Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that he has been checking in on general manager Theo Epstein’s trade negotiations before Friday’s deadline, and the names he’s hearing aren’t necessarily the usual suspects brought up on talk radio.
“I listen to the talks. I don’t listen to the radio, but I talk to Theo,” said Francona. “Some of the people I hear talked about on the radio — you guys have no idea.”
Francona said that he has little to do with the negotations until a decision is made, when the potential moves are looked at as a unit.
“I talk to Theo a lot. I know what’s going on, but I also know what’s not going on,” said Francona.
There were no intimations toward a specific deal, but Francona suggested that the team has been active at the deadline in the past and sees no reason why this year would be any different.
“We were players sometimes in the past and we may be players in the future,” said Francona. “Boston, as a city, seems to be a player in everything. We’re not the biggest city in the country, but we are one of the biggest markets in baseball.”
Francona stressed that, since the team is “dealing from a position of strength,” they won’t make a deal for the sake of making one.
“We seem to be a player (at the deadline) because of who we are. We’re fortunate enough to be able to look for talent, but we also have a lot of stake in our young players,” said Francona. “Because of our payroll — everybody looks at that — we don’t have the ability to step back and rebuild. And that puts a lot of pressure on Theo sometimes.”
The team’s recent struggles were somewhat attributed to all of the trade chatter, too.
“We had a horrible week. Some of that has to do with the uncertainty,” said Francona. “(Friday) will be nice. Regardless of what’s going on, (trading season) will be over. There will be some closure to it.”
But Francona made this clear: this year’s trading deadline is much easier to deal with than last year, when the team was desperately trying to unload Manny Ramirez.
“When guys don’t hit, it’s not like I’m going to be mad at them,” said Fracona. “I can’t say I felt that way this time of year last year.”
“We can’t get into so much of a frenzy to assassinate some pitcher,” said Francona. “We’re looking for results, but if we just take results, it’s going to be a mistake. He’s a guy who could give us some quality time later on.”
Francona pointed to Baltimore’s two-out rallies in the third and the fourth yesterday as particularly jarring to Smoltz’s psyche. Smoltz’s ERA ballooned to 7.04 in the loss.
“It’s a little bit of a confidence shaker,” said Francona. “But his slider was as good as I’ve seen. Those things were disappearing yesterday. You just can’t throw 85 sliders.”