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Theo Epstein takes exception with his quotes in Terry Francona’s book

Terry Francona has co-authored a book, “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” and from the sound of it, the former Boston Red Sox manager is seeking a bit of revenge in the wake of the team smearing his image on his way out the door.

Earlier this week, we shared one of Theo Epstein’s quotes from the book in which the former Boston general manager talked about John Henry, Larry Lucchino and the Red Sox ownership group wanting “sexy” players.

On Wednesday, Epstein told Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com that the quotes were taken out of context.

“My quote about how ‘they told us… we needed sizzle’ was in response to a question about the meeting to discuss the consultants’ study on NESN ratings,” Epstein, who is now with the Chicago Cubs, said. “It was specifically about the consultants’ meeting; it was not about ownership.”

Epstein insists that it was marketing consultants that said the team needed to bring in “sexy” players — not Henry and company. He also took exception with the book’s assertion that he was pressured into trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford prior to the 2011 season.

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Theo Epstein: Red Sox owners wanted ‘sexy’ players

Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has co-authored a book, and as expected there are parts in it that paint an unflattering picture of the way the team’s owners operate. As many of us already suspected, John Henry and company care more about the image of their team than they do about putting a winning team on the field.

In his book, “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” Francona talks about how Henry, team chairman Tom Werner and team president Larry Lucchino were always worried about television ratings. Former general manager Theo Epstein, who is now with the Chicago Cubs, also weighed in.

“They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle,” Epstein said. “We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.”

In 2004, Epstein was able to break an 86-year World Series drought with little-known players like Bill Mueller and Kevin Millar. David Ortiz was hardly a household name when Boston brought him over from Minnesota, but he was a “small” acquisition that wound up becoming huge. On the other hand, trading for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford two years ago brought fireworks in the media, but it led to one of the worst results the team had seen in years.

Francona even went as far as to say he doesn’t think the current Red Sox ownership group loves baseball.

“They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don’t think they love baseball,” Francona said. “I think they like baseball. It’s revenue, and I know that’s their right and their interest because they’re owners … and they’re good owners. But they don’t love the game. It’s still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It’s not their blood. They’re going to come in and out of baseball. It’s different for me. Baseball is my life.”

After Francona was fired following Boston’s epic collapse in 2011, Henry had to defend himself against accusations that he leaked information to the media to smear Francona’s name. Tito seems to think it happened that way, and who can blame him? The quotes in the book simply confirm what Red Sox fans have come to know so well — it’s all about image for Henry and the boys.

Bobby Valentine: David Ortiz quit on Red Sox after big trade with Dodgers

Former Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine appeared on “Costas Tonight” with Bob Costas on Monday night in his first interview since the team fired him following the season. Since Boston parted ways with Valentine, we have been waiting see who he will blame for the abysmal season Red Sox fans just endured.

To his credit, Bobby V. blamed himself above all others and told Costas, “It was my fault.” However, he did take some time to throw David Ortiz under the bus. Valentine said Ortiz gave up on the season after Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto were traded to the Dodgers.

“David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week,” Valentine said. “He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that this trade meant that we’re not going to run this race and we’re not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.”

As Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk pointed out, the Red Sox were 60-66 when Ortiz returned from the disabled list. He certainly would have added pop to the lineup, but how many wins can a DH account for? The fact that he was hot in his first few plate appearances hardly means Boston was “off to the races.”

Ortiz did a great job of acting if he truly didn’t hurt himself while running out a double, but that’s beside the point. If Valentine is telling the truth and Ortiz gave up, that is obviously a bush league move and not something a leader would do. It does not, however, mean the end result would have been any different. Check out Bobby V.’s full interview below:

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Red Sox rookies dressed as big-breasted cheerleaders for hazing (Pictures)

We’re nearing the end of the baseball season, which means Sunday’s road trips marked the last opportunity for teams to haze rookies by dressing them up in silly costumes. The Red Sox partook in the tradition by dressing their rookies as large-breasted cheerleaders.

Well, they dressed most of their rookies up as cheerleaders; Will Middlebrooks was dressed as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz.”

A few more pictures below:

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Bobby Valentine pinch hits for Jose Iglesias on a 2-2 count

Jose Iglesias is the most promising fielding prospect in the Red Sox farm system, but the shortstop can’t hit. His bat is nowhere close to major league-ready, but Boston’s roster is thin enough right now amid their lost season that guys like Iglesias are being given a chance to prove their worth. After he worked a 2-2 count with a man on base in the top of the seventh on Sunday, Bobby Valentine took that chance away from the young prospect.

The Red Sox manager opted to sit Iglesias down for pinch-hitter Daniel Nava. Again, the count was 2-2 when the move was made. Pedro Ciriaco was on first when Iglesias’ at-bat began but Valentine decided to go with Nava once Ciriaco stole second to get into scoring position.

“Just trying to get a run for Jon (Lester), obviously,” Valentine explained according to WEEI.com. “I told Daniel, if we steal second, you got it. Otherwise, I was all set to play defense in a nothing-nothing game. Once a guy gets to second base, I figured take a shot on a base hit. It’s tough. Jon’s pitching such a good game is what it is. You get him a run there and he wins a ballgame. He’s battling, too. It’s not about one guy. It’s about a whole group of guys.”

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Bobby Valentine called Red Sox September roster weakest in history, then said it wasn’t a criticism

Bobby Valentine seems determined to use his last days as Red Sox manager to make sure no team hires him in the future.

When asked on Friday about the status of the team’s roster, Valentine took the question as an opportunity to bash his team.

“Are you kidding?” Valentine responded when asked if the Red Sox could use roster help. “This is the weakest roster we’ve ever had in September in the history of baseball. It could use help everywhere.”

The Red Sox were last in the AL East when he made that remark, and they went on to win two straight at Toronto. Valentine tried “clarifying” his remarks before Sunday’s game.

“The other day when I made a comment about a September roster, that wasn’t meant to be a criticism of any players or anything in the organization,” Valentine said, per the Boston Herald. “It was just a statement of fact because of the injuries and our Triple-A team in the playoffs. This is different. We have less people than most September rosters. We have less positions filled than any September roster I’ve ever seen. If you thought that to be anything other than a statement of what it was, stand corrected on that.

“Usually a September roster has some starting pitchers who are waiting in the wings. Ours doesn’t. Usually a September roster has left-handed pinch-hitter types or pinch runners or five or six outfielders. We have four outfielders. That’s not like a September roster.”

As a result of injuries and trades, Boston’s current roster hardly resembles the opening day starting lineup. Kevin Youkilis was traded to the White Sox, and his replacement, Will Middlebrooks, is out for the season with an injury. So is David Ortiz. Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett were all traded to the Dodgers. Ryan Sweeney and Franklin Morales are also on the shelf. And former MVP Dustin Pedroia was not with the team at the time Valentine made his remarks because his wife had given birth.

But here’s the thing: even with those players, the Red Sox weren’t dominating. That’s why they made the trades. They still have enough players and pitching to win even without all those guys, and it’s Bobby Valentine’s job to try and make that happen, not to sit back and complain about things. He’s the manager and it’s his job to inspire his players. I’m not so sure trashing his roster is the best way to go about it. And saying that his comments were not a criticism doesn’t even make sense; they were a criticism.

Red Sox reportedly interested in John Farrell, Mike Scioscia for manager

The Red Sox will almost certainly fire Bobby Valentine after the season and be in the market for a new manager. When he’s gone — which is expected to be when the season ends — whom will they target?

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Blue Jays manager John Farrell is at the top of their list, and that Angels manager Mike Scioscia is also high on their list. Here are Nightengale’s exact words:

They already have their top choice to replace Valentine in John Farrell, according to a high-ranking official who requested anonymity because the Toronto Blue Jays manager is under contract. Farrell is beloved by the organization after serving as pitching coach from 2007 to 2010.

If they can’t pry away Farrell, who’ll be the focus of attention at Fenway Park today as the Blue Jays open a three-game series there, look for the Red Sox to turn to Mike Scioscia if he is fired by the Los Angeles Angels.

Would Farrell leave the Blue Jays for the Red Sox? If he feels it’s a better situation — which based on payrolls, it probably is — then he might. But he’s signed by Toronto through 2013, so I’m not sure how he’d escape the final year of his contract. And now that the Angels are playing well, Scioscia is less likely to be available. The only way he would be fired is if the Angels tank down the stretch. I could see him taking a year off if he does get canned, so I’d be surprised to see either man managing the Red Sox next year. But at least the report confirms what we suspected — Bobby Valentine won’t be back after the season.