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The general manager’s goodbye: Theo Epstein’s parting words to Red Sox fans 10.25.11 at 12:34 am ET
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Former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, in an op-ed in the Boston Globe, detailed some of the factors that led him to walk away from what he described as his childhood “dream job as general manager of the Red Sox” after nine seasons in order to accept a position as President of Baseball Operations with the Cubs.

Epstein, who was the architect of a Sox franchise that reached the playoffs six times in his nine-year tenure and won two World Series (a prospect that was unfathomable when he was growing up in Brookline), made clear that he still has enormous respect and appreciation for his colleagues and bosses with the Red Sox.

While he described his “close relationships” to principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, Epstein described a “complicated but ultimately productive and rewarding relationship” with CEO Larry Lucchino. But he dismissed the idea that his move to Chicago is related to “power, pressure, money, or relationships.” He also said that his relocation is unrelated to the Sox’ September collapse, which he said happened “despite [the Sox’ owners], not because of them.”

Instead, he suggested, he had already begun contemplating change as part of the natural cycle of a sports executive. Initially, he planned to leave his position as GM of the Sox after the 2012 season, at the expiration of the four-year contract that he signed with the Sox following the 2008 season.

“Football legend Bill Walsh used to say that coaches and executives should seek change after 10 years with the same team,” he wrote. “The theory is that both the individual and the organization benefit from a change after so much time together. The executive gets rebirth and the energy that comes with a new challenge; the organization gets a fresh perspective, and the chance for true change that comes with new leadership. This idea resonated with me. Although I tried my best to fight it, I couldn’€™t escape the conclusion that both the Red Sox and I would benefit from a change sometime soon.”

This season, Epstein had been grooming Assistant GM Ben Cherington as his successor, a process that the Sox expected to play out after the 2012 season. Yet the late-season collapse, and the following decision that manager Terry Francona would not be back, preceded an offer from Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts to meet and discuss a position running the Cubs’ baseball operations department.

“I wrestled with leaving during a time when criticism, deserved and otherwise, surrounded the organization,” he wrote. “But Walsh’€™s words kept popping into my head, and I recalled how important it was for me as a relatively new general manager to bond with Terry Francona during the interview process back in 2003.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Chicago Cubs, farewell, John Henry
Curt Schilling on M&M: Red Sox ‘have no leadership whatsoever in that clubhouse’ 10.17.11 at 2:09 pm ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling called in to the Mut & Merloni show Monday to discuss the news that Jon Lester acknowledged there was drinking in the clubhouse during games this season, although Lester downplayed the situation and insisted it had nothing to do with the September collapse.

“I mentioned something last week that I had talked to a couple of people that I’m very comfortable [with], are being up front and honest about this. And the one message I got was that Jon Lester never stopped busting his ass to the bitter end from a work perspective,” Schilling said.  “Unfortunately, I asked that when you think about his September, his final run of starts, you just have to attribute that to just lackluster performance. I was kind of hoping that wasn’t the case.

“But as far as Jon goes, I’m happy that the kid I knew, and the young man that I knew, wasn’t kind of dragged into this.”

Schilling said it’s not uncommon for pitchers to have a beer in the locker room after being lifted from a game. But if pitchers were exhibiting that behavior on days they weren’t pitching, that crosses a line.

“I was more concerned that this was something that was happening around guys just because. They were going up and having a beer in the clubhouse,” Schilling said. “I think for some of these guys that’s exactly what it was. But I would bet you that when it had to do with Jon Lester, the beer he was having was after he was out of a game. And given how they pitched in September, there might have been more than one beer.”

Asked if Josh Beckett should be next to come forward and explain his behavior, Schilling said all the pitchers should.

“I think they all have to. I don’t know how you get away from [it],” he said. “I mean, you were directly responsible for the largest collapse in baseball history as one of the pitchers that went down on the ship. As the leader of that staff, I think absolutely, he’s one of the two guys that absolutely has to.

“In my mind, there’s only one way to do this. It’s to sit in front of the media and say, ‘Listen, this is what happened. It’s horrific. It was stupid. I made a bunch of mistakes on top of other mistakes. It cost us a chance to go to the playoffs. It cost our manager his job. And I’m sorry. And I’m going to do everything I can do to make up [for it].’ Unless it’s a complete mea culpa, I don’t know that there’s any other path here, especially for these fans.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, Curt Schilling, John Henry, Jon Lester
Deal sending Theo Epstein from Red Sox to Cubs remains virtually inevitable 10.15.11 at 9:38 pm ET
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One of the signature moves by the Red Sox under GM Theo Epstein now offers some hint of what to expect regarding compensation talks between the Sox and Cubs about Epstein.

In December 2006, the negotiations between the Sox and agent Scott Boras for the services of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka left baseball observers in two countries in a state of suspense. There was plenty of bluster and bluffing, to the point that the Sox said that they would board a plane from Southern California back to Boston without the right-hander.

But as much as it seemed possible, amazingly enough, that the deal might fall apart, it was always going to get done. There was too much at stake, too many parties that wanted the deal to happen for it to collapse.

The Sox needed Matsuzaka to come, both in order to upgrade their rotation and because the negotiation could have significant long-term ramifications for their presence in the Pacific Rim.

Matsuzaka was burning to take his talents to the U.S. and to test himself against the top professional league in the world. Unless the Sox low-balled him, he would have found it nearly impossible to return to Japan.

The Seibu Lions wanted Matsuzaka to go to the Sox so that they could reap the $51.11 million posting fee so that they could apply the money towards heated toilets (among other stadium upgrades).

The only party that didn’t want a deal along the lines of the six-year, $52 million deal offered to Matsuzaka by the Red Sox was Boras, who was frustrated by the fact that the pitcher was not being treated as if he was on the open market. Conceivably, Boras argued, Matsuzaka could return to Seibu and then either be posted again by the Lions or wait until he was a free agent to come to Major League Baseball.

But faced with the reality of sabotaging a deal that everyone wanted or accepting the shared feeling that a deal needed to get done, Matsuzaka and Boras relented, and Matsuzaka became a Red Sox.

The current situation regarding Epstein, the Red Sox and the Cubs features similar incentives. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Billy Beane, Chicago Cubs, Daisuke Matsuzaka
John Henry on the collapse, Francona’s reputation, Epstein’s job status and more 10.14.11 at 4:32 pm ET
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Red Sox principal owner, in a far-ranging interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub, discussed the state of his team, including the perception that his organization is amidst a period of chaos that has involved the savaging of the reputation of former manager Terry Francona and the likely imminent departure of GM Theo Epstein for the Chicago Cubs. He also touched on numerous other topics, including the team’s concerns about the inefficiencies of free agency, something that led him to oppose the signing of outfielder Carl Crawford, but that he deferred to his baseball operations team.

Foremost, however, Henry expressed his dismay about the fact that the team came up short of expectations in a 2011 season that appeared to be promising for much of the year but that ended in a historic collapse that left the time outside of the playoffs.

Henry said that he is as committed as ever to the Red Sox, and he remains a passionate fan of the team who follows the team on a nightly basis. He also said that the purchase by the Fenway Sports Group did not impact the ownership-level oversight of the club, since Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino is (and has been) the man who oversees the Sox, while Henry and chairman Tom Werner are in charge of the FSG group with interests elsewhere.

That said, Henry said the struggles of his club at the end of 2011 — something that he attributed to the team’s brutal starting pitching down the stretch — impacted him deeply.

“It broke my heart to see this club fall apart at the end,” said Henry. “It’s devastating. You invest, I watched 162 games, 159, 160, every pitch, every inning. You put everything you can into trying to win a World Series. To have it fall apart at the end is frustrating and painful. I have to be as angry and as upset as any fans are.

“But if fans hang in there, I’m going to hang in there,” Henry added. “We’re going to be back as an organization. We’re going to have a top class manager and general manager, and we’re going to have a great team next year. People right now are forgetting that this was a great team before September. They’re concentrating solely on September. And I don’t blame them for that. We are, too. We are concentrating on what happened in September.

“But I love this team, and I’m going to do everything I can to get it back to where it needs to be.”

Some highlights:

–Henry said that his ownership group was not accountable for the allegations in a recent Boston Globe article that former Sox manager Terry Francona had numerous personal issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chicago Cubs, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Terry Francona
Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘This is what happens when you piss people off that are really rich and powerful’ 10.13.11 at 11:18 am ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher and ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to share his thoughts on an article published Wednesday outing some of the gory details of the Red Sox failed season.

Schilling, who sounded emotional when addressing the current Red Sox players’ silence in the wake of the reports, said he thinks the players need to start taking responsibility for their actions that led to the worst September collapse in baseball history.

“My biggest fear is that one or more players is going to come out and try to defend what’s happened instead of just doing a mea culpa and saying, ‘You know what? Wow was this wrong. Wow did we screw this guy. Wow did we cost you. I don’t know if there’s anything we can say or do to make this up, but we’ll do everything,'” Schilling said. “I don’t see anything other than that. Otherwise you can’t come back.”

Schilling said he was especially hurt and disturbed by accusations made about Terry Francona, and he even went so far as to say Francona may have the makings of a slander lawsuit on his hands because of statements made by anonymous sources about a pain-killer issue.

“I wonder legally whether he has recourse because the team trainer, the team doctor and the ownership, the executive people on this team I would imagine are the only people with enough knowledge of Tito’s medicinal habits to make that comment, to have that news out there,” Schilling said. “This was somebody out to ruin this guy’s life. Because now, I look at this almost like I look at a sexual harassment case. It doesn’t matter if he did it or not. He’s going to have to answer questions about this for the rest of his life.”

Schilling also called out Josh Beckett and Jon Lester for their behavior and condemned the leaders of the team for allowing their teammates to act irresponsibly.

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Curt Schilling, John Henry, john lackey, Jon Lester
John Henry on D&C: ‘Theo is not going to be the general manager forever’ 10.07.11 at 9:23 am ET
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Red Sox principal owner John Henry and president/CEO Larry Lucchino stopped by the WEEI studio for a sit-down interview on Friday’s Dennis & Callahan show to talk about the team’s September collapse, the departure of manager Terry Francona and the future of general manager Theo Epstein.

Henry and Lucchino, citing privacy concerns, refused to discuss whether they have been contacted by the Cubs to talk to Epstein about Chicago’s GM vacancy. But Henry did speak in more general terms about the topic of Epstein’s future.

“Everyone has to understand a couple of things, and I think Tito alluded to this,” Henry said. “I think there’s a certain shelf life in these jobs. You can only be the general manager if you’re sane. You can only be the manager for a certain amount of time. It’s a tremendous pressure-cooker here, 162 games. It’s a long season, and the pressure here is 365 days.

“So, Theo is not going to be the general manager forever. Just as if Tito had some back for the last two years, would he have gone past 10 years? I can’t imagine that he would have. I think that Theo will. He’s the guy now, he’s been the guy, we’ve had tremendous success. We fell apart at the end of the season. As Larry expressed, we’re upset about it. No fan could be more upset than I am about the result this year. But he’s done a tremendous job for us over the last eight years.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On if the owners assumed the team would make the playoffs before the September collapse:

Henry: “You never assume. In other businesses as well, you generally never assume that you’re going to accomplish your goals until you accomplish them.”

Lucchino: “I think that was a reasonable assumption at that point, given the length of the lead, given where we were in the season, given the statistical probabilities of what would happen. Certainly, none of us anticipated a collapse of biblical proportions that we endured.”

On the Sept. 6 team meeting following a win in Toronto:

Lucchino: “I was not aware of it at that time. I learned of it much later. But that’s not uncommon. Tito can have meetings in the clubhouse or things that happen in the clubhouse that we just don’t know about. We’re not included in them because it’s a clubhouse matter. I think the manager has the right to speak to his team and talk to them as he chooses. So, it’s not unusual that we wouldn’t have known about it.”

Henry: “We did know that Theo had had a couple of talks. We knew about that. But we heard about the Toronto talk, it may have been after the season.”

On what Francona was talking about when he said he couldn’t reach players:

Henry: “There was some crypticness when we met. But, you remember, we’ve had problems over the years with certain players. Like, Manny Ramirez was a big problem at one point for the manager. But he had his back. That’s the clubhouse culture. As a manager, you don’t throw your players under the bus. You do everything you can to make them productive and keep them that way. In this case, we didn’t get any information along those lines at that point.”

On the players quitting on Francona:

Henry: “Well, if that’s the case, definitely, it’s shocking.”

On reports of players drinking in the clubhouse during games:

Lucchino: “There are certain principles that are important within the clubhouse culture. And I think that’s one of them. It’s not something that we think should be tolerated. There’s a rule about it and it should be enforced. It was much after the fact that that point was brought to our attention. And we’re still trying to dig in to find out how pervasive it was, how extensive it was, and not try to superficially conclude it was a major factor in anything.”

On at which point during the team’s collapse it became clear how bad the situation was:

Henry: “We went, what, 7-20. This was a team that was going 20-7 and suddenly went 7-20. So it was throughout that process that we began to wonder, Why is this team breaking down? This is the second straight year that on August 1st we were looking great and looked like we were headed for a potential World Series. And the second straight year that the team broke down physically. I haven’t heard — I’ve been reading somewhat what the media have been saying, and I haven’t heard enough about that. That was the concern that started at some point during that decline. The biggest concern we had was, we’re just not doing well physically.”

On concerns that some pitchers were not in proper physical condition:

Henry: “Talking to a few people, one thing thus far that I’ve been able to establish is that the pitchers did their work. They did their cardiovascular. This organization is as good as any in baseball, I’m told, at doing their work. And what is their work, cardiovascular? Shoulder exercise is very important. Very important. We have very little in the way in this organization of shoulder problems, compared to other clubs. And they did their legwork. Some of the people, including the person you mentioned [Josh Beckett], they’re adamant. That’s what they do. And they don’t shirk those responsibilities.

“Were there nutritional issues, which was another question I asked? Yes, I believe there were nutritional issues. One of the things we’re learned in getting involved with English football is they have sport science. The science of fitness is very advanced among football teams around the world, at least the top football teams. So, we’ve learned a lot recently, and our people within the Red Sox have learned a lot. I think that there’s much more we could do.

“To me, the most important thing is that this is the third time in six years, and certainly the second straight year, in which a great team just couldn’t make it through 162 games physically. And it wasn’t just one or two players. We were really banged up. We were really struggling to put healthy players on the field. Every team has be able to make it through 162 games. Two years in a row, we couldn’t do it.”

On Francona’s comments referencing a lack of support from ownership:

Henry: “I don’t engage in encouragement. My way of encouraging the manager is generally, if we win, I’ll go down and say hello. My experience over the years is they really don’t want a lot of interaction from our level when things aren’t going well. But every once in a while I will send — over the last eight years I would send Terry an e-mail and basically say either, ‘You’re doing a great job,’ which I did this year, or, ‘We’re going to be fine.’ I’m probably the person inside, among Tom [Werner] and Larry and Theo and Tito, among all of us, I’m probably the person who most often says, ‘We’ll be fine.’ The problem is, we weren’t fine this year.”

Lucchino: “We did make an effort as things were proceeding in the wrong direction in September, certainly we made an effort before games, I would go down on the field and try — certainly not pep talks, but just to engage in some conversation to show that we were in this together, and to try to be as comfortable as I could around players and the manager and coaches.”

On if ownership questioned some of the manager’s decisions, such as batting Jed Lowrie cleanup:

Henry: “For better or for worse, I’ve always been a chain-of-command guy. We have guys that that’s their job. That’s Theo’s job. Now, I will say to Theo, ‘Why are we doing X?’ And he’ll either have a good answer, or he may go to Terry. But I didn’t go to Terry and second-guess him.

“During the offseason, I might say — during this offseason at one point we had ‘€¦ a substantive discussion, Larry, Theo and I, about the last couple of years David Ortiz wasn’t hitting lefties. That’s the timing in which I might say, ‘Look,’ and I did say, ‘We have to be careful with David and lefties.’ And his response was, ‘Well, let’s see how he starts the year.’ And what happened? He was better against lefties this year than he was against righties. So, that’s the time where I think you have these types of discussions. You don’t, when things are going badly, go down there and start saying, ‘Why is Lowrie hitting [cleanup]?’ ”

Lucchino: “If something like that happens and if we have a question about it, we let at least a day or two pass before we talk about it, to avoid the kind of day-to-day micromanaging of lineups that I think would be really troublesome to any manager.”

On why Francona’s option was not picked up before the end of the season:

Lucchino: “It was certainly something that we considered during the course of the year. I think you’ve got to go back a step and understand the contract arrangement that we had with Tito, which was that we gave him a longterm deal and we agreed that we would not talk about options until the end of the, I guess it was the fourth year — ’08, [’09], ’10 and ’11. We said that there would be a 10-day period, the first order of business after the season would be to talk about options. But we don’t want the distraction of that happening during the year. Because we had it in ’08. The first part of the ’08 season was all about contracts and his situation, dealing with agents and all that.

“So, I think he understood and we understood that it was not something that was going to happen during the course of the season. In fact, to his credit, he never came to us early and said, ‘What do you think about my option?’ His agent never called us and there were never any discussions. We always anticipated that that discussion would take place, as understood, the first 10 days [after the season], it would be the first order of business in the offseason.”

On if Francona’s departure was a mutual decision:

Henry: “Well, we really didn’t get a chance to make it mutual. Thinking about it, would we have ended up at the same place that he ended up? Based on the things that we heard and the things that we saw, there’s a strong likelihood that we would have. So, you could say it was mutual. But the actual way it took place, in my mind wasn’t really mutual, the way it took place.”

Lucchino: “We had a conversation, that first day after the season when we sat for an hour and a half, two hours, talking about the season. We went through challenge after challenge, and various reasons for the breakdown. We talked to Tito about whether he was he ready for this challenge, given all the challenges that he had enumerated. He made it clear to us that he wasn’t. What were his words? He said something like, ‘You need a new voice down there. I’m not your man for next year. I think my time here is up.’ So, in some ways, he took that position. And that is a very determinative factor, when your manager feels spent or feels like there needs to be a change.

“He did a fantastic job for us over the years. Remember, he was contemplating his ninth year in this pressure-cooker that is Boston. Different teams require different skill sets or different talents. And I think he made a self-assessment with which we concurred. And to that extent, it was mutual, and the phrase mutual does fit. It was still a sad occasion. There was no joy that day. We had a myriad of problems identified for us and a manager who suggested in pretty clear teams that we should [go another way].”

On if Francona would still be managing the Red Sox if the team had made the playoffs:

Lucchino: “I’m not sure. I think the same process would unfold. I think we’d sit down as planned, the first 10 days, the first order of business after the season, sit down and talk and find out. It takes two to tango. We’re talking about the ninth year. Tito is like the second-longest duration for a manager in Red Sox history, 110 years. You have to find out if the manager is still ready for the challenges.”

On if Theo Epstein will be allowed to meet with the Cubs:

Lucchino: “Our position on that is we don’t comment on requests. We’ve gotten requests every year, sometimes one or two or three a year from people. We don’t talk about them publicly. A few years ago we got a request from another team about Theo Epstein; you heard nothing about that because we didn’t discuss it publicly. I think there’s good reason for that. There are privacy considerations here. I don’t think people would want their career, development or their job decisions to be debated publicly or for people know what they’re considering or not considering. And I’m not sure the other team, necessarily, would like that to be made public. So our consistent policy and practice is to not to discuss whether there’s been a request made.”

Henry: “If it gets out and he doesn’t go ‘€¦ then somebody looks bad. Either the team looks bad that asks him and he said no, or if he goes and interviews for the job and doesn’t get it.”

On if Henry and Lucchino would allow any team to talk to Theo:

Henry: “There is a certain protocol in this game and it is if someone asks permission for a job that is not lateral, then you give them permission. That’s just the way it works.”

Lucchino: “We don’t mean to sound evasive on this, but this is the one subject when I don’t think there needs to be full disclosure. Our fans have a keen interest in knowing as much about this team as they can possibly know, but there are some things that come up against the line of personal privacy where there are some considerations to be factored into it, and that’s where we are with respect to this thing.”

On if they can hire new manager before solidifying who the GM will be for next year:

Lucchino: “We’re actively engaged in our search for a new manager. We’re not sitting around, twiddling our thumbs, there’s a lot to be done. Theo is actively engaged day to day in that search, we just had a meeting with him the other day going through a list of candidate possibilities. Ben Cherington is actively involved in that process. Certainly John, Tom and I are involved in it as well. That process is moving ahead and it’s not going to happen overnight, there will be some time that will pass. There’s a lot of work to be done, and Theo and Ben are knee deep in doing it.”

Henry: “I don’t think people understand the governance of the Red Sox. When we talk about a manager, general managers, when we talk about important decisions that are made here, this isn’t ‘John’ or isn’t ‘Larry.’ We really over the last 10 years have consistently done things collectively. This is a collective process. We are intimately involved in the manager search. It’s not just Theo that’s involved. ‘€¦ We make collective decisions, we build consensus.”

One who gets the blame for poor free agent signings:

Lucchino: “We share the success and the share the blame. ‘€¦ At the time, when we made the decision [to sign Carl Crawford], we all concurred in the decision.”

Henry: “I thinks that’s one of the problems in baseball. It’s hard to predict things, it’s hard to predict performance going forward. When I look back over the last 10 years, the last eight years with Tito being here, the last nine years with Theo being here, and I look at what we’ve accomplished. Every year, including this year, we’ve felt we were headed for a World Series. The biggest thing to us every year is playing in October.”

Lucchino: “This was a disappointing, tortuous end to the season. We watch every game, we’re in this because we’re competitive people. Go back to December 21, 2001, our very first press conference. The first thing we said is, ‘We have an obligation to field a team that’s worthy of the fans’ support.’ It hurts not to be playing right now.”

On why they hired Terry Francona over Joe Maddon eight years ago:

Lucchino: “They were both good. Two different flavors of ice cream. Both are good, but I think at the time, the sense was that Francona’s history was clearer, and maybe the kind of easy rider that we understood him to be was appropriate for that team.”

On what they look for in a manager:

Henry: “We have a certain organizational philosophy. We want somebody that is highly intelligent, someone who can communicate with the players and be able to get the best out of the players. So, I think we lean in general toward player managers, but the most important thing, to me … if I had to choose one aspect is that he really fits in to our organizational philosophy.”

On members of the Red Sox appearing in country musician Kevin Fowler’s “I Like Beer” music video:

Henry: “Wow. It’s surprising given everything I’ve heard about drinking recently. It’s very surprising.”

Lucchino: “I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard about it.”

On if the Carmine computer system is flawed because it doesn’t determine how a player is wired:

Henry: “When you look the last two years, to me, we broke down physically. That’s not a Carmine [issue]. That’s something that we’re looking at this point. Why did this team break down physically? Why do we have a problem after 120 games? That, to me, is a bigger issue than is there something wrong with Carmine. Again, on September 1st, this team looked pretty damn good. …

“I think baseball is changing, there’s something going on, we can talk about what the reasons for it are, but if we look at the manifestations at what is actually going on, young players are having a much greater impact on the game than older players. ‘€¦ The game is changing. I think there are clear statistical studies that show that the signing of free agents at a certain age, after they’ve already peaked in their career and they’re starting to decline, is counterproductive. This isn’t just about Carmine, this is about how dynamic baseball is, all sports is. And we’re on it.”

On if they are reluctant to go after big-name free agents after free agents from the past season did not work out well:

Lucchino: “We are not going to turn off any avenue to improve this team, particularly this year. We are not going to say, ‘No, we’re not going to dive into the free agent market’ because the recent record has not been as successful as we might like. We are going to explore free agency, we are going to explore trades, we are going to explore waiver wires, minor league free agents, international signings. We are going to look at the whole panoply of possibilities because the challenges are very real for this next year.”

On if proven Red Sox players such as David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon have leverage after disappointing performances by recent free agent signees:

Lucchino: “Those players have leverage because of their performance. Their performance has been substantial here and with that comes a bit of leverage, to be sure. But does that mean that we cannot find players elsewhere that can’t fit in? We think we can. That doesn’t mean we’re always right, but we think we have a process that Theo and our baseball operations department takes into consideration makeup and ability to deal with this city. Carl Crawford has had one kind of year, this is one year of a longer-term commitment. I think it’s too early to say this is a guy who cannot play in Boston. We will see about that.”

Read More: John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Terry Francona, Theo Epstein
Red Sox, Terry Francona part ways after eight years 09.30.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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In the aftermath of a historic nosedive that took the Red Sox from an apparent playoff lock to a team that lost the largest September postseason lead in major league history, the Red Sox and manager Terry Francona have parted ways.

The team will not exercise its two-year, $8.75 million option on Francona’s three-year contract, which ran from 2009-11. Instead, the team will pay his $750,000 buyout, and the manager will be free to pursue a job elsewhere. The decision was made after a meeting on Friday morning that included Francona, Epstein and members of the Red Sox’ ownership group.

Francona leaves having overseen the Sox for one of the most successful periods in franchise history. During his eight-year tenure (tied for the second longest in team history, behind only Joe Cronin), he won two World Series titles, becoming only the second manager in team history with two rings and the first since Bill Carrigan won titles in 1915 and 1916.

Francona went 744-552 (.574) during his time in Boston, with the second-highest wins total in franchise history and the third-highest winning percentage among managers with at least three seasons with the Red Sox. During his tenure, he was often given raves for his ability to maintain a positive clubhouse environment in a region where scrutiny — especially during times of struggle — can become overwhelming.

His ability to balance the team’s longer-term interests over the desperation for a win on any given night was viewed as a critical component of the team’s successes over the 162-game seasons. And in short series, where each game is indeed pivotal, Francona’s success was nearly peerless. He has a 28-17 (.622) record in the postseason, including victories in seven different series, and his postseason winning percentage is the second highest all-time by a skipper with at least 25 games in October, behind only Joe McCarthy (.698).

However, while he reached the playoffs in five of his first six seasons in Boston, the Sox missed the postseason in the last two seasons, with the Sox going 89-73 in an injury-riddled 2010 and then going 90-72 this season, including a 7-20 record during what turned into the worst September collapse of a first-place team in baseball history. The Sox haven’t won a postseason game since 2008.

Both Francona and general manager Theo Epstein suggested at a Thursday press conference that the Red Sox clubhouse had become a challenging one to manage this season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: John Henry, peter gammons, Terry Francona, Theo Epstein
Adrian Gonzalez on M&M: David Ortiz has ‘done everything on his own’ 06.20.11 at 12:27 pm ET
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Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez made an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning as he prepared to face his former team, the Padres, Monday night at Fenway Park.

Gonzalez talked about his relationship with David Ortiz, as the two frequently have been spotted in the dugout talking strategy. Most people have assumed Gonzalez has played a role in helping Ortiz regain his stroke, but Gonzalez downplayed his impact.

“For me, with Papi, he’s been an incredible help for me as well,” Gonzalez said. “And I know that there’s been a lot of times that he comes to me and he’s just asking me, ‘Hey, what’s this pitcher got?’ Or, ‘What do see on him on video?’ And I’ll relay what I’ve seen, what I’ve done. We’ve just had a great relationship. It’s worked really well both ways. He’s helped me a ton, and I think I’ve helped him a little bit.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Were you psyched to come here to Boston and get more triples than [Jacoby] Ellsbury through the middle of June?

No, definitely not. It’s not something that I even look into or try to do during the season. I just try to get one to fill the goose egg in the column. It’s just worked out that way. Three lucky bounces, or balls hit in the right spots. If I can get there, I think anybody else could be standing out there, or maybe trying for an inside-the-parker. They’ve just been fortunate bounces for me.

A lot of these fans here that have watched you play, I think the one moment that they take away and mention to me a lot is that home run off of CC Sabathia in Yankee Stadium, when you went up there and pulled a little Ichiro. And when I saw that home run, I said, “This guy’s not afraid to fail, because he’s willing to go out there and try some things that maybe others weren’t.”

This game’s all about failure. I always tell my teammates that. If I’m 0-for-4, in a way I’m happier than most people who would be, because I failed four times in a row and more often than not, the next one’s going to be a good one. I just try to take that mentality all the time, and have fun with the game, enjoy the game. If I feel like a pitcher’s dominating me, I’ll ask Tito [Francona], “Are you sure you don’t want to take me out here? I have not been doing pretty good against this guy so far. If I do [stay in], I’ll try something new.” Just having fun with the game and enjoying it and trying the best to succeed every time.

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Read More: adrian gonzalez, David Ortiz, John Henry, Mark Teixeira
Will the Red Sox renew their courtship of one who got away in ’08 draft? 06.06.11 at 1:38 pm ET
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Back in 2008, the Red Sox considered their negotiations with Alex Meyer exciting for the sheer fact that they had no idea what the outcome would be. The team had taken the giant right-hander with a pick in the 20th round, viewing him as the ultimate wild card.

The team felt confident that it would be able to land first-round pick Casey Kelly. As the signing deadline approached, the club also reached a point where it believed that outfielder Ryan Westmoreland — whom it viewed as one of the top 10 players in the 2008 draft class — would also pass on his scholarship offer at Vanderbilt to begin a pro career with the team he’d spent his life rooting for.

But most teams viewed Meyer as completely unsignable, considering his commitment to the University of Kentucky to be iron clad. Based on where they were able to select him ‘€“ a place where they hadn’€™t expected the then-18-year-old to be available ‘€“ the Sox were willing to take a shot on a player who was being advised by Scott Boras.

At the time, Meyer screamed projectability. At 6-foot-7, he showed an ability to command a sinking mid-90s fastball and a hammer curve that made him one of the more impressive high school pitching prospects that year. Baseball America tabbed him as the No. 5 prospect coming out of high school in 2008.

Meyer hailed from a small town in Southeast Indiana. He was named the state’€™s Mr. Baseball as a senior, when he went 8-0 with a 0.95 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 51 innings. He had power stuff, though he remained raw (as evidenced by his 30 walks that year).

Still, the potential was tantalizing. Meyer looked like a pitcher who would be a project, requiring time to develop consistent mechanics given his size, but the potential upside was obvious.

Meyer and Boras recognized the pitcher’€™s standing in the draft class. Shortly after the draft, the Sox were told that it would take $4 million for the right-hander to sign.

For most of the rest of the summer, the Sox had little to no contact with him. He met the Sox when they played the Reds in Cincinnati that summer, getting escorted around the clubhouse by then-Assistant GM Jed Hoyer. But there wasn’€™t much contact after that.

The Sox became pessimistic about the odds of signing Meyer when Kentucky pitching coach Gary Henderson (who had recruited Meyer) was promoted to head baseball coach that summer. That, the Sox expected, would likely seal the deal on convincing Meyer to head to college. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex meyer, jed hoyer, John Henry, mlb draft 2011
MLBPA director Michael Weiner discusses revenue sharing, CBA status with media on Monday 03.07.11 at 3:08 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Michael Weiner was in Red Sox camp Monday to give his annual address to the players. But this isn’t just another year, as the collective bargaining agreement expires in December. Weiner met with the media following his session with the players, and are some highlights of the nearly 20-minute Q&A with the media:

How did the meeting go with the players today?

This meeting is different than meetings in other years because this is a bargaining year. Most of my talk is about how bargaining works, what roles players will have, how they will stay informed, what kind of input they’ll have. It was mostly just expelling to them how bargaining works. This is a big year.

Is it important to get dialogue established between both sides sooner rather than later?

I know we are and I believe the owner’s side are more prepared this time around. We did have our first formal session a couple of days ago in Tampa and that’s ahead of schedule. I don’t think we had our first formal session in 2006 until knee-deep into April.

John Henry was reportedly fined $500 K for for comments in 2009 about the league’s revenue-sharing system. What is the union’s take on revenue sharing?

The players have a lot to say. Revenue sharing has been ‘€¦ we’ve spent as much time bargaining revenue sharing in the last three rounds of bargaining as any issue. From our perspective it’s crucial, because baseball is driven by local revenue unlike some of the other sports. I expect we’ll spend a lot of time on that this time around.

Read the rest of this entry »

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