Ben Cherington, at his first spring training as Red Sox general manager, stopped by for a visit with Dennis & Callahan at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla., to talk about how team's preparations for the 2012 season.
Theo Epstein has received both praise and criticism for his performance as GM before Cherington was promoted. Lately, it's been more criticism as the Sox have a number of dollars invested in players who will start this season on the disabled list.
"I was here for all those, so I can't run from that too far," Cherington said. "But you're right, as we start the season we're most likely going to have guys on the DL making a fair amount of money, and that does create challenges for us -- certainly this offseason in putting the team together. But that said, there's a lot of good things, too. There's a lot of talent on this team. There's a lot of things that Theo and I and everyone here were involved with that have put us still in a position to have a really good team.
"We have probably more competition, maybe a couple more questions than we have had going into the spring than we have had in some years. We'll see where that competition ends up. I'm very optimistic and I have a lot of confidence that this group of guys has a chance to be a really good team, even if there are more questions right now."
Asked how the Red Sox compare to their American League East rivals, Cherington said: "I think we have a chance to be every bit as good. Going into spring training, it's fair to say that there are maybe fewer questions, at least in certain areas of the team, on those teams, and some other teams in the American League. So, we have work to do. But I also think that we have a core group of players that I'll put up against anyone, and a motivated group of players."
Expectations for the Red Sox were absurdly high last season. With diminished expectations this year, Cherington said the team can take advantage.
"Internally, we knew going into [last] season that we had a lot to prove, we had a lot to accomplish that didn't have anything to do what what we did in the offseason," he said. "And maybe there's a little bit less of a glare this year, or a focus on different things. And that can be healthy, as you said. Competition, a little bit of a chip on the shoulder, perhaps, maybe that can be healthy, maybe that helps us."
Asked if the players appear motivated to erase the bad memories of last September, Cherington said: "Very motivated in terms of how they came into camp. We had more major league players here for spring training than we've ever had. The collective condition of the guys I think is very good. So, on an individual basis, yes. We have to see how the team comes together. There's 60 guys in camp right now. That's not a team, that's a spring training. As we get it narrowed down to 30 and then 25, we'll see how the team comes together and see if that group is motivated in the same way the individuals are."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On if he ever argues with Bobby Valentine: "We've had disagreements. I don't think we've had an argument yet. We've had disagreements, and it's been really healthy for me, and hopefully, healthy for him. I don't want to agree with the manager all the time. I don't think that leads to good results. What we need to do is have healthy dialogue -- disagree when you need to disagree, and then wake up the next morning and go back to work."
On if young shortstop Jose Iglesias has a chance to make the team: "That's going to be up to Bobby and his staff in the end. Just because there's a competition doesn't mean everyone's equal in that competition. I think you go into spring training and the guys that have done it in the past have a leg up. Jose is someone we feel very strongly about down the road. In a perfect world, he would probably get some more time in Triple-A. But crazy things happen in spring training. We're not going to put a limit on anyone."
On the outfield situation: "We signed Cody [Ross] knowing that he could play all three [outfield positions]. He's hit major league pitching, he's got power, he's been really good against lefties, and he could move to any of the three if needed. So, he kind of protects us at all three spots. [Ryan] Sweeney can play all three also. He's played more right recently. Darnell [McDonald] can play all three. So, Bobby has some options there. And ultimately, he'll write out the lineup."
On if he's confident that Crawford will rebound from 2011: "I'm not worried about Carl either. That doesn't mean he doesn't have hurdles to get over. He's got to get back to feeling 100 percent physically first. That's the first step. This is a guy who was so good for so long in the American League East and had a tough year and took full responsibility for it. And then, unfortunately, had a hiccup thin winter with his wrist that he's trying to get past. But in talking to him and watching him in the weight room, watching him out on the field, I wouldn't bet against the guy this year."
On pitcher Chris Carpenter, who was acquired from the Cubs as compensation for Epstein: "He's not a lock to make the team. He has options. He's a guy that we've liked a lot in the past: a power arm, he's a big, strong kid, a guy that we project to be a good major league reliever. He'll be part of the competition for two or three potentially open spots in the 'pen. He doesn't have any leg up against anyone else. We need to get to know him. We think very highly of him. We think he has a very bright future. We don't know when that future will be. If he's in Pawtucket, then he'll have a chance to come up and help us during the year."
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Fauria is still down in Houston and calls live from NRG Stadium to give his take on what will go down later on in Super Bowl 51. He likes the Pats and gives his reasons why, but also gets into the scene in Houston all week, famous people he met and why he is tired out from a wild week.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Adrian Wojnarowski has been talking about the possibility of the Celtics making a trade with the Bulls to bring Jimmy Butler to Boston. He actually thinks it may be the the marquee deal to keep an eye on this week heading into the trade deadline. Pete and Jerry discuss and give their thoughts on if they would want Butler. Pete thinks it will happen, Jerry thinks Ainge will stay put. The guys get into more Celtics, present and future and if they can battle with the best of the NBA.
Anna Horford, sister of Boston Celtics Al Horford, makes her Boston radio debut. She talks about Twitter and reacting to mean tweets about her brother. She also gives us her thoughts on the city of Boston and racism.
Rob Bradford is joined by Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia to discuss the 33-year-old's longevity, his thoughts on Tom Brady's approach and what the real deal is when it comes to who is the leader in the Red Sox' clubhouse.
Rob Bradford talks with both Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes, and assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister, about the fascinating project the reliever undertook in the final month of 2016. Barnes explains how he, with the help of others, made a concerted effort to emulate Dellin Betances of the Yankees and how that exercise helped turn around the former No. 1 pick's season.
Bradford checks in from spring training to give us all the media dirt he can dig up...oh, and talk some baseball too.
Guys talk the Bruins season so far and the All-Star Break
Guys discuss if or when the Bruins will fire Coach Julian
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Hour 4. Mack Beggs should have been wrestling men. Gerry wants to put an end to women's wrestling.
Hour 3. Moonlight wins after a big mistake. Curtis's dad paid for his dog's plane ticket.
Hour 1. Reimer joins Kirk and Gerry on the Monday after the Oscars. A mistake leads to the best moment in Oscars' history.
The deadline for NFL team's to use the franchise tag is Wednesday, and the guys discuss the future of Jimmy Garoppolo and Dont'a Hightower.
Andrew Benintendi is one of the favorites to win the AL Rookie of the Year award, despite playing in 35 games last year.
Glenn, Lou and Christian recap the Celtics weekend and continue to lament the fact that Danny didn't get someone to help out on the boards.
Dale and MIchael discuss Mo Sanu playing the blame game for the Super Bowl loss, plus other Super Bowl related topics... for instance, will the Falcons EVER get over that loss?
Dale and Michael discuss the interest out there for Jimmy G, and whether the Patriots will move on from him.
Dale and Michael spend a good portion of the program discussing the Bruins. What are there chances going forward and what do they need to add?
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be. You will not find a better look behind the scenes of radio.
Kirk sits down with the legend Glenn Ordway to talk about when Glenn got fired here at WEEI, his start with the station, the controversial decisions he made when he was the Program Director, and he relationship with Eddie Andelman.
Kirk chats with David Duchovny about his current music tour, which takes him to the Wilbur on February 22nd, how David got his start in television, from his first stint on Red Shoe Diaries, becoming a superstar on the X-Files, and his hilarious appearances on the Larry Sanders Show. This is a fascinating discussion about show business and controlling your own career.
Ben, Russ, and Alex talk about the decision by the Leicester City to dismiss Claudio Ranieri just months after winning the Premier League and if Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez will sign with the MLS this summer?
Christian and Dr Gill talk about how baseball players need to stay in shape in the offseason, continuing maintenance during the season, and how Pablo Sandoval's health could be after missing nearly an entire season.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap a K&C Monday with Alex Reimer joining the guys for a post-Oscar themed show
Hour 1. Reimer joins Kirk and Gerry on the Monday after the Oscars. A mistake leads to the best moment in Oscars' history.More from this show
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be. You will not find a better look behind the scenes of radio.More from this show
Hour 3. Moonlight wins after a big mistake. Curtis's dad paid for his dog's plane ticket.More from this show
Dino reunites with the guys at spring training.More from this show
Hour 2. Mack Beggs, a transgender boy, won the girls' wrestling title. Headlines with Kirk.More from this show