Appearing with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning, the morning after the Red Sox moved over .500 for the first time this season, team president and CEO Larry Lucchino talked about the club's recent improvement, Bobby Valentine's coaching approach, and why the team elected not to sign Roy Oswalt.
Lucchino also extended an invitation to Dennis & Callahan's own Jon Meterparel to handle Fenway Park PA announcer duties Thursday and become a candidate to replace the late Carl Beane.
Boston, which has been struggling throughout the young season, is last in the AL East with a 25-24 record. But after beating Detroit on Tuesday night, the Red Sox are over .500 and only 3 1/2 games of first place.
"To finally get over .500 is something we should celebrate," he said. "I'm really pleased with the way the team is coming together."
Lucchino said the Red Sox might still encounter some difficulties as the season progresses, but the team's solidifying identity is a positive that will carry over.
"There will be some ebbs and flows during the remainder of this season, but the good thing is the team has kind of come together," Lucchino said. "I think there's an identity forming, some of the lesser-known players are making a real contribution keeping this team at around .500. That's where we want it to be until the cavalry comes over the horizon in the persons of [Jacoby] Ellsbury and Crawford and [Andrew] Bailey and ... Daisuke [Matsuzaka], of course."
Valentine has survived the struggles and the transition period thanks in part to a winning drive, Lucchino said. That allowed him to overcome being the scapegoat for the team's slow start.
"I thought he was a convenient symbol for people," Lucchino said of criticism of the new manager. "I didn't think it was certainly fair to focus on him. I thought that people who were upset had legitimate grievances with the performance of the club and the finish last year, and the manager was kind of a figurehead person or symbol that people could focus on.
"But I think he's done an exceptional job, with the series of injuries he's had to deal with, the restructuring of the bullpen he's had to do. And a number of the calls he's made have proven to be really insightful and very helpful to the club sustaining itself around a .500 record so far."
Added Lucchino: "It's undeniable that he plays every game to win. There's this commercial that NESN has: 'Every game matters. Every pitch matters. Every out matters.' He plays it like that. There's an intensity that I like. In the fifth inning he's pitching lefty, righty, lefty to get the matchup he wants. And I think that's the way to do it, particularly in this day and age when with the wild card system that we have, one game will make a difference, two games can make a difference. Last year one game made a difference in the final standings and that's been true for the last few years."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On the team's decision to pass on Roy Oswalt: "It wasn't as though we were starting pitching short. We think that in a week or two we're going to have seven possibilities [with the return of Matsuzaka and Aaron Cook]. So, do you spend an extra six or seven million dollars to secure a guy when you've got that kind of pitching need and you may need that money come July 31st?"
On why the productive Daniel Nava should sit when Carl Crawford returns: "If [Nava] can sustain what he's doing, he's going to make some real money over the course of the year, but he's not yet a firmly established major league outfielder. But he's been an invaluable part of the first part of the season for the team. As I said, he's one of my favorite stories. But Crawford is somebody who has an established major league track record and we're eager to get him back in there and I think he's got something to prove. It appears that he feels more comfortable with his surroundings, his teammates. I know he's champing at the bit [and] just can't wait to get in there. And it's not that Daniel Nava doesn't play, it means that there will be some time-sharing I suppose among the outfielders given the number of injured outfielders we have."
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Rob Gronkowski's meeting with the media on Friday. Gronk said he doesn't anticipate changing the way he plays, noting that he wants to "keep smashing and dashing."
Julian Edelman joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz after Patriots training camp.
We return to our weekly segments with the one and only Peter King of MMQB and NBC's Football Night in America.
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.
Kevin Millar joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz to discuss David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia's struggles, and Jon Lester's contract.
Texas Rangers General Manager, Jon Daniels, joins Rob Bradford and Alex Speier to discuss the upcoming trade deadline.
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
Rob gave the latest on Jon Lester trade talks and the flap between Ortiz and the Rays.
The top stories of the day as recounted by John Dennis.
John, Meter and Buck opened the show by discussing the latest flap between the Red Sox and the Rays.
Kevin Millar joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz to talk about David Ortiz, the struggles of Dustin Pedroia, and the Jon Lester contract.
Patriots Wide Receiver Julian Edelman joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz after Patriots training camp.
Given the recent Ray Rice suspension, many people are comparing it to Josh Gordon getting suspended for repeated drug abuse. Tim Benz doesn't think this is a fair comparison. He explains why.
We discuss the return of Rob Gronkowski, his comments to the media today, and what a healthy (or unhealthy) Gronk will mean for the 2014 Patriots.
We discuss the suspension of Ray Rice, and how the act he committed certainly seemed like it warranted a harsher penalty from the strict front office of Roger Goodell.
We tackle four topics, all sparked by our interest in the story about the Browns fan peeing on Art Modell's grave this past week.
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.
Mut and Villani are talking about the MLB All Star Game, Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter, and what are some of the worst ideas in sports.
With the trade deadline looming, the next few days will be defined by how teams value prospects -- and their potential long-term contributions -- against big leaguers with established track records who can address immediate needs. Are prospects being valued accurately? Red Sox left-hander Andrew Miller -- once one of the two key chips that sent Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins to the Tigers -- assesses the matter.
A compelling case can be made that July 24, 2004, represents as significant a landmark as any date in modern Red Sox history. On that day, a memorable brawl between the Red Sox and Yankees served as a catalyst for an epic 10-9 walkoff victory for the Red Sox over New York and indomitable closer Mariano Rivera, a game cited by many members of the 2004 team as pivotal in Boston's first championship run in 86 years. Ian Browne, who covers the Red Sox for MLB.com and authored Idiots Revisited, discusses the landmark game.
With Training Camp starting this Thursday and the August Draft Season inching closer, Jim Hackett and Pete Davidson are ramping up the Fantasy Football content to meet the demand! Today’s podcast gives an in depth look at Pete’s Top 50 Wide Receivers Article that is LIVE on WEEI.com right now. Pete breaks down the receivers by Tiers and the podcast gives full analysis of those Tiers and the players who occupy these spots and why. Get prepared for your drafts and enjoy!