Last week, the Boston Red Sox won their eighth World Series Championship, beating the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two. Jared Porter ’03 works as the team’s Director of Professional Scouting and played an integral role with the rest of the front office in transforming the Red Sox from a last-place team in 2012 to World Series champions this year. The Orient caught up with him for a Q&A about the organization’s wild ride over the past year.
How does it feel to win the World Series for someone in the front office?
It’s great. There was a lot of hard work by a lot of people—our players and coaching staff. I’m really happy for those guys and the city of Boston. As a front office member it’s a lot of fun, a lot of hard work, and a lot of stressful nights watching our team, but its pretty gratifying. It makes you hungry to get back to work and get back here.
Last season, the team traded away Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in hopes of changing the clubhouse chemistry. How did that affect your offseason strategy, and what types of players were you looking to pick up in the offseason?
Obviously we traded away some really good players, and we feel like we got some good prospects in return. But, it did free up significant money, so we were able to target players we really wanted and believed in. Right off the bat, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli were guys we really targeted and believed in. We were able to get the guys we really wanted to be here in Boston, and the financial flexibility allowed us to be aggressive pursuing them. Additionally, the financial flexibility allowed us to add our starting shortstop Stephen Drew later in the offseason and gave us the ability to add players to our roster in-season like Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton, too. It definitely put us in a position of strength from a roster creativity perspective.
Both Crawford and Gonzalez, as well as the Dodgers, were extremely successful this year. Do you think they could have been successful in Boston, or was a change of scenery necessary for them?
That’s a tough question to answer. They’re both great players. They probably could have had some success here too. I think in the end, obviously, both teams have been good; it looks like a good trade for both teams.
What did you see in players like Gomes,Victorino, Ross, Napoli and Uehara that made you target them last offseason?
Well, those guys are all very well-rounded baseball players. They do a lot of things well. They have a very strong makeup; they’re good in the clubhouse. They’re all winners—they want to win, and they fit into our philosophy very well. The well-roundedness of Gomes, Victorino, Napoli—all those guys and their willingness to buy in was huge. Dempster is a good example. He was a good starter for us all year. But, in the playoffs, we asked him to go to the bullpen and he was excited about it. Just overall we had very good team chemistry.
You most likely didn’t see Uehara as the team’s closer before the season. Were you surprised at all with the success that he had in the role?
Not really, we thought he was one of the best relievers in baseball when we signed him. He had closing experience in the past in Baltimore, he had a great year last year, and the year before that he was a little unlucky. No, we weren’t surprised, he has talent and two swing-and-miss pitches.With that said, whenever anybody puts up those kind of dominant numbers, it’s exceeding expectations.
How about the Peavy Trade before the deadline in July? What was the thought process behind that deal?
We were excited to get Peavy. We wanted to acquire a dependable starting pitcher and we felt like he was a perfect fit for us. It ended up working out well. And for him too—leaving town after purchasing a Duck Boat!
When did you know that the team had a legitimate shot to win the World Series?
For me, I travel around the country a lot. It’s a big part of my job to watch major and minor league games throughout the season. And, at every major league game I went to, I kind of kept telling myself ‘I haven’t seen a team that’s better than us yet. It’s hard to win the World Series once you get to the playoffs because it becomes a shorter season, but I haven’t seen a team that’s better than us.’ As we kept playing well throughout the year, the biggest thing is to try and win the American League East, because if you do that you’re in good position to go into the playoffs. It was hard not to believe in these guys, especially if you are around them. The coaching staff did such a good job preparing. I felt like every game we played there wasn’t a situation we weren’t ready for from a tactical standpoint. It was impressive.
What does the celebration consist of for the front office? Do you get to go into the locker room or what?
You kind of let the players celebrate. For the staff, we’re on the field after the game and in the clubhouse too, but we [the Baseball Operations Department] stay off to the side and do our own little celebration. But yeah, we do some celebrating. We have a understanding that it’s the players and the coaches that win the games, but it’s fun to celebrate as a group because you never know when you’re going to get to do that again.
Were you in the parade?
Yeah, I was. We had a Baseball Operations Duck Boat. It was a great day for the city and even better getting to take it in and enjoy it with the people I work with every day.
That must have been pretty cool.
Yeah, it was fun. Believe it or not when our Duck Boat went into the Charles River for the second half of the parade I saw the Bowdoin Crew Team (I believe) out on the river. They had stopped their boats and put them together to applaud us. I was yelling “BOWDOIN” at them and going nuts; they probably assumed I was some crazy person or something.