As I’ve mentioned a couple of times this morning, Red Sox owner John Henry and team CEO Lary Lucchino sat down for an interview on WEEI this morning and offered up all manner of postmortem on the Red Sox’ 2011 season and some glimpses into the future as well. Here is audio of the entire interview. Among the highlights:
- When asked about Theo Epstein’s future, Henry said “I think there’s a certain shelf life in these jobs,” and would not say whether or not he’s granted the Cubs’ request to speak to Epstein. Lucchino said “this is one subject we don’t believe needs full disclosure.” Overall they provided no clarity on whether Epstein returns. Still, the idea that Epstein could go to the Cubs seemed crazy a few weeks ago. Seems way less crazy now.
- Henry said the decision for Terry Francona to leave wasn’t a mutual one, but that’s because they didn’t get the chance to make it mutual. Francona wanted out and told team brass that before there was a chance to consider it. Henry added, however, that it was very likely that they would have reached the same conclusion and that Francona would have been gone anyway.
- Lucchino said the team is “knee deep” in the process of hiring a replacement for Francona.
- Lucchino was asked about the drinking in the clubhouse stuff and said that the front office disapproved of that. That said “we’re still trying to dig in to find out how pervasive it was, how extensive it was, and not try to superficially conclude it was a major factor in anything.”
Nothing really shocking here. Francona was going to go anyway, it seemed. Theo could easily go. No one is overreacting to the late-season collapse or the media hype about fat, drunk ballplayers and clubhouse chaos. Just sounds like any team picking up the pieces of what for them was a failed season and trying to move forward.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?