|John Henry believes Red Sox ‘overly relied on numbers’||02.24.16 at 5:31 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When John Henry sat down for his annual update on the organization to kick off spring training, most believed that Pablo Sandoval’s weight would take center stage.
In some ways, it did, with Henry leaning multiple times on the news that Sandoval had tested out at 17 percent body fat, down 6 percent from last season. (For more on that, click here.)
But, when Henry was done his 26-minute get-together at JetBlue Park, there was a co-winner for title of most talked-about topic.
Evidently, one of the organizations that had been praised since the beginning of the current ownership group’s tenure for being out ahead of the curve regarding analytics may have gone to the well a bit too often.
“There were a lot of issues. I spent at least two months looking under the hood and came to the conclusion that we needed to make changes,” Henry said. “One of the things that we’ve done, and I’m fully accountable for this, is that we have perhaps overly relied on numbers. There were a whole host of things. We have a very hands-on president of baseball operations and general manager who work extremely well together, and we have made significant changes. The biggest thing that has to happen is that players on the field have to perform. We didn’t get as much of that last year.”
This, of course, led to continued questioning about Henry’s change of course when it comes to having analytics guide the decision-making process.
“Over the years, we have had great success relying upon numbers,” he added. “That has never been the whole story, as we’ve said over and over again, but perhaps it was a little too much of the story, too much reliance on on past performance and trying to project future performance. That obviously hasn’t worked three out of the last four years.”
The Red Sox principal owner continued on the topic, “I will say this, sabermetrics is always going to be a tool in the game to stay. What the right balance is, that’s probably dependent on the person making the decisions and how much they will rely on that vs. a traditional scouting approach or traditional approach to evaluation. I can’t say it was abandoned by any means. It certainly was not abandoned. That’s where art meets science and how much do you weigh that kind of information.”
|John Henry: It would be ‘big disaster’ if David Ortiz doesn’t finish career in postseason||01.22.16 at 8:55 pm ET|
It’s the Second Annual Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods, a time that offers the ownership group to deliver their final thoughts before heading to Fort Myers in a few weeks.
But with the roster seemingly set for some time, some of the key storylines were more of a big picture variety than normal. An example of the state of this subdued final full month of the offseason came in the form of Henry’s most notable quote, which involved thoughts on David Ortiz‘ last year as a big league ballplayer.
“Given his track record in the postseason, it would be a disaster ‘ that’s a strong word, I guess, but a big disaster ‘ it would be terrible if he doesn’t end his career in the postseason.”
For the record, Ortiz has failed to make the postseason six times during his 13 years with the Red Sox.
– There should be more definition as to what the new netting in front of the first and third base line seating might result in soon, according to Werner.
“We actually have a meeting next week to look at various alternatives,” he said. “Obviously the most important thing for us is to find the right kind of quality materials that it can be as transparent as possible.”
Werner did note that the Red Sox have been in communication with those whose sight-lines might be influenced.
“We reached out to all season-ticket holders who might be affected, asked them to come to the seats that they have, and if they’re displeased, then we’ll make other arrangements,” he noted. “But it’s our hope, obviously, that most everyone will be happy, and we’re doing this because it’s important for us to deal with fan safety.”
– Henry said that the offseason — which the Red Sox involved themselves in early and often — unfolded fairly similarly to how the organization projected.
“Generally it doesn’t unfold the way you expect it to. And ‘expect’ is the wrong word. I think it unfolded the way we hoped it would unfold,” Henry said. “I thought Dave did a great job, baseball ops did a great job. From the very beginning, the strategies for how they went about it were strong and effective.”
Prior the group answering questions, the members of the Red Sox who are in attendance for the weekend event were introduced.
The only Red Sox players not to make the trip were newcomers Carson Smith, Craig Kimbrel and Chris Young, David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. David Price was scheduled to arrive Saturday after his induction into the Vanderbilt Hall of Fame Friday night.
|Red Sox owner John Henry on acquiring another starter: ‘I do think there is trade potential’||12.05.15 at 3:06 pm ET|
It looks like the Red Sox are done spending on free agent pitching. But according to owner John Henry, the trade market remains very much in play.
Asked on Friday after David Price‘s introduction if he could see the Red Sox spending again on a free-agent pitcher, Henry said no. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski remains on the hunt for a starting upgrade.
“I do think there is trade potential,” Henry said. “We have a lot of pitching and we have a lot of talent. We’re not going to trade away our core young players, but we might be able to get a core young pitcher. Dave is exploring a lot of other things. He’s well known as someone who’s not afraid to pull the trigger. Because of these young players we’re in good shape, not just for this year, but going forward.”
Acquiring a core young pitcher without sacrificing a core young prospect won’t be easy, and presumably takes the Red Sox out of the market for a big name like Oakland’s Sonny Gray, Chicago’s Chris Sale, or Miami’s Jose Fernandez. Henry said that the Red Sox engaged teams on trade talks early in the offseason and found the costs prohibitive.
“We talked to a team about going after a No. 2 (starter), and the price was two everyday position players,” Henry said. “So it was clear to us that going the trade route was going to be expensive. We are committed to staying younger.”
With the winter meetings opening on Sunday in Nashville, one possible trade partner to watch is Cleveland. If Henry wants to add a core young pitcher who could be reasonably obtainable, 25-year-old right-hander Danny Salazar would be one possibility. The hard thrower has struck out nearly 10 batters nine innings over his career, and isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.
|Curt Schilling on D&C: Red Sox might pursue Zack Greinke for 1-2 punch with David Price||12.02.15 at 10:26 am ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling checked in with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Wednesday morning to explain why he supports the Red Sox‘ decision to spend a record amount of money for David Price. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schilling said it shouldn’t matter that owner John Henry decided to open his wallet and shell out a reported $217 million over seven years for a 30-year-old left-hander.
“This is what makes it different here in the sense that when John Henry wants someone on the team, John Henry gets what he wants. … That’s one of the beauties of being a fan here now. Money is no object when it comes to putting a roster together,” Schilling said.
That said, Schilling echoed the thoughts of many in saying that the Red Sox have to expect that the last couple of years of this deal won’t be a good value.
“I don’t know how good he’s going to be or how serviceable he’s going to be [in the final years of the deal], but you don’t put $30 million onto a guy who’s 11-11 with a [4.20 ERA],” Schilling said. “And that is best-case [scenario]. Because are you fully expecting him to make 33 starts, 34 starts a year for seven consecutive years? I always look at things like this as, OK, one of these years he will not pitch. Right? So, it’s a six-year performance deal for seven years worth of money. Where does the other side of the hill, where does the downside begin — does it begin at 33, does it begin at 36?
“But here’s the thing: That doesn’t matter. Because if they go to the World Series and win, then the amount of money this organization makes off that World Series win pays for this a couple of times over.”
There also has been widespread speculation that Price will opt out of the deal after three years — reportedly an option in his contract — but Schilling doesn’t see that as likely.
Said Schilling: “I don’t think opting out is even remotely possible from the standpoint of, what are you going to do, opt out of a $30.1 million deal to get [$]32 million from somebody else? I think that after the first year he’s going to love it here. I think after the first month he’s going to love it here. Because this is baseball heaven. … There’s very few places like this. And he’s in the family now.”
|Woman sues John Henry for negligence over 2014 foul ball injury at Fenway||08.28.15 at 1:55 pm ET|
Injuries caused by foul balls and bats have become a major issue in baseball this year, especially after the Red Sox had two scary incidents earlier this season that led to fans being hospitalized.
Now a woman who was stuck by a ball last year at Fenway is suing owner John Henry for negligence.
Stephanie Taubin, a 46-year-old from Brookline, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, The Boston Globe reported in Friday’s editions.
Citing court records, the Globe reports that Taubin said she was in the EMC Club in the area above home plate on June 17, 2014, and protective glass had been removed for renovations, leaving fans at greater risk. She was struck by a foul ball and suffered facial fractures and neurological damage, the complaint states.
She claims to have incurred medical expenses, lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
The Red Sox said in a statement to the Globe that the team “is unaware of the specifics [of the lawsuit] and generally does not comment on pending legal matters. But the safety of Red Sox fans and providing a quality ballpark experience are essential to the Red Sox, and to Mr. Henry, and are goals for which we strive as an organization to deliver.”
In an incident on June 5 of this season, a woman from Paxton seated near the visitors dugout was hit in the face by a piece of a bat that broke during a swing. Tonya Carpenter, 44, suffered sever injuries that required a week-long stay at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and additional treatment at a rehabilitation facility.
On July 10, a Connecticut woman seated on the third-base side was struck in the forehead by a hard-hit foul ball. Stephanie Wapenski, 36, received more than 30 stitches and spent the night in the hospital for examination.
|Transcript of John Henry’s opening statement at Dave Dombrowski press conference||08.19.15 at 9:23 pm ET|
With Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, newly-hired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and soon-to-be president Sam Kennedy lined up in front of the media for Dombrowski’s introductory press conference, Henry took it upon himself to kick things off Wednesday afternoon …
Here is a transcript of the owner’s opening statement:
‘This is a great day for the future of the Red Sox. It is a tribute to our city and great fans that Dave has elected to join us as president of baseball operations. I thought a personal reflection was appropriate. In 1998, I made the decision to buy the Florida Marlins after their general manager had been forced to disperse the players of a world championship team. They lost 108 games that year, they were facing a daunting rebuilding process.
“I sat down with the general manager Dave Dombrowski because whether or not I was going to move forward was dependent on one decision: Would Dave remain the general manager? I was convinced that the man who had built great teams in Montreal and had taken an expansion franchise from creation to a world championship would support a rebuild of another championship team. A few days after that purchase, after it went through, Dave and I were walking along the street in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and he was asking me what I knew about Minor League third basemen for the Yankees, since I was a part owner of the Yankees. His trade under my ownership was acquiring Mike Lowell from the Yankees for three starting pitchers who ended up starting a total of six games in the Majors. Mike had made almost 1,500 starts. With that, Dave began an ambitious build for a championship. A few months later, he signed 16-year-old Miguel Cabrera and a high school pitcher named Josh Beckett. And then a high school first baseman named Adrian Gonzalez about a year later. When it became clear after three years that I was in for a very long political siege in trying to get a ballpark built in South Florida, I decided to sell the Marlins. I said to Dave, throughout your career, you’ve never had the resources to build and keep great teams except for one year. I don’t know who is going to own this club. If you can go somewhere where you’ll have a chance to have better resources, you should do so. Dave found a great home in Detroit as president and general manager.
|John Henry, Dave Dombrowski wanted Ben Cherington to stay, but knew ‘substantial risk’ he wouldn’t||at 4:51 pm ET|
After all, general manager Ben Cherington had been with the Red Sox for the last four years as general manager and 17 years as a full-time member of the organization after two as an intern.
But, that was a risk they were willing to take.
“Over the summer there’s been much discussion about strengthening baseball organization internally,” Henry said during the press conference introducing Dombrowski in a prepared statement. “On Aug. 4 when the Tigers announced a shakeup of Dave leaving, I spoke to Tom [Werner] and Ben [Cherington] about having a conversation of Dave. Tom and I wanted to see if there was a fit for Dave within the Red Sox organization. Ben did not object. Would our philosophies coincide in the present day?
“Tom, Mike Gordon and I subsequently met with Dave on Aug. 13 at the Chicago owners meeting and had a long discussion about the future, about baseball philosophy and whether or not there was a fit. We all left there thinking he would substantially strengthen the organization with Dave as president of baseball. We realized that our baseball views were in fact indeed the same, that Dave intends to balance scouting, data analytics, player makeup and all the tools in his toolbox. We hoped that Ben Cherington would remain as general manager, but we knew there was a substantial risk he would not. This was our decision to make.
“Tom and I have an obligation to do everything we possibly can to win for this city of Boston and Red Sox fans everywhere. As owners we’re ultimately responsible for the poor results we’ve had over the past two years and for results going forward.”
Cherington ultimately decided against staying with the organization, saying he couldn’t be “all in.” The former general manager said he didn’t hear about the organization speaking to Dombrowski until last Saturday, not Aug. 4 like Henry had stated.
“John [Henry] and I, we’re disappointed with his decision, but respect it,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. “We think the world of Ben. As we’ve said, he was the chief architect of our success in 2013 and has built a strong nucleus going forward. He’s been in the organization for 18 years and we’re disappointed, but respectful of his decision.”
|Tom Verducci on MFB: ‘I don’t think [the Red Sox] are a playoff team’||07.14.15 at 1:20 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Red Sox‘ strategy at the trade deadline and the strength of their young players. To hear the full interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
With the trade deadline just around the corner after the All-Star break, Verducci doesn’t know which way the Red Sox are leaning, but he does have a benchmark for them to reach before buying.
“It’s really an interesting question isn’t it?” Verducci said. “It’s a critical time for the Red Sox, with [Clay] Buchholz going down it makes it even more critical and who knows how long it will be, but he won’t be coming out for the next two weeks. I’m not sure which direction they would go. I don’t take a team seriously until they’re .500 and they still have to get there. But Kansas City last year was 50-50 after 100 games and they wound up with the tying run on third base in Game 7 of the World Series. Being around .500 is OK but you’ve got to get there.
“Coming out of the break it’s a tough trip to begin with, the schedule’s not in their favor, but they’ve got to come out with a winning record these next couple of weeks and probably a few games over [.500] before we can say, ‘We need to go out there and trade for the one piece that’s going to get us into the postseason.’ Otherwise, it’s fool’s gold.”
Though Verducci does not think that John Henry micromanages the player personnel of the Red Sox, he believes Henry got involved in free agency.
“If you’re talking about complementary pieces on the club I don’t think [he’s involved],” Verducci said, “but when you’re talking about guys like [Pablo] Sandoval and [Hanley] Ramirez, of course. Those were big decisions. … You’re supposed to have those three amigos [David Ortiz, Ramirez and Sandoval] in the middle of the lineup just creating havoc.
“Now, you’ve got Sandoval, whose OPS has gone down four straight years. You signed him to be a switch-hitter — I understand he hasn’t been great right-handed but it’s not a good sign to abandon one side of the plate. And with Ramirez, you look at someone playing the outfield and I know it’s a transition, you give somebody time and all those things, but you want to see something that makes you believe that that learning curve is not going to be that long. I thought from day one of spring training, there was no indication that he was going to get left field quickly.”
As young players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts come into their own, Verducci believes the Red Sox will be one of the strongest teams in the AL East for years to come.
“I look at the Red Sox as we sit here today and I don’t think they’re a playoff team,” Verducci said. “They could change my mind if they go crazy these next few weeks, but I don’t see it. You alluded to [Brian] Johnson and [Eduardo] Rodriguez, you’re going to have to take your foot off the pedal with those guys at some point in the second half of the season. … I love Rodriguez. I was really impressed with the way he beat the Yankees, it was actually with his fastball and I know he’s got a great changeup.
“The strength up the middle with Betts and Bogaerts, I mean Mookie Betts right now is probably one of the 20 best players in the game and he’s getting better and just learning center field. The upside is really good … and they’re very, very close to being a good team. If it’s not this year, they’re certainly right back in the mix next year and I do love the young core of the team.”
Verducci commented on Rick Porcello’s struggles, citing them as a function of a rotation without a veteran presence.
“Rick is really a student of the game,” Verducci said. “He was famous in Detroit for sitting next to Max Scherzer on the bench, who’s another really analytical mind on the mound. [He’s] always looking at what needs to get better. I think one of the biggest things not just with Rick but with the entire staff has been the lack of an experienced catcher and the injury to Ryan Hanigan. I can’t underestimate how big that has been. I know when we did the game Saturday on Fox, the Red Sox were 14-9 with Hanigan behind the plate, probably well below .500 otherwise.
“In today’s day and age, with all the information that’s out there, you really need somebody to distill that information, come up with a game plan and call the game. I asked Rick about it, and he said, ‘No offense to any of the younger catchers because we all love them, but there’s no substitute for experience. With runners on base, when the difference in a ballgame is those one or two pitches that you have to execute and what those pitches are and the conviction the catcher has with those pitches. There’s just no substitute for a guy that’s been back there before.'”
|John Henry: ‘We respond to reason rather than pressure’||07.01.15 at 1:20 am ET|
TORONTO — John Henry has been in town for some Major League Baseball-related meetings. Seemingly, there is no reason to sound the alarm in regards to linking his presence and the Red Sox‘ lot in life.
Tuesday before the Sox’ principal owner’s team beat the Blue Jays, 4-3, at Rogers Centre, he could be seen milling about during batting practice, sitting with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, eating in the media dining room and then watching the game with Jays president Paul Beeston. (It’s interesting to note that Beeston’s son, David, works for the Red Sox as the Vice President for Corporate Strategy.)
And certainly the Red Sox have eased any edge to Henry’s trip to Canada by winning their first two games of the four-game series against the Blue Jays, closing within six games of first-place in the American League East.
But in between activities, Henry did offer a succinct explanation on why he has taken the approach to keeping the front office and coaching staff intact during the Red Sox’ recent downturn.
“Stability in an organization is a key element,” he told WEEI.com. “Some people thrive on instability, but most organizations, most people, really thrive when there’s stability.”
Asked if staying the course is any more difficult in the baseball world than in his other business interests, Henry responded, “No, it’s just that you have a lot more outside pressure. We don’t really respond to that. We respond to reason rather than pressure.”
|Larry Lucchino on MFB: ‘We all share’ responsibility for Red Sox’ woes||06.03.15 at 1:28 pm ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox and who bears responsibility for the team’s struggles. To hear to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
On Tuesday, principal owner John Henry held a press conference to reinforce his confidence in manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington and accept some responsibility for the team’s struggles. Lucchino echoed those sentiments of support and accountability.
“When it comes to free agency, payroll-setting, we all have a hand in this, so we all share it. I’ve worked with a lot of general managers in my lifetime and Ben is right at the top of the list in terms of his work ethic, his insight, his judgment and his knowledge of the game,” Lucchino said. “I don’t think it is fair to mention the last couple of years without mentioning the extraordinary job he did in 2013.”
Lucchino was equally effusive in his praise of Farrell’s qualifications and abilities as a manager.
“He has a track record with this organization. We know him. When I say track record I don’t just mean wins and losses, I mean years of experience, years of relationships, years of data that we can look at and say, ‘We know this guy.’ We have a sense of his intelligence, his judgment, his people skills,” Lucchino said.
Lucchino acknowledged that some players have not performed as well as expected. He attributes this at least in part to the unpredictability of baseball, and that it is impossible to accurately anticipate performances.
“It’s very hard to understand and to measure beforehand. The performances of some of these players have been utterly surprising. We’re not smart enough year in and year out to guess who those guys are going to be,” he said.
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