|Ben Cherington: Sox trade moves focused on ‘building as quickly as possible for April of 2015′||07.26.14 at 6:18 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been a tough time for a Red Sox team and front office that had bold visions of defending their 2013 championship. Just over 100 games into the 2014 season, all parties around the team have been forced to recalibrate their view of the world, to wonder what’s been missing en route to a season-long stumble that has the club nine games under .500 with just five games remaining before Thursday’s traded deadline, in a position where the team must contemplate selling off pieces of the club in hopes of putting itself in a better position for next year.
“It’s not the most fun,” GM Ben Cherington said in a conference call. “I much prefer the alternative.”
Yet the alternative no longer appears a choice. The team dealt right-hander Jake Peavy on Saturday to the Giants in exchange for two prospects. That deal wasn’t necessarily a reflection of a seller’s mentality, as the Sox have thought for weeks that parting with Peavy and turning his rotation spot to the team’s young starters did not necessarily represent a step back in 2014.
“He was a guy we were willing to listen on simply because as we looked at the team, we felt like there was some opportunity and value in giving some innings to one of the younger starters, and we thought that we could be just as competitive as a team in doing that,” said Cherington — who noted that the move to acquire Peavy at last year’s trade deadline was one he would make again without hesitation given the protection he offered to the rotation at a time when Clay Buchholz‘s outlook was uncertain. “And we knew that there would be enough interest in Jake to possibly get something back that we like and would help us down the road. He was one player on the team that we were willing to talk about earlier and it just so happened that it came together this week.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘I didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense’||07.17.14 at 10:04 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the contract negotiations between the team and Jon Lester as well as the state of the club. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The 2014 season has been a far cry from last year’s championship run, as Boston sits in last place in the American League East with a 43-52 record. When it comes to finding a root cause for the Red Sox‘ struggles, Cherington took responsibility for not adding enough firepower to the lineup. The Red Sox are last in the AL in runs scored (367).
“I think obviously our biggest issue, at least up until very recently, has been offensive production,” Cherington said. “I think our pitching has been good enough to win, we just haven’t produced offensively. As I look at that, I guess what I would say is that I didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense. … It certainly wasn’t our intent. We thought we would have that, we thought we had reason to believe that we could have that going into the year, but the reality is that we have not through a big chunk of the first part of the season.
“That has hamstrung our ability to win games. … In that aggregate, I didn’t do a good enough job building a deep enough offense, at least to start the season. We’re trying to remedy that, in ways that make sense. It takes time. That’s been the flaw of the team more than anything else, so I take responsibility for that.”
While contract talks between Lester and the Red Sox has been a hot topic over the last month, Cherington said that there have not been many new developments in the negotiations.
“I think a lot has been written about this,” Cherington acknowledged. “I think what I take out of this, more than anything, is what’s said if you ask John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, myself, if you ask Jon Lester … I think what all of those people would say is that there’s a strong relationship here that goes back 12 years and that strong relationship will allow for a continued dialogue.”
Cherington continued: “I think that Jon feels like right now is the time to focus on the field and focus on the team. … There’s been a lot of talk, I don’t think anything coming from any of those people I just mentioned. … It’s out there and I just don’t don’t put much stock in it and it’s because none of it’s coming from the people that are actually a part of the conversation.”
|Red Sox GM Ben Cherington on team needs, talks with prospective free agents, youth movement||07.09.14 at 8:51 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is well aware of the foremost issue facing his team. A Red Sox offense that led the majors in 2013 in runs per game is now dead last in the American League in that category, entering Wednesday’s game with 3.74 runs per night. Fixing that will be a focus for the Sox both leading up to the July 31 trade deadline and into the offseason.
“We need more offense, clearly. I still believe a lot of that is going to come from guys already here. But clearly offense has been an issue so we’d like to add to the offense so we’re going to look for ways to do that whether that’s now or after the season or both. We’ve got to find ways to improve the offense.”
With A.J. Pierzynski not hitting, the Sox felt that it was time to remove the catcher from the roster.
Cherington touched on several additional topics. Among them:
— Cherington said that the status of talks about contract extensions with prospective free agents could have some bearing on what the Sox try to do at the trade deadline. Read the rest of this entry »
After 90 games, it’s hard to assess the 2014 Red Sox season as anything but a failure.
A Red Sox squad fresh off a 97-win campaign that resulted in a World Series title was expected to once again establish itself as the cream of the crop in the American League this season -- not slump to the status of cellar dweller.
This is not the 1998 Marlins, who dropped from a 92-70 record (and a World Series title) in 1997 to a dreadful 55-108 season the following year due to a monumental fire sale. The 2014 Red Sox have a payroll of around $164 million and retained 17 of the 2013 team’s 25-man World Series roster.
Simply put, no one expected the Red Sox to be 12 games under .500 at this point of the season. General manager Ben Cherington is among those struggling to make sense of what has transpired.
Now 10 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East, the Red Sox have been put in a position that Cherington has not been familiar with — possibly taking on the role of “seller” as the trade deadline draws near.
“I think we’re in an unusual and perhaps unique position,” Cherington said. “It’s unusual in the sense that we haven’t been in this position — at least since I’ve been here — of even thinking about trading players at the deadline. So that’s unusual. It’s unique because on the one hand, our team is where it is. On the other hand, we’ve got guys on the team who are performing at a very high level who were part of winning a World Series months ago, and that just doesn’t happen often in baseball.
“Sometimes teams are sellers, but not necessarily with guys that are coming off of success like that. We’ll just have to see what happens. As I’ve said before, whatever we do will be with the mind of trying to get better as quickly possible and trying to build the next good team as quickly as possible.”
|Nelson Cruz: ‘No doubt it’s always special when (David Ortiz) tries to get you’||07.06.14 at 12:08 pm ET|
There was some speculation this past offseason the Red Sox were giving some consideration in signing free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz. The Orioles slugger is having a terrific first half of the season, hitting .286 with 27 home runs (first in the American League), to go along with 70 RBI (also leading the AL) entering play Sunday.
The Red Sox could use some more right-handed power in their lineup this year, especially in the outfield, as their .233 batting average among outfielders is second-to-last in the AL and their slugging percentage of .333, as well as OPS of .639 rank dead last.
“I had a chance to talk to David (Ortiz) in person about it,” said Cruz. “He knows how I go about business, how much I like to win and I like being apart of good teams. It’s special. He is one of the faces of MLB and one of the greatest hitters. There’s no doubt it’s always special when he tries to get you for your team.”
In 24 career games at Fenway Park, Cruz has a batting line of .400/.457/.726 with six homers, 18 extra-base hits and 22 RBI.
General manager Ben Cherington was asked about his thought process on not going after Cruz during the offseason this week prior to Baltimore coming to town on the Dennis and Callahan Show.
“It’s a good question and we can certainly go back to that,” he said. “Go back to the offseason and we look at what we projected our outfield to be. We had (Shane) Victorino coming off a very good season and a guy we felt was really important to our team in a number of ways, with particularly his defense in right field. There was an inclination to keep him in right field even though he’s played some center before. We felt like he’s almost a weapon in right field and we wanted to keep him there. We felt right field was covered.
“Center field, we didn’t think Cruz was a center fielder and that leaves left or DH and obviously DH is covered. In left field we have coming off last year a combination of (Jonny) Gomes and (Daniel) Nava, which delivered some of the best left field production in baseball last year in aggregate. In fact their combined performance was better than Nelson Cruz‘s was in 2013. Then on top of that, you have to give up a draft pick, a first-round pick to sign him, and the balance of need and what we’d have to give up, we just felt didn’t match up.
“In hindsight you can look at it and say, ‘Wow, we could really use that power,’ but I can’t really look back that one and think we’d have done it differently, but give the Orioles credit and give Nelson Cruz credit, he’s having a great year.”
|Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘We know this is not where we want to be’||07.03.14 at 10:44 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the state of the team, Xander Bogaerts‘ severe slump and Jon Lester‘s future. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
All momentum that Boston generated from a series win against the Yankees in the Bronx was halted following a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs at Fenway Park, including a 16-9 drubbing Wednesday. Boston sits 8 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto in the division and is just one game ahead of last-place Tampa Bay.
Despite Boston’s dire outlook at this point, Cherington expressed hope that his team can turn it around over the final 77 games of the season.
“It’s sort of a combination of frustrated, disappointed and yet still very optimistic about where we’re going. … I think this series against the Cubs was a little bit of a microcosm of our season,” Cherington said. “Some of what’s happening, we can point to and explain and say, ‘OK, this part of the team needs to improve and this part’s not working,’ … Some of it’s just hard to explain.”
Added Cherington: “We know this is not where we want to be. It’s going to get better. … So we’re just focused on that and everyone’s on board trying to do the same thing.”
In what has been a recurring theme this season, the Red Sox have struggled getting the timely hits that the 2013 squad thrived on all of last year. While the Sox broke out for nine runs Wednesday, they left 14 men on base. Cherington acknowledged that the Sox have not looked like themselves at the plate this season.
“It’s going to ebb and flow a little bit, our performances with runners in scoring position, every team does that year in and year out, even within a season,” Cherington said. “There’s certainly times when our at-bats, they just don’t look like Red Sox at-bats.”
|Ben Cherington on D&C: David Ortiz ‘an emotional guy, and you can’t ask him to be emotional in all the best ways’||06.19.14 at 11:06 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss David Ortiz‘s outburst against the Fenway Park scorekeeper, John Lackey‘s contract and the current state of the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Red Sox are in fourth place in the AL East with a 34-38 record, sitting 6 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto. Cherington acknowledged that the team’s focus in determining whether or not to become a buyer or seller going forward revolves around observing the team’s potential.
“I think it’s really a combination,” Cherington said. “Each day, we look at where we are and what we think we can be with the players we have and what chance we have to be in it and make a run. You plan your course accordingly. I think, based on that exercise, and we repeat that exercise over and over as the season goes on, we determine the course, and right now that’s led us to the focus of staying in this thing. We believe in the group we have, we believe that we’re capable of winning games, and staying in it and ultimately making a run, so that’s our focus.”
While Wednesday marked a thrilling 2-1 walkoff victory for Boston, it was also mired in controversy, as Ortiz lashed out at Fenway Park scorekeeper Bob Ellis after Ellis ruled a play an error instead of giving Ortiz a hit.
“David’s done a heck of a lot of good things for the Red Sox over the years and he’s an emotional guy, and you can’t ask him to be emotional in all the best ways,” Cherington said, adding: “Ultimately, he’s up there in the 10th inning with the game on the line and delivers as he has so many times and we win the game, so it makes it a little bit more OK to talk about a scoring call.”
|Ben Cherington: Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘the right guy to be our center fielder’||06.10.14 at 7:38 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — The tandem of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore has left the Sox at the bottom of the American League in center field offensive production. Sox center fielders entered Tuesday at the bottom of the league in average (.190), OBP (.285) and slugging mark (.287).
Yet GM Ben Cherington suggested that the struggles of Bradley and Sizemore should not be lumped together simply because they’ve both contributed to offensive struggles at one position. And he made clear that he views Bradley as “the right guy to be our center fielder.”
“You’re talking about two very different players there so in Jackie’s case, he’s playing really good defense, he’s grinding, he’s making offensive adjustments. He’s here working every day to get better. He’s a very important guy for us and we feel he’s the right guy to be our center fielder,” said Cherington. “In Grady’s case, we’ve seen flashes, as I said 10 days ago. I think he would tell you he hasn’t been as consistent as he’d like to be. Hasn’t made the impact as he’d like to. Look, we’re all in this together, we know collectively we’ve got to get better. We all have to perform better, that starts with me. And we just have to make that happen. We’re not ready to proclaim that this has to happen or that has to happen or there needs to be any particular move. We just have to play better.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox GM Ben Cherington on Stephen Drew signing: ‘I would make that recommendation again’||at 7:29 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he did not regret signing shortstop Stephen Drew, and categorically denied that media pressures had pushed the Sox to sign him. Though Drew (who is sitting out of his second straight game on Tuesday with oblique soreness) is 1-for-14, Cherington said that his view of Drew’s value to the roster hadn’t altered.
“He’s only played four games,” said Cherington. “It seems pretty early to make a judgment on that one. We all know Stephen Drew is a really good major league player. We all know how good he is. We knew he was stepping back on a major league stage, seeing major league pitching and wouldn’t be a little bit surprised if it took him a little while to get the timing back and get comfortable. But we signed him because we thought it would make us better over the course of the season and we still feel that way. I don’t have any reason to think he won’t.”
As for whether the Sox agreed with Drew and his agent, Scott Boras, to bring up the shortstop as soon as he’d completed the minimum 10-day optional assignment in the minors, Cherington hinted that there was such an understanding — in part because even before Drew’s return to full game speed, the Sox anticipated a player who would upgrade their roster at a time when Will Middlebrooks had just landed on the DL.
“I don’t want to get into the specifics of our discussion before signing him but we definitely felt like given where he was physically at the time of the signing that it wouldn’t take him a long time in the minor leagues to be able to help our team,” said Cherington. “There’s a difference between being at maximum capacity and full speed with perfect timing and all that, there’s a difference between that and helping a major league team. And we felt like Stephen Drew made us a more complete roster, a better, deeper roster, even if he was still working on some things. So we signed him with the understanding that assuming he physically checked out that he’d be on the team soon, as soon as we could and that’s the way it turned out. We don’t have any regrets for that. We also knew we might have to manage his playing time a little bit early on, so it’s not unexpected that he’s getting a day here and there. All the reasons we signed him are still in place and we’ll see how it works out.”
As to whether Drew was signed against the desires of the front office: Read the rest of this entry »
BALTIMORE — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined his team in Baltimore on Tuesday and addressed the state of the team. He suggested that he believes the Red Sox have a better team than their record indicates, and that if players perform up to their track records, the team will improve to the point of being in position for potential upgrades prior to the trade deadline. However, for the more immediate future, Cherington said that the team simply needs to perform better.
“I don’t know about [making immediate] moves. We’re obviously not happy with where we are. Ultimately, we’re [28-35], that’s not up to our standards, that’s not where we want to be ultimately. It’s up to me to find a way to make it better. We still believe it’s going to get better,” said Cherington. “We believe we’ve got a very good team ahead of us this year. Most of that is still going to come from within with guys here performing, getting back to a level they’re accustomed to and then if we can do that and start playing a little better and win some games and hang in there, we’ll try to find anyway we can to make improvements to the team as the summer goes on. At this point, this early in the season, we’re still just mostly focused on the guys that are here and finding a way to play better with the guys that are here.”
Cherington didn’t rule out the possibility of making moves even at this stage of the year, but said that there are rarely sensible moves to be made at this juncture of the season. Still, he said that the team expects upgrades in the form of returning players such as Shane Victorino.
“This early in the season, typically, you’re sort of talking other teams into doing things and that doesn’t always leave you in the best position to make deals. I wouldn’t rule it out but, we’ll see,” said Cherington. “We’re going to get Victorino back, we’re going to get hopefully our core lineup out there more consistently moving forward and we believe in that core lineup and that core group of players and we believe we have a lot of wins in us with that core, without adding to it. If we can add to it, whether it’s sooner or later or towards the deadline in a way that makes sense, of course we’re going to work to do it in a way that makes sense. Again, that’s up to me. But just mostly focused still on the guys who are here.”
Cherington suggested that the rotation and bullpen have been “mostly keeping us in games,” but acknowledged that the Sox, who are averaging 4.0 runs per game (12th in the American League), “just haven’t clicked offensively and I can’t point to one thing.” He said that the issue reaches beyond injuries, which, he noted, most teams must contend with.
“Our job is to be good enough and deep enough to play through the injuries and still win games and hang in there through the tougher times,” he said.
Some specifics: Read the rest of this entry »
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