Theo Epstein shrugged off the team’s recent dip and said he believes the Red Sox are “a really good club.”
“I try not to have too many gut feelings toward the roster because if you rely solely on your gut, your gut changes and if you follow the public perception of this team for even the last six weeks it was like, ‘can’t score a run, we’re dead in the water.’ It creeps into everyone’s analysis…and all of a sudden we’re world-beaters and we’re everyone’s pick to win the World Series and if you look at the last week or 10 days or so it, ‘Oh no, they’re limping in, they’re backing in.’ all that doesn’t really mean anything,” Epstein said.
“It’s how good are we and how good are we gonna play. I think we’re good. I think we’re a really good club. There are a lot of really good clubs out there. How we’re gonna play in October, no one can really answer that. Track record of a lot of these players is that they answer the bell when it matters most. We’ll see if we do or if we don’t. we’ll see if we do but that’s not based on a feeling anyone one person has at the end of the year. It’s about how good we are and if we play well when it matters most,” Epstein said.
Epstein had more to say about finishing the season strong.
“It’s important that they finish the season in good health and we’ve had good news lately in that regard. Beckett threw a really good side, he felt great. It’s significant news for us. We were really optimistic, but this confirms that he’s in really good health. Lester caught a huge break and the ball just missed his knee. That’s important. It would be nice if every player on the roster got a hit in his last at-bat or put up a zero in his last inning, but anecdotally, and based on the large body of evidence, it really doesn’t matter. If you’re talking about what does it mean for the postseason? It doesn’t matter. Even from a team standpoint, anecdotally and if you look at all the data that’s out there, even finishing strong over the last week, two weeks, month, it actually has no bearing whatsoever on how the team performs in October. It feels better when you finish strong. I want to finish strong. We all want to finish strong. It feels better. But the difference between how you feel and what actually matters, if you look at it, I’m sure there’s evidence of teams finishing strong and going on to win the World Series. But for every one of those examples, there’s an example of a team finishing strong and getting swept, or a team that lost 15 of its last 18 going into October and winning the World Series. So, if you break down the numbers, there’s simply no correlation. So we’re not going to pull our hair out about it. We’re going to try and get as healthy as we can, try to scout our butts off and try to have our players feel good about themselves down the stretch and try to win a World Series.”
Epstein said the overall team defense was disappointing this year but Alex Gonzalez helped pick things up.
“Defense this year hasn’t been what we wanted it to be and what we expected it to be,” said Epstein. “It’s an area of focus for us trying to improve it and work around it. The shortstop because of the performances we had in the first half we had a need to improve. It was also fairly easy for us to improve. We were really well below the average, well below the average, well below where we wanted to be at shortstop defense for a significant part of the season and so bringing in Alex, who’s been really steady since he’s been here was a significant upgrade, in part because of how reliable he’s been, how good his hands are, how good his arm is, his instincts, but also in part because of the performance we had early, and so that’s been a steadying influence on our overall defense and our pitching staff since he’s been here,” Epstein said.
Epstein also indicated that the Indians have not contacted him on John Farrell for the Cleveland managing job which opened up today when Cleveland fired Eric Wedge.
“They haven’t contacted me (contract). The details of coaches’ contract are confidential,” Epstein said.
Epstein indicated one of the considerations for the roster will be whether to carry a long man in the bullpen.
“It’s a consideration. If we don’t have a long guy we’ll have more pitching. If we have a little less pitching then we’ll have a long guy,” he said.