Were you surprised when you got offered a job by the Red Sox?
Yeah, certainly. I’d had the opportunity to work with other teams, but this was the better opportunity, and it was obvious it was. I’m surprised at all the good things that happen to me. I always have been. I always think that my run of luck must be about to end, but it’s been going on a long time.
It’s been amazing, the kind of sea change that’s happened with the Red Sox over the past five years. What is the team doing right?
It would take a book. Which I’m not writing. It’s just an organization with a lot of experienced people and a lot of very bright people who aren’t afraid to do things in a [new] way. We don’t look at problems and say, “Well, that’s not the way everybody else does it.” We tend to look at problems and say, “What’s the best way we could attack this?”
I know much of it is proprietary and can’t be discussed, but is there anything you can tell me about what you’re working on for the Red Sox right now?
Well, one, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the college players, on the off chance anyone wants my opinion about that. And the other is, it’s near the end of spring training, near the cut-down date. We’ve played some games, but we haven’t really cut down our roster yet. So I’m looking at some of the issues involved with that. I wish I could answer more.
Are you talking primarily about the bullpen?
Yeah, but y’know, uh . . . lemme find the right words here . . . [long pause] . . . we are dealing with some roster issues.
Okay. Well, looking forward, is there anything interesting you might suggest people keep their eye out for as the season gets under way?
The players that were brought into the system by the new regime, starting in 2002, are really just starting to make an impact now. You’ve got [Jonathan] Papelbon, [Jon] Lester, and [Dustin] Pedroia, who are the first of those. That process is just really starting to hit now like a wave. You’ve got Jacoby [Ellsbury], and Brandon Moss, [Jed] Lowry, [Justin] Masterson. There was a lot of talent here when we came here. There was a lot of front-line talent. The top five or 10 of the roster were tremendous. But the minor leagues were naked. Our challenge, for a long time, was getting enough major-league talent behind that front-line core: Pedro [Martinez], Nomar [Garciaparra], Manny [Ramirez], Trot [Nixon]. We’re really in a different position now, where we have a lot of talent and we’ve got to take on the challenge of converting all that raw talent into a major-league team. And we can’t dog paddle. We have to keep moving while we’re doing it. That really starts this year. It’s very different than it has been.
How’s Terry Francona doing, in your opinion? He seems like the perfect manager for this team. Do you agree with the Boston Globe’s assessment this past week that he’s the best manager in Red Sox history?
Sure. Sure. I don’t know very much about Red Sox history, but he’s been very good.