|Ben Cherington on M&M: ‘We’re not going to proactively make a move just for the sake of making one’||12.10.13 at 12:38 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Mut & Merloni at the MLB winter meetings to discuss Boston’s offseason plans, the signing of Edward Mujica, and the future of players like Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts.
The Red Sox have been active so far this offseason, signing catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal, agreeing with Mike Napoli on a reported two-year contract and inking Mujica to a two-year deal.
“We feel pretty good where we are,” Cherington said. “I think we’re in a position where we can take advantage of the rest of the time we have here and the rest of the time in the offseason just to explore. If there’s things we can do to make us better and that make sense short and long term, we’ll definitely work on those things, but if we had to start the season tomorrow, we’d feel pretty good about that, too.”
If Boston decides to stand pat for the remainder of the MLB offseason, the team will kick off Opening Day with three players who have only played a combined 224 regular-season games, as Middlebrooks, Bogaerts and Bradley all seem penciled in to start next season.
“We wouldn’t consider committing to a young player unless we really believed in the young player,” Cherington said. “We think we have some guys who are worth believing in. … There’s quite a bit of value for us in finding spots to commit to young players, because at some point, you have to.”
One interesting topic this offseason has been the discussion over whether the Red Sox will trade a starting pitcher, as the Sox currently have at least six potential starters on the roster.
“I don’t think so,” Cherington said. “Somehow, a pitching surplus in general tends to work itself out by the time you get to Opening Day, so we’re not going to proactively make a move just for the sake of making one. If something makes sense, we’ll listen, but certainly we’d rather go into spring training with more than enough options than too few.”
The signing of Mujica could prove to be a big boost to the Boston bullpen, as the 29-year-old reliever had a stellar first half of the 2013 season with the Cardinals, recording 26 saves while walking only one batter. However, Mujica struggled in September with an 11.05 ERA in 10 games due to a groin injury.
“He had a groin issue that cropped up in September where he just couldn’t push off the way he normally did. If you look at the first half of the season, he was dominant. … We don’t have any concerns about him physically,” Cherington said. “He’s actually been remarkably healthy for his career. … He, along with [Junichi] Tazawa and Koji [Uehara] and the others hopefully allow John [Farrell] and the staff to manage everyone’s workload.”
|Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘I can’t imagine’ Red Sox will sign Jon Lester to long-term deal||11.14.13 at 11:46 am ET|
ESPN’s Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the MLB offseason, the Red Sox’ World Series title and the results of the Manager of the Year vote.
The AL Manager of the Year was announced on Tuesday, as former Red Sox and current Indians manager Terry Francona narrowly edged Boston manager John Farrell, with just 16 points separating the two skippers.
“It was hard,” Schilling said. “I thought the American League one was incredibly challenging, because I thought you had a bunch of guys that had phenomenal seasons. … I thought either one of them could have won it. I think the job that they both did was amazing.”
The offseason is in full swing, as the annual GM meetings have kicked off in Orlando. The Sox already have been linked to multiple players, including Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz.
One storyline that has been discussed is what the Sox will do with pitcher Jon Lester once he enters free agency after the 2014 season. If Lester is able to post another great campaign in 2014, the southpaw could command a long-term deal worth over $100 million.
“I think if [Ben Cherington] is allowed to do the things that baseball ops people should be allowed to do and there’s no interference from people that shouldn’t be interfering, I think he’ll stick to [his previous offseason plans],” Schilling said. “You’re not going to see another eight-year, $240 million deal out of this organization, and rightfully so. … There’s literally almost maybe two or three guys in the history of the last 25 years that would have played to [$200 million-plus contracts]. He can’t do it.
“I can’t imagine they would [sign Lester to a six- or seven-year, $100 million-plus deal]. I don’t think you’ll see any team other than probably the Dodgers with [Clayton] Kershaw turn around and give their homegrown player six or seven or eight years, I don’t see it, not from this team anyway. You saw what happened when they tried to go down that path, and I think that is going to be fresh in their minds as long as these guys are still making decisions here.”
|Red Sox GM Ben Cherington named Sporting News Executive of the Year||11.12.13 at 7:17 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was named Sporting News Executive of the Year on Monday night for his role in turning around the team.
“Definitely unexpected,” Cherington told reporters at the GM meetings in Orlando. “I consider this to be an award for the organization, not for me. Coming off the year we had in 2012, I also sort of see it as usually an award that goes to an organization that does work over a period of time and not necessarily in one year.”
The award was based on a vote of 31 major league executives prior to the postseason.
Cherington received 15 votes to beat out Pittsburgh’s Neal Huntington (9), Kansas City’s Dayton Moore (4) and Atlanta’s Frank Wren (3).
The Red Sox finished last in the American League East in 2012 but rebounded to win the World Series this year after Cherington replaced Bobby Valentine with John Farrell and made some key free agent acquisitions last offseason.
Now he faces another challenge, with Jacoby Ellsbury heading the list of Red Sox free agents he either needs to re-sign or replace.
“I think by now everyone has forgotten the World Series,” Cherington said, “and it’s on to the offseason work.”
|Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘The core of this team will remain’ for 2014||11.01.13 at 9:50 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about the team’s World Series championship.
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.”
|Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘In the end, they got the call right’||10.24.13 at 10:40 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ 8-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series.
The Sox capitalized early, scoring five runs in the first two innings against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. Boston took advantage of several Cardinals miscues, as St. Louis committed three errors in the game.
“Well, it was a good outcome. I thought we had a really good approach against Wainwright, whose a fantastic pitcher, particularly the middle of the order,” Cherington said. “Obviously Lester back it up and pitched terrifically, so it was a good start and we know the Cardinals are a really good team and I’m sure we’ll have another tough test tonight.”
Perhaps the biggest turning point in the game happened in the first inning, as the umpires convened and overturned a ruling by Dana DeMuth that Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma lost a potential double-play ball on the exchange, giving the Cardinals an out at second. The ruling that the runner was safe would be huge, as Mike Napoli responded in the ensuing at-bat with a bases-clearing double that gave the Sox a 3-0 lead.
“It seems to me like the most important thing in a game like this is to make sure as much on the field goes as right as possible and is as fair as possible,”Cherington said. “In the end, they got the call right and I think the umpires should be commended for that. It’s also pretty clear that Major League Baseball, it’s what they want to have happen and in the future, there will more of a formal mechanism in place for it to happen, but credit the umpires for taking it upon themselves last night to make sure the call was right.”
Sox manager John Farrell made the call to go with Jonny Gomes in left field over Daniel Nava once again. Despite the fact that Nava has put together better numbers this season, including a .303 batting average (eighth in the AL) and a .385 OBP, Boston has performed much better with Gomes in the lineup this postseason — a 7-0 record.
“Jonny Gomes helps us win. Most of the time that he’s in there, [he] helps us win in a lot of different ways, and sometimes it’s his bat, sometimes it’s with the defense, sometimes it’s with a smart play,” Cherington said. “We know that we have basically two left fielders that have helped us all year and I think you’ll see Nava in there before the series is over. John is just trying to use both guys and find the best matchups to use both guys. … If you just went strictly by the numbers, I suppose Nava would be in there all the time and I think John just feels like what’s best for the team is to still use both, because both guys were so instrumental in getting us to this point, so I think you will see both over the course of the series.”
|John Henry: Red Sox thought about making Theo Epstein president, Ben Cherington GM||10.21.13 at 2:18 pm ET|
Red Sox owner John Henry appeared on WEEI on Saturday and discussed the Red Sox’ transformation from AL East cellar-dwellers in 2012 to American League pennant-winners this season.
Henry revealed that Ben Cherington, who took over the general manager position in 2012 after Theo Epstein left for the Cubs, was being groomed for the position, and that Boston had a plan that would have paired Cherington and Epstein together in the front office.
“We knew for years that [Cherington] was going to be our next general manager,” Henry said. “At one point we’d even talked about Theo becoming president, allowing Ben to become general manager.”
That plan never materialized, as Epstein became president of the Cubs in 2012, and Larry Lucchino remained the team president, while Cherington slid into the position vacated by Epstein.
In his first offseason with complete control, Cherington acquired vital free agent pieces of the 2013 puzzle in Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew.
“We made a decision where we were going to concentrate on having more depth,” said Henry, before the Red Sox’ Game 6 ALCS win that sent Boston to the World Series. “Instead of spending 20 or 25 million dollars for a player, we’re going to go out and get two or three players.”
|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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