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Red Sox Management: From Reflection To Rebuilding

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. (AP File Photo)

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. (AP File Photo)

BOSTON — Red Sox fans might have cracked a smile after the Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees Thursday night and pushed the playoff series to a deciding fifth game. It’s only a small comfort though, especially after the Red Sox finally — and painfully — wrapped up their worst season since 1965.

With the season in the books and manager Bobby Valentine out, the team and general manager Ben Cherington are looking to move forward.

Red Sox management will interview Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach on Friday as a possible replacement for Valentine.

But Cherington is also looking back at what went wrong.

Boston Globe reporter Kevin Paul Dupont joined WBUR’s Morning Edition to talk about his interview with Cherington and the future of the Red Sox.

Bob Oakes: You say [in your story] that Cherington candidly believes that the Red Sox front office strayed from its successful team building model, what did he mean by that?

Kevin Paul Dupont: Well, mostly he felt they had the right blend for a long time here, not necessarily into [2004,] I think ’04 was really a magical year, but having won it in ’07 and having done well in ’08, he felt, in retrospect, that identifying the right veteran guys and mixing them with the right kids, which is not an unusual team to try and get the right parts, it’s a little difficult these days because, especially in free agency, the prices run so high, but that’s what he’s speaking about here.

He also said they got away from core values and were not disciplined enough after those reports from last season of beer drinking and fried chicken eating in the clubhouse. Is he talking across the board, players, management and ownership?

He’s speaking principally of that identifying piece, which is scouting. What’s the most important thing of any general manager’s duty in any sport? It’s knowing who can and who can’t play. The off-field that everybody knows, the beer drinking and the dysfunction with Valentine and some players, was a problem, but I think he’s doing it through a classic general manager’s eye of, “you gotta deliver the talent.” If the talent is flawed, the foundation of the house isn’t right, it’s not going to be right.

Did you get the sense that Cherrington is taking a hard look in the mirror at himself?

I think so. I thought he was contrite and self-effacing a number of times I talked to him over the course of the hour, and he uses the word, he has an “allergy” to talking about specific players and deals because it can taint the reputation of those players. Now, obviously, as a journalist, I’d like him to be more frank, we all would. Certainly as we’re all going around town, we hear those opinions.

So, what’s he going to do about turning the team around?

In the immediate, what he’s offering here is: secure his base, which is bring in Lackey — and I can hear eyes rolling as I mention that because, you know, Lackey’s got this reputation as a non-performer — but they definitely need help in the rotations. [Get] Cody Ross done on a new deal, get Ortiz happy on a new deal — he’s got so much money, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. And then he’s got to go shopping. He openly admits he’s got to lengthen the line-up, if you will, lengthen the roster with better talent.

And you asked at the end of the article how fast he thinks he can turn it around, what did Ben Cherington say?

That was a little bit political, as you listen to politicians, how fast can they fix the country? Based on what he’s saying here, he thinks he can go out and get some good people. Let’s not forget, it’s not that difficult to compete because there’s a lot of bad pitching throughout the American League. I think if he can get the pitching right, filling it out, getting Lester in a good place, getting Lackey going again — I think if he can right the rotation I think they’re back in the thick of it. I don’t necessarily say they’re a contender, but I get that sense from him, he can make it right a lot by helping the pitching.

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