BOSTON (CBS) -- As is almost always the case with the Boston Red Sox, a large number of stories -- all of which come from varying levels of speculation -- continue to swirl around the team. Always eager to clarify, explain or deny rumors about the Sox, John Henry spoke extensively with reporters in Fort Myers on Tuesday.
On any tweaks to upper management, and if there is a power struggle between Larry Lucchino and Mike Gordon
"No, last year, Mike Gordon was named president of FSG, but not in the Red Sox. And I read those ridiculous stories -- or that ridiculous story, I think Dan [Shaughnessy] wrote about it. Ridiculous in the sense that there's some sort of power struggle between Mike and Larry. Nothing could be further from the truth. There's never been, that I know of, a word spoken in that regard within ownership or by Larry. Mike is much, much, much more involved with Liverpool. He gets involved with the Red Sox with regard to financial decisions, because he's a tremendous financial mind. But there's no power struggle."
On his three-year-old quote about Larry Lucchino running the Red Sox
"If you were to ask anybody in the organization, including over the offseason, that has been and remains the case. He's a pedal to the metal guy, and he is ... you can call him a micro-manager. He's involved in every decision. And I say micro-manager because Jack Welch once said to me that micro-managing is highly underrated as a management tool. So there's no doubt that Larry's in charge and continues to be in charge. You can ask anybody in the Red Sox. I'd be surprised if anybody would doubt that or say that."
On the way the team spends money
"I think we're more discerning than ever, despite what people might write this week. High-ceiling players, you have to take risks on, especially young players, but I think we're more discerning, especially with regard to free agents and 30-year-old free agents and above."
On whether or not the decision to not offer top dollar to Jon Lester falls into that equation
"I don' think so. ... I'm being a little facetious. Of course, at some point, we went as far as we thought we should go. And we've discussed it, though. But ... I don't have anything more to say on that."
On potential uneasiness being spent on two Cuban players -- Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada -- with no big league experience
"Well we haven't done this last deal. If there's one thing I know, it's until a deal is done, it's not done. So there's no deal there. So if it were to happen, would I be uncomfortable? No. We did an analysis. You take risks with every player. More and more we prefer to take risks with younger players than with older players."
"If you look at who were the stars, let's say, three years ago. They're not necessarily the stars of today. So you're taking a risk with every major leaguer. It's very hard to predict anyone's performance. So is there greater risk with a player that hasn't played in the major leagues? We take that risk with amateurs, and we don't pay that kind of money, but there have been a number of Cuban players who have come into the game that have really produced, and there have been some that haven't over the years. But I think we've done our homework, and we expect a lot."
"Predicting the performance of baseball players in an imperfect science."
On Larry Lucchino's new ownership stake in the Pawtucket Red Sox
"Well, I think the Red Sox have an actual stake as well as Red Sox partners. I think it's a great partnership, there's been a partnership long before we came into the picture. It's a tremendous strategic advantage to have just down the road your Triple-A team. I've been associated with a baseball team where the major league team was in Florida, and the minor league team was in Calgary. That was a nightmare. The great thing is I think the people involved -- Larry, [James Skeffington], and everyone involved -- are really passionate about what the PawSox could become and should be. They should be a model Triple-A franchise, and these are the right people. So we were very happy."
On a potential move of the PawSox to Providence
"Have they actually proposed that? They haven't proposed it to us, so I don't know anything about that. I saw what was written in the newspaper. Larry will be here this afternoon. I think he's speaking tomorrow or the next day. He'll be the person to ask about that."
On the prospect of an international draft someday taking place
"It's really not for me to comment on that. That's something that baseball has wanted for a long time. It hasn't happened for various reasons. We'll see what happens in the future. But I don't have a problem with it currently, but if a draft comes about ... I think there are a lot of people around baseball who would like a draft, and I don't think we would necessarily oppose it."
On the Boston Herald story about the Red Sox potentially moving into an Olympic Stadium if Boston hosts the Games in 2024
"A new home for the Red Sox? We invested a quarter of a billion dollars in Fenway Park, for good reason. That's irreplaceable, as far as we're concerned. I've read a lot of things about the Olympics, some of them have been surprising. That would be really surprising."
On the expiration date of Fenway Park
"At least 30 years. Hopefully 50 years. But I've seen a lot of Olympic stadiums that have been transformed into soccer stadiums and baseball fields, and it worked fairly well in Atlanta. But I just don't, there's no appetite for us to move."
On the pace-of-play rule changes put into place for this year
"Well, in the entertainment world that we live in today, and particularly in television, you can see what the trends are. People are impatient. Their attention spans have been reduced. So it's important, but I think baseball has moved much further in a shorter period of time than I ever would have hoped for. I can't give them enough credit for the things that are being tried and implemented. We'll see, we'll have some good experiments in the minor leagues this year. They're already adopting some things for the major leagues that will help. And it's not about the length of games so much as it is the pace of play. I guess that's how you put it -- pace of play. I think everyone in baseball at a certain level, everyone in the commissioner's office, everyone who's a baseball man in the commissioner's office, has really seen what a difference pace of play makes in the game."
On the talent level of the organization, from top to bottom
"I think we're as strong throughout the organization as we've ever been. At certain times, you could say we might have had greater depth. But depth in the minor leagues sometimes doesn't translate that well into the major leagues. What you need is what you would call real A, B-type players. And we have a lot of A players in the minor leagues these days, people that should make it to the majors. So I think we're in as good a shape as we've ever been in that regard. If anything, we've probably rushed some of our players a little bit, because the difference between Double-A and Triple-A baseball and the major leagues has never been greater, so you have to feel good about not only the major league camp but the minor league camp."
On having Ben Cherington and John Farrell signed to contracts for multiple years
"What's a great thing is that we did a deal with Ben and it didn't leak. We've done a number of things that, the organization used to leak all sorts of things that were counterproductive, and so I feel very good about that. But to answer your question I feel just terrific that we have two guys that are not only tremendous at what they do but are great people, love working together, we love working with them. It's really an idyllic situation. You'd like to keep this team together for a long time, this management team."
On signing both Cherington and Farrell to extensions before their deals expired
"I think in some ways it might mean more when you have a bad year. And we know the reasons we had a bad year. We took a lot of risks last year. We started rookies who weren't really ready yet, and we took risks. But I have tremendous confidence in both of those, and when I say I, I'm speaking on behalf of Tom, Larry and everyone at FSG. The whole organization has confidence in those two guys."
On his optimism for the 2015 Red Sox
"I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. I feel good about our pitching. I feel great about the hitting. I feel good about the organization, about the fact that so many players came early this year and there seems to be a focus that has to make you feel good at this point."
On the ups and downs of going from the 2011 collapse, the 2012 last-place finish, the 2013 World Series and then the 2014 last-place finish
"Honestly, I would say from my perspective, that it's never been better. I was talking to Ben [Cherington] and John [Farrell] today and we were talking about how it's never been better. And you have to remember, yes we finished last, there's no doubt about it. Same thing in 2012. But if you look at 2012 and you look at 2014, midway through the season -- we play for championships -- and midway through the season it became clear that wasn't going to happen. So we tore those teams apart. I mean, we radically tore both of those teams in part. And we sacrificed the second halves of those seasons, as it turned out, to rebuild. And we don't want to do that again. If we had kept those teams together, I doubt we'd have finished last either year.
"But I think that we're well-positioned ... I think we're better positioned than we were in 2013. 2013 was a really special year, and that will never be replicated. But we are in many ways in a much better position than we were that year."
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