Saturday, August 25, 2012
Transcript: Cherington talks blockbuster
By Tony Lee
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington explains the particulars of Saturday's megadeal.
Why did you do this deal? I think we recognized that we are not who we want to be right now. It's been a large enough sample performance going back to last year that we felt like in order to be the team we want to be on the field we needed to make more than cosmetic changes so as we looked forward to this offseason we felt like the opportunity to build the team that we need, that the fans deserve, that we want, required a more of a bold move to give us an opportunity to really reshape the roster, reshape the team. It was a difficult thing to do to trade away four players like this, guys that, Beckett in particular that have been here for a long time and been part of our best times here, been on the mound for big games. Gonzalez and Crawford both obviously key acquisitions two offseasons ago and Punto a great teammate, utility player. So we gave up a lot of talent, good guys. Excited about the talent we got coming back and excited about the opportunity this gives us to build the next great Red Sox team.
Any idea what you want to do with the financial flexibility? Yeah we've looked, as we always would this time of year, we've started to look at opportunities in the offseason. I think the key is we are absolutely committed to building the best team that we can in 2013 and beyond and we're going to do that in the most disciplined way possible. When we've been at our best we've made good decisions, disciplined decisions, found value, whether in the free-agency market, trade market. That's our job to do that. We have a core of players here still, a very talented core of players still that will be a part of our next great team and we'll do whatever we can to put together the best team for 2013.
Are you surprised the Dodgers took contracts? Where will you look to improve? Well the Dodgers have an opportunity. They're in a pennant race and motivated to add talent so they made a move that they felt was in their best interests. We're focused on what we're doing here. We need to look at the entire roster and find ways to improve it. Pitching is one area and that's no secret. We've talked about that but we need to find other ways to improve the team. We need to find ways to get back to doing the things that we've done when we've been at our best and part of that's personnel. Part of it's mindset and part of it's putting guys in the right position and everything under that umbrella so it'll be our job to take advantage of this opportunity and make decisions and build the next great Red Sox team.
[Bobby] Valentine said change was necessary. What wasn't working? Well the bottom line is we haven't won enough games and that goes back to last September. We just haven't performed on the field, as a team we haven't performed. We've had individuals perform and this is not about the four players we gave up, anything they did particularly wrong. Just haven't performed as a team the way we need to and as we looked at it we felt that in order to get to a team that we believe in, a team that our fans deserve, a team that is a winner and sustains winning year after year it was going to take more than cosmetic changes. It was gonna take something more bold and then up to us to then go take advantage of the opportunity and execute and make good decisions, but a lot of things go into winning. The roster is part of it. The personnel on the roster is part of it and this is a significant step towards giving us a chance to reshape what that roster looks like.
Who are the players to be named later? I wouldn't expect it to happen until after the season.
Should this have been done in October? I don't know. It happened right now so that's what we're focused on. We went into this year believing we had a chance to win and believing that this roster gave us a chance to win and it didn't work out. There's not one reason for it. Injuries played a role. There were other things. It's at a point where change was needed and so this is part of that change. This is the first step toward that change.
Should fans expect you to spend? Fans can expect us to work our tails off to put the best team together going forward starting this offseason and for 2013. We have to be disciplined in the way we do that. We can't go out tomorrow or the next day and fill up the payroll flexibility we just created. So that'll happen. There's a clear commitment from ownership here. We are going to continue to have a significant payroll. We're going to continue to spend money on players and we're going to be committed to building the best team we possibly can. It's up to us to make good decisions, make disciplined decisions and that's, I think the past that's what's led to our best teams. I don't remember in 2004 and 2007 people talking as much about what the size of the payroll was. Just talked about how good the team was.
What do you mean by disciplined decisions? Find value on the market, find the best opportunities. You've got to find players that fit your roster and your scheme, find the players that are going to deliver the best performance on the field in Boston and try to find those using resources in the most efficient way. The good thing for us is that we've got a lot of resources, so we can do a lot of that. We're not limited in what we'll be able to explore. At the same time we need to be smart about it. We need to build a team and not be focused on one transaction or the other.
What was the role of ownership in the deal? In any deal ... ownership is involved and it's a collaborative process. Certainly on a deal this big it required a real team effort and John [Henry], Tom [Werner] and Larry [Lucchino] all were heavily involved. They all had a specific role, individual role in this over the last several days. There were conversations at the ownership level between the two teams, certainly between myself and Ned and then a lot of conversations between myself, John, Tom and Larry. So it was a true team effort and we worked together to pull off a trade that we feel is the right thing for the franchise right now and gives us an opportunity going forward.
How will this impact player development? It always is but we feel like our best teams and our best teams in the past and moving forward will be ones that are where we can integrate young players from onto the team from the system. We started to do that so we believe we've got a lot of talent coming. We added to that talent with this trade. We've got or we're closer to being able to bring that next generation of your players onto the team. But we're also going to surround those young players with proven major leaguers and we'll see what opportunities present themselves this winter and beyond.
Genesis of deal? We talked to the Dodgers all year it seems back to earlier in the year. I had talked to Ned [Colletti, Dodgers GM] about [Kevin] Youkilis, so we've had consistent dialogue all year and at certain points that dialogue picked up. We talked quite a bit before the deadline. Didn't agree on anything at that time. But when you talk that much you share ideas, you get to know a little bit more about what their motivation is and what they're trying to do and you share ideas. There were conversations at the ownership level also and over time and then recently earlier this week those conversations kind of jelled into a more sort of firm concepts in talking about what a trade might look like. So we were able to pull it off. There wasn't any one moment. It was a process that started earlier in the year and involved a lot of conversation and ideas going back and forth and ultimately led to this.
Does the fact that Gonzalez and Crawford came and went so quickly inhibit the ability to lure players? Good question and it is something we considered. I feel like if we are who we want to be on the field, off the field, we will be a great place for players to be and I think this ownership group knows more than most how quickly things can change. At the end of 2001 it wasn't a great time in the Red Sox organization and it wasn't a few months later where everyone wanted to be in Boston. We get back to being the team we want to be and players are going to want to be here. This is a great place to play. The highs are really high when things are going well and when they're not it can be tough. That's why it's so important for us to get back to where we want to be and then the highs will be really high again.
Lack of discipline in signing decisions? The decisions we've made that got us to this point in aggregate I think it's fair to say didn't work. We have to acknowledge that. We have to be honest about the fact that what we have been over the last few months of major league play is not what we want to be and there's not one decision that led to that. It's just a combination of things, different reasons. Some of them had nothing to do with personnel decisions. There are other things that are involved. Injuries are factored, et cetera. My point is going forward we have created flexibility for us with this deal and we'll take advantage of that opportunity best if we are disciplined and aggressive at the right time on the right deals for the right players.
Concerned about Ortiz? Not really in the big picture. He's still got some soreness. We're not concerned that this is something that's gonna inhibit him in a significant way moving forward. We want to be careful and do the right thing for him because he's such an important player and we want him to be a part of what we're doing. We'll continue to work with him and be cautious and get him out there whenever he's ready and available.
Delayed making trade? I think that's fair. At the deadline there were a few things that we could have done and we felt at the time that this group, we wanted to give this group a little more time. It's no fault of anybody, any one person. This is a collective responsibility. There's been no lack of effort on the players, including the players that have been traded today. It hasn't worked and it's on all of us, on me and those of us who are lucky enough to be here and moving forward we'll have the responsibility to make it better.
How do you characterize Beckett's tenure here? Very successful. He was on the mound for some of our most important games. We don't win the 2007 World Series without him. That's fair to say. He has been mostly, even recently, a very effective pitcher. Certainly there have been pockets of performance this year and two years ago that he would tell you himself are not up to his standards but I think his tenure was a great success.
2013 a bridge year? The development path is rarely linear. You don't know. Will Middlebrooks came up and maybe did it a little quicker than we thought. So that happens and the opposite happens sometimes so we feel good about the progression of the talent and the system. We've added to the talent with this deal. It is moving towards the upper levels of the system. We don't know exactly when all these guys will show up, or if they'll show up. That's the nature of the beast. In the meantime we're going to do whatever we can to build the best team we can for 2013 and that will certainly involve looking outside the organization, too.
Allen Webster? Webster is a really athletic right-hand pitcher, 22 years old who's been one of the better starting pitchers in the Southern League this year. Athleticism good stuff, three plus pitches, fastball, slider, changeup. Been a pretty consistent good performer. We think he has a chance to be a good major league starter. He's in Double-A, needs some more time. He will likely report to Double-A first and we'll take advantage of the rest of the minor league season, which isn't a very long period of time to get to know him a little bit better.
Clubhouse culture? The culture will feel better when we start winning more games. This was about creating an opportunity to build a better team moving forward. It was not a trade that was made to try to fix a cultural problem. It was about opportunity, giving us opportunity moving forward and the culture will feel very good when we do the things that have made us good over time, the things that help us win games. So when we do those things the culture will feel good.
Daisuke Matsuzaka? As far as Daisuke is concerned we're looking forward to seeing again we hope in the big leagues soon. We don't know exactly. He's a guy we're gonna continue to work with. He's now toward the end of a full year off after Tommy John surgery so it would be typical of a guy starting to feel like himself. He had a good outing in Triple-A so hoping to see more of that. Haven't talked about anything past this season.
More on disciplined decisions Well it's pretty easy to look at our performance on the field and recognize that it's not good enough. So I think that's where it all starts. That's where the evaluation starts. But the good thing about this game is you sort of tangible answer every night of how good you are and this year we've been not good enough on too many nights. So it starts there and that parts pretty easy. What leads to that, try to find out, figure out what causes that. Yeah, that can be more difficult. Part of it's the player personnel on the roster, part of it's other things. We need to examine all of it. And again it's on us to, this is part of what give us an opportunity, this trade, but it's on us to examine all areas and make sure that we are building a team and a standard that, again we've come to expect, the guys here deserve ant he fans deserve.
How does James Loney figure into things? Yeah, we'll get a chance to know him. He's a good defender, he's very durable, he's played a lot. We think he's got a pretty good swing for Fenway. I think he's excited to hit in a different ballpark and we'll just get to know him, as you said he's a talented player and we'll have an opportunity to get to know him, he'll have an opportunity to get to know us. And we'll see what happens after the season.
Why didn't Crawford work out? I do like Carl and I would bet on him being a good player again. He'll work hard to come back from his injury. It didn't' work out for him during his two years here. Last year I think was a difficult transition year for him. I think he admitted that. I think the frustration for all of us including Carl is I think he did come back and this spring did a better, in a much better position to succeed, and he was more comfortable. More comfortable in this environment and ready to play. And unfortunately had the setback with the elbow that kind of torpedoed most of his season. So it's, we're making this trade obviously because we think it's the right thing for the organization and hopefully it's the right thing for the guys going to the Dodgers too.