Larry Lucchino on D&C: John Farrell ‘the right manager for us’
|09.19.13 at 10:35 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ successful season, especially in regard to the team’s chemistry and the decision to hire John Farrell as manager last offseason.
With only nine games remaining in the regular season, the Red Sox have built a comfortable lead in the AL East, as they are eight games ahead of the second-place Rays.
While he did not admit that the hiring of Bobby Valentine was a mistake, Lucchino said that the selection of Farrell was a great move for this team.
“I will celebrate the fact that this is the right manager for us, absolutely,” Lucchino said. I will try to remind you guys that we endeavored to get John Farrell to be our manager last year, and a roadblock with the Toronto Blue Jays, they would not release him from his contract, and this year it took us the trade of a major league player to get them to release him from his contract, so this was the right decision, there’s no question about it.”
Lucchino said he expected an improvement this season, but even he has been surprised by the incredible turnaround.
“Our expectations were that this team would be better, there’s no doubt about that. I remember describing them as something like ‘spunky underdogs’ or something like that, that we were going to surprise people this year as underdogs,” Lucchino said. “But not even we predicted in our internal analysis that we would be winning something in the mid-90s. We hoped for it, but we certainly didn’t predict it.”
Lucchino added that the addition of good clubhouse characters and chemistry has been an integral part of the team’s success this season.
“We in the front office had experience with both kinds of teams. Teams that were solid and played with a sort of looseness and a had a bunch of leaders in the clubhouse, and we’ve seen teams that were not so composed, so it was important to us,” Lucchino said. “I remember saying to you guys during the offseason, ‘Listen, we’re not trying to put together the coolest guys in the class and create a fraternity, what we’re trying to do is put together a winning baseball team and this is just one element of it.’ … The psychological contributions and the leadership contributions of these guys have been profoundly important.”
Looking ahead to October baseball, Lucchino said that Farrell will have to juggle a lot of factors when it comes to selecting a Game 1 starter.
“Well, [the] schedule, to be sure. When might we clinch and whose turn is up. Now, if we win the division and there is a period of time where they are on a four-day rest period, it probably gives [Farrell] some time. It gives him freedom,” Lucchino said. “I think the hot hand has a lot to do with it, who’s pitching well at this team of the year. That’s what October baseball is all about, getting particularly hot at the right time, so I think that’s going to play a major role. But I think the choices are probably pretty obvious, [Jon] Lester and [Clay] Buchholz. But that’s why we pay John the big bucks.”
On Koji Uehara’s performance this season: “We knew in December that he was an underappreciated talent, that he threw strike after strike after strike, walked nobody, but no envisioned once again the kind of extreme performance that we’ve gotten from him. What a lifesaver he has been after the injuries [to Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey].”
On whether he had to be persuaded to go along with the signing of some players this past offseason, including Jonny Gomes: “I had to be a little bit convinced, to tell you the truth, because I was a Cody Ross fan, and that was the question. When it became clear to us that the commit for Cody was going to be much higher and longer, as it turned out Cody got a three-year deal for $27 million, Jonny Gomes’s two-year deal for $10 million looked like a pretty good deal. We of course were aware that wherever he goes, the team wins. Good teams just follow Jonny Gomes, or so it seems.”
On the hope that the team’s soon-to-be free agents will want to remain in Boston after this year: “I hope it works that way. That is the ultimate goal, believe me. We want to create a situation where players consider subjective factors, not just the size of the dollar amount on the top line, they consider the fun of playing in a nearly full ballpark every night, the passion and intensity of the fans, the commitment of the ownership. … I think players can see every day that this is a good place to play and we care about winning and we care about the players’ well-being.”
On whether he would endorse a clubhouse celebration when the team clinches a playoff spot: “Our goal is to win the American League East. We want to play October baseball, to be sure, so we’re happy to recognize the importance of that, but personally I will not celebrate the clinching of a wild card spot. That’s not what we’re shooting for this year. If and when we get there, I’ll celebrate the clinching of the American League East.”
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