Henry, Lucchino: No comment on Epstein

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Henry, Lucchino: No comment on Epstein

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
Red Sox principal owner John Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino appeared on WEEIs Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and discussed a number of topics. They were Henrys first public comments since the departure of former manager Terry Francona. Henry missed the press conference on the evening of Sept. 30 announcing Franconas departure. The Red Sox owner was in the hospital after slipping on board his yacht while making arrangements to set up the press conference.

Henry and Lucchino would not discuss whether or not the Cubs, as has been reported, have asked to speak with Sox general manager Theo Epstein about their vacant GM job. The pair would also not discuss if they would grant permission if or when it is sought.

How do you know that? Henry asked, regarding the Cubs seeking permission to talk to Epstein.

Those things are supposed to be kept private and we have a policy of not discussing who has been, whether permission has been asked for X or Y or Z, Lucchino said. In fact, every year we get requests from people. We never discuss them publicly. Its been our policy.

I think theres good reason for it too. These are some privacy considerations here. I dont know that people would want their career development or their job decision to be debated publicly or for people to know what theyre considering or not considering. And I'm not sure the other team necessarily would like that to be made public. So, our consistent policy and practice has been not to discuss whether someone has had a, whether theres been a request made for a person.

Epstein is in his ninth season as Red Sox GM, taking on the role on Nov. 25, 2002. Henry acknowledged that while he considers Epstein to be the GM going forward, he doesnt expect Epstein to remain in the job forever.

I think theres a certain shelf life in these jobs, Henry said. You can only be the general manager if you're sane. You can only be the general manager, you can only be the manager for a certain amount of time. Its a tremendous pressure cooker here, 162 games. Its a long season and the pressure here is 365 days. So Theo is not going to be the general manager forever.

Lucchino acknowledged that when request is sought for a job that would be a promotion, permission is generally given. In the Cubs case, it has been speculated that the job could encompass duties that would go beyond the scope of a general managers.

There is a certain protocol in this game and it is if someone asks permission for a job thats not lateral, you give them permission, Henry said. Its just the way it works. Now Im sure there are examples where it didnt happen, right? Where somebody says, Were still not allowing it. Im sure weve done that in the past.

One of the reasons they wont comment, Henry said, is that if the news is made public, it could reflect poorly on the requesting team andor the candidate. Lucchino cited privacy concerns.

We dont mean to sound evasive on this, Lucchino said, but this is one subject when that we dont think there needs to be full disclosure. Our fans have a keen interest in knowing as much about this team as they can possibly know. But there are some things that come up against the line of personal privacy, where there are some considerations that should be factored into it. And thats where we are with respect to this thing.

Epstein has guided the Sox to two World Series championships in his tenure. He has also signed off on several free-agent contracts in the last few years that have been less than desirable for the Red Sox. Factoring in the recent deals for John Lackey (82.5 million, five years), Carl Crawford (142 million, seven years), J.D. Drew (70 million, five years), Bobby Jenks (12 million, two years), Julio Lugo (36 million, four years), Daisuke Matsuzaka (52 million, six years, plus 51.1 million posting fee), Edgar Renteria (8 million, one year), Mike Cameron (15 million, two years), Dennys Reyes (900,000, one year), Hideki Okajima (1.75 million, one year), the sum is roughly 471.25 million.

That's nearly a half-billion dollars on contracts that either did not work or have not yet worked in the Sox favor. That amount would be a bitter pill for any team to swallow.

I think thats one of the problems in baseball, Henry said. Its hard to predict things. Its hard to predict performance going forward. When I look back over the last 10 years and the last eight years with Tito being here, the last I guess nine years that Theo has been here and I look at what weve accomplished, every year, including this year, we felt we were headed for a World Series. The only thing thats really -- not the only thing -- but the biggest thing to us every year is playing in October. Thats what we do. Thats what we spend all of our time doing, is trying to create an atmosphere here. People talk about well were business-oriented. Were business-oriented for one reason. Lucchino is a tremendous revenue-generator for one reason and that is to be able to give the right people the amount of money that it takes to be successful. And you can criticize the things that hes done but weve averaged what, I dont know how many, 92 wins?

Henry and Lucchino both stressed most major decisions are made collectively, by ownership -- Henry, Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner -- and Epstein.

We share the success and we share the blame, absolutely, with respect to that, Lucchino said.

In specific regard to the Crawford signing, Lucchino said:

At the time when we made the decision, we all concurred in the decision.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

 

BOSTON — They have the right idea, if not yet the right personnel.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has brought on a pair of former Tigers in an effort to help the Red Sox’ depth.

It’s hard to expect much from righty Doug Fister — who mostly throws in the 80s these days and is to start Sunday — or from Jhonny Peralta, who’s going to play some third base at Triple-A Pawtucket. Fister was claimed off waivers from the Angels, who coincidentally started a three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park. Peralta, meanwhile, was signed as a free agent to a minor league deal.

Neither may prove much help. Fister could move to the bullpen when Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to return, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. The Sox hope E-Rod is back in time for the All-Star break.

That’s assuming Fister is pitching well enough that the Sox want to keep him.

But at least the Sox are being proactive looking for help, and it’s not like either Peralta or Fister is high-risk.

Fister, 33, threw 180 1/3 innings last year with the Astros, posting a 4.64 ERA. He hasn’t been in the big leagues yet this season.

Said one American League talent evaluator earlier this year about Fister’s 2016: “Had a nice first half. Then struggled vs. left-handed hitters and with finishing hitters. No real putaway pitch. Has ability to pitch around the zone, reliable dude.”

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”