Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was a guest of the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday. Cherington was asked for his thoughts on former Sox manager Terry Francona’s book, which is at times critical of Sox ownership, particularly over the final season of Francona’s tenure.
“It seems to me the best history is written with some distance in the rear-view mirror,” Cherington said. “At some point people will look back at the period between 2004 and 2011 and it will go down as the greatest period in Red Sox history. And except for the players — the [Jason] Variteks, [Dustin] Pedroias, [David] Ortizes and [Curt] Schillings of the world — the five people who had more to do with that than anyone else was John [Henry], Tom [Werner], Larry [Lucchino], Theo [Epstein] and Tito. It seems to me, at some point, those five people will be seen in the appropriate light.”
The book details a meeting in 2010 that included Henry, Werner, Lucchino and Francona. In that meeting, Werner complained about declining TV ratings and said the team needed to win in “more exciting fashion.” Cherington, who said he has not read the book, was quick to defend the ownership group.
“The first priority, the absolute first priority, definitely including John, Tom and Larry, is to win. That’s what drives us,” Cherington said. “The first priority will always be to win and be aggressive toward winning, and that’s up to us in baseball operations to sort of manage that in a way to make good decisions, and we’ve made our fair share of mistakes and we learned from some of those mistakes. That said, any business is trying to be as good as it possibly can be and in every conceivable area. And part of that for the Red Sox is to understand our fans and what they are looking for, and there’s things we are looking for to give them what they want.”
In November of 2010, members of the Sox front office and ownership met at Fenway to look at results of a $100,000 marketing research project the team had commissioned the previous July. In the Francona book, Epstein was critical of the results, which suggested the Sox needed to add “reality-TV aspects of the game and good-looking stars,” and said the signing of Carl Crawford and trade for Adrian Gonzalez were in direct response to the study. Cherington, part of the front office at the time, was asked if this was an accurate portrayal.
“I’ll agree to disagree with Theo on this one,” Cherington said. “But if any way it contributed to poor baseball decisions it’s on us in baseball ops and it’s also on ownership for because we work together to manage the demands in Boston and manage the pressure to win and do it in a way that allows us to have success in Boston year after year.”
As for the 2013 Red Sox, Cherington concedes that perhaps the team hasn’t made any huge splashes in the free agent market, but the general manager said this team can contend in the AL East.“Maybe we didn’t make the one headline move or haven’t to this point, I think a lot of our heavy lifting is done, but I do think we’ve added strength to a lot of different areas to the roster, a lot of areas we had holes in, I think in aggregate we feel pretty good that we’re a strong, deep team with a chance to be deep in a lot of areas to match up with anyone,” Cherington said. “We think this is a team that will be very competitive, going to contend and match up with any team in the AL East. “
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