BOSTON, MA: Team owners Larry Lucchino, left, and John Henry, far right, and vice president and general manager Ben Cherington, center, pose with Bobby Valentine after he was introduced as the new manager for the Boston Red Sox during a press conference at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
John Henry sent out an email -- well, he didn't send it to me, specifically, but to people like Nick Cafardo, who were kind enough to post it elsewhere -- detailing the July meetings described by Jeff Passan on Tuesday. There are a few noteworthy items on the list:
- Previously, none of the information from said meetings -- and there have been meetings like this -- leaked.
- In 2004, around the same time of year, ownership hosted similar meetings, designed to answer questions about what the team needed to do to improve. You likely know how this ends, but Boston ended up winning the World Series that year.
- No one asked for Bobby Valentine to be fired
That last point is the most intriguing, as, if true, paints a calmer picture than what the details of the last 24 hours or so have. Were the sources simply more disgruntled? Did they expect more from their meetings? Was the belief that the fix for their issues was implied, in that it involved doing away with Valentine? There's a lot to work with here, hypothetically. Here's Henry's actual statement on the meeting itself:
"What Tom [Werner], Larry [Lucchino] and I heard in the player meeting was one overriding sentiment. Players felt responsible for the record. They weren't blaming injuries or anyone but themselves. At the same time they openly spoke about what could improve in addition to their play. They made substantive points. We addressed those points. No one in that meeting at any time took the position that Bobby should be or needed to be replaced.
First of all, I know you want to be tough and all, players, but injuries totally play a role. Granted, were the player who still were around all the time playing better, then they could be overcome -- injuries do, after all, happen. But ignoring the most DL stints in a single season in the history of the game, a record set before the year was even out, shouldn't be waved away.
More importantly, though, Henry's take seems to be that everyone was at fault. Players for not playing well enough, and Valentine for not managing well enough. The point of the meeting was to help rectify some of those issues. It's tough to know if the points "addressed" actually were without knowing what they were, however.
So, here's the issue. Is Henry telling the truth here, or is this simply a defense that isn't outright fiction, but isn't 100 percent fact, either? The Red Sox are a very PR-focused organization, and this is a time where public relations seem to be needed. Is what Passan and others reported about the unhappiness of players since the time of the meetings accurate? It's likely we'll find out at some point soon -- as Passan said on WEEI today, it's Boston, and it's baseball, people will talk.