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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Lucchino visits PawSox; mum on Bobby V

By Joe McDonald

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Boston Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino did not want to comment when asked about manager Bobby Valentine's colorful interview Wednesday afternoon on sports radio station WEEI.

In town to visit the club's Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, the only team in the organization to earn a postseason berth in 2012, Lucchino said he heard about Valentine's interview but did not hear it firsthand.

"I don't have any comment," Lucchino said. "I did not hear them. I heard about them. I don't have any further comment on it. Talk shows are talk shows."

During Valentine's interview, he described this season as "miserable," and Lucchino said he agrees in terms of the organization's goals.

"That, in accordance with our expectations, it has been a miserable and disappointing season," Lucchino said.

"How many different words can you use? It's been disappointing, not up to our expectations, frustrating and sometimes infuriating. But for 10 years, we averaged over 92 wins, so we helped set the bar at a very high level. If it's broke now, and I've said this over and over, we'll fix it. We're determined to do that and I think we now have the wherewithal, and the opportunity financially, to do so in light of the megatrade with the Dodgers."

The Red Sox sent pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and infielder Nick Punto to the Dodgers on Aug. 24, shedding more than $250 million in payroll in the process. Boston acquired first baseman James Loney, along with a pair of minor league prospects -- Allen Webster and Ivan De Jesus -- and two players to be named later.

Since the Red Sox completed that nine-player trade, they are 4-8, including a season-high seven-game losing streak that finally ended Tuesday.

"After the trade it's been a different season, it's been a different team that we've had to put out there," Lucchino said. "I shouldn't say just the trade; when David Ortiz went down in July and Will Middlebrooks soon thereafter, it took a lot of the heart and oomph out of the lineup, so it's been a very difficult and demanding assignment that Bobby has had."

When asked if Valentine would return as manager in 2013, Lucchino deflected the question, saying he was at McCoy Stadium to wish the PawSox good luck in the playoffs. He did admit the organization has already begun to focus on 2013.

"We've already started, in general, to think about next year. We've already begun that process in a general manner," Lucchino said.

Red Sox principal owner John Henry joined the team in Seattle and told reporters that sabermetrics guru Bill James, a senior adviser to the Red Sox, would be given a more in-depth role with the organization. Lucchino echoed the owner's comments on Wednesday night.

"He's never been gone, but he will be even more active than he's been in recent years," Lucchino said of James. "He will be more centrally involved in the evaluation process. We have great faith in him. He's a tremendous asset and we intend to utilize him to the fullest degree."

When asked whether James could have made a positive difference if he had been more involved this season, Lucchino said he did not want to speak in a hypothetical manner.

It was Lucchino's first trip to McCoy Stadium in a couple of years, but he expressed his high regard for the PawSox, both on and off the field.

"Mike [Tamburro, PawSox president] and Lou [Schwechheimer, general manager], and the entire organization, have done an exceptional job year in and year out," Lucchino said. "We are really pleased and proud to have them as our closest and longest affiliate. I try to get down here once in a while just to maintain some connection and dialogue, and I've not been as good as I would like to be. Time was running out this season and with the [major league] team on the West Coast it made it a little easier."

Lucchino made the trek to Pawtucket with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen. They spent a bit of time with PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler before Game 1 of the Governors' Cup playoff, a best-of-five series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

"I teased Arnie before the game," Lucchino said. "I said, 'Arnie, I don't want to put too much pressure on you, but it would be nice to win some postseason games this year at some level.'"