Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘The core of this team will remain’ for 2014
|11.01.13 at 9:50 am ET|
With the 2012 Red Sox finishing last, expectations were low heading into this season. But as the team proved itself to be a contender, Lucchino said the goals were adjusted.
“There was a kind of buzz about the team that developed all along, throughout the season, and came to a fever pitch at around the postseason time,” Lucchino said. “It was almost like we caught a wave right at the right time. I think the fans, and certainly, I speak for myself, I did realize how important it was to get to the World Series. That’s always the special measurement of a team, getting to the World Series. But sure, I would have been terribly disappointed had we not won, because as the team played, our expectations grew. And our sense of how historic this might be, because of the worst-to-first concept that was at its heart, they also grew.”
Lucchino said he’ll “remember the personality and maturity of the team,” but the front office can’t spend too much time reliving the success of 2013 as “the preparations for 2014 have already begun.”
Looking at expectations for next season, Lucchino said the hope is to make it to the postseason and see what happens from there.
“Our goal from the beginning is to be playing October baseball, so I’d be disappointed if we weren’t playing in October next year,” Lucchino said. “But I know how hard it is for some of the things to come together. I’m constantly talking about randomness and unpredictability of baseball. You could add to that the randomness and unpredictability of the health of our players.
“So many things have to come together so well to win it all. To win in such a magical way, as we did this year in such an appealing way, you can’t expect that every year. But what we can expect every year is to field a team that’s worthy of the fans’ support, a phrase we come back to all the time. So I will be disappointed if we’re not playing in October next year, absolutely.”
Discussions about next season’s roster were taking place even before this year’s title was secured.
“We try to celebrate, we try to remember that we’ve got to be in the moment, celebrate this moment, because we’ve all been in baseball a very long time and we know how rare these moments are,” Lucchino said. “But we must balance the future. I will tell you that on Wednesday, the day of Game 6, we had a couple-hour meeting that afternoon that was all about the topic [of pending free agents].
“It’s important that Ben Cherington, who did just an absolutely extraordinary job this year, that he keep one eye especially on the issues that develop immediately after the World Series. The World Series conclusion is the trigger date for a number of options and qualifying offers and a bunch of things that happen quickly thereafter. So as much as you try to stay in the moment and enjoy the moment, there is a responsibility to look forward. And Ben never loses track of that.”
Lucchino said next year’s club will look at least a little different from this year’s, although he can’t predict how much turnover there will be.
“Every baseball team is unique,” he said. “You’ve got to approach the assembly of a baseball team year to year, again, with one eye on the long-term development of the club and the farm system. But there will be inevitably some differences next year. Free agency by itself assures that.
“I can’t give you a precise answer as to how many players will come and how many will go. We love the core of this team. We know the core of this team will be here and be with us. We know we have some new players who were signed for a couple of years, like Jonny Gomes and David Ross. So we do know that the core of this team will remain. But there’s absolutely no chance that the 25 guys who finished in the World Series will be the same 25 guys who will start Opening Day next year.”
The Red Sox’ approach last offseason was to pay a little more for shorter-term deals rather than offer long-term deals to premier free agents, and that guideline remains in place.
“I don’t want to rule out anything, except that there will be a presumption against doing any very long-term deals,” Lucchino said. “I think we’ve crossed that bridge and we realized that there’s a better way to spend money, that free agency and long-term deals are not the best way to build a franchise or to succeed over time. So there is a very strong presumption against that. But we won’t rule out anything that will make the team better.”
On John Lackey’s turnaround: “I must say that there are a number of people in the organization who are not entirely surprised. I think John was a victim of an overreaction, was kind of lumped in in an unfair way. I think he showed to the world what his teammates have seen in him for a long time. That’s a bulldog approach, a great sense of team, a guy that really had some excellent stuff as a pitcher, and his teammates had a lot of faith that he would return. He showed up in spring training [this] year, he came in not only with a new elbow but with a new body type. He really worked to put himself in a position to succeed. I know his teammates always had his back. It’s great that the public at large sees what a talent he is.”
On if there will be a tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing at Saturday’s rolling rally hosted by the city: “Some of it’s still being contemplated, but there is certainly a recognition that this year and the marathon bombing were inextricably related, this baseball season and the marathon tragedy. But we must be sort of respectful and understand the magnitude of the tragedy. So we don’t really have a particular formula that I’m aware of yet that’s been agreed upon. But there will be some, I think, respectful recognition of the victims of that tragedy and its profoundly positive effect, if I can say that, that it’s had on the entire community.”
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