Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Rusney Castillo and how the team plans to rebuild for 2015. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Castillo made his major league debut in Wednesday night’s 9-1 loss to the Pirates, going 1-for-4. Cherington said the outfielder isn’t the kind of player who will shine in any one area, but the overall package is one that can be of value to the team.
“Just a good major league outfielder,” Cherington said. “I think what attracted us to him through the scouting process was just that he has kind of a broad base of skills. We think he can hit, he’s got some power, he can run, he can play defense. So this is not a player that you can say is elite in any one category, but just good in a lot of categories, and the sum of that adds up to what we hope is a good player.
“I don’t know if there’s a particular player comparable, but we certainly believe he can be a very good major league outfielder and part of a good team.”
Cherington would not commit to saying Castillo is pegged to be the team’s starting center fielder for 2015.
“We just haven’t gotten that far,” Cherington said. “As you guys know, we like to have two center field-caliber outfielders on the team at any time. I think our best teams have had that. Sometimes one of those guys plays right field, and sometimes one of those guys plays center. We just don’t know what the alignment’s going to be.
“I think we feel like having Rusney along with Jackie [Bradley] and Mookie Betts and the rest of the group — but those three in particular just because of the long-term control we have on those guys — gives us a better chance to have the outfield alignment we’re looking for over the long haul.”
Betts came up as a second baseman, and there’s been speculation that the Red Sox could try him at third base in order to open up an outfield spot.
“It’s not something we’ve talked about as of now,” Cherington said. “He obviously played second base in the minor leagues, he’s played outfield this year. So right now we’re just focused on outfield or second, and he’s playing second now because [Dustin Pedroia] is out. When Pedey’s back, we would I think project Mookie as an outfielder on the Red Sox team.
“But hey, we’ll see where we are. He’s a great athlete, he’s versatile, and obviously it looks like he’s going to be a good offensive player in the major leagues. We need good players. We need to find a way to get good players on the field.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
On the pitching depth in the upcoming free agent market and if the Red Sox might instead focus on trades: “I think until we get into the offseason and have conversations with teams and agents and really get a better feel for what’s available to us, it’s hard to say. I know there are things that clearly we need to do, that we want to do. We’re going to work as hard as we can to build a winning team quickly.
“Pitching is an obvious area to add this winter. There should be options open for us. We do think there’s a level of depth in the starting pitching market, both in free agency and trade this winter, where we should be able to add to the rotation in a way that helps us. And then, again, we still need guys that are here now to step up and be a big part of that, too.”
On Koji Uehara and if the team wants to re-sign him: “We have to look at every available piece of information, including what’s happened most recently. This guy obviously has been terrific for us for the better part of two years. We know him, we trust him as a person. And I think the way he handled the period of struggles earlier this month reflects very positively on him. He’s just a very accountable, responsible guy and knew that he needed to find something and fix something and was part of the plan to do so. Those are the type of qualities that give a team comfort if you’re thinking about doing another contract or making offers. We haven’t done that yet. There’ll be a time to do that after the season. And of course Koji is close to free agency now, and a lot of it will have that opportunity, so he’s got to make decisions, too. We’ll see where it goes. But he’s been terrific for us. I think it’s safe to say we would still have interest in keeping him here.”
On the Orioles’ success this season: “We expected Baltimore to be good, but we just didn’t expect the spread to look like this. We thought the division would be tighter all year. Obviously, we thought we’d be in a much different position, so we didn’t expect the spread to look like that. We did think they’d be a good team, just because they didn’t appear to have really any holes. They’re not necessarily getting elite production in any one spot, but they don’t really have any holes, either. When talent is distributed as evenly as it is in today’s game, when you don’t have any holes and you have pretty good pitching and a good bullpen and pretty good position players and you get some breaks, well, you win a lot of games. And they’ve done a great job.”
On Derek Jeter: “He is a remarkable guy, remarkable player, remarkable person. To do what he’s done in New York for as long as he has, to play a really demanding position as much as he has and be good at it for as long as he has, and be good it as part of not just winning teams but championship teams, and do it without ever once causing any controversy and really being seemingly sort of the rudder of that team for so long. It’s just a remarkable accomplishment. … If you look at him in aggregate and what he’s done and how he’s done it, I don’t see how you can have anything but respect for the guy. I think the tribute to him on the last weekend [at Fenway Park] will reflect that.”
On if MLB is prepared for domestic violence issues like those that have plagued the NFL: “It’s a very serious issue. We do a fair amount of training ourselves with our minor league players and instructional league and spring training and different points of the year, training around these issues, education around these issues. But it’s simply behavior that is unacceptable. For a sport that’s looking to entertain and get families into the ballpark, there’s just absolutely no place for it. So there has to be a lot of education around it, and then there has to be certainly strong reaction if, God forbid, anything ever actually happened.”