John Henry’s New Found Influence in the Boston Red Sox

'John Henry' photo (c) 2007, Patrick Mannion - license: the 2006 debacle when Theo Epstein returned it was largely considered that Epstein had won nearly complete control over the baseball operations from Larry Lucchino.  It sure seemed that way as the Red Sox spent the next two seasons largely adding the type of players Epstein liked.  Players who might not have been as “entertaining”, but won games no matter how they did it.

Then things seemed to change after the Red Sox fell out of the playoffs last year.  The Red Sox for the first time in a long time made a Yankee type signing by going big early and stealing Carl Crawford before free agency even got in full swing.  Then they added long time target Adrian Gonzalez, who fits the Epstein mold, but even still with only one year left on his deal it was a big switch to see Epstein trade his best prospects for him.

Now with Terry Francona being shown the door as reports state that he was not offered an option it is becoming clear that many day to day decisions are being either made by John Henry or influenced by him.  This is concerning for many reasons and surely brings back thoughts of someone like George Steinbrenner.  His influence has not feen nearly as vocal or loud, but it’s pretty clear it’s there.

The other reason there is concern over  this new found interest in day to day operations is that this appears to be the reason Epstein wanted to walk away in 2006.  Then it was Lucchino, but the reason was the same.  Epstein wanted full control over baseball operations and wanted final say.  Did that seem like the case with Crawford, Gonzalez of the letting go of Francona?

If Epstein is on the end of more calls from Henry telling him how to run the team then it seems more and more likely that Epstein could be on his way to Chicago to run the Cubs.  It would require the Cubs ownership giving him complete control, but I can’t see many teams not willing to give that to him after what he has brought to the Red Sox.

Why has Henry become more vocal on personel moves and now the manager position?  After ratings began to fall last year you could explain why he supplied the money and drive to make a big splash last season.  (If only they had put that money into Cliff Lee instead of Carl Crawford)  How do you defend pushing such a successful manager out the door though?

The timing for Henry’s increase in interest is also odd.  This spring Larry Lucchino said that the ownership group would see the team through the 2012 season and 100 years aft Fenway Park, but he admitted the team could be sold to new ownership in the next decade.  Is Henry trying to push hard for one more win or build a team worth more when he sells?  I don’t think he’s thinking that far ahead, but if they have discussed selling then his actions come at a weird time.

Henry has always been a vocal partner and his verbal actions have not been increased, but rumors have been louder that he is behind the signings and actions of the front office.  If this is the case I could easily believe that Epstein would be interested in the Cubs job and could be gone sooner rather than later.  September could be remembered as the worst month in a long time and a historic collapse, but it could lead to a front office clearing that changes the makeup of the Boston Red Sox for years to come.

Categories: Boston Red Sox

After taking an interest in sabermetrics and statistical analysis Troy began trying to use it to an advantage in fantasy baseball. He started the website and also spent time at and After a few years the interest in the Red Sox drew him to start a Red Sox-oriented site (Yawkey Way Academy) with fellow writer Lee Perrault. A short time later he joined Fire Brand. Writer from: December 14, 2009 – July 24, 2010, March 3, 2011 – May 10, 2012.

16 Responses to “John Henry’s New Found Influence in the Boston Red Sox” Subscribe

  1. darryljohnston October 3, 2011 at 8:55 AM #

    That sounds like a terrible and slippery slope…new manager, new GM, new owners?

    I hope that's not the case, Troy.

    • ChipBuck October 3, 2011 at 10:08 AM #

      New owners aren't likely to be in the picture just yet. We could be talking a few years down the road here, but it's pretty likely it will happen at some point. Also, when a new owner does come in, he/she will probably want to put his/her own people (i.e. front office and field staff) in place within a year after taking over.

  2. Matt October 3, 2011 at 9:43 AM #

    It's no secret that John Henry and the rest of the ownership group purchased the Red Sox to eventually turn around and sell it for the large profit. That's what they do. They see the Red Sox as an asset in their portolio. They have invested resources (money) in the team because each and every year the team becomes more valuable. When they believe they have gotten the team to the highest value possible, they will sell the team for a massive profit.

    I wonder though if they plan on selling the Red Sox (and NESN) on its own or whether they will sell the entire Fenway Sports Group.

    • ChipBuck October 3, 2011 at 10:15 AM #

      Very interesting question. I think a lot of that depends on the value of Roush Racing and Liverpool FC. They may sell it off in pieces if they can't maximize their profits by selling all together. Actually, now that I think about, they may have to do that way. We're talking about a multi-billion dollar acquisition. The only way that it doesn't get done in pieces is if a corporation comes in and buys it.

  3. darryljohnston October 3, 2011 at 9:53 AM #

    Has their been any discussion in print with quotes about sale of the franchise other than what Troy is concluding? I mean, I understand the speculation, but do we have any reason to believe that FSG only wanted to hold the asset through '12?

    • TroyPatterson October 3, 2011 at 12:20 PM #

      I will find the quote some where, but Lucchino discussed this during a spring training chat with WEEI. He said they would likely have the team up for sale before the next decade is through. Give me a bit to find it as it was either 2009 or 2010 spring training and could have been Tom Werner or someone else.

      • Don October 3, 2011 at 1:03 PM #

        In July, the New York Times sold off half of its holdings in Fenway Sports Group. Up until that point, only the Times and John Henry owned more than 10 percent of FSG. Now the Times' holdings in FSG are at about 7 percent. The Times sold its shares to three different investors, but it's unclear who they are … although it could possibly be Henry, Werner and Lucchino (who are all financial partners, obviously in FSG).

        So what does this have to do with a possible sale of the Red Sox? With the Times now playing far less of a role, the way may be cleared for Henry and his pals to sell the team without balking from its minority owners. Not saying that will happen … but clearly, the bigger piece of the pie you own, the more say you have in business decisions. Especially if everyone else's piece of the pie looks like crumbs.

        • Don October 3, 2011 at 1:54 PM #

          Not to belabor the business side of the Red Sox, but …

          The New York Times sale of the its shares is significant in that the Times owned about one-sixth of Fenway Sports Group until earlier this year. Not even Tom Werner had a 10 percent stake in the team. We know that Henry is the principal owner, but not the majority owner (more than 50 percent of FSG).

          By getting the Times out of the picture (albeit they now own about 7 percent of FSG), it does make sense that it will be far easier for Henry to sell the team. FSG has to answer to its shareholders like any other corporation. It's a lot easier to tell those shareholders to "Shut up, I'm putting this team on the market" if none of them play a significant role in the financial stake of the team.

          Meanwhile, can John Henry please come out of hiding and address the Francona situation? Jeez!

  4. ChipBuck October 3, 2011 at 10:12 AM #

    In case you missed it the other day, Peter Gammons had a rather interesting tweet the other day–and no it wasn't of the hilarious butt tweet/should have been a DM variety. He speculated that one way Henry could keep Theo in the fold was to promote him to co-team president (with Larry Luchhino), and install someone like Assistant GM Ben Cherington as full time GM. It'd be similar to what the Indians did with Mark Shipiro and Chris Antonetti. Thoughts?

    Nice piece btw Troy.

    • darryljohnston October 3, 2011 at 10:23 AM #

      I'm very pro this idea! I like stability with proven winners so I think this would be good for the franchise.

    • Tim Daloisio October 3, 2011 at 7:55 PM #

      As mentioned on the latest podcast, I can see a scenario where Larry Lucchino is the odd man out here with Theo being given the President title and promoting Cherington to GM while farming the business side out to a direct report that can focus on that side of the equation. Larry has been mentioned as a possible commissioner candidate in the post-Selig world and this may just be the time to part ways for him to ramp up his campaign for that endeavor.

  5. Don October 3, 2011 at 10:49 AM #

    Different subject, but …

    VERY interesting comments this morning from Kevin Youkilis (who spoke on the radio) about his relationship with Jacoby Ellsbury, drinking in the clubhouse, etc.

    Check it out:

  6. Scott Woodward October 6, 2011 at 2:21 PM #

    Hi, Everyone just picked up this through the intenet.. il be straight with you im a liverpool FC fan and dont know that much about baseball only started looking for Red Sox results and going on due to FSG buying us out so they have spent alot on better than average players and 1 world class star but 1 point got me thinking do all you red sox fans think Henry and Co will just build us up then sell on to another owner as a whole group EG Red Sox, Liverpool Fc and there Nascar team ???

    • darryljohnston October 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM #

      In my opinion Scott, yes. But not for a long while yet. They will first work to win championships I believe. This isn't the same as an American business where you invest, make it lean, profitable and then issue it for bid. I don't know much about who is building your team's roster but I think you will be stable for awhile. Hope the going gets good for you all there.

      • Scott Woodward October 6, 2011 at 3:01 PM #

        Would be nice to win a league championship, but overall impression from the fans over here is they seem really good owners to have unlinke are previous one Tom Hicks, but i will be following the red sox more and hope you have a good season next year round


  1. GM Update: Epstein and who else might be on the short list | Cubs Den - October 3, 2011

    [...] reader emartinezjr sends this link that talks about John Henry's new found influence in the Red Sox organization.  Here's an excerpt, [...]