John Henry, Tom Werner met with the media Friday morning (WEEI.com photo)
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s an annual rite of passage. One that John Henry admitted maybe has been a bit too ambitious (and often times uncomfortable).
Fifteen seasons as owners of the Red Sox, and 15 spring training media sessions where Henry and usually Tom Werner brief the spring training gathering on the state of the organization.
“We might not have started doing this every year,” said the Red Sox principal owner, Henry, when talking about the good and bad decisions made during this ownership group’s run.
Immediately after Werner addressed the entire team, the pair came out and discussed a variety of topics. David Ortiz. Fenway Park. Luxury tax. The Chris Sale trade. Dave Dombrowski. John Farrell. And also the topic of whether or not these two will be hanging on to their pieces of the Red Sox.
“We hope to be healthy and focused for a long, long time. We know nothing is forever. Hopefully we’ll be having these conversations in 10 or 15 more years,” said Werner.
Added Henry, “After 15 years together, and most of us have been together for 15 years, there’s nothing about this … There are a few things we don’t … Almost every day we talk about how fortunate we feel to be part of this organization. It’s a tremendous organization that has accomplished tremendous things. From our perspective it’s a meaningful, wonderful experience to come here every year, to start over every year. We really are focused on that fourth ring as much as we are focused on the first. Anything short of that I would say is a limited success. I know every few years we have swat down rumors that we’re perhaps sellers, but we talk about how long we can do this, not when should we stop.”
Here were some of the takeaways from the 20-meeting briefing …
MEETING WITH THE TEAM
Henry: “We had a great meeting this morning. And we’re all really happy to be back. We didn’t finish our business last year. It was a disappointing way to end the season. There’s a lot to accomplish the team.”
Werner: “I just started out by thanking them for what they accomplished last year. There’s a lot to be proud of. The team had the best offense in all of baseball. We had a Cy Young winner and two MVP candidates, and the team played beautifully all season. But obviously all of us were disappointed at the abrupt ending. I just thanked them, made a reference to Tom Brady and the Patriots and what we could take from that in terms of hard work and practice. We wished them good luck.”
DAVID ORTIZ’S ROLE
Werner: “That remains to be defined, but I know David expects to have a role going forward. I think he feels like it’s probably good to have spring training start and not be a presence. I would hope that at some point he would come here and address the team about leadership. We are talking with him frequently and I would expect he would have a role that he will principally define, but will be important. … He said he’s retired. I think all of you know that he played last year in quite a bit of pain.”
Henry: “Actually I don’t think they know quite how pain he was in last year. Maybe. Not just last year.”
FENWAY PARK RENOVATIONS
Henry: “I’m not sure we need to go too much further with Fenway Park. There’s been 15 years of tender-loving care going in on an annual basis. It’s been sort of built to last for the next 30 years, if not the next 50 years. I don’t think we see a lot of changes. … I think we have some thoughts outside the ballpark in that area, we own property in that area and I think we should look to develop in a way that’s meaningful for the three million-plus fans that come every year. I think you’ll see probably more changes outside the ballpark than inside.”
LUXURY TAX THRESHOLD
Henry: “As far as the threshold is concerned, there have been years we’ve been over and years we’ve been under. I think that will be the case with the new CBA and CBT this year. We want to be under. Frankly, revenue sharing is a bigger issue than the CBT. We spend a lot of money. There are a lot of money that spend a lot of money. Big, big numbers. … I don’t see a big change.”
PACE OF GAME
Werner: “We’re trying to push the game to under three hours. There are a lot of experiments going on, and I’m for experiments.”
HENRY’S PROCLAMATION LAST YEAR THAT RED SOX WERE TOO RELIANT ON ANALYTICS
Henry: “I think ever since I made that statement I’ve been saying it’s overblown. Because I only talk once a year, maybe twice a year, somethings … I think that was blown out of proportion. We are still heavily analytics based. I don’t think you can function in 2017 as a baseball organization without top drawer analytics.”
Werner: “I think he has a lot he wants to prove. I heard he talked to the media yesterday and was very articulate. He’s an All-Star player and we have a lot of confidence he’s going to have a good year.”
Henry: “I think he has done a tremendous job. All of us in the organization believe he has done a tremendous job. Very hands on.”
CHRIS SALE TRADE
Henry: “We still have a lot of prospects. With David leaving I think there was a feeling we should do something. I think our offense has been strong, and will be strong this year. When this opportunity came about it was tough to give up two of the best prospects in baseball. I think we all agreed this was a rare opportunity. … It was important to us that the core of our team was not broken up.”
DREW POMERANZ SAGA
“I don’t know if we want to re-open that discussion. All the facts of that, a lot of the facts, were a little bit different that were generally spoken about. We really don’t want to open that back up again. We’re really glad to have Drew here.”
“He’s an outstanding leader. There’s a lot of facets to being a great manager and I think he fits all of that. not only that, but I think we all know he overcame personal health issues last year and he’s the right guy to be our leader this year and for the future.”