John Henry: Red Sox aren't for sale
Responding shortly after the report became public on Thursday, Henry told The Boston Globe, "A sale of any kind is so far from our thinking it hasn't even come up apart from technical planning issues involving death or disability. This report is completely without foundation.
"Regarding unnamed sources: Any sale discussions that may have taken place were missing three key people -- Larry (Lucchino), Tom (Werner) and me. The Sox and any of the other components of (Fenway Sports Group) are not for sale and will not be for the foreseeable future."
After Fox reporter Charlie Gasparino went on Boston sports radio WEEI to stand by his report, Henry went on the air to refute it once again.
"Sometimes journalists have sources that are completely off base, don't know what they're talking about," Henry said on WEEI. "I guess that's what I would have to say having listened to the interview.
"Whoever (Gasparino) is talking with they are certainly, especially when he mentions there has been talks with a buyer and so forth, it's just so far out of the horizon of things that have been going on here."
According to Henry, there has been no discussion, even internally or among minority partners, about selling the team.
"We're committed to this franchise for the long term," Henry said. "When we get up in the morning we don't think about anything other than what we can do. In fact every day we're having meetings here at Fenway about 2013 and beyond. I don't think any of us involved are in the financial situation where we think about our personal net worth or what happens tomorrow affects us."
He later added: "We're in this for the long term. We're committed to the Red Sox and committed to getting back to where we need to be."
Lucchino, president and CEO of the Red Sox, had a similar response earlier in the day to WEEI, calling rumors of a possible Red Sox sale "nonsense."
"(The owners) feel the same kind of competitive juices that the fans feel, that I feel," he said. "There's an opportunity here to put the team back on the track it was on for a decade. There has not been one word, one word of discussion regarding that. We are committed, better or worse, we are the guys to kick around."
Henry and Lucchino also cleared up rumors about Lucchino's future with the team. Henry confirmed Lucchino will be back next season, which had been questioned by some after the president did not answer a reporter's inquiry about whether he had a signed contract for 2013.
Henry confirmed that Lucchino has indeed signed his contract.
"This is the place I call home," Lucchino said. "I hope to be here for the foreseeable future. I've got no plans to go anywhere else. I enjoy my working relationship with my partners and colleagues, and the challenge that faces us here is a tremendous one. In some ways, and this may sound perverse, it's appealing. We've done things one way, this is our 11th year, and quite a good ride and lots of success. But now there is a fundamental challenge to us, a very real opportunity to get this franchise back to where it should be in terms of on-field success and playoff baseball. And I relish that opportunity. I don't have any plans to go anywhere, no."
The Red Sox are enduring the worst season in Henry's tenure as Red Sox owner, one marred by not only poor play on the field but also reports of discontent and miscommunication off it.
The Red Sox made a bold move last month, trading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers in a move that gave the Red Sox more than $260 million in payroll flexibility going forward.
Gasparino pointed to that move as possible evidence the team was selling off assets to prepare for a sale, an assertion Henry rebuffed.
"There's a new collective bargaining agreement that has come into existence over the last year and it sort of informs how clubs have to behave. baseball has changed economically and we needed payroll flexibility," Henry said.
The owner also took aim at critics on both sides of the Atlantic who suggest that the Fenway Sports Group's ownership of multiple pro sports entities reduces the resources it can devote to each. The assertion is that if the group spends hundreds of millions in beefing up the roster of the Liverpool FC soccer team in the Premier League, it could mean less money available to spend on the Red Sox.
"There hasn't been a financial issue but there's really been an issue between fan bases on where money is spent," Henry said. "That's really a mistake on our part, not to recognize that that was going to create issues with both franchises. They're independently run organizations, just as Roush Fenway (Racing) is independently run."
According to the Fox report, Fenway Sports Group executives have questioned whether they have the financial resources to support both the Red Sox and Liverpool. Henry said that was false.
"We have separate budgets for each entity, so they really aren't interrelated," Henry said. "The budgets of the Red Sox are based on Red Sox revenues and the budgets for Liverpool are based on Liverpool revenues."
Both Henry and Lucchino stuck with their previous stance on the future of Valentine, saying he will be evaluated at the end of the season. Valentine has a year left on his contract but could be let go.
"Hey guys, I understand the obligatory nature of your inquiry about the manager issue, but it's getting, uh, it's a little tedious for you to keep asking about it because we tend to say the same thing," Lucchino told WEEI. "All we're going to say about this issue is we'll deal with it at the end of the season when we sit down and review the season, and determine where we go from there."
Henry pointed the finger at upper levels of management when assigning blame for what went wrong this season, saying it is evident the team did not focus enough on building depth.
"I think when we look at what's happened this year, I don't blame Bobby Valentine for this," Henry said. "I think that we have a lot of culpability ourselves at the highest levels of the Red Sox because one of the things we should have been looking at is how much injuries are playing a part with this club since 2006.
"We still continue to concentrate on high-ticket players, so to speak, rather than depth. That really hurt us this year. You can't use injuries as an excuse, therefore I would say we weren't as prepared and just didn't realize, and haven't caught on quickly enough, how important it is to have, what Earl Weaver used to talk about and Larry (Lucchino) talks about, is 'deep depth.' That's something that we're focusing on much more going forward."