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Roundup: What the Red Sox said about firing Bobby Valentine 10.05.12 at 12:19 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

After the Red Sox announced their decision to fire Bobby Valentine after one season on the job, CEO/president Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington met with a number of media outlets (in lieu of a press conference) to explain the course of action.

Here is a compilation of highlights from the sessions.

ON WHY THE CHANGE WAS MADE

Cherington on the need “to really have a reset and move forward” to WEEI.com: “The season has not gone well by any measure. As I said yesterday, that’s on all of us. I put myself right in the middle of that. There were a lot of things that were contributing factors to our team disappointment. It’s really about moving forward as we started to look at next year and the process of rebuilding the Red Sox next year and beyond, we also have to look at the manager’s role in that. We came to a point where we felt in order to really have a reset and move forward and have a fresh start, that required a change in manager. There will be other changes, too. That required a change in the manager’s spot. Bobby was put in a difficult spot this year, some things working against him. Dealt with adversity pretty much from the start. By no means is this decision in any way trying to assign responsibility on him for what we all admit was an organizational failure. We need to move forward and start to rebuild a team and a culture and a clubhouse. We felt a change in manager was a necessary part of that.”

Lucchino on standings and the reset button to WEEI.com: “Look at the final record and our place in the standings. That speaks for itself. Beyond that, we’re not going to get into this issue or that issue, this grievance or that grievance. We don’t necessarily feel that’s necessary or appropriate to do any of that. As Ben said, we pressed a reset button. We’re not going to get into what he did right and what he did wrong. We’re not going to go into that dissection of the year. We felt change was a better way to go forward and lead us where we want to be as a franchise.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington, Larry Lucchino discuss Bobby Valentine’s dismissal 10.04.12 at 5:56 pm ET
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Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington now must find a new manager. (AP)

The message was delivered swiftly. A little more than 12 hours after a horrific 69-93 season had come to its conclusion, Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner, CEO/president Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington met with Bobby Valentine late on Thursday morning, around 11:30 a.m. Cherington informed Valentine that he would not be returning as Red Sox manager in 2013.

The team had remained steadfast during the year that it would not make any decisions on Valentine’s future until after the season was done. Cherington said that the team never came close to making an in-season change. But, as the season came to its crashing halt, there was little time needed to reach an inevitable conclusion.

“I told him we were going to make a change. Then we had a frank, candid conversation about how things had gone and the team in general,” said Cherington. “He handled it with a great deal of maturity, class and perspective. He handled it well.”

“There was plenty of discussion, constructive discussion,” said Lucchino.

No doubt. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington: Red Sox will address Bobby Valentine situation after the season 10.03.12 at 6:25 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

NEW YORK — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington chose not to confirm or deny a CBS report that the team has already decided to fire manager Bobby Valentine following the season.

“I’m not going to talk about it,” Cherington said. “We’ve said many times Bobby’s the manager of the team through the end of the year and well talk about it at the end of the season. That’s what we’ll do.”

Valentine said on The Big Show Wednesday that he feels his coaches and others around him in the organization have not been loyal this season and that they’ve undermined him. Valentine did not elaborate or give examples, and Cherington said he didn’t know of any such occurrences.

“He expressed his feeling and that’s his feeling,” Cherington said. “If he feels that way then I’m sorry he feels that way. It’s hard for me to comment on it because I don’t know any examples that would lead to that kind of feeling, but that’s his feeling and I’m not in his office all the time, I’m not in the clubhouse all the time, so I don’t know what exactly he was referring to, but he has his right to his opinion and he expressed it. If he feels that way then I feel bad. I don’t ever want any manager feeling that way.”

Added Cherington: “We talk a lot all year about the coaching staff, and we did have to work through some issues and we talked a lot about the coaches, but that particular sentiment was not expressed to me.”

While Cherington didn’t say what will happen regarding the manager, he did say the team is already looking at how to improve for the coming season.

“We’ve talked a lot about it,” he said. “Look, we fell out of it earlier than we wanted to. When that happens you have to start looking forward and looking at potential opportunities in the offseason. We’ve done that, we’ve done a lot of work. We’ll continue that work. I spent a lot of time with ownership the last few weeks, the better part of September I guess, talking about that and looking at different opportunities and also looking critically at myself and the opportunities to see where we can improve, so we’ve done a lot of work on that. I’m confident we will improve, but it’s not going to happen overnight. We have to get after it this offseason and start working on it.”

Cherington was cautious as to how much better he feels the team will be next season, noting that expectations have been high in recent seasons and that those clubs feel short of them.

“I’m confident we’re going to be better,” Cheringon said. “I’m confident we can do better. I think people are tired of hearing how good we’re going to be before the season starts. We’ve talked about that the last several offseasons and it hasn’t worked out that way. I’m just confident we’re going to be better.”

Cherington admitted his first year on the job has been “tough” given all that has gone on with the team as far performance and injuries.

“We’re nowhere near where we want to be,” he said. “On a personal level, I’ve been here 14 years, and we’ve had some highs and some lows and this is certainly a low. I take it personally. We all take it personally, and as long as I’m here I’ll do whatever I possibly can to help restore the team to what our ownership and fans deserve. It’s been hard on all of us.”

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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: The end of 2012 (sort of) arrives … at least for some 09.19.12 at 11:26 am ET
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Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will pitch in the Florida Instructional League. (Jon Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

It was an anticlimactic end for what had been a fun ride for Triple-A Pawtucket. The PawSox enjoyed a surprising run of outstanding pitching in the late summer, clinching a postseason berth in the final weekend of the summer and then losing just one game in two International League playoff series en route to the team’s first Governor’s Cup title since 1984. But the magic carpet ride ended in the one-game, winner-take-all Triple-A championship game against the Reno Aces — the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks — on Tuesday night, in a 10-3 loss.

And with that, the 2012 minor league season came to a close. It was a year in which the Red Sox roster certainly underscored the importance of a fertile farm system capable of churning out players who were drafted and developed, signed as international amateurs and/or plucked from other teams’ minor league systems or other obscure professional leagues. In total, the Red Sox had 18 players who were not on the big league roster (either the 25-man major league roster or the disabled list) — or, for that matter, any big league roster — at the start of the year come up to play varying roles in the major leagues this year. (That number doesn’t include players like Zach Stewart, Brent Lillibridge and Danny Valencia, all of whom opened the year on another team’s big league roster.)

The list (with some details about the players’ paths to the majors): Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, ben cherington, ben crockett, brian johnson
Ben Cherington: Blockbuster ‘was not a trade to fix a cultural problem’ 08.25.12 at 8:51 pm ET
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The widely held perception was that there was a cultural and chemistry problem in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to the blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. That may very well have been the case but Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington made it very clear Saturday that wasn’t the reason he pulled the trigger on the franchising-changing deal.

“The culture will feel better when we start winning more games, this was about creating an opportunity to build a better team moving forward, it was not a trade that was made to try to fix a cultural problem,” Cherington said. “It was about opportunity, giving us opportunity moving forward. The culture will feel very good when we do the things that have made us good over time, things that help us win games. When we do those things, the culture will feel good.”

Since Sept. 1, 2011, the Red Sox were 67-86 entering Saturday. To Cherington, that’s the only stat that mattered.

“The bottom line is that we haven’t won enough games,” Cherington said. “That goes back to last September. We haven’t performed on the field as a team. We’ve had individuals perform and this is not about the four players we gave up, anything they did particularly wrong. We just haven’t performed as a team when we needed to. As we looked at, we felt that in order to get to a team that we believe in, a team that our fans deserve, a team that is a winner and sustains winning year after year, it was going to take more than cosmetic changes. It was going to take something more bold and then it was up to us to go take advantage of that opportunity, execute and go make good decisions. Again, a lot of things go into winning. The roster is part of it. Personnel on the roster is part of it. This is a significant step towards giving us a chance to reshape what the roster looks like.”

When you clear over $260 million in future committed payroll, Cherington realizes you need the work of ownership. Cherington was quick to thank owner John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner for working with Magic Johnson and the new baseball ownership group with the Dodgers.

“In any deal, as I think you all know, ownership is involved and it’s a collaborative process,” Cherington said. “Certainly on a deal this big, it required a real team effort. John, Tom and Larry were all heavily involved. They all had a specific role in this over the last several days. There were conversations at the ownership level between the two teams, certainly between myself and Ned. And then a lot of conversations in between, between myself, John, Tom, and Larry.

“It was a true team effort, and we worked together to pull of a trade that we feel is the right thing for the franchise right now and gives us an opportunity going forward.”

Cherington promised fans that the commitment to fielding a winning team is still there.

“It’s pretty easy to look at our performance on the field and recognize that it’s not good enough,I think that’s where it all starts,” Cherington said. “That’s where the evaluation starts. The great thing about this game is you have a sort of tangible answer every night of how good you are and this year we’ve been not good enough on too many nights. It starts there and that part is pretty easy. What leads to that, trying to figure out what causes that, yeah, that can be more difficult. Part of it’s the player/personnel, the roster; part of it’s other things. We need to examine all of it. Again, it’s on us. This is part of what gives us an opportunity, this trade, but it’s on us to examine all areas and make sure that we are building a team and a standard that we’ve come to expect, the guys here deserve and the fans deserve.”

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Highlights from Ben Cherington’s conference call discussing Bob McClure, Carl Crawford 08.20.12 at 7:54 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

On a conference call to discuss the firing of pitching coach Bob McClure and the Carl Crawford‘s upcoming Tommy John surgery, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said the dismissal of McClure was “performance-based,” but that the Sox also have to look inward at their pitching struggles.

“He’s a quality guy, a good coach,” Cherington said of McClure. “It just didn’t work out the way we’d hoped. Whenever it doesn’t work out, we have to look at ourselves first and ask what, if anything, we could have done differently to make it work better, so we’ll do that, but it just wasn’t working out. We felt like we needed to make a change. We felt like the right thing to do was to give everyone a fresh start and Bob will get a fresh start, and I fully expect him to get a good opportunity somewhere else.”

Red Sox starters rank 25th in a majors with 57 quality starts, while Boston’s 4.30 team ERA ranks 23rd. Randy Niemann will take over as the team’s pitching coach.

Cherington noted that he does not foresee any more changes for now.

Here are other highlights from Cherington’s conference call:

On why they let McClure go:

“This was a performance-based decision. As I said yesterday and as I think bobby has said, I think there’s been a real good effort on the part of the staff to work together and iron out any communication issues that may have existed previously. We simply felt like we needed to make a change to put our pitchers in the best position to do what they needed to do the next six weeks. We feel like the next six weeks are important, no matter what our record ends up and there are things we need to accomplish the next six weeks to create a foundation going into the offseason. We felt like this change was needed to give ourselves the best chance to do that.”

On Niemann as the new pitching coach:

“Randy’s got a lot of experience, too. He knows our guys well. He’s been involved with the pitching staff pretty intimately since the beginning of spring training. There won’t be any learning curve, that’s for sure. He’s done most jobs in the game. He was obviously a major-league pitcher himself and has had a long coaching career and has a lot of experience, and we felt like he can be part of the solution to making sure that we get a lot of good work done with our pitchers the rest of the season.”

On coming to the decision for Crawford to get surgery:

“The medical staff, Pete Asnis, Rick Jameyson, our team physician and head trainer, ultimately make the recommendation, but there’s other people involved. We did consult Dr. Andrews again recently just to fill him in on the way it’s been and what Carl has gone through more recently and, ultimately, the medical staff, factoring in all the information including the recent increase in symptoms, made a recommendation that it’s probably something that needs to get done, and it’s just a question of when it gets done. We felt like the time was now.”

On Crawford getting the surgery:

“I think it became clear over the last few days that surgery was going to happen, it was just a question of when. We felt like after talking about it more this weekend and with Carl, the right thing to do was to get it taken care of now. Give Carl credit. He played through the injury and played pretty well. but the symptoms, it wasn’t getting better. the symptoms were getting worse. We just decided to ask him to keep going out there. we decided to take care of it now and he agreed with that.”

Read More: ben cherington, bob mcclure, carl crawford, Randy Niemann
Groundhog day and ‘same [expletive] results’ in a loss for Josh Beckett at 12:18 am ET
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The Red Sox fell to 7-14 in games started by Josh Beckett on Sunday. (AP)

NEW YORK — Josh Beckett had one of his better curveballs of the season. Didn’t matter. He had his most strikeouts in roughly a month. Didn’t matter. For the first time in four starts, he pitched six complete innings. Didn’t matter.

The right-hander was uninterested in discussing his stuff or any moral victories from his start on Sunday night, a six-inning, four-run effort in which he punched out six, walked three and stifled much of the Yankees lineup only to have his night undone by Derek Jeter (who collected a pair of doubles off Beckett and scored two runs) and Ichiro Suzuki (who launched two solo homers). This is a bottom-line time of year as the Red Sox become an increasingly desperate team, and so there was little but self-flagellation to deliver after the Sox suffered a 4-1 loss to the Yankees in which Beckett dropped to 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA.

“Work in progress I guess. Still [expletive] results,” Beckett said of his outing. “Some things were better today, but same [expletive] results.”

In his last six starts, Beckett is now 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA. It is his second streak of six starts without a win this year. More recently, he has been coming up short due to a preponderance of home runs permitted. He’s given up at least two homers in each of his last three outings (tied for the second-longest streak of multi-homer yields of his career).

Prior to the game, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he believed that Beckett — along with teammates Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz — could remain foundational members of the rotation for the rest of 2012 and beyond. Beckett, of course, is under contract through 2014.

“It’s no secret. Our starting pitching has not been as good as it needs to be if you look at the entirety of the season so far,” said Cherington. “Part of improving it has been to get our guys get back close to where they’ve been in the past. Those are key guys. If there’s other ways to improve it this offseason, we’ll look at that, but there’s a lot of performance upside with the guys here, without adding anything to it. So it’s our job to help those guys, get the most out of them. I know it won’t be any lack of effort on their part. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett,
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