BOSTON (CBS) — John Henry held a sprawling email interview with The Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman late last week that touched upon a wide range of hot-button issues surrounding the Red Sox organization, from the roster and management to big-picture topics concerning the team and major league baseball at large.
On the team itself, Henry implied in part one of the Q&A that John Farrell’s job as Red Sox manager is safe for this season and that criticism of the job he’s done is not warranted, despite persistent discussions in the media about perceived managerial mistakes potentially costing him.READ MORE: Phoenix Police Say Foul Play Not Suspected In Death Of Hiker Angela Tramonte Of Saugus
“Managers are always overly blamed and John knows that comes with the territory. So do I. It’s mainly a radio and internet thing,” said Henry. “If you watch enough managers over 162 games, you know what’s important and a lot of it is how a manager manages the clubhouse. Is he doing everything he can to help his players be successful on the field for 162 games? Do they feel he has their backs? Are they willing to sacrifice personal goals for team goals? You often see the focus either on the field or off the field. That makes all the difference.
“In Boston, both the GM and the manager have to have strong constitutions and remain above the criticism they inevitably get. It’s tough but the rewards are there every night when you see the stands full of Sox fans. We get how important it is for this community to field a team that plays the game with excitement and excellence.”
Henry also gave something of a vote of confidence to Pablo Sandoval, whose time in Boston was speculated to be over after the third baseman was shelved for the season following shoulder surgery. He may be counted on to slide back into the lineup as a replacement designated hitter for the retiring David Ortiz.
“With Papi leaving we absolutely need Pablo to return to the form we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “This year and last were frustrating for him and frustrating for us. We need him next year.”
Silverman asked the Red Sox principal owner in part two of the Q&A if he felt his organization was “singled out” in being penalized for a rule violation that other teams in baseball have similarly committed. The Red Sox were penalized in July over unethical practices signing international free agents, stripping them of recent signings and barring them from future signings in 2016 and 2017.
Henry agreed that his team was singled out, but also held himself and the team accountable.
“As best I can tell we were singled out, but the fact is we were guilty of a practice that is against the rules,” said Henry. “Therefore, you have to take responsibility and cooperate as much as possible. And we did. The result was a very severe penalty despite our cooperation. I would hope others will now refrain from this practice given the penalties.”READ MORE: Will Massachusetts Require Face Masks In Schools This Fall? Here's The Latest State Guidance
Another MLB investigation concerns a recent trade partner for the Red Sox, as Henry acknowledged that the San Diego Padres are being investigated over possibly failing to disclose all of the pertinent medical information for Drew Pomeranz before trading him to Boston for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. Henry declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
Henry remains concerned, as does just about everyone in Red Sox Nation, about the team’s inability to develop a front-line starter through their minor league system since Jon Lester. Henry Owens’ disastrous outing in a spot-start in Detroit on Sunday underlined this growing concern.
“It’s been a problem,” Henry said. “But some of the result of this has been acquiring so much young hitting talent. Nevertheless, we have had a string of failures among starting pitchers and we are working hard to remedy this. We have to successfully draft and develop young pitching.”
On the positive side of things, Henry said in part one of the Q&A that is pleased with the team’s overall development in the year since replacing former GM Ben Cherington with Dave Dombrowski and Mike Hazen in the front office and the continued emergence of their young talent on offense.
“It’s great to be in the thick of the pennant race once again,” said Henry. “It’s great to have a strong, young team that is exciting to watch. Every team in both leagues have weaknesses and we have had changing weaknesses through the year, but this franchise is well set up for the future.
“A great deal of that is due to Ben’s discipline over the past few years and a change in philosophy overall. Dave has brought a very hands-on approach to the organization and done a very good job of bringing the clubhouse and front office together.”
Henry also acknowledged the impending free agency of Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley, and the team’s desire to lock them up long-term.
“All I will say is they should be the nucleus of our future and they will be for the next several years,” he said. “We are extraordinarily lucky to have them. If this group wants to play together for a long time, we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.”MORE NEWS: Lawmaker Proposes Universal Mask Mandate In All Massachusetts Schools
Despite sharing some concerns with the fans and local media, Henry clearly doesn’t agree with some of the criticism he’s heard about his team.