Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino insists that despite a dismal season, there's more reason for optimism than many in Boston may think. In his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dennis & Callahan" show Thursday, Lucchino pointed to the potential of several of the team's young players, including Ryan Lavarnway ("He's hit everywhere he has been... at every level."), Jose Iglesias ("seeing how quick his hands are is kind of fun... he's only 22 years old, so I wouldn't write him off quite yet"), and four players in the minor-league system he calls "the killer B's" -- Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes and Bryce Brentz.
"Those four guys represent the cream of the crop, and project to be outstanding major league baseball players," he said.
Lucchino said the Red Sox plan to take a more aggressive approach in the future in advancing their prospects, and agreed it's possible that some of them will see playing time in Boston next season, especially outfielder Bradley, 22, who finished with an OBP of .430 in 128 games for Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland.
"I think that is possible," Lucchino said. "Maybe not at the start of the season, but at some point during the year. ... I do think we have taken a very conservative approach historically to the advancement of players in our minor-league system. I think that's just an undeniable fact and I hope as we focus more on scouting and player development in the next few years that will change, that there will be a presumption for slightly more rapid growth."
Lucchino clearly disagreed with manager Bobby Valentine's remark last week that this is Boston's weakest September lineup in history. "I think that was a bit of hyperbole, to be sure," he said.
"I understand what he was talking about in terms of injuries and in terms of the fact that we had our Triple-A team playing until Tuesday night. So I understand where he's coming from, and he's clarified that," he added.
As far as next year's roster, Lucchino said the team hopes to bring back productive outfielder and fan favorite Cody Ross.
"We love Cody Ross. He is someone that I think was one of Ben Cherington's best offseason acquisitions. And when we saw him in spring training, several of us predicted that he would be a very popular player because of his style, personality and power, and he has proven to be just that. So yeah, we'd love to have Cody Ross come back and play with us in future years. We're in the beginning stages of that process."
On whether less-popular but talented pitcher Alfredo Aceves will be back in Boston, Lucchino wouldn't commit.
"He's a valuable pitcher. His track record over the course of his major league career has been impressive," Lucchino acknowledged, adding that his role next season is "a decision that will be made next spring by whatever team he is with."
Lucchino did admit that there was discussion of suspending Aceves (a second time) after he appeared to show up manager Bobby Valentine last Wednesday after being taken out of the game in the sixth against the Yankees. He noted that there were some union concerns.
"There was discussion about it, but the decision was made that it was not necessary," he said.