Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington talks trade deadline, Red Sox failures, philosophies

Rob Bradford
July 22, 2015 - 3:54 pm

HOUSTON -- With his team 10 games below .500, 10 games out of first place in the American League East and riding a six-game losing streak with nine days remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington met with the media prior to the Sox' game against the Astros at Minute Maid Park Wednesday. Here's what Cherington had to say: On the current slide: "We're not where we want to be. The last 10 days or so haven't gone well and not the way we wanted them to go. I don't think it changes anything in the big picture. We've still got to pursue things that are going to make us better and continue to try to build a good team as quickly as we can. The last 10 days haven't gone the way we wanted it to." On Clay Buchholz's diagnosis: "Well, I think it's just going to be a few weeks. As John said earlier, the diagnosis hasn't changed. The injection was discussed by our own guys at the time of the initial injury. It was an option that's been on the table, and after consultation today and discussion with [Dr. James] Andrews. Clay decided he wanted to go ahead with it. The diagnosis hasn't changed. The treatment's changed a little bit." On Buchholz's timetable after his PRP injection: "It will be a little bit longer." On the team's approach toward the non-waiver trade deadline: "We're going to work hard and try to find opportunities to make us better. What transpires, you can't predict yet." On what type of deals to anticipate: "We've just got to see. I don't think anything about the last 10 days changes the general direction that we want to go. We want to continue to find ways to improve in areas we need to improve and get to a good team as quickly as we can. When you don't play well leading up to the deadline, the math starts to not look as good. There may be specific types of deals that would make more or less sense. We'll see what comes of that. In the big picture, we'll continue to work, as we have been working on, on trying to find ways to get better and get to a good team as quick as we can." On other teams' interested in veteran Sox players: "There's been interest, yeah." On teams' approach to the deadline: "I think in today's game, as you guys know, there's less sort of the black-and-white veteran-for-prospect or vice versa deals. There's a lot more in-between. I just think we've got to continue to talk to every team as we have been. We'll look to identify opportunities that make sense for us and get us moving quickly toward a good team. There may be specific types of trades that make less sense if the math is against us than if the math were for us." On Jackie Bradley's timetable: "We haven't discussed any calendar for him. He's playing well and clearly we think he's going to have another opportunity in the big leagues. When that comes, I don't know." On the need to secure an ace for the rotation: "We need to continue to improve the pitching. There's always going to be two parts to that. It's going to be continuing to find ways to get more out of the guys we have here and continue to look for potential upgrades outside the organization. I don't think that stops on July 31." On the need for starting pitching: "We know that one of the things we need to do is improve our pitching overall. There are all sorts of ways to do that and all sorts of different times to do that. I don't think there's a preference we just need to find ways to get better in that area and I think we will. And I think we certainly have some solutions here already. And some guys here we think we can get more out of. That'll be an area we can continue to look at and talk to teams about now and I'm sure for next several months." On accountability: "The last two years, we just haven't delivered. That's the bottom line. No one more responsible for me for that. Because of that, there has been a lot of self-review going on and internal analysis and so we have been trying to learn whatever we can about what's happened, knowing that bottom-line results haven't been there, they haven't been up to standard, there's no way around that. So we've been spending time on that. I can't look at any specific transactions and look back and say it doesn't make sense or didn't fit in the strategy or direction we wanted. The bottom line is the aggregate results haven't been there. That's on us. We know that our fans deserve a lot better than what we've delivered the last two years, our ownership deserves better and it's up to us to find a way to get back." On getting away from the team's core philosophy: "I don't have any proclamation today on a new philosophy or I'm not rebuffing what our philosophy has been, either. I know the bottom-line results haven't been good enough. We spent a lot of time looking at why that is. I still believe that there are a lot of good things going on at the organization, including at the major league level. I still believe sooner rather than later we're going to have a really good team at the major league level and I think we're going to win more games. I also understand people are tired of hearing that. They want to see results and we understand that. We have to get to the better results as quickly as we can." On what adjustments the organization has been looking at: "Everything. But nothing I'm going to talk about specifically. We have to look at potential reason for why the total results haven't been there and I think if you start isolating one particular decision or transition that's really difficult because we know in baseball, look at all 30 teams, we know in baseball that not every decision you make is going to work out. What matters are the total results, and the results haven't been good enough. We also know that if you look at any single decision or transaction, it can look a certain way today, a different way six months away and look another different way two years from now. What we do know is we haven't delivered enough on the field the last two years. We have to find a way to get better. Some of that is simple and obvious, some of it may not be. It's up to us to figure it out." On the importance of an ace: "We know that having a front-line starter is always a good thing. We want that type of pitcher or pitchers, every team in baseball wants that. The question is how to get it and how to keep it and we're going to continue to try to do that in the way we feel makes the most sense. We've never not wanted that guy. It's just a question of what are the alternatives available to you and how do you get that guy, and keep that guy and keep developing that guy. I think we have guys here that are capable of being that guy in time. I'm confident we're going to have that kind of pitching at some point moving forward. We may not know whose name it is. Look at the best starting pitchers in baseball. Look at their names. Go back two or three years previous and you wouldn't recognize a lot of the names. That list changes a lot. There's a reason for that. We've got to figure out how to get ahead of that and stay ahead of that and maintain a pitching staff that can help us be really good and that's what we're focused on." On where the team is in the standings: "I think there's a lot still to be accomplished and we're not done playing. Every game is important. I still believe we're capable of winning on any night. So that's how I feel going into games. Along with that there's other stuff that's important. This is as I said before, we haven't delivered as a group and I put myself in the front of that. We haven't delivered enough, nearly enough, the last two years so we have to deliver more and every day is an opportunity to do that starting today so it doesn't wait until the offseason or next year." On the process of acquiring players: "You're not mentioning names, but you look at the whole team and there's all sorts of different ways everyone has been acquired. When the total results are what they are I think criticism is fair. I'm open to that. But personally what I'm less comfortable with is focusing on any one particular decision because baseball is complex and time can change quickly and things can change quickly in time. But I'm confident we have a lot solutions here but I also know we have to find ways to get better and we have to find ways to learn from the things that happened." On Hanley Ramirez's play in left field: "I mentioned this the other day. We're trying to take a step back. We knew there's some level of risk anytime you ask a player to move and It's something you really want to do. We've seen his defense on the road look fine, honestly. Start to stabilize. At home, there have been challenges at home. I think you try and isolate those things where maybe we can continue to try to improve a little bit. Look, I'm sure Hanley is capable of playing another position at some point if that was best for the team. But right now, we're committed to him in left field and trying to help him be the best left fielder he can be." On being a buyer or a seller at the trade deadline: "There are still sort of your standard veteran for rental prospect deals. Those still happen, but there's a lot more in between and a lot more given the way the league has evolved. A lot more conversations where it's need for need or trying to find a piece of the puzzle that might fit and give up a piece of the puzzle that might fit better for another team. So it used to be more a small handful of contenders were having conversations with a small handful fully out of it. Now I think every team is talking to everyone and trying to match up whether it's major league players, minor league players, combinations and things have changed a little in that respect. I don't think we're limited in any way to the kinds of conversations we're going to have we just don't know what it's going to turn into." On evaluating the decision-making process: "I didn't say I was satisfied with the process. I said we have spent a lot of time looking at it, trying to learn from it. I will say it's true, if I look back at four years the reasons that something didn't work out very early on are a little more obvious. So that just makes it challenging. Part of it is a reflection of baseball. Every team's talent is more evenly distributed. Every team has action to information. It's a very sort of flat world, so you have to find ways to build advantages any way you can and obviously we haven't done a good job of that the last two years." On the defense of Pablo Sandoval: "When we signed him we obviously spent a lot of time on that. Subjectively and objectively, he's been solid over at third base over his career so we expect that will be more of what we see going forward. Whether it's transition, that hasn't been what he's capable of, and he knows that. He's accountable and he's worked at it. We've felt, and still feel, that he's a solid defensive third baseman." On the underperformance of key players: "I think that one of the things that we have been faced with the last two years -- and again, I'm taking responsibility for this -- we've had a lot of transition, different kinds of transition. Young player to the big leagues, that's one form of transition. Players in a new environment is another form of transition. Players in a new role or a new position is another form of transition. We've had a lot of that the last two years, and sometimes along with transition, it can affect performance. We've seen that over time historically. And so, if you have a lot of transition going on, I guess there's some risk that overall the performance can be affected. I think that one of the things that we'd like to see is just get fully past some of those transitions and be able to have a better sense of where everything is. Hopefully we're closer to getting past those transitions." On Rusney Castillo: "I think he has had a handful of minor physical issues that has made it a little bit harder for him to get on a role. So that's been an issue. There's been a transition for him. New country. New style of baseball. That sort of stuff. We have to get him playing every day and inevitably there will be another opportunity at some point. He still has all the qualities that we saw when he signed and every time someone goes into see him, I'm hearing the same thing. His tools are there. He's accountable. He's working hard. He wants to be a good player. So we're going to give him some more time." On Allen Craig: "I think you'll see him in the big leagues again at some point. I don't know when that will happen. He's handled it like a pro. He's obviously mature. He's a smart guy, accountable. It hasn't been an easy situation for him, but he's handled it as well as he can handle it. I think he knows what he has to do to effect his own situation. We try to touch base with him as much as we can and keep the communication going with him so he doesn't feel like he's on an island too much. But I know he wants to be in the big leagues." On if the clubhouse is tuning out John Farrell: "I don't have that concern. I think we're dealing with a number of things, but I don't feel like that's one of the things. We can all be better. Everybody on the field. Everybody in the front office. That's what it's going to take. But I fully support John. He's part of the solution."