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Ben Cherington on D&C: Decision to call up Will Middlebrooks over Xander Bogaerts ‘easier than perhaps the public narrative would make it seem’ 08.15.13 at 9:37 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning to talk about Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and some of the surprise performers for the Red Sox as of late.

There has been a lot of buzz around the possibility that Bogaerts, who has an .853 OPS in 56 games with triple-A Pawtucket, could be called up to the majors within the next few weeks. Cherington was noncommittal over when Bogaerts would finally make it to Boston.

‘€œWe will see,’€ Cherington said. ‘€œI understand why there is so much talk about Xander because he is a really good young player, he is in Triple-A. It almost seems like at times there is more talk about him and less about the guys that are actually on the team and we have won a lot of games with the guys that are actually on the team. We are excited that he has gotten off to doing what he is doing at Triple-A. The rule this time of year is if there are ways to make us a little better and help us win games ‘€” every game is important ‘€” then we will try to find a way we can do that.

‘€œThey have got to have a role. Right now every one of our position players [has] a fairly distinct role and generally everyone is doing pretty well in that role. There has got to be a role but certainly it is a good feeling to have a guy down there. If there was a need in the infield at shortstop or third base ‘€” if something happened to Stephen [Drew] or Will ‘€” I’€™m sure we would have no hesitation going to him.’€

When Middlebrooks was called up to take over third base on Aug. 10, it was speculated that Cherington had to make a tough decision between Middlebrooks and Bogaerts to get the call-up. However, Cherington said that the decision was not as tough as many thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, xander bogaerts
Cody Ross on M&M: Red Sox ‘lied to my face’ regarding contract negotiations 08.02.13 at 2:07 pm ET
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Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross, who was one of the few bright spots on the 2012 Red Sox, joined Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon as he prepared to play his former team in a three-game series at Fenway Park. Ross expressed his disappointment that he was not able to re-sign with the Red Sox, and he talked about the difficulty the 2012 Sox had playing for Bobby Valentine.

Ross left Boston as a free agent, but he said it was his clear preference to stay with the Red Sox. He said he still doesn’t understand why the team did not give him a fair shot.

“We might have made the mistake of going to them first and saying that I like it here, kind of I guess you would say showing your hand,” Ross said. “I guess it’s called showing your hand when you tell a team that you want to come back, you want to play here. I don’t see how that could hurt me, but I guess it did.

“When they didn’t trade me [during last season], I thought we were going to get something done. Ben [Cherington] sort of [dragged it out] and let it go to the offseason when we could have gotten it down easily during the year. The problem was they were hung up on the years. They wanted me for two, and I wanted three. We could never come to terms on that.

“To be honest with you, the day until I signed with Arizona, I thought it could still possibly happen someway, somehow. Maybe it was wishful thinking.”

In the end, the Sox went in another direction — giving other players the contract length they told Ross he could not have.

“Once I got into free agency, I didn’t drive the price up or do anything that would possibly affect me coming back here,” Ross said. “I just wanted fair value and fair years. They weren’t willing to go there — for whatever reason, I have no idea.

“They told me that they didn’t want to sign guys to long-term deals, and then they gave [Shane] Victorino a three-year deal, and then [Mike] Napoli a three-year deal or four-year deal, whatever it was [later shortened to a one-year deal after health issues popped up]. So, basically they lied to my face. At that point, I kind of got a bad taste in my mouth and wanted to move on, and that was it.

“It is what it is. Like I said, it was a great time being here.”

Ross joined the Red Sox as a free agent in January 2012, just as Valentine took over for the popular Terry Francona. Valentine had a tough time in Boston, and it ended with his removal as manager after one season.

“There were a lot of people here that were unhappy,” Ross said. “Maybe it was the fact that a lot of the players were just so used to the way Tito ran things and the way he did it, and then Bobby comes in and tries to change the whole culture and the whole everything. Nobody really wanted to buy into it, and it sort of rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. That’s just kind of how it went. … We could never really get on a roll or never play well. The injuries sort of tampered it a lot, too.”

Added Ross: “Bobby and Mike Aviles had a little deal that happened [a confrontation in spring training], and from then on it was just like one thing after another, player after player. It was tough. It was tough having to answer the questions every time day in and day out just about it. You know how the media is here, obviously. They’re not going to let up on it.”

Ross was one of the few Red Sox who did not make news for a dust-up with Valentine.

Said Ross: “To be honest with you, I might have been the only guy who didn’t have issues with him.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Ben Cherington on D&C: Red Sox did not come close to dealing for Cliff Lee, trading away Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. in July 08.01.13 at 11:35 am ET
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With the dust settling following Wednesday’€™s non-waiver trade deadline, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning, saying that even though the team made only one acquisition ‘€” that of Jake Peavy ‘€” his phone was much, much busier.

‘€œAny starting pitcher that was moved at the deadline, or was even potentially available, we talked about,’€ Cherington said. ‘€œBut I think the issue is really ‘€” we really felt for a variety of reasons that Peavy was the best fit: the combination of what we gave up, the control we have over him next year and our comfort with him as a person and how he fits into the rotation and clubhouse and all those things. That’€™s what we were most focused on.’€

Cherington explained that there were a number of factors that permanently shifted the team’€™s focus from Phillies ace Cliff Lee to Peavy, including Lee’€™s big contract and Philadelphia’€™s large asking price. Also making a difference was that Lee was scratched from his start last weekend.

Despite Peavy’€™s injury history, the Red Sox aren’€™t worried about his ability to pitch down the stretch. He couldn’€™t say the same about Lee.

‘€œWhen you’€™re making a deal in July, it’€™s a little bit about next year, but it’€™s a lot about this year,’€ Cherington said. ‘€œYou want to make a trade for players who are going to walk in, be active and help your team from Day 1. If there’€™s any question about that whatsoever, even if it looks like a guy is going to be fine, it’€™s a hard thing to do. Peavy’€™s last two outings we’€™ve been at, we’€™ve seen him, he’€™s pitched, he looks healthy, he looks strong. He’€™ll step right into the rotation and help us this weekend.’€

No matter who Cherington was after, the organization stuck to its philosophy of valuing and keeping its top prospects, particularly Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. He would not go as far to say that they were untouchable, but he did give further indication of just how much the team expects the pair to play a significant role in future years.

‘€œI don’€™t think you say, ‘€˜never, never, never’€™ to anything, but obviously the more convicted you are of a player and more important that player is to you long-term, the higher the bar is,’€ Cherington said. ‘€œIn talking about trading, the truth is we never got anywhere near considering them in a deal this July. There wasn’€™t one presented that would have made sense. But I don’€™t think you say ‘€˜never, never.’€™ Who knows what comes down the pipe?’€

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Read More: ben cherington, Clay Buchholz, Cliff Lee, jackie bradley jr.
Larry Lucchino on D&C: Red Sox looking at Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez ‘pretty hard’ 07.25.13 at 10:05 am ET
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Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning. Within the significant topic of conversation between the Lucchino and the hosts ‘€” pitching, pitching and more pitching ‘€” was Lucchino admitting that the Red Sox are interested in Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a 26-year-old right-hander recently granted free agency by Major League Baseball.

Gonzalez has drawn interest from a number of teams, and his decision reportedly is down to just five. Lucchino said the Red Sox are looking at him ‘€œpretty hard.’€

‘€œThere are a lot of clubs in baseball that have scouted him, to be sure,” Lucchino said. “He’s been on display in Baha California and now is available, after the appropriate approvals and licenses and whatever, so that the auctioning can begin.’€

Part of what makes Gonzalez so appealing is that he would only cost money — in the neighborhood of $60 million over five years, by some estimations — and the team would not have to give up anything in terms of prospects.

With the non-waiver trade deadline less than a week away, yes, Lucchino said, the Red Sox are looking to add hurlers for the final stretch, and yes, that includes both starting and relief help. Still, the organization is wary of giving up too much in terms of young players for short-term help.

‘€œThe main drawback [of trading for a pitcher] for us would be giving up the prospects. ‘€¦ That’€™s the hard thing. Reaching into your pocket for your wallet is much easier,’€ Lucchino said. ‘€œWe have some really talented young players in our minor league system, and Ben Cherington guards them like his first-born child. He really does want to grow this team internally. That is the most proven path to long-term success, but we all share that point of view.

‘€œThere are certain prospects that qualify to be trade bait, and other prospects that are so strong, so important to your future that you develop them to be cornerstones of your team in future years.’€

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Read More: ben cherington, Dustin Pedroia, Larry Lucchino, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Why the Red Sox made an exception, and why Dustin Pedroia’s decision was ‘a no-brainer’ 07.24.13 at 9:08 pm ET
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Thought that long-term deals were a thing of the past for the Red Sox? Thought that, once the team had liberated itself from the weight of the seven-year deals for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, it was going to remain focused on shorter-term deals?

That is clearly the team’s preference — for most players. But the team nonetheless found itself celebrating an eight-year contract on Wednesday as a franchise watershed. And that is because the team added a player whom it knows, whom it trusts completely with that sort of length of commitment in the form of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a player whose constancy of effort and commitment is literally worn on his uniform every night in the form of the dirt without which he is never seen.

Pedroia signed an eight-year, $110 million deal with the Red Sox on Wednesday, accepting a contract that was considerably less than what the open market might have borne (indeed, it is considerably less than the $15 million a year that Ian Kinsler received from the Rangers while he was still under team control) in order to give him an excellent chance of finishing his career with the Red Sox.

The second baseman is a four-time All-Star, a former Rookie of the Year and MVP winner and a two-time Gold Glove winner. Still, he’s 29, and the deal covers not just the remainder of his prime years but also what is likely a considerable amount of the decline phase of his career, through his age 38 season.

And so, even with that below-market price point, the Sox would have been leery of giving such a long-term deal to most players. Pedroia is not most players. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Dustin Pedroia, John Henry,
Ben Cherington: Red Sox will ‘keep an open mind’ on bullpen trades, but Sox might not need ‘major change’ 07.19.13 at 7:10 pm ET
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The Red Sox thought they had achieved a measure of bullpen stability just before the All-Star break. The trade to acquire Matt Thornton on the final weekend prior to the break seemed like something of an offset to the loss of left-hander Andrew Miller. But one week later, the Sox are left to confront another likely season-long loss of a key reliever with the news that right-hander Andrew Bailey has both a capsular tear and labrum tear in his right shoulder, an injury incurred in his appearance against the A’s on the final day of the first half.

The Sox had already planned to see if they could reinforce their bullpen with internal options, having called up Brandon Workman (who will start on Tuesday unless he’s used out of the bullpen before then) and left-hander Drake Britton from Pawtucket. The team added Jose De La Torre from Pawtucket to take Bailey’s roster spot on Friday. There are other arms on the horizon in the upper minors, and the Sox will try to figure out as much as they can about the group’s readiness to help.

Ideally, the Sox would like to take a homegrown approach to their bullpen shortage. But GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that he will also certainly be exploring potential trade reinforcements — something that the team was already planning on doing even before Bailey’s injury.

A brief summary:

— Cherington acknowledged that the loss of Bailey was a meaningful one, and “did move the needle” to some degree regarding the team’s trade deadline motivations.

— He believes there are internal solutions in the organization.

— He will explore trade candidates, both prior to the July 31 trade deadline and in August.

— He doesn’t necessarily foresee drastic moves. “I’m not sure this team this needs major change,” he said.

“Obviously we were counting on [Bailey] being a part of the ‘pen. And we’ve still got a little more information to gather. He may get another opinion, but he’s going to be down for some time and so, you know, the guys have to step up,” said Cherington. “I think as far as how it affects us, we’re going to give younger pitchers a chance and see what they can do. As I said when Miller went down, when a guy goes down you have to replace him somehow. You hope that the guys are already here internally, but you’ve got to keep an open mind and continue to do that over the course of the next couple days.

“You’ve got to figure out who’s pitching what roles and some new guys are going to get a chance and we’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys,” added Cherington. “At the same time we will continue to work the phones and see if there are ways to help the team from outside of the organization. Those things are hard to predict. It takes finding the right match and we’ve got a lot of good things going on this team and we’re still very confident in the guys here now.”

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Read More: alfredo aceves, Andrew Bailey, ben cherington, Brandon Lyon
Clay Buchholz resumes throwing, but may receive second opinion on shoulder injury at 6:55 pm ET
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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that right-hander Clay Buchholz may receive a second opinion on the condition in his right shoulder — diagnosed as inflammation in his bursa sac — that has kept him out since June 8.

“He may get another opinion just [to gather] more information and hopefully put his mind at ease as to what’s going on,” said Cherington. “He knows his body better than anyone else and he’s going to tell us when he’s ready to ramp it up and we hope that’s soon. Based on everything we know we still think that will be soon. It hasn’t happened yet and that’s a source of frustration for him and to some degree for all of us.”

Buchholz was examined by team physicians and Friday and cleared to resume throwing from flat ground, something he hadn’t done since experiencing discomfort in his shoulder while throwing off a mound on Sunday in Oakland. The right-hander, who is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA, presented no new symptoms in Friday’s check-in.

“Exam was basically benign,” said manager John Farrell. “He went out and played catch out to 90 feet today. He felt free and easy. Didn’€™t feel like he did in Oakland. So that’€™s today’€™s latest on him.’€

Still, there’s no definition at this point to Buchholz’s trajectory back to the rotation or a timetable for his return. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the right-hander, however, Cherington said that the team didn’t feel as if his condition had forced the Sox to look for reinforcements via trade — at least not yet.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Clay Buchholz, John Farrell,
John Farrell, Ben Cherington take stock of Andrew Bailey’s struggles 06.19.13 at 8:42 pm ET
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The Red Sox claimed a doubleheader sweep against the Rays on Tuesday, yet there remained an element of uneasiness to the team’s victory in the nightcap. While a ninth-inning walkoff from Jonny Gomes gave the Sox a 3-1 win the Game 2, the blown save by Andrew Bailey in the top of the ninth offered some cause for pause by the Red Sox.

Prior to Wednesday night’s contest against the Rays, manager John Farrell praised the work of his middle relievers, heaping accolades upon the work of bullpen arms such as Koji Uehara, Junichi TazawaCraig Breslow and Andrew Miller. But . . .

“We recognize there’€™s still work to be done with guys closing out games,” said Farrell.

The Sox entered Wednesday with nine blown saves, tied for the fourth most in the AL. The team has converted just 13 of 22 opportunities, a 59 percent success rate that is the second-worst in the AL (ahead of only Cleveland).

Bailey is 8-for-11 in save opportunities, with his three blown saves tied for the fifth most in the AL. Of the 15 pitchers in the AL with at least five saves this year, Bailey’s 73 percent conversion rate is worst in the league. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andrew Bailey, andrew miller, ben cherington, Craig Breslow
Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘Unfortunate and sad’ that David Ortiz faces questions about PEDs 05.09.13 at 9:12 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, after the Red Sox lost for the fifth time in six games with Wednesday night’s 15-8 setback vs. the Twins.

“We hit a little bit of a bump. And obviously last night was not our best night,” Cherington said. “[We’ve] got to grind through those and get back to playing better baseball, more crisp baseball, and executing. That’s what we had done for most of April. Just got to minimize this little rough patch and get past it.”

Asked to pinpoint the team’s main problem, Cherington pointed to the pitching staff.

“It all really comes back to pitching,” Cherington said. “When we’re executing and pounding the strike zone and sort of taking it to the opposing lineup, we’re a much better team and gives ourselves a chance to control the game and keep our lineup in the dugout and keep the lineup rolling, etc.

“We feel good about our team and where it is. We just hit a bit of a rough patch. We had to use a lot of our bullpen over the weekend in Texas and then certainly Monday [vs.] Minnesota. It was a bit of a scramble to get through the last two days. Hopefully as we move forward over the next few days we’ll get a chance to reset the bullpen, kind of get the pitching staff back on track from a workload standpoint and get going. So, it just goes back to pitching. But the same guys are there, and we’ve just got to get back to executing.”

With some key injuries in the bullpen, the Sox have had to juggle the roster. Cherington said another pitcher will be called up from Pawtucket for Thursday’s game.

“We’ve had to dip into the Triple-A depth even a little bit more early in the year than we hoped,” Cheringtons aid. “But we’ve got some guys throwing well there. We’ll have another guy in there tonight — Jose De La Torre will get his crack in the big leagues. He’s been throwing the ball really well and has been throwing the ball really well for over a year now in Triple-A. He’s  a talented pitcher. It’s just an opportunity for other guys to step up.”

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy this week questioned David Ortiz about performance-enhancing drugs after the designated hitter returned from the disabled list and got off to a tremendous start. Cherington defended his slugger and noted Ortiz’ offensive skills have remained consistent for years.

“I was disappointed by it,” Cherington said. “And I don’t mean toward Dan specifically. But just generally, it seems as if when a player who happens to be in his 30s is still performing at a high level, there’s this sort of automatic suspicion. I sort of looked at it yesterday and thought about it. David’s been one of the most consistent and durable players in the big leagues over the last several years, even counting the fact that he missed some time last year. His performance when he’s been out there has been remarkably consistent, including the power numbers.

“So, if he had started this year, let’s say over the first 10 games or so hitting .300 with some power instead of .400 with some power, would anyone be saying anything? And then once you sort of take that into account and recognize that every good player goes through a streak during the year where they hit .400 and then every good player also goes through a streak during the year where they hit .200 over 10 games, and that’s how they end up at .300 at the end of the year. David would be the first to tell you he’s probably not going to end the year hitting .400. But we fully expect him to end the year being one of the best hitters in the league and a huge part of the middle of our lineup.

“It’s disappointing to me because of the hot start he’s got to face that question, when, as he said yesterday, when he didn’t get off to a good start a couple of years ago, he’s got to face questions the other way. It’s a disappointing thing. I guess we understand in the big picture where those questions come from. But, as David said, he’s part of a program as every player on our team is, every player in baseball is. It ought to take a little bit more than a hot streak to raise that question, in my opinion.”

Asked about the possibility of some players beating MLB’s drug testing, Cherington responded: “All I know is that the program’s in place, it’s a strong program. There’s a lot of testing. Every player in baseball is tested, including ours. They don’t know when it’s going to come. It happens during the offseason, it happens during spring training, it happens during the season. And there’s clearly penalties for testing positive. If a player tests positive, then that player has to be accountable for that, take responsibility for that, and there are penalties.

“But until that point, it seems unfair — it’s unfortunate and sad almost that David has to deal with that and we have to hear about it without any evidence other than a player just doing well on the field.”

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Read More: ben cherington, David Ortiz, joel hanrahan, jose iglesias
Ben Cherington on sellout streak: ‘It ends tonight and it was a great run’ 04.10.13 at 6:02 pm ET
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Speaking before the Red Sox‘€™ game against the Orioles, general manager Ben Cherington commented on the news that his team’€™s sellout streak would be coming to an end Wednesday night.

‘€œWe know that part of the reason it’€™s over is because we failed last year. So we take that on us and take responsibility for that,’€ said Cherington of the run, which dated back to May 15, 2003, and lasted 794 regular-season games (820 including the postseason).

‘€œHopefully the focus of this is a remarkable run for our team and our fans. I remember a lot of pretty miserable, cold April rainy nights everyone sat through. For it to last as long as it did is amazing. So it’€™s on us to make sure the place is filled and start a new one at some point.’€

When asked if the run might have been helped with an offseason of acquiring more high-priced players, Cherington referenced the ‘€™03 team that kicked off the streak.

‘€œWhen the fans really started showing up and selling out the place, I guess we had some star level players, but it was really about the team winning as a collection of personalities,’€ he said. ‘€œIf we put together a good team, a team that plays the right way and wins, the place will be full. It’€™s too good a baseball town. People care about the team. We’€™ve tested their faith the last 1½ years or so. As we said before, it’€™s on us to earn it back. Hopefully we earn that slowly but surely, knowing we still have some more work to do.’€

Cherington also took time to reflect on what made the streak possible, and how a new one might be some day built again.

‘€œAt the end what we’€™re trying to do is put together a team people want to see. Of course it’€™s reflection of work by the entire organization,’€ the GM said. ‘€œIt’€™s partly the team’€™s success. It’€™s partly what ownership has done in the ballpark, what Larry and others have done in terms of services fans get. It’€™s really a collective effort that resulted in that run of sellouts. And ultimately credit to the fans themselves, showing up day after day like that is amazing. Hopefully we’€™ll start a new one. I know the work that needed to be done to start a new one has started. It ends tonight and it was a great run.’€

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