Ben Cherington vows to improve the Red Sox pitching depth, won’t rule anyone out yet for managerial position including John FarrellOctober 26, 2011 – 9:30 am by Steven Cuce
It’s out with the old and in with the new in Beantown. Theo Epstein is out as Red Sox GM and has moved onto the Windy City while his successor, Ben Cherington, is in his place over on Yawkey Way.
The Red Sox are officially putting the 2011 season behind them along with all the drama that ensued after an epic September collapse. The new man in charge sounds upbeat and confident that his team has the tools in place to pick up right where they left off. This time around Ben Cherington knows Boston must find starting pitching depth to last a full season and he is looking to move quickly in finding the Red Sox next manager.
Ben Cherington joined WEEI in Boston with The Big Show to discuss the feeling of finally becoming the Boston Red Sox GM, Theo Epstein’s past struggles in free agency, improving the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, the Red Sox possibly interviewing John Farrell to manage the team and how much emphasis he is putting on the recent stories of the Red Sox pitching staff drinking beer in the clubhouse during games.
Did you ever wonder when your day would come? Why did it take so long to become the Red Sox GM?
“I always thought it would come. My path was a little different than those guys [Jed Hoyer]. I spent a little more time in scouting and player development and sometimes in those areas it takes longer to make a difference to sort of put your foot print on things. I think I knew going into it that when I was involved with scouting and player development that if i wanted to be a GM it may be a little longer path. I also really believed it was the right path. I felt a background in those areas would really help me be not just a GM, but have a chance to be a good GM. I certainly hoped it would happen and believed it would happen. When those guys got those jobs there was no one happier than I was for them. Certainly in Jed’s [Hoyer] case I hired him. We remain really good friends and I wish him luck in Chicago. I’m ecstatic to have a chance to do it here and look forward to many more Red Sox wins.”
You worked for both Dan Duquette and Theo Epstein. Duquette was more successful in free agency and Epstein was much better with scouting players and having them succeed in the big leagues. Why have the free agency moves by Epstein been so unsuccessful? Were you apart of those moves?
“We were all a part of it. We were all a part of the mistakes and the good decisions. Certainly over the last couple of years I have been involved even more in the Major League free agent process. It’s something we need to get better at. I think that’s fair to say that is an area that we haven’t done as well in. Part of it is that free agency in today’s game is just full of risk and frankly full of downside. The guys you would be targeting that appear to be the best players, the best bets, the most impactful players, when they get to free agency they tend to be at least 30, 31, 32 years old. Sometimes older. As you guys know that is typically the start of a player’s downturn and not the start of an upturn, so you are sort of buying high and it’s the ultimate buying high exercise, so across the industry there is failure in free agency, but we have to look at ourselves critically and figure out why we haven’t done as good of a job in that area. Part of it is really identifying the players because of their age or because something about their physical makeup have a better bet to age slowly and have a better bet to retain skills deeper into their 30’s. That’s part of it. Part of it is doing a better job balancing our objective information with our subjective information. That’s my job to make sure we do that. It’s an area we need to improve on certainly.”
How do you go out and improve the pitching by buying low when you know John Lackey is now out of the picture for the season?
“Part of it is focusing a little less on what might have the most immediate public appeal and focusing a little more on making sure that we allocate our resources in a way that actually turns into success on the field next year. The bottom line is we have to have a very good core of a pitching staff returning. We’ve invested a lot in that. I don’t think it makes a great deal of sense to go invest a lot more in another starting pitcher because we already have the core of a very good starting rotation. We need to round out that core with some more depth. We need to create competition for the back of the rotation. Some of that competition is already here. Felix Doubront. Kyle Weiland. We have guys that were in the bullpen this year that could start. We have some of that competition here already. We need to go acquire some pitching and expand that competition. That is our job this winter. One of our best – I mentioned Alfredo Aceves – you could argue that was our best acquisition of the off-season. At least when it comes to bang for your buck. We need to do more of that. If we do more of that and do a good job with it – we don’t need a number one starter – we have a number one starter. We have a number two starter. We have a number three starter. We need good depth. We need guys who can come in and do a good job and keep us in games. You’re right. We ran out of that at times this year and certainly late into the year and we need to do a better job of avoiding that.”
Would you eliminate a present manager right now for this team? There’s been a lot of talk about John Farrell managing this team. Are you eliminating candidates that need permission to be interviewed?
“I was confused at what Toronto said today [regarding John Farrell] because we haven’t asked permission on anyone. I’m not sure. [Hosts: Toronto fears you will ask permission to interview John Farrell] I was confused that they had been on record prior to that saying they had a policy of not standing in people’s way and they sort of countered that statement with a statement today without there being any action to have been a catalyst to do that. That was confusing. I am not going to comment on any names because again we haven’t asked permission on anyone. [Hosts: Are you eliminating candidates that need permission to be interviewed?] I wouldn’t rule anything out. No, we are not going to put ourselves in a box in terms of a particular demographic or anything like that, but certainly people under contract with other teams – specifically managers that are under contracts with other teams. I am not going to comment on it publicly because it is not fair to them or that team.”
“It’s revealed mostly two things. First it’s revealed that there was some activity in the clubhouse this year that was not consistent with our beliefs and not consistent with what we expect and have come to trust from our players and that is that they are doing everything they possibly can to put themselves in the best position to help us win games. Those are things we do take very seriously and we’ll address if necessary in private directly with players or whoever was involved. I’ve also learned- the second thing I’ve learned is that we have a core group of players in our clubhouse who really do care, who are motivated to put 2011 behind them and motivated to prove that they are worthy of not just our trust because we do trust them, but the fans trust. They just gotta go prove it and they know the only thing they can do is prove it. They can talk this winter, but really what they have to do is go prove it with their off-season work in spring training and certainly as we get into the season next year.”