Larry Lucchino

Larry Lucchino on D&C: 2014 season a 'perfect storm' of issues

September 25, 2014 - 5:47 am
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. One year after the Red Sox claimed the World Series title, the team has slipped into last place in the American League East. A season that started with high expectations and optimism now is coming to a close over the course of the next few days. "We spent so much of the year still hopeful," Lucchino said. "Of course the 2015 season began July 31 when we made the trades and acquisitions. So we began to flip the switch around that time." Continued Lucchino: "No, I didn't see this coming. This was a perfect storm in so many ways. We were not alone in being overly optimistic about this team. I think if you go back to the predictions that were made by the sports writers and baseball people early on, there was plenty of optimism carried over from the world championship in 2013. "But baseball is not only an unforgiving game, but it'€™s also a very unpredictable game. And a lot of those things that worked so well last year, and breaks that came our way last year, were not present this year." Lucchino said he is optimistic about the Red Sox making a turnaround in the 2015 season with a lot of the talent they have in the organization. "I think the opportunity for us to rebound, to retool, in the offseason is certainly there," Lucchino said. "We have the financial wherewithal to take some important steps. And we have younger players, who were perhaps not quite ready this year, at least that'€™s what the performance would indicate. But they are still immensely talented, young players. We'€™re beginning to see some of that talent on the part of some of them. Some may have to regress to Triple-A for some seasoning. ... There'€™s plenty to watch and to enjoy, and there are some rational reasons for hoping expectations being better next year." With a bevy of inexperienced pitchers on the roster right now, it is unclear whether or not the 2015 Opening Day starter is with the team. Lucchino said there is a possibility that one of the current pitchers could take that spot. Said Lucchino: "I do think that Clay Buchholz has the kind of stuff to be an ace on many teams, if he continues to improve as he has in the second half of the year. It'€™s possible that he could get that assignment. But we'€™re going to make some considerable efforts to strengthen the pitching staff. We know we have to do that even though we have a whole set of talented, young pitchers. But what we won'€™t do is make the same mistake that made this year, which is to assume that so many of our young players are ready for prime time." After a rookie season in 2012 when he displayed a good power stroke, third baseman Will Middlebrooks has struggled over the last two years. This year especially, he has had trouble staying on the field. He and the organization seem to have different views on the merits of playing winter ball, and manager John Farrell said on Wednesday that he didn't want to "enable" a player shutting down his season if he was physically capable of playing in the final days of the season (Middlebrooks has missed the last two games with a wrist injury). Lucchino was asked if there was organizational "irritation" with the third baseman. "Disappointment may be the better word. We have high expectations for Will and have for some time," Lucchino said. "As for his plans for winter ball, I think it would be a good idea if he did play. I think that we've communicated that to him. But it'€™s up to him. It'€™s been a long season, particularly a long one for him, so we'€™ll see what comes of it." Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. On Garin Cecchini: "He'€™s long been a favorite of mine, not because he'€™s Italian, but because I'€™m Italian. No, because he'€™s a terrific performer who has shown tremendous on-base ability. [His first career home run] was for me the highlight of the game last night. He has a bright future, but he'€™s another guy that we have to calculate just when he'€™s ready and not rush him. But I think he'€™s going to be a terrific major league player with a very high on-base percentage. And we'€™re looking for a left-handed hitting third baseman. We may have one right in our lap." On a team and baseball-wide domestic violence policy: "I think there will be special steps that we will take next year at spring training to be proactive on this. This is a pervasive, societal problem. Baseball is a social institution that has the capacity to lead by example and to focus on issues and to play its part in solving this problem." On the upcoming ceremony for Derek Jeter: "It'€™s going to be a one-day ceremony, Sunday. We hope he'€™s going to play this weekend, I think it'€™s likely that he will. I would describe it as low-key. It'€™s more respect and admiration for him as a ballplayer. I don'€™t think you'€™ll see too many talking heads. But there will be plenty of gestures of respect for him. In terms of tangible gifts for him, we'€™re not giving him a red convertible or something like that. What he cares most about these days is his Turn 2 Foundation. And we intend to make a sizable contribution to that, and to give a little piece of Fenway Park to take with him."

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