FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You’re John Farrell.
You watched the executives in your organization sign Rusney Castillo, at the time the most sought-after player in Cuba, to a six-year, $72.5 million contract.
Just months later, you watched them open their wallets and sign two of the most coveted players on the free-agent market -- Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval -- in a haul that involves $183 million in guaranteed money.
And on Monday, you heard reports that indicate the imminent arrival of 19-year-old Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada, a supposed five-tool player who is being compared to Robinson Cano.
Are you heartened by the front office’s determination to get the best players available, regardless of where they’re from, and put them in a Red Sox uniform?
“I can’t speak to the pursuit of this individual case, but I think it’s clear that we’re trying to find the best available talent wherever that comes from, whether that’s amateur to trades to free agency,” Farrell said Monday. “That’s an ongoing pursuit for every organization, but some of the signings of the offseason clearly indicated the commitment by our ownership to bring in the best available talent.”
He said the organization is “progressive in a number of ways” and has taken a no-stone-unturned approach. And that makes him feel pretty good. Sure beats being A.J. Hinch, who has to work with an emaciated payroll of about $44 million in Houston.
“It’s a great place to work,” Farrell said of Boston.
It’s also apparently a great place to play, because the Red Sox are nailing down international players, whether it’s Daisuke Matsuzaka or Moncada. The Boston destination has a certain cachet.
“If you look at our roster, it’s been reflective of a very diverse group,” Farrell said. “Whether it is Asian players or Latin players or homegrown players from the States, it’s not backed into one type of player. I think players on the outside looking in will see a roster that says, ‘You know what? There are some things being done there to embrace our culture, what’s personal to me from where I come from.’
“We do make a lot of efforts to make sure our players feel comfortable and yet blend into a team concept regardless of the country they come from.”
Farrell said the thing that is especially gratifying is the propensity to acquire young, athletic players who can be worked through the system.
“Two common denominators are youth and athleticism,” he said. “Health is a main contributor to staying on the field and putting up numbers. The more we can keep guys on the field, we have a chance to do that. That’s why you’re always going to see young players involved in our team, whether they come through the system or by trade. There’s always an eye toward that blend of veteran front-line players and young, athletic contributing players.
Other key comments from his Monday media session:
On David Ortiz, who hasn’t yet shown up but is required to have a physical before he can participate in the first full-squad workout Wednesday: “I don’t have an exact arrival date yet.”
On the lineup, with the additions of Ramirez and Sandoval: “The additions in the offseason have allowed our lineup to add power, to be balanced a little more on the left side and the right side. When you start to plug in the names, from Pedey (Dustin Pedroia) on down through the seven/eight hole, this has the chance to be a lineup that doesn’t give the opposition too many breathers or take a hitter off, so to speak. There’s the ability to do some damage up and down the lineup.”
On the difficulty of finding players like Ramirez and Sandoval who can immediately impact the lineup: “It’s clear the game has trended back towards the complete player -- a guy that plays all sides of the game that has some awareness on the base paths as well. But it’s not uncommon for power to be the last phase of a hitter’s game to come along, and that might not happen until he’s in his mid-20s and has got three or four years at the major-league level already. So the proven power hitter obviously has a hefty price tag attached. When they come from within, you have to have patience to allow that to develop.”
On expectations for catcher Christian Vasquez: “His development as one of the leaders of our pitching staff is going to be a challenge because of the number of new faces that are here. Spring training is going to be critical for him and Ryan (Hanigan) to understand what pitchers like in certain situations, what pitch to go to. But I know that Christian’s commitment to those conversations and time spent to learn individuals -- that’s who he is as a person. That’s him evolving as a game-caller and catcher behind the plate.”
On catcher Blake Swihart: “We would hope at some point this year that he’s ready to step in if the need were to arise, but (he’s) no less talented than Christian. Maybe not as advanced because of games caught at the upper levels, but he still has a bright future and is a very talented player in his own right.”
On what he notices about Castillo that he didn’t notice in the 10 games Castillo played last year: “There’s a little bit more of a looseness. You go through that period when you’re working out and trying out. Now that games have been played, there’s more fluidity and you have more of an opportunity to see him react to balls in the outfield. I think he just feels a little bit more at ease and comfortable that he’s back with the organization and he’s preparing to start this season.”
Notes from camp: Pitcher Felipe Paulino was held out of workouts today with an undisclosed illness, but Farrell said there are no other physical issues with the pitchers. ... Vasquez and new acquisition Wade Miley had a productive bullpen session and talked afterward about the need for Miley to get a full body turn and not rush the windup. “(We were) trying to focus on staying back more to get through the throw. Not be jumpy and stay back. He was missing off the plate and up. Don’t cut off. It’s our first chance to work. Getting better. He’s a great pitcher with pretty good seasons.” ... Swihart caught Clay Buchholz and Dalier Hinojosa. Swihart on Buchholz: “Sinker was working, cutter looked good, curveball was good, good changeup. Everything was working.” On Hinojosa: “Everything was working well. He was throwing strikes and his fastball was down in the zone.”