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Ben Cherington talks Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval at Saberseminar 08.22.15 at 5:57 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Just because former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is out of a job at the moment, it didn’t stop him from attending the Saberseminar at Boston University as previously scheduled.

According to those at the event, Cherington joked, it’s “€œa progressive event that even invites the unemployed.”

Conducting a Q&A with those attending, Cherington was asked a number of questions about the Red Sox‘ organization and some of the recent moves that he and the organization made.

Cherington signed Hanley Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million this offseason, as he would make the switch to being an infielder his entire career to the outfield. Although he’s only been charged with four errors, it hasn’t gone as planned in left field.

“Nobody knew. We didn’€™t know what he would be defensively in left field,” Cherington said to those at the event. “He’€™d never done it. So it’€™s impossible to know. We made a bet based on history of what players look like moving from a middle infield position to another position. And there’€™s data that can help us make an educated guess. He wanted to and seemed committed to doing it … It hasn’€™t gone well.”

Also this offseason, the team signed Pablo Sandoval to play third base and help improve the offense. Cherington described the Red Sox‘ third base position as “a black hole” before the signing of Sandoval.

“We actually didn’€™t think that Fenway Park would have as positive an impact on Pablo as it might for some other hitters,” he said. “That was not the driving force behind signing him. The driving force behind signing him is we’€™re trying to build a winning team, we had a black hole at third base for two years, he was the right age and we’€™re trying to improve that position.”

Another third baseman — Josh Donaldson — was traded in the offseason as the Blue Jays were able to strike a deal with the Athletics. Cherington acknowledged the Red Sox inquired about him, but nothing ever came about.

“Yes, called Oakland early in the offseason as we normally would,” Cherington said. “Was told at the beginning of the offseason that they weren’€™t moving him. So give Toronto credit. They persisted.”

With the former general manager currently out of a job as he declined to stay with the team after they hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations this week, Cherington was asked what he would do differently in the future.

“I do feel like a couple mistakes we’€™ve made the last few years is when we got in a rush,” he said. “That’€™s the one, I am going to try to not be in a rush. But I don’€™t know what will happen [in the future]. There’€™s lots of hard parts about not being there. And then there’€™s hopefully some good stuff, an opportunity to learn something else, try something new. We’€™ll see. I think in time I’€™ll be able to answer that question.”

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Ben Cherington out with Sox because he felt he couldn’t be all-in 08.19.15 at 5:16 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

As Ben Cherington gave his final press conference as a Red Sox employee, the longtime executive repeatedly circled back to two words: all-in.

Cherington explained Wednesday that because he felt he couldn’€™t be all-in in a role working under new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, he made the decision to leave the organization after 17 years.

“I talked to Dave briefly yesterday on the phone, and we didn’€™t spend a lot of time on it,” Cherington said when asked what his role would have been had he stayed. “He made it clear to me, and I heard this from John [Henry] also, that he was coming in as president of baseball operations, chief baseball officer, whatever you want to call it, and in that position he was being given sole decision-making authority for baseball matters, as I would expect he would.

“So we all know that baseball operations is a big job. There’€™s a lot to do. I’€™ve always felt it’€™s about a team of people; it’€™s not about one person. We didn’€™t get into a detailed conversation about exactly what my role would have been, but I do know that the only way it was going to work for Dave or for me and ultimately the Red Sox [was] if I was all-in and fully committed to that vision. I just came to the determination that I wasn’€™t. It has nothing to do with the individuals involved. I have great respect for Dave and I’€™m sure he’€™ll do really good things.”

While Cherington held himself responsible for the team’€™s struggles the last two seasons, the front-office shakeup did come as something as a surprise. After spending the last several weeks in talks with Henry about how to find what Cherington called “solutions to the problems that exist, particularly at the Major League level,”€ Cherington asked for clarification on what the recent addition of former Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto. He was told that the move was not necessarily part of a bigger plan.

“John and Tom met with Jerry when he was in town, and at that time, having been in a lot of conversations with John over the course of the summer, I asked again about his vision for the structure, the front office structure,” Cherington said. “I felt like in asking Jerry to come in at that time, that I wasn’€™t sure that was going to be appropriate if there was something going on that I didn’€™t know about or some major change. At that time, he said no. He had met with Jerry, liked him. We pursued that, and so that was the path we were going down. I was only focused on trying to find solutions to the problems we’€™ve had, and then Saturday I was told they were pursuing Dave.”

The move was surprising due to recent discussions he’€™d had with ownership following Larry Lucchino‘€™s decision to step down as as president and CEO of the team. Cherington intimated that he expected the next president to be more of an executive than a baseball mind.

“At that time, the information I had was that the president of baseball operations model was not something that they were considering,” Cherington said. “That said, to be clear, I fully understood that they have a right to change their mind for pursue that at any time.”

Cherington regularly praised both Red Sox ownership and Dombrowski throughout the 27-minute press conference, expressing his gratitude to work for the Red Sox in the many roles in which he’s served. While the Sox announced he would stay on temporarily to help in the transition process, Cherington said he didn’€™t expect them to need much from him. He did reveal that he has gotten a couple calls from other teams since word came down that he’€™d be leaving, but said it’€™s too early for him to think about what he’€™d like to do next.

“It’€™s been a great, incredible run,” he said. “I’€™m incredibly grateful for every opportunity I’€™ve been given: some highs, some lows, some in-betweens. I don’€™t think that I should make any decision right now. I think I just need to give this a little space, and we’€™ll see. I love the game. I’€™m 41, so I’€™m going to work. We’€™ll see. We’€™ll just see what comes.”

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John Henry, Dave Dombrowski wanted Ben Cherington to stay, but knew ‘substantial risk’ he wouldn’t at 4:51 pm ET
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John Henry and Tom Werner were disappointed, but understood Ben Cherington's decision. (WEEI.com)

John Henry and Tom Werner were disappointed, but understood Ben Cherington’s decision. (WEEI.com)

On Aug. 4 when the Tigers and Dave Dombrowski parted ways, John Henry and Tom Werner had interest in him, but they knew there would be some risk involved.

After all, general manager Ben Cherington had been with the Red Sox for the last four years as general manager and 17 years as a full-time member of the organization after two as an intern.

But, that was a risk they were willing to take.

“Over the summer there’s been much discussion about strengthening baseball organization internally,” Henry said during the press conference introducing Dombrowski in a prepared statement. “On Aug. 4 when the Tigers announced a shakeup of Dave leaving, I spoke to Tom [Werner] and Ben [Cherington] about having a conversation of Dave. Tom and I wanted to see if there was a fit for Dave within the Red Sox organization. Ben did not object. Would our philosophies coincide in the present day?

“Tom, Mike Gordon and I subsequently met with Dave on Aug. 13 at the Chicago owners meeting and had a long discussion about the future, about baseball philosophy and whether or not there was a fit. We all left there thinking he would substantially strengthen the organization with Dave as president of baseball. We realized that our baseball views were in fact indeed the same, that Dave intends to balance scouting, data analytics, player makeup and all the tools in his toolbox. We hoped that Ben Cherington would remain as general manager, but we knew there was a substantial risk he would not. This was our decision to make.

“Tom and I have an obligation to do everything we possibly can to win for this city of Boston and Red Sox fans everywhere. As owners we’re ultimately responsible for the poor results we’ve had over the past two years and for results going forward.”

Cherington ultimately decided against staying with the organization, saying he couldn’t be “all in.” The former general manager said he didn’t hear about the organization speaking to Dombrowski until last Saturday, not Aug. 4 like Henry had stated.

“John [Henry] and I, we’re disappointed with his decision, but respect it,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. “We think the world of Ben. As we’ve said, he was the chief architect of our success in 2013 and has built a strong nucleus going forward. He’s been in the organization for 18 years and we’re disappointed, but respectful of his decision.”

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Sam Kennedy on M&F: ‘We certainly hoped that [Ben Cherington] would have stayed,’ but understand he wanted ‘clean break’ at 1:46 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox vice president/COO Sam Kennedy joined Merloni and Fauria on Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to talk about the Red Sox‘ partnership with the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber as well as the coming changes to the organization. To hear the interview, go to the Merloni and Fauria audio on demand page.

Kennedy described the opportunity to bring Dave Dombrowski into the organization as a “rare and unique” one, emphasizing how the new president of baseball operations is a “proven winner.” He, along with John Henry and Tom Werner, didn’t want interim manager Torey Lovullo to find out from the media, so the group went down and told him. Later, he, Lovullo and assistant general manager Mike Hazen addressed the team and told players about both Dombrowski joining the organization and Ben Cherington stepping down as general manager. Kennedy said he had hoped Cherington would stay on but understood his decision.

“John and Tom and I met with Ben,” he said. “We had a great conversation that was completely open and honest. And I think there was disappointment but an understanding that he didn’t want to remain in the in the general manager position. We certainly hoped that he would have stayed, but we also understand that he felt it was best to make a clean break. So we’ve got to move on, got to focus on what’s in front of us not what’s behind us, and I’m really excited for what’s ahead of us given the caliber of the executive that we’ve just added to our team.”

Kennedy said that Dombrowski’s introduction on Wednesday afternoon again signifies that he, Henry, Werner and the entire Fenway Sports Group are committed to winning.

“We are here with that central mission of playing meaningful baseball games in October, and we need to do everything in our power to strengthen that baseball operation,” he said. “We’ve got great people here in the organization, bringing in a man of Dave’s caliber with his experience. I think he came into baseball in 1978, been in the game 37 years. He is a baseball man through and through. I’m excited to work with him, I’m excited to see his style of leadership, and we’re going to begin that process [Wednesday].”

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Torey Lovullo sums up Red Sox’ recent events: ‘It’s been an awkward week to say the least’ at 12:20 am ET
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Torey Lovullo

Torey Lovullo

Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo put it best when speaking following Tuesday’s game after it was announced the team has hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations and general manager Ben Cherington will not stick around.

“It’s been an awkward week to say the least starting with John [Farrell‘s] news — we just got through that, we’re moving forward from that and then today’s news,” Lovullo said.

Farrell announced he has stage 1 lymphoma Friday and that Lovullo would take over as interim manager, as he began chemotherapy Tuesday. After the team had a few days to digest that news, it learned their general manager wouldn’t be returning and a new president of baseball operations and subsequent new general manager would be brought in.

New club president Sam Kennedy spoke to the team and coaching staff following the game to deliver the news. Right after, Lovullo walked up the stairs for his usual postgame press conference, although this one much different than his other three as interim manager.

“You know, this all all such fresh news to me,” he started when first asked of the announced moves. “I basically just found out exactly what happened a short time ago. At this point I really don’t know any of the details. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what’s going on, what the process is.

“I will say that my personal relationship with Ben Cherington was very special. He was a great leader, a great man and we’re sorry to see him moving in a different direction.”

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David Ortiz: Ben Cherington did ‘remarkable job,’ but understands why shakeup was needed 08.18.15 at 11:47 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has been around the game a long time — 19 years between three organizations — so he knows how the business side of baseball works.

With the Red Sox headed towards their second last place finish in the AL East in as many years and third in the last four, it’s not surprising a shakeup took place with the team hiring long-time executive Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations Tuesday night.

Current general manager Ben Cherington will not return after the transition process.

“Like I said, you see this happening in baseball over and over and over,” Ortiz said following Tuesday’s game. “When organizations struggle or whatever they just shake it up. I’m not saying that this is the best way to go and do things because like I said even in a couple of years, the way we had been, Ben won a World Series as a GM. So you don’t forget about that that quick.”

Playing for an organization like the Red Sox, winning is what is most important, so although the move was surprising, it isn’t all that surprising at the same time.

“Like I said, it’s always moves in an organization like this one,” Ortiz said. “We weren’t expecting it to happen, but it happened. Now we have to move on and continue trying to be an organization, team that can compete next year and I guess that’s what they’re looking for.”

A few of the players who spoke in the clubhouse following the game said it wasn’t Cherington’s fault for the poor performances in recent years and ultimately it came down to them as players on the field.

Ortiz was posed the same question and after a bit of hesitation said the same thing.

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Dustin Pedroia sad to see Ben Cherington leave Red Sox as Dave Dombrowski comes aboard at 11:46 pm ET
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Ben Cherington’€™s time with the Red Sox long predates the arrivals of recent championships (2004, 2007 and 2013) and the team’€™s veteran leaders.

His four-year stint as Boston’s general manager will be remembered for the World Series championship he delivered in 2013 and the treacherous teams the Sox fielded in the other three, yet his time with the Sox goes all the way back to 1999.

Dustin Pedroia, the second-longest tenured Red Sox player behind David Ortiz, was a second-round pick of the Sox in 2004, when Cherington was working in player development. With the news that Cherington will step down as Dave Dombrowski takes over as president of baseball operations, current players will experience a Cherington-less Boston organization for the first time.

“I’€™ve known Ben my whole time with the Red Sox,” Pedroia said after Tuesday’€™s game. “He’€™s been a big part of a lot of things in my career. We’€™ve had a lot of memories. Obviously, this is new. We’€™re going to miss him. I’€™m going to miss him. He has a lot of special relationships with guys. It’€™s tough.”

The Red Sox sit in last place in the AL East after finishing last both last season and in 2012, Cherington’€™s first season as GM. Pedroia, who is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, said that he as a player feels responsibility for the shakeup that led to Cherington’€™s impending exit.

“It’€™s on us. They don’€™t play,” Pedroia said of executives. “That’€™s frustrating, but we win as a team and we lose as a team. That’€™s the tough part; it doesn’€™t usually go down like that in the end. That’€™s how we all feel. We’€™re out there playing.”

As for Dombrowski, Pedroia, clearly still a bit stunned to lose Cherington, expressed measured enthusiasm for the addition of the former Marlins and Tigers boss. He also noted that Mike Lowell, whom Dombrowski traded for with the Marlins in 1999, has long sung the praises of the 59-year-old.

“I know that wherever he’€™s been, he’€™s won,” Pedroia said of Dombrowski. “Obviously that speaks for itself. I remember Mike Lowell used to talk about him and couldn’€™t say enough great things. Obviously I don’€™t think they would put somebody in that position that they don’€™t believe in. He’€™s pretty special at what he does. He’€™s done a great job for a long time.”

Pedroia, 32, is in the second season of an eight-year, $110 million contract.

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Closing Time: Eduardo Rodriguez dominant on night Red Sox hire Dave Dombrowski at 10:08 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez was dominant Tuesday night against the Indians. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez was dominant Tuesday night against the Indians. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

After getting crushed in his last outing, Eduardo Rodriguez spent his time between eight strong innings Tuesday watching his teammates rough up Cleveland’€™s various pitchers.

Rodriguez, who allowed eight earned runs on nine hits last week against the Marlins, was dominant on Tuesday in a 9-1 win over the Indians. The rookie left-hander gave up six hits and struck out five batters, walking none over 114 pitches. His eight innings pitched were a career high.

“I think he was pounding the strike zone with an aggressive fastball, getting ahead of hitters,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said after the game. “There’s no secret to having success on a given night from a pitching standpoint. It’s getting ahead of the batter and staying in the strike zone. He got in a great run for several innings. He was comfortable, free and easy. His worst inning he threw 19 pitches prior to the eighth inning. We wanted to send him back out there and get the last inning he really deserved. A great effort by him tonight.”

(Rodriguez’ performance proved to be overshadowed by the news of Boston’s hiring of Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations. For more on that and Ben Cherington’s decision to step down as Red Sox general manager, click here.)

Cleveland’€™s lone run off Rodriguez came on solo homer from Michael Brantley in the top of the seventh inning. That was followed by a single from Carlos Santana, though Rodriguez escaped further damage by inducing a Ryan Raburn double play and an inning-ending groundout from Abraham Almonte.

While the strong performance proved to be a bounce-back effort, it also continued a nice run of success for Rodriguez when pitching at home. Tuesday’€™s game made it five straight starts at Fenway in which Rodriguez has allowed three earned runs or fewer (3-0).

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Ben Cherington supporting John Farrell: ‘We’ll get through it together'; Another coach may be added to staff 08.14.15 at 6:14 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Like the rest of the organization, general manager Ben Cherington was shocked when he heard the news on Thursday that manager John Farrell was diagnosed with stage one lymphoma.

Cherington was on his way to Greenville when Farrell called him during a layover.

“He called me yesterday,” Cherington said. “I was actually on the way to Greenville in between flights and called me — I had a quick layover and I was sort of in shock so a few minutes to sink in and then I figured out how to get back to Boston last night. I’ve been talking to him yesterday and this morning.”

The general manager noted how many people in the baseball world know Farrell and how many have already reached out.

He said he’s been in communication with him since yesterday and has been able to talk to him as a friend and let him they will get through it together.

“There’s a lot of respect for him. Not just within the Red Sox organization, but throughout baseball,” Cherington said. “A lot of people are already reaching out. He’s someone who has spent his whole life in baseball. He’s played. He’s coached. He’s worked in front offices. Obviously he’s managed now. He knows a lot — he probably knows more people in baseball than just about anybody. He’s hearing from a lot of people as you’d expect.

“We just, as I’ve been talking to him yesterday and this morning, unfortunately in his position there’s these public aspect of it that you have to acknowledge and deal with we have to plan and I’ve tried to get an opportunity yesterday and this morning just to talk to him as a human being and a friend and let him know I’m with him and that he’ll get through it and we’ll get through it together. As he said today he’ll get started next week.”

With Torey Lovullo taking over as manager, Cherington wouldn’t rule out bringing in another coach to help out as Lovullo was serving as bench coach.

“Still working through that,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule out adding someone to the staff to help with the work and make sure we have enough man power. Just started talking about that today. Obviously we don’t have anyone else here tonight and wouldn’t rule out having someone join the staff in the coming days. We’ll talk to Torey and John about that tomorrow.”

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Ben Cherington admits being ‘wrong’ with beginning of year expectations for Red Sox 07.31.15 at 8:24 pm ET
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Ben Cherington admitted being "wrong" with the expectations for the 2015 Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Ben Cherington admitted being “wrong” with the expectations for the 2015 Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

There were certainly high expectations for the 2015 Red Sox as going into the season with the acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval some thought the Red Sox offense could score 800 runs.

That’s been far from the case as the team has averaged 4.13 runs per game, 16th in the baseball. It’s not just the offense either, as overall the team is 45-58 and 13 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.

There’s plenty of blame to be thrown around, but speaking following the trade deadline pasing Friday, general manager Ben Cherington said he’s the person who should be blamed the most.

“Look, obviously the results are the results and that means the team we built is not as good as what we thought it could be. We’re all responsible. I’m more responsible than anyone for that, but we’re all responsible,” he said. “Players are responsible. The staff is responsible. I’m responsible. I’m more responsible than anyone. That’s how I feel. That said, I still look at the field and see a bunch of guys that are going to be part of a really good team in the near future. I don’t see this as a situation where we have to go and reverse in anyway. We have to keep building. We have to clear areas that need improvement.

“There are solutions out there too and we just have to find more. We have to find a way to get more out of some guys that are here. I think John [Henry] said, they’ll either prove us right or prove us wrong and it’s safe to say at the end of July we were wrong at the beginning of the season as to what this team could do. We’ve got to figure out, we’ve been in the process of trying to figure out why that is and we have to fix it and have to play better baseball.”

Speaking to reporters in Houston about a week before the trade deadline, Cherington was very complimentary of his manager John Farrell, saying, “I fully support John. He’€™s part of the solution.”

Friday, Cherington was asked if he wanted to see anything different from Farrell during the remaining two months of the season. While Cherington didn’t say anything definitive, it wasn’t the same tone as just over a week ago.

“As I’ve said, I think we are all responsible for being better,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is exempt from that. I know we believe in the people that are here, but we all have to find ways to perform and improve our performance. That’s up to us to work together, to help each other figure out what that is. Beyond that I can’t say anything more specific than that.”

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