Ben Cherington takes stock of Red Sox: 'We're obviously not happy with where we are'

June 10, 2014 - 3:25 pm
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BALTIMORE -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined his team in Baltimore on Tuesday and addressed the state of the team. He suggested that he believes the Red Sox have a better team than their record indicates, and that if players perform up to their track records, the team will improve to the point of being in position for potential upgrades prior to the trade deadline. However, for the more immediate future, Cherington said that the team simply needs to perform better.

"I don'€™t know about [making immediate] moves. We'€™re obviously not happy with where we are. Ultimately, we'€™re [28-35], that'€™s not up to our standards, that'€™s not where we want to be ultimately. It'€™s up to me to find a way to make it better. We still believe it'€™s going to get better," said Cherington. "We believe we've got a very good team ahead of us this year. Most of that is still going to come from within with guys here performing, getting back to a level they'€™re accustomed to and then if we can do that and start playing a little better and win some games and hang in there, we'€™ll try to find anyway we can to make improvements to the team as the summer goes on. At this point, this early in the season, we'€™re still just mostly focused on the guys that are here and finding a way to play better with the guys that are here."

Cherington didn't rule out the possibility of making moves even at this stage of the year, but said that there are rarely sensible moves to be made at this juncture of the season. Still, he said that the team expects upgrades in the form of returning players such as Shane Victorino.

"This early in the season, typically, you'€™re sort of talking other teams into doing things and that doesn't always leave you in the best position to make deals. I wouldn't rule it out but, we'€™ll see," said Cherington. "We'€™re going to get Victorino back, we'€™re going to get hopefully our core lineup out there more consistently moving forward and we believe in that core lineup and that core group of players and we believe we have a lot of wins in us with that core, without adding to it. If we can add to it, whether it'€™s sooner or later or towards the deadline in a way that makes sense, of course we'€™re going to work to do it in a way that makes sense. Again, that'€™s up to me. But just mostly focused still on the guys who are here."

Cherington suggested that the rotation and bullpen have been "mostly keeping us in games," but acknowledged that the Sox, who are averaging 4.0 runs per game (12th in the American League), "just haven't clicked offensively and I can't point to one thing." He said that the issue reaches beyond injuries, which, he noted, most teams must contend with.

"Our job is to be good enough and deep enough to play through the injuries and still win games and hang in there through the tougher times," he said.

Some specifics: -- Cherington said that the team hoped to revisit contract talks at some point with left-hander Jon Lester, but that given the team's struggles, that hasn't been a front-burner issue. "We haven't even thought about that," said Cherington. "Jon's focus is to go out and pitch every five days and help us win, and he's done a very good job of that this year. We're trying to support him in any way we can. Our position hasn't changed. We hope to have a conversation again about his contract. We'd love to find a way to keep him here. But right now we're just trying to win games and stay in this thing. I believe we will. When we do, we're going to want Jon Lester pitching for us down the stretch." For now, Cherington said, there are no dates for the resumption of talks. "It would be a more productive conversation if both sides wanted to have it," said Cherington. "We don't have a plan, and we don't have a date. I wouldn't read anything to it other than that it hasn't happened yet, and there's probably a time that makes sense for both parties, and we just haven't gotten to that." -- While right-hander John Lackey said that he "would have some things to think about" regarding his desire to pitch for the major league minimum in 2015 (the Red Sox have an option for his services at that salary as a result of his missing all of 2012 while recovering from Tommy John surgery), Cherington said that such concerns weren't on his radar. "I have not heard anything about it," said Cherington. "This is more of a question for John, I guess. But I know that, the way he's pitching right now and what I know of him as a competitor and how much he likes being in the clubhouse and how important it is for him to compete and be a guy, I would certainly expect him to want to keep playing, and he certainly looks like a guy who's going to keep pitching for quite some time. I haven't heard anything about that, and obviously our expectation is that he's going to be here." -- Cherington said that even with the signing of Stephen Drew, the Sox still have financial flexibility to make further moves if their competitive situation warrants it. "We do [have the resources to make trades]," said Cherington. "We're fortunate that we've got a lot of support from ownership and our fans, and I feel like, if there's any deal that makes sense, that makes us better, that's not a limitation." -- Asked if he had a target in mind for the Sox' level of play in order to justify a deal, Cherington spoke generally. "Not specifically," he said. "We've got to stay in it, and I think we will. We've got to stay close enough. I think we will do that. And if we do that, I'm betting on the core group of players in there, so that would motivate us to try to make improvements there, if we could, if it made sense, and it looks like there's a couple of teams that have got a bunch of wins, and then there's a huge scrum in the middle, and we're not that far away from that huge scrum in the middle. If we can stay in that scrum in the middle, we're going to be motivated to try to improve in any way we can. Every year in Boston is precious. You guys know that. We've got to give ourselves every chance to win."
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