Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino answered questions from readers in a live chat on Boston.com on Thursday. Here are some highlights of the discussion:
Q: Do the Red Sox have a set team salary figure in mind for 2013 or is it a “wait and see” approach to feel out the market and save bullets for next year?
Lucchino: “Yes we do, but it’s not for public dissemination. You can be assured that we intend to write some big checks if it helps the team in the short and long-term.”
Q: When it comes to player acquisition, will there be an emphasis placed on developing the “home grown” player such as Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and more Will Middlebrooks?
Lucchino: “The key to success in baseball is drafting, developing, promoting, and retaining homegrown talent. We will never rule out free agency, trades, waiver-wire transactions, or anything else, but scouting and player development will be the rock on which the Red Sox church is built going forward.”
Q: Larry, the vast majority of Sox fans were shocked the Dodgers were willing to take on all those contracts from August’s big trade. Were you at least mildly surprised as well?
Lucchino: “Yes, when I received the initial phone call from the Dodgers alerting us to their new ownership’s willingness to take on long-term commitments to high-priced players, I recognized it for what it was - the first phone call of its type I had ever received in my many years of baseball.”
Q: Is this ownership group looking to sell the Red Sox?
Lucchino: “Absolutely not. Next question.”
Q: Do you plan to keep putting the business interests of the team ahead of putting a competitive team on the field?
Lucchino: “That’s just not fair. For the first ten years of our ownership, we averaged more than 92 wins a year. The on-field success of our team is critical to the business success and to fulfilling our obligation as owners.”
Q: I never understood why the NFL, a fast-paced winter sport, utilizes cheerleaders while baseball, a slow-paced summer sport doesn’t. How about some Sox cheerleaders this summer?
Lucchino: “Not gonna happen. Cheerleaders aren’t part of baseball culture or Red Sox tradition.”
Q: Is any thought being given to deal in a more straightforward manner with the sell-out streak and to consider using “Sweet Caroline” in a more limited fashion?
Lucchino: “The fans started this sell-out streak in 2003 and will end it. This argument over definitions is a little silly in my opinion. No matter how you slice it, we’ve averaged over 37,000 fans per game over the last ten years. That is an impressive expression of passion and commitment by our fans!”