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Larry Lucchino on M&J on Jon Lester: ‘To a man, we were surprised we didn’t get into a sequential negotiation’ 12.13.14 at 1:34 pm ET
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Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Mustard & Johnson Saturday at Fenway Park during Christmas at Fenway to discuss the Jon Lester contract negotiations and what went wrong, as well as other Red Sox matters. To hear the interview, visit the Mustard & Johnson audio on demand page.

Much has been made of the reported 4-year/$70 million contract the Red Sox offered Lester during spring training last season. Lucchino went into the reasoning behind that offer, and to the Red Sox it was only viewed as a starting point, as the organization wanted to have conversations following that offer.

“We did make a number of efforts to reignite negotiations and I think as Ben has said, we went in just to get the process rolling and we came up with a number — Josh Beckett had signed for $68 million for four years and that was the largest number for a pitcher we had ever given to a non-free agent,” Lucchino said. “We thought that was a principle place to start and that was all that it was perceived to be. For whatever combination of reasons there was a reluctance on the part of…”

“I think we all were surprised,” Lucchino added of the reluctance of the Lester camp to continue negotiating. “Matters of this type are shared along John [Henry], Tom [Werner] and Ben [Cherington] and myself and other folks in the baseball operations department. To a man, we were surprised we didn’t get into a sequential negotiation.”

Lucchino was also asked if he regrets what took place last spring, and he admitted he does because of the final result.

“I think the short answer has to be yes because we didn’t get the job done,” he said. “Our job was to get Jon Lester signed and to make him a long-term member of the Red Sox organization. This is a results oriented business. Finishing second is not our business plan. I wish it had developed differently. I don’t think it does us much good now to replay each step along the way. We felt when we started that we were beginning a negotiation would take place fairly intensively through spring training and perhaps into the season, but certainly through spring training, and that didn’t happen.”

Lester reportedly signed with the Cubs for six years and $155 million with a vesting option for a seventh year. The Red Sox have openly been reluctant to give out long-term deals of late, and that was something the organization was faced with during the Lester negotiations.

“We have to have one eye on the present and one eye on the future,” Lucchino said. “I would tend to think most baseball fans understandably focus on the next year, the next season. One of Ben Cherington’s jobs is, in fact it is a job for all of us in the senior leadership of the Red Sox, is to keep one eye on what is around the corner — the next couple of years, not right now. John Henry is a brilliant analyst. He’s also an imperialist. He looks and he sees what’s happened and puts it together and sees a track record that is less than encouraging with long-term deals in general.  He’s not the only one that has that view.”

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: 2014 season a ‘perfect storm’ of issues 09.25.14 at 9:47 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

One year after the Red Sox claimed the World Series title, the team has slipped into last place in the American League East. A season that started with high expectations and optimism now is coming to a close over the course of the next few days.

“We spent so much of the year still hopeful,” Lucchino said. “Of course the 2015 season began July 31 when we made the trades and acquisitions. So we began to flip the switch around that time.”

Continued Lucchino: “No, I didn’t see this coming. This was a perfect storm in so many ways. We were not alone in being overly optimistic about this team. I think if you go back to the predictions that were made by the sports writers and baseball people early on, there was plenty of optimism carried over from the world championship in 2013.

“But baseball is not only an unforgiving game, but it’€™s also a very unpredictable game. And a lot of those things that worked so well last year, and breaks that came our way last year, were not present this year.”

Lucchino said he is optimistic about the Red Sox making a turnaround in the 2015 season with a lot of the talent they have in the organization.

“I think the opportunity for us to rebound, to retool, in the offseason is certainly there,” Lucchino said. “We have the financial wherewithal to take some important steps. And we have younger players, who were perhaps not quite ready this year, at least that’€™s what the performance would indicate. But they are still immensely talented, young players. We’€™re beginning to see some of that talent on the part of some of them. Some may have to regress to Triple-A for some seasoning. … There’€™s plenty to watch and to enjoy, and there are some rational reasons for hoping expectations being better next year.”

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Video: Red Sox executives take ice bucket challenge 08.22.14 at 7:41 am ET
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A large contingent of members from the Red Sox front office, including chairman Tom Werner and CEO Larry Lucchino, took the ALS ice bucket challenge Thursday.

COO Sam Kennedy, speaking on behalf of the group, nominated the Pawtucket Red Sox, Liverpool FC and The Boston Globe to take the challenge.

David Ortiz was on hand to help douse the executives and other personnel with buckets of ice water.

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: No question pace of play will be addressed 08.19.14 at 10:39 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. He discussed Red Sox chairman Tom Werner‘s presentation for commissioner and changes he’d like to see under elected commissioner Rob Manfred. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Werner said one of the biggest changes he pushed for in his presentation was to speed up the game, something Lucchino said he expects to be discussed sooner rather than later.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the pace of the game and the length of the game is going to be addressed,” Lucchino said. “I would say in the next year or two, certainly before the next CBA, because the player’s association has to be partners with us in this effort to reform the game.”

Manfred beat out Werner to replace Bud Selig as the game’s 10th commissioner on the sixth vote taken last Thursday. Werner may not have won the commissioner’s post, but Lucchino said his ideas were instrumental in starting discussions about changes in baseball.

“We haven’t had those kind of substantive conversations at the league meetings on these things,” Lucchino said. “They’ve been more or less handled by committees.

“It’s a problem. I think the benefit of Tom’s candidacy, he brought these things to the forefront. I think we’re going to see a lot more debate, discussion and I hope implementation.”

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: Tom Werner introduced idea of implementing pitch clock in commissioner presentation 08.15.14 at 10:07 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss the commissioner election results, Roger Clemens and the state of the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Major League Baseball owners elected Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner of the sport, beating out Red Sox chairman Tom Werner by a final 30-0 vote on the sixth ballot.

“I absolutely thought there was a possibility that Tom could win it,” Lucchino said. “He was not some kind of protest candidate. He was a guy that was there full of ideas. He made, in my opinion, the best presentation of the group and had some real passionate support so I think there was indeed a possibility of him being elected.

“Having said that, it went several ballots. I think the selection that we made, as Tom said very graciously afterwards yesterday, was a very good one. [Manfred] is a very experienced person and I think he benefitted, as the league did, from the process because a lot of the issues and threats to the game, challenges facing us in the future that were articulated by Tom, I think that dialogue will lead to a better game of baseball going forward.”

Manfred has been MLB’s chief operating officer since the end of the 2013 season and has worked in the game full-time since 1998. He becomes the 10th commissioner in the history of the sport.

“Certainly he’s a different person than Bud Selig,” Lucchino said. “As a person with a different temperament, different background, it’s hard to predict specifically what will be different. But his management style will be different, the league office and commissioner’s office will be anchored in New York City. As a witness to the general notion of the debate yesterday, I think Rob will feel a mandate to bring about some change in the way baseball governs itself.

“Tom articulated five challenges facing the game and I think there was general agreement with Rob in several of them. I think you’re going to see a change in the product coming forth; I think you’re going to see a serious drive for a younger and more diverse fan base; I think you’re going to see a more modern approach to technology and a general effort to grow the game.”

One of the biggest ideas Lucchino said Werner presented in his display was the implementation of a pitch clock to help quicken the pace of play, something Manfred told USA Today after his election that he would be open to. Read the rest of this entry »

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘I do think that we will be active’ leading up to trade deadline 07.24.14 at 10:47 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday to discuss John Lackey‘€™s future in Boston and the team’€™s strategy as the trade deadline nears. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With just one week until the July 31 trade deadline, Lucchino said that the team’€™s performance over the next seven games — all against AL East opponents — will play a huge factor in determining whether to buy or sell.

“I don’€™t think it’€™s a binary process, I don’€™t think you’€™re either one or the other, you may see some moves that take place and some other moves that do not take place,” Lucchino said, continuing: “We’ve never been in this position in our 13 years. We have never been in a position where we haven’€™t been anything but aggressive buyers because we’ve always, even in the catastrophic years of 2011-12, we were well over .500 at this stage of the season, so this is relatively new to us. … I do think that we will be active. … We’€™re always active.”

Lackey has one more year remaining on his contract, which will pay him the league-minimum sum of $500,000 in 2015 — a far cry from the $15.25 million the righty is earning this year. Lucchino said that the team will negotiate with Lackey after the season in an attempt to keep him with the team beyond next season.

“I think that there will be some contract negotiations with him probably at the end of the year as well and we’€™ll see what his frame of mind is with respect to longer-term contracts. … We will explore how we can keep John Lackey as a member of the Boston Red Sox.”

The Red Sox front office could lose a vital cog in its machine in the coming days, as assistant general manager Mike Hazen is one of the finalists for the Padres vacant general manager position. The Padres have had a history of plucking officials from the Red Sox organization, as former Boston COO Mike Dee is now the CEO of the Padres, while the last two San Diego general managers –€“ Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes –€“ were Sox executives first.

“Mike is an extremely talented, versatile, valuable member of our front office,” Lucchino said. “He is a right hand to Ben Cherington. He has a great future in baseball. He ultimately will be a general manager someday, of that I have no doubt. I just hope it’€™s not right now. I know that’€™s a little selfish of us to say, but I hope Mike stays with us. I will say that he’€™s in the final four in San Diego and they have been known to take some of our front office people in the past, but we want to keep Mike Hazen if it’€™s at all possible.”

To read Lucchino’s comments on the stalled Jon Lester contract negotiations, click here. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Larry Lucchino confirms Jon Lester contract negotiations tabled until after season at 9:28 am ET
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During his appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Thursday, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino confirmed that contract talks with Jon Lester have been put on hold until after the season, just before the left-hander officially becomes a free agent.

“[Ben Cherington] may still have some continuing discussion with [agent] Seth [Levinson] on other issues or other matters, but certainly the negotiation, the parties have agreed to let’s step away and do this after the season,” Lucchino said, adding: “Jon made very clear to us that that was his preference.”

Lucchino said Lester wants to concentrate on his pitching for now.

“It’s done in part out of respect for Jon Lester and his desire to postpone this until after the season,” Lucchino said. “He’s on an extraordinary roll. His last five or six games, his ERA is I don’t know, 0.90 or something like that. He’s leading this team, leading the rotation, and his very strong preference, as I think you might have heard from him just a day or two ago on national television was not to have his family and himself distracted and focused on something other than pitching and winning baseball games.”

Lucchino said the move does not mean the Red Sox have given up on re-signing the pitcher, but he refused to talk about any specifics.

“I’m not going to answer a question about the analysis of the stages of this negotiation, because the negotiation will continue,” he said. “It will continue after the season, to be sure, but there will be an opportunity for us to resume negotiations with Jon and with his agent — they have made that abundantly clear to us. So, looking back and doing an analysis of, ‘Was this a wrong step or was this the right step,’ would only be counterproductive.

“I think that your listeners care about whether Jon Lester is likely to stay as a member of the Boston Red Sox for future years. And that probability will be diminished if we talk prematurely or excessively about various stages of the negotiation along the way. That’s not the way to sign Jon Lester. I know it makes for less good radio because you don’t have stages and details and ‘Who shot Jon’ analysis of various parts of the negotiation. But if the goal is to sign Jon Lester, it seems to me, and to keep him a member of the Boston Red Sox, again, negotiation on the radio waves is not the way to do it.”

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: Stephen Drew signing ‘a rational decision when it was made’ 06.13.14 at 10:19 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday to discuss the state of the Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox have been scrutinized for the signing of Stephen Drew. Not only is Drew struggling at the plate, but now he’s sidelined with a right oblique injury. But Lucchino said it’s too early to call the move a mistake.

“I think we need to wait and see exactly what kind of contribution Drew makes,” he said. “I think it was a rational decision when it was made. Circumstances were such that we needed to improve this team, and one thing we didn’t want to do was improve the team and lose talent, prospects in the minor league system. We tried to avoid that.

“So the idea of paying money rather than paying in prospects was appealing to us, and I think we’€™ll just have to see if he makes a contribution over the next nearly 100 games.”

One person in particular who criticized the move was Peter Gammons, who said the media manipulated the Red Sox into signing Drew.

“I’€™m baffled by that. I don’€™t remember a lot of media manipulation or media advocacy,” Lucchino said. “There was a wave of media support after it happened, but we didn’t feel — or at least I didn’t feel — a lot of media pressure on that issue. In fact, if anything, it seemed like it had been resolved and put away.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: Manny Ramirez chosen to throw out first pitch because he was 2004 World Series MVP 05.29.14 at 10:16 am ET
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Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino spoke with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday about the club’€™s recent 10-game losing streak and the 2004 World Series celebration at Fenway Park on Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox welcomed many members of the 2004 World Series team to Fenway Park for a pregame ceremony on Wednesday. The ceremony has drawn some flack for the team choosing Manny Ramirez, who created his fair share of baggage both in Boston and in other markets, to throw out the first pitch.

“There were so many people that could have thrown out the first pitch. Jason [Varitek] was the captain, Curt Schilling has gone through some extraordinary times these days, Pedro [Martinez] is always enormously popular and charismatic,” Lucchino said. “But the simple fact is that we were honoring the World Series championship of 2004, and the MVP in the World Series was Manny Ramirez.”

Lucchino added: “€œA choice had to be made among several candidates who were fitting or appropriate. I believe the decision turned on the World Series MVP as the rational [decision]. That’€™s what we were honoring — the World Series championship — and that seemed to be a rational decision. We would never please everyone, you know that.”

The Red Sox finally have won three games in a row but still are reeling from a 10-game losing streak from May 15-May 25 that has the club eight games out of first place.

“€œWe are fans first. We’€™re in this because we’€™re highly competitive people and we want to win. … But we’€™re also people who have been in the baseball game for a long time and we understand that maintaining some equilibrium is awfully important,” Lucchino said. “So there’€™s kind of a yin and yang. … This is part of this damn unpredictable game that we work in.”

Lucchino continued: “€œI was really down, very pissed for the latter part of that streak, but I tried to recognize that there is volatility to the game of baseball, and you’ve got to recognize it and live through it. … This was bad, this was a really tough streak.”

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Larry Lucchino on if Red Sox will renew Jon Lester negotiations during season: ‘I certainly expect so’ at 9:30 am ET
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Negotiations with Jon Lester have stalled, but Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino made it clear during an appearance on Thursday’s Dennis & Callahan show that the team still holds out hope of a deal with the pitcher before he hits free agency in the offseason. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

While members of the front office previously expressed discouragement about the way the negotiations have gone, Lucchino acknowledged that the team anticipates renewing discussions with Lester’s representatives during the season.

“I certainly expect so,” Lucchino said.

The Red Sox were roundly criticized for their initial lowball offer, reported to be around $70 million for four years.

“I think it’s a mistake to discuss the status of ongoing negotiations as it is a mistake to get fixated on an opening offer,” Lucchino said.

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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