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Larry Lucchino on D&C: Stephen Drew signing ‘a rational decision when it was made’

06.13.14 at 10:19 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday to discuss the state of the Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox have been scrutinized for the signing of Stephen Drew. Not only is Drew struggling at the plate, but now he’s sidelined with a right oblique injury. But Lucchino said it’s too early to call the move a mistake.

“I think we need to wait and see exactly what kind of contribution Drew makes,” he said. “I think it was a rational decision when it was made. Circumstances were such that we needed to improve this team, and one thing we didn’t want to do was improve the team and lose talent, prospects in the minor league system. We tried to avoid that.

“So the idea of paying money rather than paying in prospects was appealing to us, and I think we’€™ll just have to see if he makes a contribution over the next nearly 100 games.”

One person in particular who criticized the move was Peter Gammons, who said the media manipulated the Red Sox into signing Drew.

“I’€™m baffled by that. I don’€™t remember a lot of media manipulation or media advocacy,” Lucchino said. “There was a wave of media support after it happened, but we didn’t feel — or at least I didn’t feel — a lot of media pressure on that issue. In fact, if anything, it seemed like it had been resolved and put away.”

The Red Sox already had a shortstop in place in rookie Xander Bogaerts before signing Drew. Bogaerts was having trouble at short earlier in the year, which may have prompted the Drew signing, but Lucchino doesn’t think moving the 21-year-old back to third base will affect him long term. In fact, he said he anticipates Bogaerts being the Sox’ Opening Day shortstop next season.

“There was certainly discussion about that subject, but he’€™s a mentally talented young player who played third base when we won the World Series championship last year, so he’€™s certainly perceived by us to be the shortstop of the future,” Lucchino said. “But whether he plays shortstop or plays third base, this guy is going to have a great career right here in Boston. We’€™re excited about him. This was not about giving up on Bogaerts, to be sure.”

Another player Lucchino said he would like to see on the field on Opening Day next year is pitcher Jon Lester. Lucchino wouldn’t comment on whether or not contract negotiations are ongoing.

“We want him back. We love the guy,” he said. “He’€™s been part of my whole experience here with the Red Sox, I remember the excitement over signing him way back when we drafted him out of high school, so I hope we can keep him from cradle to grave.”

John Lackey has also made news regarding his contract. Lackey is under contract to play for just $500,000 next season due to his missing a season because of injury, but the pitcher recently expressed opposition to playing for such little money. Lucchino said he’d like to have Lackey back next season but doesn’t know whether or not it’ll be for $500,000.

“It depends on the circumstances,” Lucchino said. “John Lackey has been a tremendous contributor to this team this year and last. And we love having him here, and we’€™d like to have him here for a longer period of time. We’€™ll see when the time comes to negotiate whether there should be a playing out of the contract, whether there should be renegotiation with an extension. We’€™re open to a variety of possibilities.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page atweei.com/redsox.

On Terry Francona‘s rocky end as Red Sox manager: “I don’€™t really want to go backwards and relive that whole episode. I have buried it in my mind and don’€™t feel any need to dissect it and reexamine it right now. He’€™s having a heck of a year. He had a heck of a year last year with that team. That team is a strong team making a bid this year. So now I just see him as a manager on an opposing team that poses a threat to our Red Sox.”

On how to determine if a team will be a buyer or seller in July: “There’€™s no specific formula. Every year is different. Every year is a different configuration of teams ahead of you or behind you, so there’€™s no formula. But there is a realistic assessment made, but it’s not made at this point when there’€™s 96 games in the season, it’s made generally much later. In our case, it’s almost always made in late July, not in early June.”

On the role TV ratings have on midseason moves: “I think you guys are perhaps more fixated on NESN and NESN ratings more so than I am. We have a very loyal, compassionate fan base, and they also make their own assessments, so we’€™re not going to make a decision about this team because we think it may increase ratings by a 10th of a point or something.

“We’€™re not unaware of it, we’ve always been among the league leaders in ratings for our telecasts, but that’€™s not the driving force by any means.”

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