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 and Chris are live in Foxborough to preview the Pats and Rams today. They kick things off discussing the injury to Rob Gronkowski and what it means going forward for his career, his status with the Patriots and how the Patriots will cope with the loss.
Patriots DB Duron Harmon joined Glenn, Lou, and Christian, and he discussed the team needing to come together after losing Gronk, and the turnovers in the Jets game can propel them to create more turnovers.
We check in with former Patriot Heath Evans, now with the NFL Network, for his complete analysis on the win over the Jets in NY.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the 'Dale and Holley Show' talk about what the Celtics will need to do in order to be considered one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference along with the Cavs.
WEEI's Mike Petraglia talks with Josue Pavon about how the Celtics are looking better with Al Horford back on the court and the overall toughness of this team.
Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen preview the Celtics season. Will Jaylen Brown be an impact rookie and prove he was the right pick at #3? Will the Celtics win the Atlantic Division? Is the season a failure if the Celtics don't advance past the first round of the playoffs?
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase talk with Curt Schilling to get his reaction to Dan Shaughnessy and Jon Heyman's comments about not voting for Curt for the Hall of Fame again based on some of Schilling's comments on social media.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are taking some calls and reaction to their interview with Curt Schilling in regards to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame voting. We also hear about Rob's upcoming working vacation to the Dominican Republic for the David Ortiz Charity Golf Classic.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking about Dan Shaughnessy's column about how he would no longer vote for Curt Schilling for the Hall of Fame. They then talk with Curt Schilling getting his thoughts on the whole situation and whether he would rather make the HoF or the Senate.
Hour two of Saturday Skate after a Bruins 2-1 over Buffalo, with Ken Laird and Rear Admiral debating the status of Krejci, Chara, Krug and Bergeron.
The first hour of Saturday Skate starts up against the third period of Bruins - Sabres, so Ken Laird and Rear Admiral give some Red Sox hot stove and Rob Gronkowski thoughts before moving into Bruins - Sabres game reaction
Ken Laird and Ty Anderson chat Bruins after a 2-1 win in Florida improved the team's record to 5-4.
Damien Woody joined K&C and shared a story regarding a conversation he had with Bill Belichick in the training room in Foxboro.
In the 9 am hour Gerry and Kirk mocked the Belichick press conference and took a call from Jim the Wrestling Goon who is not a fan of Amani Toomer.
In the 8 am hour Gerry and Kirk talked about a brutal answer by Dan Shaughnessy regarding Bill Conlin'sn spot in the Hall of Fame.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian are less than surprised that Bill Belichick won't comment further about Gronk than the released statement. Speaking of statements, how weird is it that the Gronkowski family is releasing joint statements with the Patriots?
Orthopedic surgeon to the pros, Dr. Thomas Gill of Steward Health Care joins Glenn, Lou, and Christian in the wake of Gronk's back injury. He talks about different types of disc injuries, and one type of fusion which could potentially prevent Gronk from playing football. He also commented on the unique situation of a joint statement between the Patriots and the Gronkowskis, and clarified his role in Gronk's arm surgeries.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian wonder how the man who shot former NFL RB Joe McKnight can be free of charges and walking around the streets of New Orleans.
Dale and Michael check in with the playmaker Michael Irvin on a Friday.
We open it up in the final portions of hours 3 and 4 on a Friday.
Hour two in it's entirety.
Kirk Minihane, WEEI Podcast King, talks to the Podcast Godfather Adam Carolla about his new documentary about Le Mans, the backlash from the Election, and his time with Donald Trump on the Apprentice. The audio quality isn't great but the conversation is.
Kirk Minihane is a non-believer, Larry Johnson is a preacher, when Larry found Kirk doesn't believe in God he challenged Kirk to allow him on to the podcast to talk about religion and faith. Kirk and Larry have a tremendous conversation about God and Larry tries to convert Kirk into a believer.
Kirk Minihane sits down with Barstool Sports contributor and podcast host John Feitelberg. Kirk and Feitelberg talk about the rise of barstool, the sale of the website, what it is like to work for Dave Portnoy, and their live podcast shows at the Wilbur Theater.
Ben, Alex, and Russ talk about how Toronto winning the MLS cup will be best for the league, the FIFA Player of the Year award, and the tragedy in Brazil.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis finish out the week recapping the Friday edition of Kirk and Callahan, with critiques of Dale & Holley's Keefe announcement and more.
Kirk & Callahan producers Ken Laird and Chris Curtis are back together after a few days apart to dish about all things K&C show, this after a Thursday Reim-Job.
In the 7 am hour Gerry and Kirk discussed the hiring of Rich Keefe and the announcement yesterday on Dale and Holley.More from this show
In the 9 am hour Gerry and Kirk mocked the Belichick press conference and took a call from Jim the Wrestling Goon who is not a fan of Amani Toomer.More from this show
The worst kept secret in the city is now official - welcome aboard Rich Keefe.More from this show
In the 8 am hour Gerry and Kirk talked about a brutal answer by Dan Shaughnessy regarding Bill Conlin'sn spot in the Hall of Fame.More from this show