John Henry on M&M: ‘I probably would have preferred to play Cleveland’
|10.03.13 at 1:09 pm ET|
Red Sox owner John Henry joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday, one day before the Red Sox open the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park, and talked about the challenge his Red Sox face against their AL East rivals.
“I was watching the game last night, and I probably would have preferred to play Cleveland, because Tampa is so tough,” Henry said. “We play them 19 times a year. Every game is tough. We got the better of it this year. But their pitching is extraordinary. And our offense is the best in baseball. So it should make for an exciting three, four or five games.”
A meeting with Cleveland would have meant a reunion with former Sox manager Terry Francona, who had a falling out with Henry and the Sox ownership after his departure following the 2011 season.
“It would have added an extra dimension, no doubt about it,” Henry said. “It would be sort of like playing the Dodgers in the World Series.”
Henry said the in-house projection for this year’s Red Sox team was to post a win total in the high 80s, as it was a year ago when the Sox stumbled to a 69-93 mark.
“It was an incredibly frustrating year,” Henry said of 2012. “You lose 93 games, that’s 93 nights — and more, because you have off nights sometimes following. It’s just, I don’t know how to put it other than pure suffering. You suffer through that. The games were painful.
“This year it was just really fun to watch and be a part of.”
Henry said the key was a return to the team’s core philosophies, including on-base percentage.
“If you just look at simple things like the at-bats the players had, grinding out at-bats,” Henry said. “The difference between last year, when we had consistently poor at-bats, and this year, it’s amazing to see that turnaround in one year.”
Added Henry: “I think the players and John Farrell and his great staff and Ben [Cherington] and his staff are what got us back to where we were. You saw our on-base percentage last year dropped to either 13th or 14th. And we led the majors this year in on-base percentage. So, there’s definitely been a change in that regard.”
Henry also pointed to the Red Sox’ strategy last offseason, when they stayed away from the big-name free agents and instead loaded up on solid but unspectacular players.
“You saw Ben become much more depth-oriented, as opposed to going after, say, Josh Hamilton or someone like that last year,” the owner said.
Added Henry of Hamilton: “To my knowledge, we didn’t pursue him. Any time he was brought up for discussion, we weren’t pursuing him.”
Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino‘s name has come up as a possible candidate for MLB commissioner following the departure of Bud Selig next year.
“People have talked about Tom [Werner], as well, as commissioner. But they both seem pretty happy here,” Henry said. “Last year, I think people on the outside thought we were — you remember we had one phone call over whether or not the team was for sale.
“Even at the worst of it, I think Tom and Larry were committed. We were all three — and everyone in the organization — pretty much committed to getting back on track. And now that we are, I don’t see any of that changing, at least personnel-wise.”
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