|Ben Cherington takes blame for hitting reset button: ‘Ultimately my responsibility’||07.31.14 at 8:44 pm ET|
Ever since his team began hitting the skids in Toronto, Ben Cherington has been losing a lot of sleep. On Thursday, he lost five players from a roster that won the World Series just nine months earlier.
The Red Sox hit the deadline at 48-60, 13 games behind Baltimore and in last place in the AL East. Cherington admitted Thursday that he needed to move quickly. He did by trading Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes, Andrew Miller and Stephen Drew, all of whom received 2013 World Series rings on opening day a little less than four months ago.
“I think it speaks to where we are as a team,” Cherington said. “It starts there, and there’s nothing celebratory about this. These moves are made because collectively as an organization we haven’t performed well enough — this year, anyway. So that precipitates the moves, and then, yeah, there is demand because we were in a unique position, because, despite the record of the team, we had a number of guys particularly pitching, performing really well and very recently playoff-tested.
“So it was a unique combination and we were able to add, I think that helped us, turn those guys into a lot of proven major league talent as opposed to just prospect deals. Prospect deals are typically easier to pull off Most of the time when you’re getting calls from contenders it’s hard to get proven major leaguers from contenders because typically it doesn’t make sense to give up proven major leaguers for a contender. I think the quality of our guys and the fact that they’re recently playoff tested helped us do that. There are other things we could have done but we felt like we did enough, nothing else really made sense to us.”
As the names entered the rumor mill, the idea became more and more confusing. Sure, dealing away players who would reach free agency after this season for assets who would remain in Boston beyond 2014 made sense, but when the names expanded beyond the likes of Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes and Andrew Miller to include players like John Lackey who will be under team control (at least in theory) beyond the 2014 season, it became a bit harder to make sense of what the Red Sox hoped to accomplish.
Was the team considering taking a wrecking ball to its veteran core? Had it compromised the notion of building for April 2015?
“I think we have every intention of competing to contend next year,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Wednesday afternoon, prior to his team’s 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays. “That’s not to say that we’re not looking to win as many games as we can this year. You may be looking for a specific answer because the question mark remains, who are the players that come back for individual players that we have now? We don’t know that yet. But I would hope that the team that is built for 2015 isn’t just based on those who are brought back in trades by tomorrow at 4 o’clock. This is an ongoing process that we continue to build.”
As it turns out, while the work of the Red Sox‘ roster rebuild for 2015 does indeed remain incomplete, the team has already taken a number of steps forward in that regard. Here’s what happened over the roughly 25 hours leading up to the trade deadline in the aggregate: Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview||07.28.14 at 3:09 pm ET|
The outlook of the 2014 season looks bleak for the Red Sox.
With just four days until the July 31 trade deadline and 10 1/2 games out of first place, it appears that Boston is ready to wave the white flag on the year and prepare to add assets for future campaigns.
“Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “And so that might mean doing very little, it might mean doing a bunch of stuff. It might be between that. I don’t know yet.”
While Boston’s chances of making the playoffs continue to dwindle by the day, the Red Sox still have an opportunity to make up some ground in the division when they host the Blue Jays for a three-game series at Fenway Park.
While the Red Sox trend downward, the Blue Jays have looked resurgent coming out of the All-Star Break. Entering the break, Toronto had dropped eight of its last 10 games and had fallen to four games out of first place in the AL East. Even with injuries to key contributors such as Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays have been able to battle back into contention for a playoff spot with a 7-3 record over their last 10 games.
“It is kind of a resilient group,” said manager John Gibbons said after Toronto’s 5-4 win over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. “We have some guys that didn’t start with us, they’re getting some opportunities and they’re doing good things for us.
“That’s important, guys are filling in and they have to do the job for you. We were struggling going into the All-Star break, so playing better coming out of it was very important to us.”
The Blue Jays got the best of the Red Sox in their last series on July 21-24 at Rogers Centre, taking three of four from Boston and further knocking the Red Sox down in the division standings. Boston has struggled against Toronto this season, posting a 3-7 record against its divisional opponent.
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.
Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-6, 5.50 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.04 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (3-3, 3.54 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.21 ERA)
|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.”
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