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John Henry gives endorsement to Red Sox manager, GM

The Red Sox are abysmal, principal owner John Henry said on Tuesday. You can question if the record-setting payroll was properly invested and he's seen enough of so many terrible at-bats.

"We have played like bleep," Henry said.

But general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell will not pay with their jobs. Henry made that unequivocally clear during an informal news conference at Fenway Park.

Henry arrived alone to a room behind the press box and took questions from a group of reporters standing around him as team officials watched from the outskirts.

"I'm here to be accountable and tell you how I see it,'' Henry said.


As he spoke, Henry stood in front of a framed newspaper page chronicling the team's World Series championship in 2013. Those images never seemed more dated.

Since the start of the 2014 season, only the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Phillies have lower winning percentages than the Red Sox, who are 94-120 after Tuesday's 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins, 23-29 this season.

The Sox are 260-278 since Cherington became general manager before the 2012 season. They have made the playoffs once since 2010 and are long shots to get there this season given the inept starting pitching and underperforming lineup averaging 3.76 runs a game.

"How painful has it been to watch these games? I watch these games, so I know how painful they are," Henry said. "We talk about television, it's terrible television. But it's even worse to be responsible for this and I feel responsible. I am responsible."

Henry, who also owns the Globe, still believes the Red Sox can contend.

"We have over 100 games to play. They're going to have to prove it on the field that we made the right decisions. They'll prove us right or prove us wrong," he said.


He also wants Cherington and Farrell to be part of the solution.

"Why do I believe that? Because I have worked with a lot of people over the years and these are two people that I really like working with. They're committed; they're, I believe, very good at what they do," Henry said.

"John has provided the kind of leadership that we need through a really tough period. I just don't think you can blame the manager for this. I watch these games. They've been painful games to watch. To me, it's not the manager's fault the way we've been playing. I just don't see that."

Farrell, who acknowledged the season has been most trying as a manager, appreciated the sentiments.

"We all share in where we are today," Farrell said. "You appreciate those comments, certainly. But the thing I care most about are those guys in the clubhouse and how we get on a little bit of a run here, a little bit of a streak."

Henry was even more forceful in his support of Cherington.

"The general manager is going to be the general manager of this club for a very long time. I have nothing but respect for him and for the job that he does," Henry said. "I think we've been on the same wavelength. You have to blame ownership as much as you can blame the general manager.

"We have a certain philosophy. We've talked a lot about adjusting that philosophy . . . There's adjustments we need to make as an organization and Ben will make those adjustments and he'll lead that process. I think he and his people are the right people to do that."


Specifically, Henry believes the Red Sox are too patient. The Red Sox, long built around players who see a lot of pitches and compile high on-base percentages, are falling victim to the improvement in pitching around the game.

Henry said the strike zone is larger than it used to be and the Red Sox must play accordingly.

"Our approach has been suspect," he said. "Offense is not what it used to be in baseball. The way you win games in 2003 is different from the way you win games in 2015. We have to make those adjustments as an organization."

Henry defended the coaching staff in that regard, mentioning the hitting coach, Chili Davis, in particular.

"There's no issue with the coaches. The issue is with the production on the field. That's either going to change or this is going to be a terrible year," Henry said.

"Did this whole team become a collection of poor hitters? I don't think so. I think that the production has been poor. I think that there are adjustments that are needed to be made."

The offseason signings of Hanley Ramirez (four years, $88 million) and Pablo Sandoval (five years, $95 million) have backfired badly. Ramirez has been an inconsistent hitter and dreadful left fielder, while Sandoval is hitting .249 with a .684 OPS.


"Did we spend too much on offense and not enough on pitching?" Henry said. "With hindsight you could perhaps say that. But we don't have enough offense. As far as I'm concerned I don't remember seeing our offense look this badly maybe ever since we've been involved here."

Since Henry and Tom Werner took control of the team in 2001, no manager or GM has been fired mid-season. Henry said Werner is angry, and he shares that emotion. But for now, Henry is being patient.

"It's been an unacceptable 50 games. I think there is probably no one in the organization that doesn't feel that way. These guys have got to turn it around," Henry said.

"When you look at this team — and I tell you we've analyzed this team — this is a strong team. They've just played not up to their capabilities."

At the start of spring training, Henry said he never felt better about the state of the organization. Now that organization is in a state of crisis.

"As far as the team that we're putting on the field, it's the right team as far as I'm concerned," he said. "We have the right people in place to support that team."

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.