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Red Sox owner John Henry talks, and this is what he had to say 02.11.13 at 11:34 am ET
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Red Sox principal owner John Henry discussed a range of topics during a Monday morning meeting with the media at spring training. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox principal owner John Henry spoke to the media at JetBlue Park on Monday, discussing topics ranging from rumors of him selling the team, to reaction to Terry Francona’s book, to the team’s shift in philosophy and why it might have happened.

Following is a complete transcript from the get-together.

On if he’s looking forward to 2013: “I would say in especially in comparison to last year, I should be optimistic. We have to be optimistic we aren’t going to have the same kind of injuries we had last year. I was told we expect to have 15 percent of our payroll on the DL during any given season, and last year was 45 percent. At one point we had seven outfielders on the DL at one time. So you have to be optimistic if nothing else we’ll be healthier.”

On Francona’s book, written by Dan Shaughnessy: “What did I think of Dan’s book? What do I think of Dan? Oh, his book. I read parts of it and was wondering why he was so kind to me. Generally, he’s not that kind. I thought he was unfair with Tom [Werner] and Larry [Lucchino]. You have a Hall of Fame CEO. I was told there was 100 references to Larry but not one positive. Is that true?”

[Shaughnessy: "No way. There are many positive references."]

On if he’s happy owning the team: “I’m very happy. This is what, our 12th, 13th year? The last 12 years have been the best years of my life. Tom and Larry and I have had a tremendous working relationship. We have always been on the same page. It’s fun working with talented people. You just don’t get an opportunity to own something like the Boston Red Sox. As long as we can do it, the three of us our committed to being here. These thoughts that we are somewhat selling, those are just erroneous.”

On how owning the Liverpool soccer team has affected the Red Sox: “[Liverpool], I think it has affected perception. Everything affects you. The things that have been said, repeated over and over and over again are fairly ludicrous. The last time I was in Liverpool was in May of last year. I don’t know where this distraction comes from. You can say every major league owner is distracted if you want to make a case for it because they all have other businesses and other endeavors. I think the major thing has been the perception. Imagine if I had nothing else to do other than the Red Sox, what do you think would be different?”

On if the limited partners are upset with the Liverpool dynamic: “I would say that some of them are not OK because they read the same stuff that you write and probably some of them are distracted, but we aren’t. Last year’s losses on the field weren’t a result of Liverpool.

“I would say all three of us are intimately involved every day with everything that goes on with Fenway Sports Group. Every day is different, so there were different issues yesterday. There were issues that came. Just about every day there’s an issue at some level has to be addressed.”

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Read More: John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Liverpool, Red Sox
Baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist: ‘Francona’ filled with ‘petty,’ inaccurate portrayals of Red Sox owners 02.03.13 at 2:00 pm ET
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Red Sox owners (L-R) Tom Werner, John Henry and Larry Lucchino (WEEI.com)

Smith College professor of economics Andrew Zimbalist, in a podcast interview with Kirk Minihane to discuss the portrayal of Red Sox owners in “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” suggested that the book (co-authored by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy) offered a dramatic misrepresentation of the strong work done by Sox owners during their almost 11 years in charge of the team.

“I felt like a lot of the book engages in these kinds of petty accusations where Francona and Shaughnessy would cite a presumed sentence that [Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino] uttered or that [chairman Tom Werner] or [principal owner John Henry] uttered. My reaction to that stuff is, ‘Come on – all of us are human beings and during the course of a week, all of us probably say a couple things we wish we hadn’t said or we wish we could have said it better,’ ” said Zimbalist. “When you’re sitting around in a meeting and you’re brainstorming about what should we do to deal with flagging ratings on NESN or issues with potential drops in season tickets or whatever the meeting might be, you’re sitting around and you’re brainstorming and you say something. It’s just trying to, it’s off the top of your head. You’re trying to have a discussion about an issue. . . .

“To take out certain things like that, to take them out of context, I thought it was petty. Some of the more strident things that were said about Henry and Werner not understanding the intricacies of baseball or that they don’t love the game, they only like the game, just seem to be me to be terribly inaccurate and mischaracterizations, and also not representative of what I think is really a terrific job overall that this ownership team has done. Obviously, any Sox fan who waited 80-plus years for the World Series know that they brought us two World Series over the course of 10 years, which is phenomenal, and except for the last few years, practically every year the postseason experience. They invested almost $300 million of their own money in Fenway Park, which is up against the plan that John Harrington had to tear down Fenway Park and build a new park that was down the street from Fenway Park, primarily with a plan that had hundreds of millions of dollars in public money as opposed to private money. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew zimbalist, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Terry Francona
Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy: ‘We are paid to do one thing, and that’s to win’ 01.17.13 at 11:35 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Red Sox executive vice president and chief operating officer Sam Kennedy, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show, disputed the suggestion found in published excerpts from former Sox manager Terry Francona‘s that the franchise’s baseball decisions started to be shaped by marketing concerns. Instead, Kennedy stated that the Sox’ mission is defined by the team’s on-field success, with marketing (and concerns such as NESN’s broadcasting success) serving that goal, rather than vice-versa.

“Great sports organizations, great ownership groups like ours, have one goal, and that is to win baseball games. We’ve been here for 11 years together. Our group’s won two world championships, we’ve had six postseason appearances, we’ve won over 1,000 baseball games,” said Kennedy. “The business side, the baseball side and the community outreach side all need to work together to achieve that common goal of winning games.

“To be clear, the way that I view the world, I can speak for myself, is that we on the business side are here to support and provide the necessary resources to the baseball operations group to do everything in their power to field a team that does one thing, and that is win. Winning baseball games is and always has been the central mission of the Boston Red Sox since we’ve been here, and I think that John Henry and Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino have demonstrated an incredible track record of doing that. I know that I’m really proud to be a part of the organization. I know that [former GM Theo Epstein] was proud to be part of this organization, as was Tito. I certainly wish them both well.”

Asked if he’s seen a change in the team’s operating philosophy in recent years, Kennedy suggested he had not. He said that the biggest change in the organization has been its performance on the field rather than what is transpiring inside the team’s offices. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Fenway Park, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Sam Kennedy
John Henry says Red Sox aren’t for sale, reveals Larry Lucchino has signed extension 09.13.12 at 3:32 pm ET
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Red Sox principal owner John Henry denied a report that the Red Sox are on the market. (AP)

Red Sox principal owner John Henry called in to Mut & Merloni on Thursday to refute Fox Business reporter Charlie Gasparino‘s report that he and the Red Sox ownership group have held discussions about selling the team.

“I’m disputing his sources,” Henry said. “Whatever his sources are telling him, I’m completely disputing anything they’re saying along those lines.”

The biggest piece of news to emerge from the conversation is that president and CEO Larry Lucchino will return to the team next season after signing an extension.

Here are some bullet-points of the conversation, which could be heard here:

• Henry said that Gasparino’s source, which Gasparino said minutes earlier in an interview with Mut & Merloni has “direct knowledge” of the situation, is incorrect.

“I guess one response I have is that sometimes journalists have sources that just are completely off-base and don’t know what they’re talking about,” Henry said. “I guess that’s what I would have to say having listened to the interview, that whoever he’s talking with, especially when he mentions that there’s been talk with a buyer and so forth, it’s just so far apart or out of the horizon of things that have been going on, as are a number of things. For instance, that all of our time is spent on Liverpool, and that we spend our time at Fenway with Red Sox people talking about Liverpool. It’s just not true.”

• Henry adamantly disputed that there were internal discussions about selling the team.

“I think that if there have been any discussions, they certainly haven’t included Tom [Werner] or Larry or I, so I don’t know who’s discussing it. Certainly not minority partners, because we’ve had changes in ownership among minority partners even this year. As you probably know, The New York Times was a significant owner at one point. They owned 17 or 18 percent, and they now own zero. That’s been going on, and others have changed the ownership interest, but there’s certainly been no discussion. We have quarterly partner meetings, and there’s been no discussion among partners, even in executive sessions about a sale of any kind. I don’t think there’s anyone in the partnership who’s interested in selling any of the aspects of Fenway Sports Group.”

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Read More: adrian gonzalez, carl crawford, Dustin Pedroia, John Henry
John Henry on M&M: Bobby Valentine picked his coaching staff at 2:10 pm ET
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Red Sox principal owner John Henry, in an interview on the Mut & Merloni show, said that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was permitted to pick his own coaching staff after accepting the position in early December. At that time, hitting coach Dave Magadan, bullpen/catching coach Gary Tuck and then-third base coach Tim Bogar were under contract, while Bob McClure — who had been hired by the organization in a scouting and player development position about a month before Valentine’s addition — also was in the organization.

But while Valentine ended up having all four as members of his coaching staff, Henry suggested that the decision to have Bogar as a bench coach, Magadan as hitting coach, Tuck as bullpen/catching coach and McClure as pitching coach was not a mandate from the front office.

“I don’t think you can say he wasn’t allowed to pick his own coaching staff,” Henry said. “He inherited a group of guys, and he had to decide whether they had to stay or go. … I believe that he decided to survey the situation and I’m not sure if he made any changes.”

Read More: Bobby Valentine, John Henry,
Larry Lucchino on D&C: Red Sox won’t fire Bobby Valentine this season 08.16.12 at 10:14 am ET
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Larry Lucchino

Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino appeared on Dennis & Callahan to talk about the meeting the team had, Bobby Valentine and some of the other issues Red Sox management is dealing with this season. To hear the interview go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Before Lucchino could even get into conversation he had to answer the question of whether or not Valentine would finish the season with the team. The response was a simple, “Yes.”

Ownership had a meeting with players last month, though the content of the meeting has been discussed and debated, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that players came to management — via a text from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez — with concerns over Valentine.

“We’ve been doing these meetings and sessions with our players since 2002,” he said. “And the practice goes back before that for some of us. So this has been going on here in Boston for 10 and a half years and one thing that’s been consistent is we haven’t talked about the content or the participants. … John Henry said that the point of these meetings is simply to improve communication and to find out if there are additional things we could do, or should be doing to win. I think people need to know that this is been going on for some time and whatever report came out about it is the first of its kind over 10 1/2 years. More than that the report is exaggerated and inaccurate.”

The media scrutiny in Boston is intense and often has been cited as a reason that some players struggling in this city.

“I do [underastand that sentiment]. I do a little bit,” Lucchino said. “I think we all should have a little blame for it. There might have been some things that we could have done earlier and better, me, myself as well to make sure that it didn’t develop to quite the level that it has. … There is an intensity and a breadth of the media coverage here that is different from most other places.”

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Read More: Bobby Valentine, John Henry, Larry Lucchino,
Opinion: Time for Terry Francona to move on 07.30.12 at 11:54 am ET
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Terry Francona managed the Sox for eight years. (AP)

Terry Francona managed the Sox for eight years. (AP)

Terry Francona is better than this, isn’t he?

Look, we all get it. We really do. Francona is still Level 5 pissed about all that happened last year — the failure of ownership to pick up his options during the season, agreeing to play along with the idea that his exit was a mutual decision and not a firing, and of course the natural suspicion that Someone Upstairs was one of the leaks to Bob Hohler. He was embarrassed, his reputation was injured, and no one in ownership (particularly the now-reclusive John Henry) jumped, walked or even raised a finger at the chance to publicly defend the character of the most successful manager in franchise history.

Yup, no checks were bounced, no contracts were violated. Understood. The Red Sox paid Terry Francona millions and millions of dollars to manage a baseball team until they didn’t want him to manage anymore. It happens all the time. But let’s be fair: Lots of times we don’t know who is right and who is wrong but not on this one. Ownership v. Francona is a battle the Sox will never win. And, at 51-51 with chaos rife in the organization — you can’t handle things worse than the Sox did with Carl Crawford on Saturday, total amateur hour — Francona looks better every single day. I had no problem with Francona losing his job last year for all the reasons that have been laid out a million times, but I think we all, on July 30, now know that last September wasn’t really Francona’s fault.

And that’s why I was stunned to read about Francona walking into the Sox locker room at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, pulling up a chair and holding court with a dozen or so players as if the last nine months had never happened. Bizarre at best, calculated and fueled by revenge at its worst.

Listen, obviously there are occasionally familiar faces in the clubhouse before games. But this isn’t Kevin Millar or Sean Casey or Nomar Garciaparra. Francona is hugely popular with a significant voting block on that team, many if not most of whom aren’t thrilled with the guy who took Francona’s job. Also, there’s the very public matter of serious acrimony between ownership and Francona, and that’s not in the past tense. There have been recent tales of more phone calls unanswered and disrespect and confusion and promises broken and all the drama that has made for thousands of hours of hideous country music over the years.

Francona is clearly affected by this, understandably. He’s hurt. But it’s time to stop, to stop talking about his feelings to the media, to stop making a case that has already been judged and rendered many times over. We get it, there’s no new ground to cover. You’ve won and it’s not even close. No one thinks the owners are right on this. Quit while you’re ahead.

But it seems he can’t do that. Don’t be confused, what Francona did on Saturday was done only to symbolically give ownership the middle finger. He put Valentine in a terrible position, made him look weak (he sent Valentine a text message to apologize the next day) in front of players who don’t mind Valentine looking weak. It was a power play that was completely unnecessary, a bully move made out of frustration for allowing himself to be bullied. When you get divorced, you lose the right to go back into your old house, put your feet up and have control of the remote.

Terry Francona needs to move on. He’s not going to get an apology from John Henry or Larry Lucchino or Tom Werner. If that was going to happen it would have happened already. If he really doesn’t know who the leak (or leaks) are in the Hohler story, he’s not going to find out from those guys. Fool me once and all of that. Nothing is going to change, and he has to accept it. It’s still OK, I guess, the wounds are still fresh, but how much longer until Francona’s semi-regular pity parties become pathetic?

The moral high ground is a wonderful thing (I’m told). Francona, in the  public eye at least, owns it against Sox ownership. In a perfect world that should be enough, right?

Guess not.

Read More: John Henry, Terry Francona,
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