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 talks with The Senator, Phil Perry about the Patriots trading for Dwayne Allen, ruling out a return to New England for Martellus Bennett. They also talk about the potential future of Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and some of the big names in NFL free agency
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.
Kirk, Gerry, and Alex Reimer discuss whether or not Isaiah Thomas will win a title in Boston.
Gerry, Kirk, and Trenni react to the Celtics loss against the Suns.
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.
Rob Bradford is joined by Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox pitcher who so many are wondering if he will be able to live up the value placed on him by the Red Sox when trading away top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza last July. Pomeranz goes into detail regarding his injury last season, the stem cell treatment he underwent in the offseason, and how he thinks things stand heading into the 2017 campaign.
Rob Bradford is joined by Tom Caron, the man responsible for guiding the ship when it comes to Red Sox pregame and postgame shows, along with various other important duties with the New England Sports Network, including offering the play-by-play for both TV and radio throughout spring training. Tom and Rob discuss a variety of topics, such as nickname conundrums, radio vs. television, criticizing the team, behind-the-scenes for the broadcasts and where the industry is going.
Rob Bradford is joined by two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin, who is attempting a comeback with the Red Sox this spring. Quentin's path back to baseball involves almost quitting the game less than a year ago, losing 40 pounds and trying to sell himself to general managers all over Major League Baseball. Quentin explains his journey, which has led him to the back fields at JetBlue Park.
Hour 4. Trenni, Kirk, and Gerry discuss the upcoming Red Sox season. Michael Irvin is being investigated for sexual assault, again. Renee Graham, from the Globe, thinks Michael Che is right about Boston being racist.
Hour 3. Trenni battles Gerry on immigration. Joe Mixon’s future is discussed. Curtis will get a second chance at music trivia on Friday.
Hour 2. Trenni, Gerry, and Kirk discuss Joe Mixon’s draft chances. A horrible hazing story from Texas is the topic in headlines. Keefe responded to Kirk (kind of).
HOUR 4 - The guys talked about Tuukka's rebound game last night against the Predators, Glenn had a squirrel moment when ESPN started talking about Joe Mixon, Tom Brady was compared to Kobe Bryant, and Holley says the Celtics can win the title.
HOUR 3 - Did Butler's camp screw up Butler's situation? Glenn exposes one of Fauria's verbal crutches. The guys try to come up with some new podcast names and ideas.
HOUR 2 - Fauria struggles to read the "Trending Now." Dave Dombrowski is getting defensive about the fact that all his free agent pitching acquisitions are getting injured. Hanley forgets which shoulder he hurt 2 years ago. Lou loses it when John Farrell makes up some new baseball lingo.
We finish the show with the best sound of the day.
Holley and Keefe discuss Tom Brady's future and if it's possible to see Brady playing for 6-7 more years.
Dale, Holley, and Keefe discuss the Hernandez trial and then address Malcolm Butler and the Patriot off season decisions.
Kirk Minihane, future radio hall of famer, sits down with current radio hall of famer Howie Carr. Kirk and Howie talk about Howie's latest book Kennedy Babylon. If you like famous people engaging in sex scandals, hard drug taking, and murder this is the podcast for you. Its a fascinating look at Boston's most famous family and the problems that took the family down.
Kirk Minihane, host and overlord of the morning show, brings Gerry Callahan and producers Chris and Ken into the studio to hear his show proposal. Kirk is thinking about making some changes to the morning show and wants to hear his crew's opinion.
SI's Richard Deitsch returns to the podcast to talk with Kirk about the K&C casting couch, how ESPN wimps out when they are called out for slander, what's going on with Bill Simmons, and the rise of podcasting.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis have the Tuesday & Wednesday recap from the K&C show, including Kirk's epic rant at Dale & Holley with Keefe.
Rich Keefe is joined by Dale Arnold and Ben Kichen to preview WrestleMania 33. Is it a good card? What will be the best match? Plus Ryan Davey is in for "This Week in #DORK" with a look a couple new trailers and the always great "Black Panther Reads #DORK iTunes Reviews."
Christian Fauria and Dr Gill go over the difficulties of staying healthy through the long grind of the playoffs in the NBA and in the NHL.
Hour 2. Kirk responds to Keefe’s shot at him. Alex says America is to blame for 9/11 in Headlines. Alex says the U.S. should let as many people in as possible.More from this show
Hour 1. Evan Drellich makes his casting couch return. Over the weekend, Michael Che affirmed that he believes Boston is “the most racist city” he has ever been to.More from this show
Hour 2. Evan Drellich defends Michael Che, saying that it’s possible to say Boston is racist if you are black. Gerry and Kirk battle with Drellich, defending the city against Michael Che’s allegations. In headlines, the guys revisit the Maison family.More from this show
Hour 4. Joe Sullivan didn’t want to appear on K&C. Instead, he appeared on Brand X. Drellich thinks working the beat is just as hard as when Gerry did it. Gerry likes Fences.More from this show
Hour 3. Drellich thinks Trump is a pathological liar while Gerry thinks Trump doesn’t lie as much as Obama. Kirk is sick of show promos and says K&C will no longer participate. Drellich says everyone did steroids just like everyone deflates balls.More from this show