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."
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick joins Dale and Steve DeOssie to talk about cutting the roster down to 53 players. Jimmy Garoppolo is set to start and play most, if not all of the preseason contest against the Giants. Bill also expressed his thoughts about the kicking game and how some of the new rules have affected the importance of it.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the news that Jimmy Garoppolo will get the start Thursday and play most of the game. They talk about what it might mean for Ryan Mallett.
Julian Edelman joins Christian and Danny Picard to talk about his approach going into the season, his performance this preseason, as well as the VMAs, and preventing cramps using mustard.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Joe talked to the Sox right-hander, who allowed three hits and zero walks in the 3-0 win over the Rays.
Red Sox Manager John Farrell talks about Bogaerts' concussion and the youth movement.
As he does every Wednesday, Buster Olney, ESPN, joins the boys of MFB to talk baseball. This week Buster shed some light on what to expect from Rusney Castillo, and how Cuban players are being viewed. He suggests that the acquisition of Castillo helps Boston's chances to get Giancarlo Stanton. Also, the Sox should shut down Koji if they want to re-sign him.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
John Frates called in to the show to discuss his son Peter and his past experience with Fred.
Buck, Fred and Jerry Thornton opened the show by discussing the start of Jimmy Garappolo's career in New England.
Cole joins Dennis and Callahan to explain Tom Brady's reaction to the Logan Mankins trade.
More reaction from the Logan Mankins-Tim Wright trade.
The guys dicuss Johnny Football, Terrible Summer Movies, and John Rocker being on Survivor
Tom Curran recaps the Pats preseason and talks about some of the players who may get cut.
Michael Irvin talks about the final preseason game for the Patriots and the biggest storylines heading into the opening weekend.
We recap the summer's biggest sports stories leading into Labor Day Weekend.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Fantasy Football Drafts are now happening every day, so Pete Davidson and Jim Hackett have you covered. The NFL season kicks off on Thursday night, so Pete and Jim get their final thoughts of some drafting strategies. They discuss their Auction draft from earlier in the week. Also, some big name players that smart drafters should avoid.
We know your Fantasy Football drafts are happening right now, so Jim Hackett and Pete Davidson are here to help. We know you’d never blow off work to draft right? Turn up the speakers! Our fantasy guys chat up Pete’s most recent article on WEEI.com that offers background on several players you can target late in drafts across multiple league sizes; covering upside players to grab in 8-team leagues, 10-team leagues, 12-team leagues and 14-team leagues. Jim and Pete will be back at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning on your radio dial, 93.7 FM, with more ammo for all this weekend’s drafters. Good luck!
How can teams acquire players who are entering their primes without having to live through the potentially massive transition of prospects coming from the minors to the big leagues? The Red Sox have two such case studies. The signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo represents one effort to acquire a player for his prime years for whom the transition to big league-caliber competition might not be turbulent. Red Sox assistant director of player personnel discusses the scouting process involved with landing Castillo. The episode also features Brock Holt, the one rookie who played at a consistently high level for the Red Sox this year. Holt explores some of the distinctions that might help to explain why he did not experience some of the struggles that characterized the seasons of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
John Frates called in to the show to discuss his son Peter and his past experience with Fred.More from this show
More reaction from the Logan Mankins-Tim Wright trade.More from this show