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Mike Hazen on D&C: ‘Nobody envisioned this’ Red Sox team’s success this year

09.26.13 at 11:27 am ET
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Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss Boston’s incredible turnaround season, as well as the planning for the team’s postseason roster.

Hazen said that no one in the front office could have predicted just how well the team was going to perform this season.

“I know that the expectations have probably been reset, given the amount of success this team’s had,” Hazen said. “We feel pretty good about the fact that the culture that’s been created within the clubhouse, created in the manager’s office, within the walls of baseball operations all the way down through was pretty good this year, and we feel like the formula for success was at least rewritten a bit in regards to that. … But I think from what we set out and where we were in spring training, nobody envisioned this. Nobody envisioned 96-plus wins.”

Hazen added that some members of the Red Sox front office originally did not agree with the offseason focus on chemistry and veteran players.

“There’s dissenters on every decision that we make,” Hazen said. “Those guys are all in the mix, they all have different opinions, they all have different takes on it. … There’s so many people that Ben [Cherington] pulls information from. There’s always dissenters in every decision that we make, and that’s what makes Ben so good at mining through all of those things, mining through all those resources to try and come up with a good decision, but it’s challenging.”

When it comes to constructing a playoff roster, Hazen said that both manager John Farrell and Cherington have a say in who gets to play in October.

“John and Ben work pretty much hand and hand on everything,” Hazen said. “Those guys sit and talk quite a bit. We try to provide as much information: historical perspectives on playoff rosters, number of pitchers, number of position players, etc. … From John’s perspective, certainly he’s watching right now. He’s watched for the last month as we’ve had a pretty good idea that we were going to be in the playoffs. He’s starting to watch every performance and trying to figure out who are those guys that are going to be on that team. So those are daily conversations that are taking place.”

Hazen said a pitcher’s home/away splits is not as significant as most people would think when it comes to determining when a pitcher will start during a postseason series.

“Yes, those things have been discussed,” Hazen said. “I don’t know how significant of a role — I mean, look, when you talk about splits, you’re talking about obviously the splitting up of the statistics, and when you start getting the smaller and smaller sample size, you start getting the more trouble when you start to use them. … That’s been debated, I don’t know that that’s going to be the ultimate decider.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On whether the Red Sox’ past offseason has set the template for other MLB team’s offseason plans: “I don’t think so. I don’t think what we did was anything earth-shattering. I think we found a collection of good players, we found a collection of players that fit well together and with the team. … I think from a contractual standpoint, maybe that’s something that can be looked at with other clubs, you know, as far as whether you view having to go land the big fish every offseason. … I feel like we got back to playing good baseball.”

On whether the key to postseason success lies in starting pitching: “I think so. I don’t know that it’s the exact same formula, but I think so. If I were to rate it out, I’d probably say starting pitching and then your closer, or the back end of the bullpen. … But look, playoff baseball in a lot of ways is about teams getting hot, and if you get hot, you start scoring some runs, which can be sometimes scarce in the postseason. You can do a lot of damage in postseason games because the other team probably is not going to match you.”

On whether he agrees that Koji Uehara was the most impactful, if not the most unexpected, signing last offseason: “I would say it was the most impactful. I wouldn’t say it was the most unexpected, just in terms of what he’s doing from a statistical standpoint. Certainly from a closing standpoint, we weren’t expecting that by any stretch of the imagination just from a role standpoint, but the reason why we signed him was the exact reason: the way he’s pitching. If you go back and look when he was with Baltimore, we saw firsthand when he was in Baltimore, and then he went to Texas … the strikeouts, the walks, the number of hits, the amount of baserunners this guy puts on base, it’s always been the thing when we faced him, we couldn’t touch him.”

On whether the team needs 11 pitchers on the postseason roster for a best-of-five ALDS series: “Well, so that’s the debate. That’s the debate that you have when you’re talking about how you’re going to set all these things up, and that’s something we’re still talking about. You get into a situation where your starting pitchers go seven, eight innings, look, we get the starting pitching that we’ve gotten for the entire season? Probably not, right? Those guys go seven-plus innings, then you’re talking the back end of your bullpen is what you need.”

Read More: mike hazen, postseason, Red Sox,
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