An admittedly grumpy Larry Lucchino went on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and spoke about the state of the stumbling Red Sox.
The team president was asked to explain the dysfunction that has hobbled the baseball club all season.
“John Henry said I think so well in his statement the other day, there’s no single source, there’s no single person,” Lucchino said. “It’s a combination of factors, Ben’s [Cherington] been saying that for a while. Certainly the stability, effectiveness of the starting pitching is an important place to start. It is with almost every team, winning team or losing team. I know you’ve heard me talk for years ad nauseam about the importance of pitching, both starting pitching and throughout the bullpen. So at the risk of, I don’t mean to point fingers at anybody in particular, because as I’ve said earlier, there are a lot of factors that have contributed to it. Some of it is probably transition pains too from the organization that we had to the new organization with new people and different personalities. But I think you’ve got to focus on the on-field activities and the unpredictable instability of the starting pitching.”
Not surprisingly, Lucchino gave a vote of confidence to manager Bobby Valentine.
“I think he has done a good job,” Lucchino said. “Today’s a tough day to ask that. We spend a lot of time, those of us that are baseball fans, second guessing the field manager, second guessing the general manager, second guessing the club president. And after last night’s bitter loss, there are a couple of decisions that you can question. But that’s just the nature of the game. That’s just the way it is. There are going to be decisions that a field manager makes that you’re going to shake your head at the next morning if they don’t work out and marvel at if they do. He was the guy who put a pinch hitter in, Will Middlebrooks to hit a three-run homer two nights ago, and he looked like he had a magic wand. So it’s very hard to react to individual data. So I think he’s as hard working and committed a manager as we’ve had. I certainly think the answer to that is yes.”
Lucchino spoke about possible limitations that Valentine may have due to the current makeup of the Red Sox roster.
“Certainly there are times during the year when you’re going to have a shortage in one element or another,” Lucchino said. “There was a shortage last night in bullpen arms and he has to adjust for that. I don’t necessarily think it’s a roster problem as much as it is an inevitable sort of an ebb and flow of the season. There are going to be times when you’re not going to have all of your elements in a line, and you’re just going to have to adjust to that.”
Lucchino downplayed the notion that players “rolled their eyes” when Valentine was named manager in November and the team was told there wouldn’t be a guy like Valentine being named manager.
“I’m sure there are some players who were surprised, and they would have been surprised by any managerial selection. There was not an easy obvious person waiting in line for succession. So I think there would have been some element of surprise to a lot of people and the comment regarding ‘a Bobby Valentine type’ was not made by anybody who’s currently employed by the Boston Red Sox.”
Lucchino responded to the criticism Valentine has faced over his early-season comments about Kevin Youkilis and the off-hand comment made about Will ‘Nice Inning, Kid’ Middlebrooks.
“[It’s not] a back stairway communication,” Lucchino said. “I think Bobby put it very well yesterday when he dealt with that issue. I know that there is regular dialogue conversation with Bobby and with Ben, among John [Henry], Tom [Werner], and myself and we do talk about feedback. We do have opportunities to make comments about things to each other as they tell us what they think they need from us. We talk to them about ideas, have ideas that we may have that might be helpful, things that we have heard. I think it’s important that ownership stay connected not just to the manager and the coaches, but also to the players and we’ve tried to operate that way for the last 11 years. Remember this is our 11th season and we do a lot of the same things.”
Lucchino said Valentine’s comment to Middlebrooks did not offend his sensibilities.
“I’ve been around managers and coaches to know that they’re not always warm and fuzzy,” Lucchino said. “I grew up with [former Baltimore Orioles manager] Earl Weaver, who was as crusty and sarcastic and critical as they come, and was a highly effective guy. So a passing, sarcastic comment taken out of context, particularly given the way Bobby explained it afterwards, the great relationship he has with Will. The time he spent with him right after that very game, talking about the problems that he had when he was a rookie. That’s the classic tempest in a teapot.”Continued...