FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox ownership just gave its annual spring training State of the Team address. John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner were all here after a 30-minute meeting with the players and staff at the Player Development Complex.
Ownership discussed the club’s offseason acquisitions, goals for the 2010 season, the state of the economy and how it has affected the Red Sox, the continued renovation of Fenway Park, the sellout streak, the status of the new spring training complex and the success of the NHL’s Winter Classic.
Here is a sampling from the Q&A:
How do you feel about the team for 2010?
“I think it’s a very strong team,” said Henry. “People have been talking about our offense, and Theo [Epstein] reminded us today that essentially the Angels and the Red Sox had the second-best offense in baseball last year. We think this is a very strong team, even stronger than last year. . . This year we have six very strong starters and having six strong starters is better than having four strong starters. I feel very positive about this team.”
When Henry was done talking, Lucchino chimed in, telling Henry, “You’re always the most optimistic.”
How is the field at Fenway Park doing after the Winter Classic?
“It’s too soon to say how the field is,” said Lucchino. “It’s obviously has a lot of wear and tear after a very successful Winter Classic.”
New sod is being installed now and the team will have a better idea in a few weeks how it’ll work out.
How confident are you the streak will continue?
“It’s always a challenge,” said Luchhino. “It’s at 550 and counting and it is a challenge, but we think the fan loyalty is so deep that it will continue. Once you get to this level, you’re at a new place and it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen.”
Henry acknowledged it was a tough challenge to keep the streak going last season due to the struggling economy.
“I don’t know how much better it is this year, it certainly feels better,” he said.
In terms of season ticket sales and sponsorships this season, Lucchino said the team is roughly where it was a year ago.
“We have our work cut out for us in respect with corporate sponsorships,” said Luchhino. “This is a critical time of the year to bring all that in.”
On offseason spending for players:
“We spent significantly more money this year than we did last year,” said Henry. “We knew we had certain goals, but we didn’t know for sure we were going to spend as much. We didn’t know if the opportunity was there.”
When those opportunities did come up, ownership and management wasted little time getting those players locked up.
The new Red Sox spring training facility in Fort Myers is on schedule to be completed expected in time for camp in 2012. It was reported recently that the new ballpark and player development complex will be a little smaller than first planned due to the local cost obligations of the project.
“We are sensitive to the fact the economy is not as strong, especially in Lee County,” said Werner. “We’ve had nothing but healthy and productive conversations with officials down here. We’ve had very good dialogue and they will be announcing something shortly about the plans.”
We'll pass along more on the owners' talk, inlcluding video in a bit ...