Ownership has been hard to find while the Red Sox dropped out of contention in the summer of 2014. John Henry and Tom Werner haven’t had much to say about their tied-for-last-place team.
With the Sox heading out of town until after the All-Star break, I figured it would be a good time to hear from Larry Lucchino. According to Henry, Larry runs the Red Sox.
During the middle innings of Thursday’s 10-inning, 4-3 walkoff victory over the White Sox, Lucchino answered a wide range of questions about the state of his team.
“It’s been a dreadful first half,’’ he admitted. “We’ve all suffered the pains and agonies of it.’’
Any regrets about the Sox’ overall preparation for this season?
“I think that’s fair to say. There’s plenty of decision-making that we look back on and we wish we had done it differently . . . You try to find the calculus between maintaining the strengths of the team that won the championship, but not standing pat. We made a couple of decisions and judgments about players that haven’t proven out.’’
Does ownership wish it had spent more to make the Sox better for 2014?
“With the benefit of hindsight, we wish we had made some different decisions, for sure.’’
What about the disastrous decision to bring back Stephen Drew?
“I really don’t want to talk about individual players. I think the responsibility for all of this is shared . . . we all contributed to so many of the good things that have happened here and we all share some accountability for the bad things that have happened. It’s hard to project what these guys are going to do. The Drew decision was a very rational judgment made in good faith at that time.’’
One day after A.J. Pierzynski was cut loose, signifying the end of the quest of 2014, Sox fans want to know if there might be more big moves in the upcoming days.
“Yeah, I think there will be moves in July, as there almost always are for us. This year is a little different because of where we stand in the division, but I do think there will be moves and changes and improvements.’’
Are the Sox buyers or sellers as the trading deadline approaches?
“This year, we’re considering both sides. We haven’t thrown up the white flag. We’re still determined to do things to provide winning, entertaining baseball, but certainly a large factor in what we do will be how we get better in 2015.’’
Any untouchables on the roster?
“I suppose there are people that are more untouchable than others, but I don’t want to identify them. I think Ben Cherington and the baseball operations people are seeing what moves they can make to make this team better for the second half.’’
Lucchino did not dispute the Jon Lester contract negotiation narrative that holds that the Sox lowballed Lester in spring training (four years, $70 million) and have tried to resume talks as Lester (seven innings, one run Thursday) marches toward the All-Star Game and free agency.
“We’re eager to have Jon Lester back next year. We’re eager to negotiate with his representatives. It’s a question of what time is appropriate for that.’’
Any regrets about the club’s handling of this back in spring training?
“I wish we had been able to get it done earlier, but it’s a collaborative process. What we did was throw a number out to get the negotiations started. We’re certainly well aware that there would have to be significant improvement in that, but we expected a more concentrated and ongoing period of negotiations, which hasn’t yet happened.’’
Some of us would take that as an indication the Sox were surprised when the Lester camp stopped talking after the lowball offer.
Since the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford signing fiascos, the Sox have drawn a line in the sand over exorbitant years and dollars. Is the club prepared to make Lester a competitive offer now . . . or when Lester hits the open market? Are there limits in place?
“No. Just our own judgments about what’s fair and appropriate. We want Jon Lester to be a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2015. If we can sign him now, we’ll sign him now. If we can sign him before free agency after the season, we’ll sign him then. If it goes to free agency, we’re going to make an effort to sign him. Absolutely.’’
Sox fans have been remarkably supportive throughout the horrible half and seem happy to see a commitment to young players. What does Lucchino say to the notion that the Sox are charging big league prices for minor league stars?
“The answer to that is that these guys are major league baseball players and many of them will make significant contributions. You are catching them at the early part of their careers. These are guys we think are likely to be contributors for a long time.’’
Is this job still fun?
“It’s less fun than last year. John, Tom, all of our partners, we are intensely competitive. We know the obligation of owning and operating a baseball team is to win games, and when you can’t do that for fans and for yourself it’s tough. But this is not John’s first rodeo or Tom’s first rodeo. We’ve all been around before and we realize it’s impossible to sustain things year after year, although our goal will always be to compete year in and year out.’’