|Ben Cherington, John Farrell take stock of a season gone awry, and where the Red Sox go from here||09.29.14 at 3:52 pm ET|
On the one hand, Ben Cherington is the architect of a World Series winner. On the other hand, he’s steered the team to a pair of last-place finishes that have bookended that triumph.
Good luck reconciling those drastically different conclusions to the three years of Cherington’s GM tenure. Of course, Cherington is not interested in reconciling those finishes. He’s interested in avoiding further repetitions of seasons like 2012 and 2014. The fact that he has not represents a failure of sorts.
“It’s hard. It’s been hard on us, the extreme outcomes. Obviously I like the upside, but the downside is hard to deal with, painful for everyone, and it’s not at all what we want to be. It’s not at all what I’ve said we want to be in the past,” said Cherington. “We want to build something that’s got a chance to sustain and be good every year. I don’t think — you can’t plan on a World Series every year, but we ought to be planning on winning teams and contending teams and teams that are playing meaningful games in September and getting into October more often than not, so obviously, based on the results of the last three years, we haven’t accomplished that yet.
“We need to figure that out and find a way to do that. I still believe that we will,” he continued. “I believe that there are too many strengths in the organization not to do that, but we have to sort of, we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves honestly what we can do to make sure that happens. That will be a big part of the offseason and moving forward. It’s a very competitive landscape, I think, in baseball. I think the talent is more evenly distributed than it was 15, 20 years ago. So we’re always going to need talent. We’re going to need good players. We’re going to need to construct the roster well. And then we also need to look for every other possible area of competitive advantage. If we do well enough in all of those areas, it will lead to what we want. We haven’t gotten there yet.”
The struggles of the team’s young position players — most notably, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. — played a meaningful role in contributing to that volatility (though it would be a mistake to point solely to that group, given the lackluster production that came from elsewhere).
Did the Sox rely too heavily on prospects? Cherington answered that question by offering context for how the team ended up with three young position players. Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington on D&C: Rusney Castillo not elite, ‘but just good in a lot of categories’||09.18.14 at 9:47 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Rusney Castillo and how the team plans to rebuild for 2015. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Castillo made his major league debut in Wednesday night’s 9-1 loss to the Pirates, going 1-for-4. Cherington said the outfielder isn’t the kind of player who will shine in any one area, but the overall package is one that can be of value to the team.
“Just a good major league outfielder,” Cherington said. “I think what attracted us to him through the scouting process was just that he has kind of a broad base of skills. We think he can hit, he’s got some power, he can run, he can play defense. So this is not a player that you can say is elite in any one category, but just good in a lot of categories, and the sum of that adds up to what we hope is a good player.
“I don’t know if there’s a particular player comparable, but we certainly believe he can be a very good major league outfielder and part of a good team.”
Cherington would not commit to saying Castillo is pegged to be the team’s starting center fielder for 2015.
“We just haven’t gotten that far,” Cherington said. “As you guys know, we like to have two center field-caliber outfielders on the team at any time. I think our best teams have had that. Sometimes one of those guys plays right field, and sometimes one of those guys plays center. We just don’t know what the alignment’s going to be.
“I think we feel like having Rusney along with Jackie [Bradley] and Mookie Betts and the rest of the group — but those three in particular just because of the long-term control we have on those guys — gives us a better chance to have the outfield alignment we’re looking for over the long haul.”
|Rusney Castillo on joining Red Sox: ‘I’m just ecstatic to be here’||08.23.14 at 10:49 pm ET|
Rusney Castillo still is learning his way around Boston.
But the 27-year-old Cuba native knows enough that playing in Boston is unlike any other city in the majors.
“It really means a lot for me to be a part of such a historic organization. I’m just ecstatic to be here,” Castillo said through Red Sox translator Adrian Lorenzo, answering the first question he was asked during his introductory news conference at Fenway Park after Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Mariners.
Castillo said there was no debate about coming to America once he talked it over with his family.
“It really wasn’t that difficult of decision to make because I had a lot of support from my family back home,” Castillo said.
Castillo left immediately after the press conference to head back to Miami, where Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said the player will stay while the team works on his work visa in the States. Once the paperwork is finished and cleared, Castillo is expected to make the trek across Florida to Fort Myers, where he will report to the player development complex for work, something that is crucial at this point since he hasn’t played competitively in some 18 months.
Castillo said he has spoken to fellow countryman Yoenis Cespedes about what it will take to adjust to playing in the majors, especially in Boston.
“So actually, I’ve spoken to Cespedes a little bit about this,” Castillo said. “He made me aware that it’s the same game we’ve played in Cuba. Success here will come down to working and grinding on a day-to-day level.”
|Ben Cherington on Rusney Castillo: ‘We think he’s going to be a core part of our team’||at 7:14 pm ET|
The search for the center fielder of the future in the Red Sox organization is over.
With this week’s seven-year, $72.5 million commitment to Cuban star Rusney Castillo, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is making it clear that the organization feels Castillo, along with help from others, will be the answer to replacing the dynamic Jacoby Ellbsury for the rest of the decade.
“We’ve always felt like in order for us to be good, we need two center fielders on the team [and] he’s a center fielder,” Cherington said at the press conference after Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Mariners at Fenway. “We have to secure a work visa for him. That process will start here this week, and assuming we can get through that, we’ll get him into workouts and try to get him into games this season — 2014 season — and that would be in center field.
“Obviously, given the commitment, we think he can be a really good player for us for a long time.”
Cherington feels Castillo, along with the likes of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts, can fill the void left with Ellsbury’s departure.
“From our perspective, it just means we’re trying to get better,” Cherington said. “We know we need 25 guys on the roster to win games. We feel Rusney can be one of them. That’s all it means. I think we knew going forward, we feel good about the talent that’s here, and we feel good about adding Rusney to that talent. We want a talented, deep roster and we want a competitive atmosphere and competitive environment moving forward. So hopefully, we’re closer to that with Rusney on board.
“It wouldn’t changed our evaluation of him. Certainly, I think you make decisions based on all the information you have at the time and I think we all know we’re trying to build a winning team as quickly as we can, and we’re confident we can do that. And we felt like Rusney could be an important part of that. But obviously, this is a long-term commitment. This is not a decision that’s being about next week or next April. This is someone we think is going to be a core part of our team for a long time and be part of what we hope is a very deep and talented roster in the short term and moving forward.”
“This is an exciting player,” Cherington said. “He’s got a great combination of skills, defensive ability, speed, solid power. He’s got a really strong track record in Cuba and we’re excited to add him to the organization. We feel like he can be a big part of winning Red Sox teams for a long time.
“He’s a center fielder. He’s got a lot of skills. We think he has the chance to impact the game in a number of different ways. He runs well, has a good solid throwing arm, solid power, good offensive track record in Cuba and international play. We see him as a very good major league player and part of a winning team here in Boston.”
|Curt Schilling to D&C on battle with cancer: ‘I’ve never said ‘Why me?’ and I never will’||08.20.14 at 8:52 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is in remission after receiving treatment earlier this year for squamous cell carcinoma, joined the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Wednesday morning to tell his story publicly for the first time and warn against using chewing tobacco, which he blames for his situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schilling, who had weighed slightly over 200 pounds prior to his diagnosis, lost 75 pounds during his treatment, mainly because he could not swallow. He also has lost his ability to taste and smell.
“This all came about from a dog bite,” he explained on his visit to the Dennis & Callahan show. “I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor. And the day I went to see the doctor, I was driving and I went to rub my neck and I felt a lump on the left side of my neck. I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. There happened to be an ENT [ear, nose and throat specialist] right next door to the hand doctor. I thought, ‘What the heck, let me just stop in and see.’ So I waited in the office, went in there and he did a biopsy. Two days later, he diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma.”
Schilling, who still is recovering from his business troubles following the well-publicized collapse of his video game company, recalled the immediate aftermath of his diagnosis as a moment of self-awareness.
“You know what the amazing thing was, and I was just dumfounded by it: You’ve just been told you have cancer, and you walk out into the public, and the world’s still going on. It was really a challenge to wrap my head around that,” said Schilling, who relies heavily on his religious faith. “My second thought was, ‘Wow, really? You think I can handle this, too, huh?’ ”
Schilling was in the hospital for about six months, in part because he developed additional problems, including a staph infection.
“I got chemo and radiation for [seven] weeks, and I came back to the room and my family was sitting there and I thought, ‘You know what, this could be so much worse. This could be one of my kids,” he said. “I’m the one guy in this family that can handle this. From that perspective, I’ve never said ‘Why me?’ and I never will.”
During his playing days, Schilling was known for his efforts to connect with young cancer patients. Now he’s seen it from the other side, and he has a greater appreciation for what they go through.
“When you walk around that facility you see these amazing doctors doing amazing things,” Schilling said. “And then you turn the corner and see a 5-, 6-, 7-year-old kid. I can’t fathom — if this happened again, I’m not sure if I would go through the treatment again, it was that painful. I can’t imagine a 5-, 6-year-old kid having that. It s just mind-boggling.”
Schilling used chewing tobacco for three decades, something he now greatly regrets.
“I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got,” he said. “Absolutely. No question in my mind about that. … I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably, that chewing is what gave me cancer.”
|Red Sox look for Jackie Bradley Jr. to ‘build some momentum’ down in Pawtucket||08.19.14 at 9:06 pm ET|
Despite hitting at a productive .308 (4-for-13) clip over his last four games with Boston, the Red Sox had evidently seen enough of Jackie Bradley Jr. at the major-league level.
Boston optioned Bradley down to Triple-A Pawtucket prior to Monday’s game against the Angels – the final stage in a long series of evaluations that general manager Ben Cherington and the rest of Red Sox management went through to determine Bradley’s standing as a big-league hitter.
“With Jackie, I think we had gone through several phases through the year,” Cherington said. “Obviously it looked like, before the All-Star break, that there were some things that were starting to take hold and some momentum, so we certainly hoped and expected that might continue after the All-Star break, and he started to struggle again. I think as we got past the deadline and as the direction of the team changed, I think we started about how do we give him the best chance to build some momentum going into the offseason knowing that he’s a really important guy for us going forward.”
Bradley already emerged as a Gold Glove candidate in his rookie campaign, leading all major-league outfielders in assists (13) while seemingly tracking down every fly ball hit near him out in center field.
However, Bradley’s great defensive play could not carry over to when he stepped up to the plate. At the time of his demotion, Bradley was hitting just .216 with a .288 OBP and .290 slugging percentage this season. The 24-year-old was on pace to register the lowest batting average from an American League starting center fielder since Mike Cameron hit .210 in 1998.
“Certainly there’s no questions about the defense, so it was really more focused on the offense,” Cherington said. “We just got the point where we felt like … it would be best for him to get a bunch of at-bats in Pawtucket and try to lock into a routine that works for him – that he can feel good about.”
Cherington made it a point to mention that this will likely not be the last that anyone sees of Bradley at Fenway this season, as the club will not need to use one of their two remaining options on him if he’s called up when rosters expand in September.
“We fully expect him to be back in September, but then to be able to go into the offseason feeling like he has a good, solid routine plan in place to build off of in 2015,” Cherington said.
There may be 37 games remaining on the schedule this year, but for a Red Sox squad that’s 15 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, it’s already time to look forward to the offseason.
Possessing both a deep farm system and a multitude of talented players at the major-league level, the Red Sox certainly have the means and resources to orchestrate a quick rebuild this winter, possibly by contemplating landmark trades with other clubs.
For Boston general manager Ben Cherington, the offseason provides a multitude of avenues for the team to take en route to constructing a winning team in 2015, but he added that parting ways with some of the organization’s blue-chip prospects would only become a tangible scenario if the right offer presents itself.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been unwilling to trade prospects. … For the right player, of course we would consider trading prospects,” Cherington said. “Clearly, there’s some areas that we’d like to add to this offseason. We have to figure out what makes the most sense – whether that’s trying to add through free agency, trades. … There’s definitely times when a trade makes more sense than free agency, and there’s times when it’s vice-versa.”
One of the first prizes of the offseason may be claimed by the end of the week, as Cuban defector Rusney Castillo is reportedly “moving rapidly” towards a decision on signing with a team.
While he would not discuss Boston’s evaluation of Castillo, Cherington did acknowledge that the Red Sox have been one of several teams that have established an open dialogue with the intriguing outfielder.
Said Cherington: “There’s obviously been attention on this, he’s a player that we’ve seen and have talked to, but we’re just one of several teams that have done that, so there’s nothing more I can say about that.”
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