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Red Sox chairman Tom Werner on D&C: ‘We’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free agent market and improve the team’

09.11.14 at 10:01 am ET
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Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning and promised that ownership has “a lot of money to spend” and is “determined” to restore the team to competitiveness after the disastrous 2014 season is over. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“Last year, as we all know, was just a dream. This year is a nightmare,” Werner said. “It’s been painful. I was at the game yesterday and it was just not a good experience for the fans, it wasn’t a good experience for the players, it wasn’t a good experience for me. The only thing I can take from it is we are determined to get back to being in first next year. But this has really been a nightmare this year.”

Werner assured that ownership will spend the money needed to help return to the team to the top.

“This is the first year that we have not been competitive around Labor Day,” he said. “The one thing that I think that trade that we made with the Dodgers [in 2013] gave us was extreme flexibility. We know we have to add some front-line talent. We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve. I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of [Rusney] Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent.

“I wouldn’t say that we have limitless money, but we’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free agent market and improve the team.”

Asked what can be learned from this season, Werner pointed to the failures of the rookies.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s very difficult to repeat, but I think that we probably put a bit more stock in our younger players performing at the level we expected them to,” he said. “I know it’s always difficult to break a few rookies into your lineup. And we certainly didn’t get the offense all through the lineup that we expected this year, except for a couple of key players like David Ortiz. The players underperformed.

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t see encouraging signs. I see that [Xander] Bogaerts, the last couple of weeks I was just reading he’s batting about .360, Mookie Betts has certainly shown signs of being a terrific major league player, and Brock Holt. But I think we probably put too much stock in the replacements that we expected to come out and perform.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To read about Werner’s recollections of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and his brush with death, visit the Full Count blog. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On potential changes to speed up the game that he promoted when attempting to become commissioner: “The game needs to modernize. The NFL makes changes every year and nobody seems to sort of say, ‘Oh my God, you’re screwing around with the past.’ … I was pushing for a pitch clock. Some people don’t like that idea. But I remember growing up, there wasn’t a shot clock in the NBA [Editor's note: Werner likely meant the NCAA, as he's not old enough to remember the NBA without a shot clock] and the games were just long and too defensive. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with forcing the pitchers to throw within a set period of time. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with insisting that batters don’t step out of the batter’s box. They step out of the batter’s box when there’s a ball.”

On if those changes might eventually be implemented: “I’m only hoping that the more smart people talk about it, that there’s too much inaction, then hopefully we’ll make some changes. And I’m confident that we’re going to make some changes. I hope we do it soon.”

On the NFL’s Ray Rice situation: “In any business, whether it’s sports business or any business, you have to have transparency. Your fans, your customers demand it. Somebody’s got to get to the bottom of this, right? There’s no substitute for just being honest, telling the truth. If somebody made a mistake, they should admit to it. There are no winners here. I guess if there’s any winner at all it’s at least some exposure for the need for people to sort of — if there’s domestic violence that you know about or that you see, you have to address it. So, maybe something good will come from it. But regarding the way that it’s been handled, it certainly has been botched.”

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