|Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘The core of this team will remain’ for 2014||11.01.13 at 9:50 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about the team’s World Series championship.
With the 2012 Red Sox finishing last, expectations were low heading into this season. But as the team proved itself to be a contender, Lucchino said the goals were adjusted.
“There was a kind of buzz about the team that developed all along, throughout the season, and came to a fever pitch at around the postseason time,” Lucchino said. “It was almost like we caught a wave right at the right time. I think the fans, and certainly, I speak for myself, I did realize how important it was to get to the World Series. That’s always the special measurement of a team, getting to the World Series. But sure, I would have been terribly disappointed had we not won, because as the team played, our expectations grew. And our sense of how historic this might be, because of the worst-to-first concept that was at its heart, they also grew.”
Lucchino said he’ll “remember the personality and maturity of the team,” but the front office can’t spend too much time reliving the success of 2013 as “the preparations for 2014 have already begun.”
Looking at expectations for next season, Lucchino said the hope is to make it to the postseason and see what happens from there.
“Our goal from the beginning is to be playing October baseball, so I’d be disappointed if we weren’t playing in October next year,” Lucchino said. “But I know how hard it is for some of the things to come together. I’m constantly talking about randomness and unpredictability of baseball. You could add to that the randomness and unpredictability of the health of our players.
“So many things have to come together so well to win it all. To win in such a magical way, as we did this year in such an appealing way, you can’t expect that every year. But what we can expect every year is to field a team that’s worthy of the fans’ support, a phrase we come back to all the time. So I will be disappointed if we’re not playing in October next year, absolutely.”
Discussions about next season’s roster were taking place even before this year’s title was secured.
“We try to celebrate, we try to remember that we’ve got to be in the moment, celebrate this moment, because we’ve all been in baseball a very long time and we know how rare these moments are,” Lucchino said. “But we must balance the future. I will tell you that on Wednesday, the day of Game 6, we had a couple-hour meeting that afternoon that was all about the topic [of pending free agents].
“It’s important that Ben Cherington, who did just an absolutely extraordinary job this year, that he keep one eye especially on the issues that develop immediately after the World Series. The World Series conclusion is the trigger date for a number of options and qualifying offers and a bunch of things that happen quickly thereafter. So as much as you try to stay in the moment and enjoy the moment, there is a responsibility to look forward. And Ben never loses track of that.”
|John Henry: Red Sox thought about making Theo Epstein president, Ben Cherington GM||10.21.13 at 2:18 pm ET|
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.
“We knew for years that [Cherington] was going to be our next general manager,” Henry said. “At 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.
“We 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. “Instead of spending 20 or 25 million dollars for a player, we’re going to go out and get two or three players.”
|Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘We’ll welcome anyone who comes in to play us’||10.10.13 at 9:56 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ postseason run and their upcoming American League Championship Series matchup against either the Athletics or the Tigers.
The Red Sox eliminated the Rays in four games in the American League Division Series, advancing to the ALCS for the fifth time in the last 11 seasons. The series is set to kick off on Saturday, as Boston will play host to Game 1 at Fenway Park.
Lucchino would not bite when asked which team he would rather face in the best-of-seven series.
“I can’t speak for others, I don’t think everyone does have a preference. I’m agnostic, I am going to sit back and wait. We’ll be there on Saturday and we’ll welcome anyone who comes in to play us and has the right to play us in Fenway on Saturday,” Lucchino said. “I just haven’t done that level of analysis on the individual teams that we may be playing against. … Truthfully, these are both talented, pesky, difficult teams. You don’t get to be in baseball’s final four unless you are a talented team for whom a lot of things have gone right. So, we will see what we will see, but you won’t get a prediction from me or a preference from me as to which team I would rather play.”
While the Sox have had an incredible turnaround season and look impressive so far in October, Lucchino said that he is still worried about the competition that the Sox will face in order make it back to the World Series for the first time since 2007.
“I think the pitching of the teams that we’re going to face, and the style of the teams that we may face. The style of the Oakland team, they’re a loose bunch of guys who seem to have … some terrific young pitching. Look at Detroit, and you see a team that’s hitting on all cylinders. It has every element of the baseball menu in place. I worry about both of these teams,” Lucchino said. “I think these are very formidable opponents, and you add that into the uncertainty to the game and the string of good luck we’ve had and you can say there are plenty of reasons to worry, but that’s not the emotion that I want to talk about today.
“The sense of pride, the sense of accomplishment, this sort of magic that this team has brought about and the good will, the good feeling, that it’s engendered in this entire region and dear I say in the entire nation.”
On whether the start times for the ALCS have been set: “Well, that’s a very frustrating topic. We spent a lot of time on the phone yesterday with Major League Baseball because these games are organized by [MLB], they consider them their game, not our game. We’re just participants in the MLB process that is the league championship series. … The last word I got last night is that we would be playing at 8 o’clock on Sunday and the probabilities are that we’re going to be playing at 7:30 on Saturday.”
On how far along the the Red Sox “redemption tour” is: “We thought that the first step we took from the apparition, as I’d think of it, the end of 2011 and the 2012 season, that 13-month period, I hope was an apparition for our ownership and I hope for our organization. This is the fifth, I believe, ALCS we’ve been in in 12 years. We’re proud that we’re back to this position, but we knew that we would be better this year. All of our internal projections and internal analysis suggested that this is going to be a better team, but no one could predict that this kind of magic could come together and this team can produce as much as it has.”
On the idea that hoping for a postseason berth seemed ridiculous at the start of the 2013 season: “It started last year with the Dodger transaction, and you’ve got to give John [Henry] and Tom [Werner] a bunch of credit for their participation in that transaction, and of course Ben [Cherington], he used that money brilliantly and deployed it into seven different acquisitions this offseason that made this team not only better but much more appealing, much more of a team … That was a goal, but that’s a very hard thing to accomplish as well.”
|John Henry on M&M: ‘I probably would have preferred to play Cleveland’||10.03.13 at 1:09 pm ET|
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.”
|Larry Lucchino on D&C: John Farrell ‘the right manager for us’||09.19.13 at 10:35 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ successful season, especially in regard to the team’s chemistry and the decision to hire John Farrell as manager last offseason.
With only nine games remaining in the regular season, the Red Sox have built a comfortable lead in the AL East, as they are eight games ahead of the second-place Rays.
While he did not admit that the hiring of Bobby Valentine was a mistake, Lucchino said that the selection of Farrell was a great move for this team.
“I will celebrate the fact that this is the right manager for us, absolutely,” Lucchino said. I will try to remind you guys that we endeavored to get John Farrell to be our manager last year, and a roadblock with the Toronto Blue Jays, they would not release him from his contract, and this year it took us the trade of a major league player to get them to release him from his contract, so this was the right decision, there’s no question about it.”
Lucchino said he expected an improvement this season, but even he has been surprised by the incredible turnaround.
“Our expectations were that this team would be better, there’s no doubt about that. I remember describing them as something like ‘spunky underdogs’ or something like that, that we were going to surprise people this year as underdogs,” Lucchino said. “But not even we predicted in our internal analysis that we would be winning something in the mid-90s. We hoped for it, but we certainly didn’t predict it.”
Lucchino added that the addition of good clubhouse characters and chemistry has been an integral part of the team’s success this season.
“We in the front office had experience with both kinds of teams. Teams that were solid and played with a sort of looseness and a had a bunch of leaders in the clubhouse, and we’ve seen teams that were not so composed, so it was important to us,” Lucchino said. “I remember saying to you guys during the offseason, ‘Listen, we’re not trying to put together the coolest guys in the class and create a fraternity, what we’re trying to do is put together a winning baseball team and this is just one element of it.’ … The psychological contributions and the leadership contributions of these guys have been profoundly important.”
|Larry Lucchino on possibility of Red Sox, Yankees renewing feud: ‘If it starts up, I’m going to look for [Yankees president] Randy Levine’||09.05.13 at 11:00 am ET|
The last time the Red Sox and Yankees met, on Aug. 18 at Fenway Park, Ryan Dempster drilled Alex Rodriguez with a pitch, leading to the players from both teams leaving the benches and milling about the infield.
The teams are set to start a four-game series in the Bronx on Thursday night, and Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino knows the feud could continue, even though Dempster was punished by the league with a five-game suspension.
During a Thursday morning appearance on Dennis & Callahan, Lucchino said he plans to attend Thursday’s game, and he has a plan in mind if the teams get into it again.
“If it starts up, I’m going to look for Randy Levine,” Lucchino joked about his Yankees counterpart.
On a serious note, Lucchino said he hopes the players put the incident behind them.
“They’ve had some comments about the incident,” Lucchino said, referring to the Yankees’ condemnation of Dempster. “Baseball sort of has a way of allowing these things to perpetuate themselves. I hope [another incident] doesn’t happen. It’s a little different now, because each of these games matters so much. I don’t think anybody wants to ignite the other team.
“So, I don’t know what will happen. I know that what happened here was not something that was mandated or ordered or whatever. And I hope the Yankees behave the same way.”
A couple of days after the game, David Ortiz made some public comments questioning Dempster’s actions and supporting Rodriguez, his friend.
“I’m rarely in the clubhouse during a game, but I happened to be in there right after that, and I did see that David was disappointed and had no problem expressing that,” Lucchino said. “But he and Dempster are very good friends. Everyone loves and respects Ryan Dempster. And I think that I’d just look to put that in our rearview mirror and focus.
“We’re in a pennant race. This is September. This is a textbook-definition pennant race, where you do scoreboard-watching in the second inning and you stay up late waiting for the results of the games. We should just enjoy a September — we haven’t had this kind of pennant race with this many teams involved. If you can’t get excited by this pennant race, maybe you’re not as much of a baseball fan as you think. You shouldn’t let yourself be distracted by some of these peripheral issues.”
|Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘There’s a buzz about this team’||at 9:53 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning and talked with guest hosts Dale Arnold and Kirk Minihane about the excitement surrounding the team as it closes in on a postseason berth.
When asked about the team’s seemingly below-average attendance this year, Lucchino said that the front office expected those kind of numbers due to the last few seasons and talked about how the atmosphere at Fenway has finally seemed to revert back to the glory days of a few years ago.
“While it’s undeniable that our numbers are down for the season, a lot of that is a direct result of what happened in [September] of 2011 and the disappointment of 2012. … We had a terrible schedule in April and May — lots of home games and adverse weather conditions, so we anticipated that there would be some decline,” Lucchino said. “But what’s undeniable is that there’s a buzz about this team. Chris Gasper in the Globe today called them the ‘Fun Bunch.’ People like this team, people enjoy this team.
“The spirit at Fenway these last couple of nights has been playoff-like. I think there’s a buzz about the team, and our attendance numbers will reflect that. … Different players bring different styles, but if you had to generalize, this [team has] a fun-loving approach to the game, there is an intensity. … Our fans love that.”
Lucchino also talked about Sox pitcher John Lackey, who has pitched remarkably well this season despite receiving little run support for most of the season. To highlight Lackey’s lack of support this season, the 20 runs scored by the Sox in Wednesday’s game is more than the team has scored in Lackey’s last eight starts combined.
“[Lackey] has been someone who has been misunderstood, in my opinion, by the media and by the fans here in past years. He’s a very good teammate. His guys respect him, they enjoy him, and they’re as frustrated as anyone that they cannot score enough runs when he’s pitching well,” Lucchino said. “I think he’s pitched as well as he has in many, many years. I think he said that himself. Bouncing back from the injuries that he played through here for a couple of years, it’s a great story.”
After Sox DH David Ortiz‘s great game on Wednesday, when the slugger hit two home runs and collected the 2,000th hit of his career, Lucchino said that he believes that Ortiz should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame once he wraps up his career.
“I think so, simply because he was the best designated hitter of his time. He dominated that position and dominated offensively in so many critical games,” Lucchino said. “I absolutely think that he is a Hall of Famer, but you wouldn’t expect anything else from me, would you?”
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