Francona: Sox haven't earned praise yet

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Francona: Sox haven't earned praise yet

BOSTON -- Terry Francona is flattered that Brian Cashman thinks so highly of the Boston Red Sox. He would much rather people say kind words about his club than criticize it. To be honest, Francona thinks he has a pretty good club too.

The Yankees' GM had previously said that the Red Sox were the best team in baseball. He even dubbed them the team to beat.

The funny thing about compliments though, is that they count for nothing in terms of wins, runs, web gems or clutch performances. When it comes down to it, the only thing that matters is what you do on the field.

So it's understandable that Francona kindly accepted, and then dismissed Cashman's compliments

"That's not gonna help us win a lot of games," Francona said with a friendly laugh. "I love Cashman but I don't think that statement will get us any extra runs or anything. When people say that, it means that our ownership and our front office had a really good winter.

"We haven't been good yet," Francona said, indicating that his team, while good on paper, hadn't even started their season let alone accomplished anything, and was therefore not worthy of such an annointing.

With pitchers and catchers set to report in just a few weeks, however, Francona's Sox are likely to be receiving plenty of praise, as well as expectations.

After an injury-plagued 2010 season, Theo Epstein is excited for a season in which all of his starters are healthy.

The Red Sox were the clear winners of this winter after trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing free-agent Carl Crawford. Both Theo Epstein and Terry Francona are ready to turn the page, however, and focus on the work that needs to be done in Fort Myers.

Epstein and Francona stressed that they see Felix Doubront as a starter who can also pitch out of the bullpen. With that being said, his role is still somewhat undefined and will most likely be sorted out in the spring when injuries and performance will dictate who pitches where.

The Red Sox are trying to impress upon Andrew Miller that making the opening day roster is not the finish line. They are more concerned with him generating some sort of consistency and from there, his role will take care of itself.

With the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox gave up some of their best prospects. Despite the price they paid, it's important to remember that this is part of the reason for having a minor league system. Players can be used as chips to bring in players to fill a need. For the most part, the Red Sox have players in line to replace the ones they traded away.

Gary Tanguay and Lou Merloni think Adrian Gonzalez is on pace for a monster year and may be a legitimate MVP candidate.

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