"I think it's exciting, there's no doubt about it. I think, no matter what year it is, there are expectations in Boston like very few other places. No matter if you're making two roster changes or 12 roster changes, there are very high expectations, and that's one of the reasons why I wanted to be here, because of the expectations."
One year after rating the team's 2005 draft as the second-best in the game, Baseball America on Tuesday declared Boston's 2006 First-Year Player Draft as tops among the 30 Major League teams. The 2006 Draft Report Cards are included in the latest issue of Baseball America.
Boston signed 27 of its 54 selections from the 2006 draft, including each of the first 13 picks. Players cited by the publication include right-handed reliever Josh Papelbon (named one of the top five second-day picks) and first baseman Lars Anderson (named one of the top five power hitters).
"Theo wanted me to go down and see some of their players during Instructional League," Baird said. "That's a real credit to their amateur scouts, Jason [McLeod] and everybody there."
Considered one of the better talent evaluators in the game, Baird was hired by the Red Sox just two months after being relieved of his GM duties in Kansas City.
"Personally, it's a very good fit for me," he said. "It's an organization that has a strong desire and expectation to win day in and day out, and that's very important to me. There's different challenges. There are challenges in Boston that are different than, obviously, in Kansas City, but everything is relative. I do think with Theo, the front office and ownership, just the overall intensity every day, that strong desire and expectation to win is pretty special."
Baird, 44, served as Kansas City's senior vice president and general manager from June 2000 to May 2006, becoming just the fifth GM in franchise history. Overall, he spent 18 years in the Royals organization, beginning as a Minor League hitting coach in 1988. He then served as territorial scouting supervisor in Florida from 1990 to 1992 and as national scouting cross-checker from 1993 to 1997, when he was appointed special assistant to the general manager.
"There are long, cold winters [in New Hampshire], and I remember as a young kid that when the Red Sox went to Winter Haven [Florida] at that time, that was basically telling you it was close to being summer when they come home from [Spring Training]," he said. "It is very meaningful."
And meaningful baseball is what the native of Rochester, N.H., has always sought since his youth.
"It is significant," he said. "Let's face it, this game is made up of business and personal [aspects], and from a personal standpoint, I grew up in New England. And I don't think unless you come from New England that you truly understand the Boston Red Sox and how [they have an] impact besides the game of baseball. It's a way of life."