Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, during an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, said he's confident the team can turn its fortunes around and make the playoffs without mortgaging the future.
Cherington said the baseball operations staff has been active and will continue to be so leading up to Tuesday's trade deadline. The Sox play the first-place Yankees in New York this weekend.
"We spend more time in the room talking with each other about deals, and maybe have 30 or 40 phone calls with other teams throughout the course of the day," he said. "I assume that will continue, and the subject matter of those phone calls will depend some on what other teams do and some on what we do this weekend."
Cherington stressed that the Sox are well within contention for the playoffs.
"When we look at where we are in the standings, I guess particularly the teams that are right ahead of us in the wild card chase, we don't believe that any of those teams are better than us, or necessarily more talented than us. So in that sense we're not of the mindset of giving in on anything. We want to try to win, and if there's ways to improve our chances of winning and catching those teams, we want to do that. You have to be smart about it. You have to gauge the potential return you're getting on a deal relative to where you are.
"Like I said, we are where we are. We're 49-50. We feel this is as good a team as the other teams that are sort of clustered right ahead of us. We also have to be mindful that you have two months left and we've dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, and we've got to be smart about giving up too many long-term assets to try to get a little better the next two months. That doesn't mean there aren't ways to improve the team, and do it in a wise manner and a prudent manner. We'll definitely work to do that."
Added Cherington: "It's an unusual position for us to be in. That's the truth. Our approach at the deadline most every year that I've been here in the front office has been pretty clear. We're trying to improve the team. This deadline is going to take more of a nuanced approach, but we're certainly still focused on 2012 and doing everything we can to win as many games as we can this year."
Josh Beckett has become a focal point of fans' frustration with the underachieving Sox, but Cherington said the team is more focused on adding players.
"Taking Josh Beckett off this team is not necessarily improving things," he said. "We need to add, we need to improve the rotation, if anything -- improve internally or add to the rotation. I think we're sort of stuck in neutral if we start taking guys out of the rotation who are good major league pitchers."
Cherington said that the team has not discussed with the pitcher whether he would waive his 10-5 rights (10 years of major league service, five with one team) to permit a trade.
"We haven't had the conversation [with Beckett] and we haven't engaged other teams on it," said Cherington.
In fact, Cherington said, the team was exploring the market to see about adding starting pitching. However, he expressed doubt about whether the Sox would be able to do anything to bolster the rotation.
"We'll continue to talk to teams about [starters]," said Cherington. "It's clearly a seller's market when it comes to starting pitching, so there's no certainty we'll be able to do anything, but we're certainly working at it, to find ways to improve ourselves in that area."
It was revealed last week that the Red Sox had discussed a trade with the Marlins that would have sent Carl Crawford to Miami for Hanley Ramirez, but Cherington downplayed it.
"The truth is that we had one conversation where a concept was discussed. It didn't work for us, so it didn't go anywhere," Cherington said. "Unfortunately, as is the case sometimes with these things this time of year, it somehow got out that we had a conversation. But there was never any teeth to it. And we haven't had any conversations with them since."
Cherington also said he has not had discussions with Jacoby Ellsbury about a long-term deal, as the outfielder appears destined for free agency after next season.
"We haven't gotten into any discussions with him," Cherington said. "We've taken it year-to-year with him so far, and the offseason conversations we've had about Jacoby have been good-spirited and amicable. I expect that to continue. We'll see if it makes sense to talk about anything other than a one-year deal going into next year.
"The worst-case scenario for the Red Sox is that we have one of the best players in baseball for the next year and a half and he can help us win a lot of games in that time. If there is a way to add to that, to add to the value that Jacoby brings, either through an extension or doing something else, then those are things we'll look into that. But we're just fortunate to have him on our team right now. We'll continue to talk to him and at the appropriate time -- usually the offseason is the appropriate time -- talk to him about contract stuff."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On trade interest in Ellsbury: "We've had calls on a number of guys. We have a lot of good players. We're not of the mindset to remove good players from our team, because we're at best stuck in neutral or going backwards more likely if we do that. We're focused on adding to the team, not taking away. He's a great player who certainly teams would have a lot of interest in. That's why we want him on our team."
On waiting until the offseason to deal guys who are underperforming, hoping that they re-establish value: "I agree with most of it. When you have guys that aren't performing at their sort of historic level and are still young enough where they should get back to that level, absolutely, our focus needs to be on giving them every chance to perform again. In our case, it's not necessarily to shine them up for a trade. That is the case in some places. In our case, it's first and foremost because we're focused on winning here in the present day.
"The secondary point, the last thing a GM ever wants to do is sell low. If we are ever going to consider trading a player, doing it at a time when a guy isn't performing doesn't help your cause. We've had to do that on a couple of occasions in the past."
On interest in players such as Kelly Shoppach, Mike Aviles and Ryan Sweeney: "We've gotten a bunch of calls. We've talked to every team in baseball the last couple of weeks. We've had a lot of conversations with a few teams about certain ideas. There are certainly plenty of guys on our team other teams would like to have. Right now, we're looking to improve, not take away. That's our mindset going into this weekend."
On if Crawford should be more of a platoon player because of his struggles against left-handed pitching: "That's up to Bobby [Valentine]. I can't rule out Carl getting a day off now and then against a lefty, but I don't foresee a straight platoon happening. Part of the uniqueness about Carl and the reason why we pursued him in the first place, even on those days when he was in Tampa, those days where maybe he struggled against a lefty -- and he actually usually hit lefties pretty well -- but those days where he struggled against a lefty he could do so many other things to help you win the game. The best defensive left fielder in baseball for many years, on the bases, all those things that people have talked about. He could still help you win, even against a tough lefty, even if on that day he went 0-for-4. ...
Unfortunately, it's not by any lack of effort on his part, but unfortunately Red Sox fans haven't seen that nearly as much since he came to Boston. It is what it is. Carl knows it more than anyone. ... But this story's not over. There's a long time to show people what he's all about."
On the likelihood of other teams pulling away: "I'm not sure that any of those other teams have any better chance of going on the kind of run you're talking about than we do. We believe we're as talented or more talented than any of those teams and that we're capable of going on that kind of run just as much if not more than those other teams."
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.
Bradford checks in from spring training to give us all the media dirt he can dig up...oh, and talk some baseball too.
Pete, Bradford, and Tomase are talking all about the Boston Red Sox, who opened spring training on Monday with pitchers and catchers reporting. They talk about what the Red Sox approach at the plate will be to replace the loss of David Ortiz bat, the impact of some players participating in the WBC, and of course the pitching rotation.
Rob Bradford sits down with new Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina to discuss the behind-the-scenes scenario that led him back to the Red Sox, the ins and outs of his job, and his take on the comparison between his former player, Mike Trout, and Mookie Betts.
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. Darrelle Revis has gotten himself into a lot of trouble in Pennsylvania. Red Sox ownership holds a press conference from Spring Training.
Hour 3. Mut's history as a radio host is revisited. Kirk's latest podcast features some in depth talk about radio in Boston with Glenn Ordway.
Hour 2. The guys discuss whether the Patriots should consider trading Jimmy Garoppolo. President Trump held an interesting press conference.
Lou says that Rob Bradford is wrong when talking about Mookie Betts beating the shift and maybe joining him on his podcast to talk about it. Lou also ask Christian what happened to him yesterday during the segment with Rob and how Christian seemed to disappear.
John Karalis of RedsArmy.com joins Lou and Christian to talk Celtics and the twitter beef between him and Lou. They also talk about how money doesn't get you what it used to when talking Horford's max deal and the Sandoval's contract
Jovn calls in from Malden to talk about the foul call on Marcus Smart from last night game and saying it was the right call. But being a ref himself he is used to taking the abuse from fans and Lou suggest we should go out and hug a ref.
Holley and Keefe discuss the Celtics loss in Chicago and the tough foul call on Marcus Smart that basically handed the Bulls the victory.
With All-Star weekend and the dunk contest upon us, Keefe and Holley discuss the NBA's current best dunkers, plus our top 5 all-time greatest dunk artists.
Keefer Madness is back, and a strange pet saves the friggin' day. Plus LAROY Streat is back on the mic.
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.
Kirk Minihane sits down with Michael Holley for the first time on the podcast. Kirk and Michael have hosted shows together in the past but have never had a candid conversation about WEEI. Kirk and Michael talk about Holley's career in radio, his best selling books, and what his assessment of the current WEEI is. There are a lot of interesting behind the scene nuggets for anybody who has listened to WEEI over the years. This episode is brought to you by hellofresh.com. For Enough About Me listeners go to hellofresh.com and use the promo code kirk35 for $35 off your first week of deliveries.
On this weeks episode of the WEEI SoccerCast Ben, Russ, and Alex talk about the demolition of Barcelona and Arsenal, if the Gunners should fire Wenger, and if the Revs made a good trade?
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis wrap up the week with a review of Thursday and Friday's K&C shows.
Rich Keefe & Ryan Davey breakdown the Avengers: Infinity War Featurette. Plus an extended "This Week in #DORK" covering DC directors, Legion, The Walking Dead and more.
Hour 3. Mut's history as a radio host is revisited. Kirk's latest podcast features some in depth talk about radio in Boston with Glenn Ordway.More from this show
Hour 4. Darrelle Revis has gotten himself into a lot of trouble in Pennsylvania. Red Sox ownership holds a press conference from Spring Training.More from this show
The Preacher and the Teacher talks Celtics. The guys discuss what the Celtics could do in terms of trading draft picks. Also they talk some time travel.More from this show