Red Sox GM Ben Cherington on team needs, talks with prospective free agents, youth movement

July 09, 2014 - 4:51 pm
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is well aware of the foremost issue facing his team. A Red Sox offense that led the majors in 2013 in runs per game is now dead last in the American League in that category, entering Wednesday's game with 3.74 runs per night. Fixing that will be a focus for the Sox both leading up to the July 31 trade deadline and into the offseason.

"We need more offense, clearly. I still believe a lot of that is going to come from guys already here. But clearly offense has been an issue so we'€™d like to add to the offense so we'€™re going to look for ways to do that whether that'€™s now or after the season or both. We'€™ve got to find ways to improve the offense."

With A.J. Pierzynski not hitting, the Sox felt that it was time to remove the catcher from the roster. Cherington touched on several additional topics. Among them: -- Cherington said that the status of talks about contract extensions with prospective free agents could have some bearing on what the Sox try to do at the trade deadline. "I think we're always thinking about that kind of thing and discussions go on that obviously I'm not going to talk about publicly, but it's part of the calculus, I guess," said Cherington. "We have guys who are free agents in the offseason that we'd still like them to be here past this season. Everyone knows that. We'll just see what happens." -- Regarding Jon Lester, Cherington said that he did not view July 31 as a definitive deadline for negotiations about an extension. The team's record, he said, will not have a bearing on the club's stance in negotiations with the left-hander. "I don't think the team's performance can influence that much, our thinking on that type of decision," said Cherington, who said he wanted to "honor the commitment we made to not talk about [negotiations] publicly. ... We've had interest in signing him going back to the last offseason in March and we still do. I think everyone knows that. I think that process is guided by things we see, things he believes in, and it's a singular decision in a player. Certainly we think he can be part of making us good. So that's there." -- Part of the Sox' offensive struggles this year has been a result of adding numerous young players to the lineup and staying with them through their transition to the big leagues. While Cherington didn't shy from the challenge that his young players have endured, he also said that the team would not hesitate to turn to other prospects. "It doesn'€™t in my mind, it doesn'€™t change at all our commitment to young players or the importance of it, and it won't affect our willingness to give a guy a shot," said Cherington. "But it's fair to ask, is there anything else we could have done? We have to ask those questions no matter what doesn'€™t go well '€” any area of performance that isn't up to what we want, we've got to ask those questions. Yeah, we'll ask those questions. I'm not sure there is anything. We've got to at least ask the question. But it won't stop us from giving young guys a shot. We have to do that. Young players we believe in need to be given an opportunity. But we can always learn how to do that from our experience, and ultimately based on the team's record, I didn'€™t do a good enough job finding the right, to this point anyway, finding the right mix. That'€™s not particular to any one player or any one position. It hasn'€™t worked in the aggregate, so we have to learn from it and get better." -- As a subset of the Sox' commitment to their young players, Cherington said that the team is not considering sending Xander Bogaerts to the minors.

"There really hasn'€™t any been discussion or consideration of that," Cherington said. "I don'€™t think you ever say unequivocally no to anything but we'€™re committed to this guy. Part of what we need to do is develop players here and there are things that come along with playing in Boston that are a little bit different than playing in Pawtucket or playing elsewhere. So we'€™ve got guys, I think Xander is one of them that he'€™s going to get a lot out of playing here and figuring this out here and getting through this while he'€™s in Boston and that'€™s what we want him to do and that'€™s what we'€™re focused on helping him with right now."

-- Though Vazquez's promotion creates, in theory, an opening in Triple-A Pawtucket, the Sox do not have plans to promote catcher Blake Swihart to Triple-A. The highly regarded catcher is hitting .294/.347/.474 with nine homers and 28 extra-base hits in 71 games. Likewise, Cherington said that the team thinks that shortstop Deven Marrero -- off to an outstanding start in his first week with Triple-A Pawtucket -- is at the right level. Will Middlebrooks, Cherington said, will move around in the field in order to get at-bats in Pawtucket.