Ben Cherington: As trade deadline approached, Red Sox in 'unusual ... unique' position

July 09, 2014 - 4:12 pm

After 90 games, it'€™s hard to assess the 2014 Red Sox season as anything but a failure. A Red Sox squad fresh off a 97-win campaign that resulted in a World Series title was expected to once again establish itself as the cream of the crop in the American League this season -€“- not slump to the status of cellar dweller. This is not the 1998 Marlins, who dropped from a 92-70 record (and a World Series title) in 1997 to a dreadful 55-108 season the following year due to a monumental fire sale. The 2014 Red Sox have a payroll of around $164 million and retained 17 of the 2013 team'€™s 25-man World Series roster. Simply put, no one expected the Red Sox to be 12 games under .500 at this point of the season. General manager Ben Cherington is among those struggling to make sense of what has transpired. Now 10 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East, the Red Sox have been put in a position that Cherington has not been familiar with -- possibly taking on the role of "seller"€ as the trade deadline draws near. "€œI think we'€™re in an unusual and perhaps unique position," Cherington said. "It'€™s unusual in the sense that we haven'€™t been in this position -- at least since I've been here -- of even thinking about trading players at the deadline. So that'€™s unusual. It'€™s unique because on the one hand, our team is where it is. On the other hand, we've got guys on the team who are performing at a very high level who were part of winning a World Series months ago, and that just doesn't happen often in baseball. "Sometimes teams are sellers, but not necessarily with guys that are coming off of success like that. We'€™ll just have to see what happens. As I've said before, whatever we do will be with the mind of trying to get better as quickly possible and trying to build the next good team as quickly as possible." The Red Sox made what could potentially be the first of a flurry of roster moves Wednesday afternoon, as catcher A.J. Pierzynski was designated for assignment, freeing up a spot for promising backstop Christian Vazquez to make his debut in the major leagues. The move reflected a paradigm shift for the Red Sox about how they're approaching the rest of the season. "I take responsibility for where we are and if the team'€™s record was different, we may not have done something like this right now," said Cherington. "But we are where we are, so we need to start looking at things a little bit differently and this is one part of that." While Cherington was hesitant to say whether more of the organization'€™s younger players could get called up to the majors in the coming weeks, he added that most of the team'€™s stances regarding this season will be determined in the coming weeks leading up to July 31. "I just think this move today, we believe we can win games with Christian behind the plate and David [Ross] and those two will split time," Cherington said. "But it is also an investment in him. ... We'€™re in an unusual spot. We'€™re just going to have to see what the rest of the month brings us. I still hope we go on a run and our outlook changes but that'€™s where we are right now." While rookies such as Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have mostly disappointed this season at the plate -- hitting a combined .230 on the season while driving in just 45 runs -- Cherington did not single out the team'€™s younger players as the root cause of Boston'€™s struggles. He€“ eventually identified himself as the person most responsible for the team'€™s current position. "€œIt'€™s surprising and disappointing the way the team has performed. I don'€™t want to put it on any one player or any category of player,"€ Cherington said. "I think it'€™s been a lack of performances across the board and it starts with me. It just isn't where we want to be. It'€™s not in any way what we thought it was going to be, but here we are. So we have to be honest about where we are and remain hopeful that things can get better quickly but be honest about where we are and act accordingly. Cherington continued: "I don'€™t think there'€™s any more surprise about what some of the young players have done than there is about what some other guys have done. It just hasn't worked, and ultimately that'€™s on me. That'€™s my responsibly to do something about it."