Lucchino Confirms Manny Trade Request
Sox Will Entertain Offers. Privacy Issue Explained.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino speaks with WEEI's Dennis and Callahan: "Manny has issues with Boston and privacy, from the week before... actually our first meeting with him about being traded was the week before we took over the team in 2002, but the short answer to the question is yes he did (ask for a trade). We certainly have some perspective on it. It has happened annually,and our general response was 'it's that time of year' and we'll explore it as we explore other trades."
As best you can, can you explain what the privacy issue is, because this is the guy I think invited the Globe in to take photographs of his son and his bedroom?
"Yeah, thatís not really the issue, I know you guys have focused on that as have others, that he did that. I think the privacy issue is the ability to kind of leave your apartment and go to the park with your kid. Leave your apartment and go out to dinner with your wife without sort of being surrounded by well-wishers and autograph seekers, things like that. My sense from that issue and how heís articulated it is that it comes down to that daily sense of personal privacy not the idea that every once in a while you might invite someone in to your house to do a photo shoot."
And what major league city would he be able to enjoy those freedoms Larry?
"Well I think that you would acknowledge that Boston is probably one of the two or three most intense baseball towns in America where the team occupies a central place in the day-to-day life in the community and the people who live here, so there have got to be several other teams where thereís less focus on baseball. Iíve heard Derek Lowe quoted as saying he misses that central focus on baseball, the kind of day-to-day recognition that he experienced here in Boston that he doesnít have in, and see it in Los Angeles for example."
It seemed to me that Manny of late was relishing it, was enjoying it. We were under the impression that this was a new Manny, a happy Manny. Were you under that same impression and were you taken by surprise when you found out he was so uncomfortable that he wanted out?
"The answer is yes and no. I think everyone feels that Manny is comfortable at Fenway Park with his teammates, with the organization, he made that point quite clearly that he was appreciative of all that had been done in terms of changing the physical set-up of the ballpark, in terms of our organizationís approach to him and to the team, but that his concern was more with the city and the focus on baseball and the lack of some freedom of movement that comes with that obsession with baseball. So thatís the answer to the first part of it. As to were we surprised by a request, I donít think it would be intelligent of us to be surprised because as Iíve said this is our fourth season and in each of those seasons, beginning the week before we took over, we were well aware that Manny had issues. In each of those years there has been a request for a trade."
Does ownership and management feel more inclined or compelled to trade him today than you did a week ago when he asked to be traded based on the events of the last two days?
"Thatís a very hard question to answer publicly. I try to respond to your questions as best I can but itís hard to know if the events of the last couple of days are the result of sort of psychological and physical needs for a sustained period of rest or itís some calculation or some move to encourage us to trade him. Itís hard to know which that is and weíll try to focus on it in the next couple of days to make an intelligent assessment. It is the time of year when you consider all manner of trades. You know that we are not sentimental people, we try not to be, as much as we like and admire our veterans, youíve got to be prepared to trade them if itís in the best interest of the club. Theo is certainly willing to be bold and make moves that other GMs might shy away from, so this is the time for us to think about trades and certainly Mannyís name will come up from time-to-time Iím sure in the next 72 hours. We have until 4:00 on Sunday afternoon. I think that itís hard (to try to trade Manny) because of the size of his contract obviously, itís hard. There arenít a lot of clubs that are going to be interested, but it depends how little youíre willing to take in return with respect to trades. Iím not talking about Manny specifically, although it certainly applies to him. If youíre willing to take a broken bat and a couple of baseballs and a player to be named later, I supposed that makes it more possible but thereís just a certain set of clubs that will never be interested because of the dollars involved, but then again that club may say Ďhey if heís got a $18-20 million contract this year, and you pay 95% of it, you know, weíll trade with you,í but thatís not a particularly intelligent thing for us to do."
Either this is a brilliant plot by Manny to Jay Payton his way out of Boston and as you indicated maybe force a trade and force managementís hand, or the other side of that is heís a complete and total moron and does not realize that what he did the last two nights disrespects his team, the uniform, the game, and the organization all at once. Itís kind of either/or isnít it?
"Thereís another alternative that Manny would offer and I donít mean to be an apologist for him because Iím not taking that position today but I would simply say to you that those are not the only two alternatives, the third alternative is that he very much needed either physically and psychologically a couple of consecutive days off. He postponed it from the promised possibility of last weekend Ďtill yesterday and his point of view was Ďlisten I was tired and I was not going to help this team being out there in this mental and physical condition.í I donít know if thatís the case, and I donít mean to be an apologist for Manny. I just think that you guys have got to consider all the possibilities."
Do you think he notices what Damon does and Renteria and Varitek and Bill Mueller and Schilling and Clement. Do you think he notices how they put their heart and soul into this and they take on the obligation of playing every day and playing hurt?
"Yes. Yes, itís impossible not to notice that when youíre in a small clubhouse and you see that so Iím sure he does."
Then he is sticking them in the back. Heís saying Ďyou guys can play everyday, you can play in pain, not me.í
"Well, those are your words Callahan. I think his attitude is ĎIíve got to take care of me in the best way that I can in order to make the contribution that I think I can make.í"
What empowers him more to do this and get away with it? The 40 home runs and the 140 RBI? The $20 million contract that is virtually untradeable?Oor the fear that if somebody actually calls Manny on this, whether it would be management, ownership, or the captain, that you could lose Manny to a hamstring/DL appearance for the next 15 days?
"Youíre asking me to put myself in Mannyís shoes, thatís a very hard thing to do, itís probably all of those things. I think all of those things probably contribute to his sense of that but there is one thing that you do have to remember in sports and itís true in any business. There are times when some differentiation among employees, I know that Jack Welch has written books about it, where youíve got to differentiate between and among employees. You cannot expect to treat everyone exactly the same. Weíve all been part of a team, or growing up members of a team, when we recognize that there are different people and personalities within the team who were treated differently. I know thereís an old bromide that says Ďthis is a team, weíre all treated the same, we all act the sameí well thatís not the way life is. Thatís not the way human nature is. The best managers are those, and I mean managers in the broadest sense of the word, those who are able to accommodate different personalities and different perspectives and treat them with respect to those differences."
Do you see any of that support (fans who applaud him, teammates who look the other way) eroding, in particular in the clubhouse where teammates are saying Ďhey, when we needed this guy the most, when one of our own almost lost his life, when another one got seriously injured, and he was asked to help out the team and he just turned his back,í do you think that continued empowerment by his teammates is as solid as it was two days ago?
ďI obviously donít know. The teams been on the road. I havenít been in the clubhouse nor have I heard anything that suggests that. My guess is that there would be some reaction to it on the part of his teammates because there are some guys who take that the obligation of constant effort quite seriously and so I suspect there will be some. Whatís more obvious to me is the media position. The media which has frequently written about ĎManny being Mannyí over the years has certainly leaped into this issue with both feet if you read the papers today and listen to you guys on talk radio. Thereís hardly an averting of the mediaís eyes from this issue. Theyíve focused on it intensely."
-- 7.28 Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan (Listen to the interview here)