SBD/September 5, 2012/Franchises

Red Sox Ownership Visits With Club On The Road; Not Endorsing Valentine Past '12

Cherington (l) says the West Coast meeting was planned over a month ago
With Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino and co-Chairs John Henry and Tom Werner "popping in during this West Coast swing, the Red Sox ownership certainly seems to be doing its due diligence on the post-trade clubhouse culture front," according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON HERALD. For a team that is "entirely focused" on next season, its "unwillingness to say that [manager Bobby] Valentine should be included in that picture is telling." Red Sox GM Ben Cherington "agrees with the notion that Valentine's unendorsed status will linger until it is clarified." Cherington said, "It’s been talked about and we all have choices every day and the choice that we made was to try to make sure we finish 2012 (the) best way possible. I understand the question, it’s going to continue to be asked" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/4). Cherington said that suggestions that Valentine "was in trouble because both the owner and the general manager were in town needed some context." Cherington: "I had this on my calendar for a month. John was (already) on the West Coast" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 9/3). In Boston, Scott Lauber noted Henry "only embarked on a one-day 'fact-finding' visit that included breakfast with the embattled manager." Neither Valentine nor Henry "divulged specifics of their breakfast." Valentine said, “What do you think we talked about? Art? Liverpool? We talked about baseball and our team, obviously. Things that he’s concerned about, and things that I deal with.” Lauber noted Valentine’s "way of dealing with the Sox’ issues appears to be at odds with the rest of the organization, a fact acknowledged by Cherington" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/4).

OWNERSHIP SHOULDERING BLAME: In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote it doesn’t appear Henry, Werner and Lucchino "are going to sit on the sideline in rebuilding the team this offseason." The "general feeling of Henry and Cherington is yes, the roster is challenging, but they expected more." Henry will "ask Cherington to seek value free agents, make sound baseball trades." The owners "will be more involved in the transactions, and Cherington will not have the carte blanche financially that [former GM] Theo Epstein did." One of the reasons "for the visibility of the owners lately is because they felt they allowed last September to get out of hand, trusting Epstein to straighten out some of the issues the team faced before and during its great collapse" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/4). Also in Boston, Peter Abraham noted Werner "opened up about this fractured season and his hopes for the future." Werner said, "I can talk about it as a fan and as an owner. We suffer as much, if not more, than anybody." He added, "Nothing is more important to us than winning and giving our fans the sense that we desperately want to win." Abraham noted Werner "was expansive in his praise" for Cherington. Werner said, "We give him high marks in how he's dealt with the challenges this season, and he's going to be with us for a long time" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/2).

TRUST ISSUES: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan noted among the Red Sox brass, Henry "has long earned the most respect from players because he is a self-made billionaire who cavorts on yachts and carries himself with a charming air of nerd-made-good." Still, he is "deluding himself if he believes a couple of conversations are going to provide clarity on what ails his baseball team." Red Sox players "do not trust" the ownership. They "see the owners' box as a den of lies, leaks and resentment." For a franchise "with a history of colossal blunders," the hiring of Valentine "joins their Mount Rushmore of whammies." If Valentine has "been good for anything, it's allowing Boston to hit the reset button without a scintilla of public bellyaching" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/4). In Providence, Brian MacPherson wrote that by "putting Valentine out of his misery, the Red Sox would in effect be eating the money on that contract." Fortunately, they "just cleared $260 million in future payroll" and can "probably afford to do what they need to do with Valentine" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 9/3). The BOSTON HERALD's Silverman wrote the "here and now is a painful place to be for the Red Sox." Henry said, "Given where we are right now, it’s a tall order to win the division next year. But we have to do everything we can to contend without repeating errors of the past -- something we are determined to avoid. We strayed from our core philosophy over the past few years and have paid a terrible price for that” (BOSTON HERALD, 9/3).

BRING BACK BILL: The BOSTON HERALD's Silverman in a separate piece wrote Henry "flew here, in part, to make sure the team does not give up in the final month of the season." Henry said that it is "important for him to see things for himself, and ask his own questions of the people who play and work for his team." He is "deeply concerned with how the team has turned of late and talked yesterday about pulling statistician/guru Bill James back into the equation in a bigger way." Henry in an e-mail said, “One of (the) biggest issues we’ve had is that Bill James was a great resource for us but fell out of favor over the last few years for reasons I really don’t understand. We’ve gotten him more involved recently in the central process and that will help greatly" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/3).
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