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Principal owner John Henry on Red Sox’ operating model, smart spending and the quest for a fourth title 02.19.14 at 3:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year ago, when Red Sox principal owner John Henry met with the media at the start of spring training, the press conference seemed more like an interrogation. The Red Sox were coming off three straight years without a postseason appearance, along with their worst season in nearly half a century. The publication of “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” a book that offered several less-than-flattering depictions of the team’s ownership group, further made the team’s owners seem embattled.

No longer. A World Series has a way of reshaping a narrative. Instead of being the steward of a faltering, ill-managed organization, Henry this year faced questions about the foundation of their success in the past — three titles in 12 seasons — and going forward.

“This is an ever-changing challenge. It’s incredibly difficult,” said Henry. “You have 30 teams that are doing everything they can every year on and off the field to try to win. For us to win a fourth championship would be cornerstones of the careers of everyone involved here and who have been involved in these three, all the way down to two or one.”

Henry said that the Sox would remain true to the operating philosophy that helped the organization achieve its titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013, chiefly, an emphasis on avoiding the sort of cumbersome deals that bogged down the club in the 2010-12 seasons and searching for market inefficiencies to exploit. In other words, rather than flexing financial muscle at the risk of inefficiency, Henry articulated a vision for a club that spends a lot, but spends wisely and carefully.

“We got away from [the model of contracts of limited terms and dollars] for a long, for a certain period of time. Not a long period of time. I think we learned from it,” said Henry. “I think there are a few other clubs that have learned from it. All you have to do is take a look at the results over the last, say, 10 years of what that kind of approach has meant. It’s a very very risky thing to do. I don’€™t see us necessarily changing. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Henry: ‘It’s conceivable’ that Red Sox could extend David Ortiz this spring at 3:07 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Shortly after Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz reiterated his desire for a one-year contract extension for the 2015 season, Red Sox principal owner John Henry suggested that the team would be open to exploring just that. At a time when Ortiz, the team’s owners, front office members and Ortiz’s agent are all in Fort Myers, Henry said that it was worth discussing whether common ground could be found in the pursuit of a goal that is shared by the Red Sox and Ortiz — chiefly, the conclusion of Ortiz’s historic career as a member of the franchise with whom he is entering his 12th season.

“It’s conceivable. It’s something that we’ll talk between. We’ll definitely meet with him,” said Henry. “He’s meant so much to this franchise, to New England for so long now. He’s helped carry us to three world championships. I know where he’s coming from. He wants to finish his career here. We should try to make that happen.”

That said, just because there’s a shared interest in working out a deal doesn’t mean that one will get done during the spring. Still, the two sides should get a sense in the very near future of where they stand in talks.

“I don’t know that it will get done, but I think it’s good to have the conversation at the beginning of spring training,” said Henry. “We’re all here, or we’ll all be here by tomorrow at least. The sooner it’s resolved one way or another, the better it is for everyone.”

Henry noted that even if a deal isn’t done in the spring, the two sides could “absolutely” work one out and keep him in uniform for the duration of his career after the season. Still, he said that the matter is one that the Sox “should listen to and consider” at this stage as well. Henry also said that it was “certainly great to hear” that Jon Lester is willing to take a hometown discount to remain with the Red Sox beyond 2014 rather than pursuing free agency, but said that questions of re-signing both Lester and Ortiz were best addressed to GM Ben Cherington. Still, asked if he viewed the two players as cornerstones, Henry left no doubt.

“They certainly are,” he said.

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John Henry: Red Sox thought about making Theo Epstein president, Ben Cherington GM 10.21.13 at 2:18 pm ET
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Red Sox owner John Henry appeared on WEEI on Saturday and discussed the Red Sox’€™ transformation from AL East cellar-dwellers in 2012 to American League pennant-winners this season.

Henry revealed that Ben Cherington, who took over the general manager position in 2012 after Theo Epstein left for the Cubs, was being groomed for the position, and that Boston had a plan that would have paired Cherington and Epstein together in the front office.

‘€œWe knew for years that [Cherington] was going to be our next general manager,’€ Henry said. ‘€œAt one point we’d even talked about Theo becoming president, allowing Ben to become general manager.’€

That plan never materialized, as Epstein became president of the Cubs in 2012, and Larry Lucchino remained the team president, while Cherington slid into the position vacated by Epstein.

In his first offseason with complete control, Cherington acquired vital free agent pieces of the 2013 puzzle in Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew.

‘€œWe made a decision where we were going to concentrate on having more depth,’€ said Henry, before the Red Sox’€™ Game 6 ALCS win that sent Boston to the World Series. ‘€œInstead of spending 20 or 25 million dollars for a player, we’€™re going to go out and get two or three players.’€

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John Henry on M&M: ‘I probably would have preferred to play Cleveland’ 10.03.13 at 1:09 pm ET
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Red Sox owner John Henry joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday, one day before the Red Sox open the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park, and talked about the challenge his Red Sox face against their AL East rivals.

“I was watching the game last night, and I probably would have preferred to play Cleveland, because Tampa is so tough,” Henry said. “We play them 19 times a year. Every game is tough. We got the better of it this year. But their pitching is extraordinary. And our offense is the best in baseball. So it should make for an exciting three, four or five games.”

A meeting with Cleveland would have meant a reunion with former Sox manager Terry Francona, who had a falling out with Henry and the Sox ownership after his departure following the 2011 season.

“It would have added an extra dimension, no doubt about it,” Henry said. “It would be sort of like playing the Dodgers in the World Series.”

Henry said the in-house projection for this year’s Red Sox team was to post a win total in the high 80s, as it was a year ago when the Sox stumbled to a 69-93 mark.

“It was an incredibly frustrating year,” Henry said of 2012. “You lose 93 games, that’s 93 nights — and more, because you have off nights sometimes following. It’s just, I don’t know how to put it other than pure suffering. You suffer through that. The games were painful.

“This year it was just really fun to watch and be a part of.”

Henry said the key was a return to the team’s core philosophies, including on-base percentage.

“If you just look at simple things like the at-bats the players had, grinding out at-bats,” Henry said. “The difference between last year, when we had consistently poor at-bats, and this year, it’s amazing to see that turnaround in one year.”

Added Henry: “I think the players and John Farrell and his great staff and Ben [Cherington] and his staff are what got us back to where we were. You saw our on-base percentage last year dropped to either 13th or 14th. And we led the majors this year in on-base percentage. So, there’s definitely been a change in that regard.”

Henry also pointed to the Red Sox’ strategy last offseason, when they stayed away from the big-name free agents and instead loaded up on solid but unspectacular players.

“You saw Ben become much more depth-oriented, as opposed to going after, say, Josh Hamilton or someone like that last year,” the owner said.

Added Henry of Hamilton: “To my knowledge, we didn’t pursue him. Any time he was brought up for discussion, we weren’t pursuing him.”

Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino‘s name has come up as a possible candidate for MLB commissioner following the departure of Bud Selig next year.

“People have talked about Tom [Werner], as well, as commissioner. But they both seem pretty happy here,” Henry said. “Last year, I think people on the outside thought we were — you remember we had one phone call over whether or not the team was for sale.

“Even at the worst of it, I think Tom and Larry were committed. We were all three — and everyone in the organization — pretty much committed to getting back on track. And now that we are, I don’t see any of that changing, at least personnel-wise.”

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.

Read More: ben cherington, John Farrell, John Henry, Josh Hamilton
John Henry reaches deal to buy Boston Globe 08.02.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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John Henry came into Boston in 2002 promising to break the “Curse of the Bambino” and deliver a World Series championship to Red Sox fans throughout New England. This season, under Henry’s management, the Red Sox have produced another remarkable turnaround from last place to the best record in the American League.

Apparently, he will get the chance to try his turnaround magic on the Boston Globe.

According to Peter Gammons, Henry has been selected by The New York Times Co., the Globe’s current owner, to take over the newspaper, according to a report on his website Gammons Daily. The price is speculated to range anywhere between $70 and $120 million.

Update: The Globe has confirmed the purchase agreement reached by Henry.

Henry’s Red Sox already own a majority stake in NESN and sports teams marrying media entities is hardly groundbreaking. FOX Entertainment Group owned the Dodgers. The Tribune Co. owned the Cubs and Ted Turner owned the Braves. The Knicks and Rangers are owned by the Dolan family, which owns Cablevision. But in this case it’s the sports franchise buying the media outlet.

The Globe reported on Wednesday that Henry was going to submit a bid for the newspaper as a solo buyer after an attempt to purchase the Globe through New England Sports Network did not materialize. Henry also owns the soccer powerhouse Liverpool Reds of the Barclay’s Premier League.

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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 »

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John Henry on M&M: 2012 ‘an anomalous year’ for Red Sox 07.18.13 at 2:49 pm ET
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Red Sox owner John Henry joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday after to discuss the Red Sox’ success through the first half of the season and what makes this year’€™s team different than the Red Sox of last season.

Henry credited the success to the team getting back to the formula that helped it win championships in 2004 and 2007 ‘€” something he thinks the team got away from.

“The way we look at it, we took a certain turn back in 2008 away from our core philosophy,” Henry said. “I would say in May of last year we decided that we ‘€” there was some emphasis that we needed to get back to that.

“I think a lot of it was centered on the at-bats and on the approach for pitchers as well. I think Bill James termed it the collapse of the center, which is — you start to press, things aren’€™t going well, there is dissension and you’€™re losing. Everyone wants to win the game with every at-bat, so instead of having what we had here for a decade here, which was grinding out at-bats and attacking the hitter if you’€™re a pitcher, we had people not doing that and some of the worst at-bats that I have ever seen consistently.”

One part of the reason for the Red Sox’ demise last year was the epidemic of injuries. Henry said the team’€™s focus during the last offseason was not necessarily to go out and get the best player like it had in years past, but to have a more disciplined approach at spending its money.

“We needed greater depth. In order to have greater depth, you can’€™t necessarily go out and spend ‘€” go after Josh Hamilton, for instance, and spend $25 million on one player. You spend $100 million on four players and it makes it difficult to have depth. Every team has to rely on staying healthy to one degree or another. But I think every team has a tendency to underestimate how much depth means.”

Henry said that while many had counted the Red Sox out at the beginning of the season, he knew that last year’s performance was not representative of what the Red Sox could do this season.

“Last year in my mind was an anomalous year,” Henry said. “People seem to be surprised that we are in first place and that we are a decent team. I think everybody predicted us last, almost unanimously. I think that is because you get — when you have a bad year, you assume that it’€™s going to continue. I heard a lot of feeling as if the good days were over with the Boston Red Sox as a franchise. We had a great run of 11 years or 10 years, but last year was certainly an anomalous year.

Ben [Cherington] did a great job to make a transaction to move players that were unhappy, and we now have a group — we brought in a new group of players that are thriving in this market. This is a market that other players at least in the past seen this as a really tough media market to try to play in and deal with. You don’€™t see that at all this year. It’€™s not just the change in managers, it is the change in personnel. You have to give Ben Cherington a lot of credit for what is going on.”

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John Henry says relationship with Terry Francona would be ‘difficult’ to salvage at 2:38 pm ET
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During his sit-down session with Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon, Red Sox owner John Henry discussed his strained relationship with former Sox manager Terry Francona and said it would be “difficult” for the two to mend fences.

Francona criticized Sox ownership — mainly Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino — in a book he wrote with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, and Francona also has expressed disappointment with the way he has been treated since he left after the 2011 season.

Asked if he has tried to reach out to Francona, Henry said he still has a bad taste in his mouth from his previous attempt, as Francona shared his bitterness about the situation with the media.

“I’m not sure I want to get back into the whole ‘attempt’ thing, because I had a long discussion with him about it, and as far as I’m concerned he mischaracterized that aspect,” Henry said. “To me, he wrote a book that really attacked Tom and Larry unfairly. So, how can we have much of a relationship at this point?”

Asked about the possibility of repairing their relationship, Henry added: “It may be difficult, because the things that were said, some of these things were so below the belt. Maybe you can blame Dan Shaughnessy for that. ‘€¦ It’s about the book. There’s not much more to say about that.”

Henry insisted that ownership backed Francona during the tough times in Boston, and he commended Francona for his overall performance as Sox skipper.

“He had eight tremendous years and was tremendously supported, even after the collapse of September — which, we made it clear, we did not blame him for that collapse. But this is an argument you can’t win,” Henry said. “Really, what reason would I have to go on about this situation. He was the best manager we ever had. We had eight great years, great teams. He was a great manager. He was the best manager we’ve ever had. And I appreciate what he did. He suffered as much as any manager I’ve ever seen — even through the good times. He did everything he could to win for this organization.”

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John Henry joins Mut & Merloni in studio at 12:30 at 8:20 am ET
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Red Sox owner John Henry will pay a visit to the WEEI studio for an interview with Mut & Merloni at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The Red Sox,who have the best record in the American League (58-39), return to action following the All-Star break when they host the Yankees in a three-game series that starts Friday.

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Dustin Pedroia acknowledges playing through torn UCL in thumb 05.29.13 at 9:09 am ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia revealed Tuesday that he has been playing with a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

In an interview with the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, Pedroia said he was told he had a complete tear. He injured the thumb sliding into first base in an Opening Day win over the Yankees, although he said it was impossible to determine if it could have been a pre-existing tear. Doctors told him he could play through the injury without risk of long-term damage as long as he could deal with the discomfort.

“People shouldn’€™t know if you’€™re 100’€‰percent or not. It is what it is, and it’€™s my responsibility to perform well,” Pedroia told the Herald before Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to the Phillies. ‘€œMy mindset is if I’€™m nicked up, I have to find other ways to perform. That’€™s the way I think about it. Maybe I’€™m crazy.”

The general recovery time for such an injury is eight weeks.

“You go and come back in eight weeks — that’€™s a lot of ballgames without one of the team’€™s best players, so my job’€™s to go out there and do the best job I can to help the team win. That’€™s the way I look at things,” Pedroia said.

Pedroia’s toughness impressed owner John Henry.

‘€œIt would have taken the heart and soul out of that club on Opening Day,” Henry said. “We already had lost [David Ortiz] and we didn’€™t know when he was coming back. It just meant so much to that club to have Dustin in the lineup every day.”

Added Henry: “I had two or three talks with him during the time about what he should do. I kept talking about it’€™s a long season and he kept talking about not missing a game. The guy played through the pain, through the swelling, the discoloration. He played through it, and no one ever knew. And he’€™s hit what, .330?”

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