The John Henry Interview

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I have to give Red Sox principal owner John Henry credit for going on what was clearly unfriendly ground with the Felger and Massarotti radio show to give his side of the story of the team’s collapse; Terry Francona‘s departure; the status of Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino; the stories of rampant disinterest and dysfunction in the team’s clubhouse.

You can listen to the entire interview here. (It’s long, but well worth it.)

Unless he’s outright lying, Henry didn’t have anything to do with the tearing down of Francona on his way out the door; he played semantics when confronted with Larry Lucchino’s refusal to distance the hierarchy from the Boston Globe story about Francona, but didn’t sound directly involved. If I were him, I’d try to get to the bottom of it to see who said what.

His memory failed him regarding Manny Ramirez (in what isn’t a big deal) when he said “we” signed him to a deal with two club options for 2009-2010; that deal was signed by the previous ownership and then-GM Dan Duquette.

Henry claims he didn’t know about the John Lackey/Jon Lester/Josh Beckett fried chicken, beer, video game parties in the clubhouse. I tend to believe that. He’s not George Steinbrenner. Mike Francesa had a caller that said Steinbrenner absolutely would’ve known about it and stopped it and he was right. But I can’t blame Henry for that. If he was hands off during the past 8 years, why would he start interfering now over the last month of the season? It’s not his style.

Because Henry was honest about not being completely on board with the Carl Crawford signing (and I don’t think he was saying it because Crawford had an awful year), that tells me he was probably telling the truth about all the other stuff.

His comments about free agency (he’s iffy about it) say you can forget the Red Sox being big players again this winter with the likes of Jose Reyes; it sounds like the vault is closed other than for players within reason and under the concept of financial sanity.

Regarding Epstein, he didn’t answer any of the questions because he continually brought up the gag order for any big announcements during the post-season, but it was a bit of avoidance on his part. Everyone knows that Epstein is heading for the Cubs and the interview itself was going to create as much news as anything Henry said concerning Epstein, so he might as well have answered it by saying it’s a fluid situation where Theo may be leaving. It’s not a done deal. And that would’ve been the end of it.

Henry going on the show at all—unannounced yet!!—says that he’s upset about the way he’s being portrayed and wanted to set the record straight. To an extent, he did that.

It won’t help assuage the pain of this collapse, but at least the owner’s engaged and trying to clean up the mess; that’s better than the alternatives of apathy or raving mania.

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