Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘It’ll be great when [Xander Bogaerts’] time comes’
|08.08.13 at 9:23 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, and with the Red Sox’ come-from-behind win over the Astros Wednesday night meaning they have surpassed their 2012 win total, Lucchino had plenty of praise for first-year manager John Farrell.
Lucchino noted that Farrell had been the team’s first choice in the fall of 2011 following Terry Francona’s departure, but when the front office couldn’t pry him away from the Blue Jays, they ended up hiring Bobby Valentine.
“I don’t want to attribute it all [the improvement from last season to this one] to a difference between Bobby Valentine and John Farrell. John Farrell has done a fantastic job. He is a solid leader. He was our first choice last year,” Lucchino said. “But John has done everything, everything right. There’s no question. One of the things he did right was help select the coaching staff that is as dedicated and hard-working as any coaching staff in baseball. So there is not just a kind of chemistry among the players, but there is a chemistry among the players and the manager and the coaches in the clubhouse.”
Lucchino went as far to say that chemistry factored into every move general manager Ben Cherington made during the 2012-13 offseason, mentioning Jonny Gomes in particular as an example.
Aside from Gomes’ ability to hit lefties, the Sox noticed that wherever he went, his team was successful, and they liked what he brought in terms of “clubhouse demeanor.”
“We weren’t trying to put together a team of nice guys who kind of got along,” Lucchino said. “We were trying to put together a team of talented baseball players who also happened to have the personality characteristics that we thought were important to winning, to changing the culture that we had here that had developed — unintentionally, of course — over time. There was a real examination.”
One of the players who most clearly plays a role in that is Dustin Pedroia, whom Lucchino mentioned when quizzed on the idea of captains in baseball. Pedroia is not officially designated as the Red Sox’ captain, nor did Lucchino suggest that was in the works, but he did say Pedroia “fits the role perfectly.”
Lucchino was also complimentary of top prospect Xander Bogaerts, whose arrival in the major leagues — which will come at an unknown date — is more highly anticipated by fans than that of any other Red Sox prospect in recent memory.
So does the front office feel similarly?
“Oh yes, oh yes,” Lucchino said. “He’s the youngest player in the International League right now, and he’s doing well right now even though he’s only been there a relatively short time, and he has plenty of tools. We don’t want to overhype anyone, but if there were someone you’d be tempted to overhype, it would be Xander. He’s a massive specimen and plays the game with a lot of excitement and joy, so it’ll be great when his time comes. We’re certainly thinking he’s going to be up here at some point this year.”
On Jacoby Ellsbury, pending contract negotiations and the Red Sox’ wariness of long-term deals: “We’re going to make an effort [to agree to a deal], to be sure. We tried early to ignite some early negotiations on it and were unsuccessful, so we’re going to not interfere with the remainder of this season, and at the end of the season we will make an effort both before and, if it happens that he does elect free agency, during the free agency period as well.
“We will try to keep him here under terms that we think are fair for the team and for Jacoby as well. But you’re absolutely right about long-term contracts. For us, they are the exception, not the rule, and we try to avoid them as much as possible. I think the decades of baseball history demonstrate that that is the proven course of action. Seven-, eight- and 10-year contracts can be quite detrimental over time.”
On Jon Lester: “He certainly has gotten better in the second half. He had three or four really quality starts at the end of the first half and start of the second half, and we still have tremendous faith in him. He’s a real horse on the mound. He has the stuff and the presence to be an ace — we still believe that. I’m optimistic every time he takes the mound.”
On Stephen Drew, and the idea that his last name distorts some people’s perception of him: “I agree with that. I agree with that completely. And of course, Stephen has had injury problems, didn’t get off to a great start, but boy, he’s had some real supporters in the organization, people who have had great faith in him. They happen to be people like John Farrell, Ben Cherington and John Henry, so if you’re going to have three supporters who loves the way the guy plays. He plays major league shortstop, makes all the plays. He’s got great strike-zone judgment, he’s got some power as we saw last night. We’re counting on him to be a key cog as we move down the line here.”
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