,” he said. “Those of us in the front office who participated in offseason decisions that were not helpful. Certainly the players in uniform stand up and they themselves, blame themselves for the lack of performance. Guys, whose historical records were well established, came up with dismal seasons, many of which could not reasonably have been anticipated before the season. I certainly look to the manager and the coaches who share some responsibility for this. I looked at John Henry and Tom Werner and myself for our role in this to be sure.”

When Lucchino was asked about his players effort, he became positively defensive.

“If you see these guys before and after games you understand how much they care,” he said. “You can really fool yourself if you focus on that as a major component as to why these guys are not playing well. That is just not the case. These guys are intense, competitive players, who are world class athletes and they have a gene in them that requires them to go out and play hard even if they are playing a pick up game. … These guys are intense and I see it in their face, I see it in their post game reactions. These guys do care.”

Boston hitters have always be known for taking walks and having a high on-base percentage, but this season the team ranks 24th in the major leagues in walks and has a .323 OBP.

“We are very focused on that situation,” he said. “The on-base percentage of the club has declined and that is I think another factor I would put up there with the severe spate of injuries to key players and with the instability of starting pitching. The on-base percentage, the walk rate of the club as well, those three factors go to the top of my list as to why this year was disappointing. … We have in our contracts with certain key management and coaching people incentives for finishing in the top one, two or three in on-base percentage. So we still focus on it. There hasn’t been a change in philosophy, there’s just been a change in execution.”

With that dismal record comes the potential of fans becoming increasingly disgruntled and sometimes it can be quite apparent.

“Yes, I noticed a little bit of that with some people leaving the ballpark early the last night or two,” Lucchino said. “I did notice that. Of course the games were pretty much stinkers, we ran in to some terrific pitching by the Angels. Too often people mistake quality pitching by the opponents as a lack of effort or lackadaisical attitude on the part of the players. Our players are not doing that. I’m always impressed by the resilience of our fans.”

As a result of this abysmal season, there may be several changes in the Red Sox clubhouse.

“I think we’ll examine all options, absolutely,” Lucchino said. “It’s not a question of fine tuning. It’s a question of looking back to the fundamental things you talked about — the approach, and the on-base percentage. We’ll be concerned about that. The physical things, we will be concerned about that — do we have the right kind of system in place? You need to build it all on pitching and we will focus heavily on that, but we’ll look at everything. We’ll look under every rock. It’s an obligation we have. It’s not just our job. It’s a fundamental obligation, we feel, to provide a team worthy of the fans’ support.”

Read More: bob mcclure, Bobby Valentine, Larry Lucchino,
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