Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the latest trade deadline news, Dustin Pedroia‘s struggles and Boston’s upcoming series against the Rays. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox‘ current 8-2 run has complicated matters for Ben Cherington and Co. Boston is 8 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East, but with the next 11 games scheduled against AL East opponents the Red Sox have a great opportunity to quickly gain ground before the July 31 trade deadline.

Olney said that even though the Red Sox could insert themselves back into a playoff race, he still could see the team parting ways with players such as Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes.

“I think that they have enough depth where they could serve both interests,” Olney said. “They could say, ‘Look, we’re still trying to compete this year, and at the same time, we can begin to turn over the roster a little bit.’ … We know that Peavy has a past relationship with [Giants manager] Bruce Bochy with the San Diego Padres. He’d be a great fit [in San Francisco.] The Red Sox clearly have internal options where if they traded Peavy, they could have other guys step in.

“The reason why a deal with the Cardinals didn’t happen was because the expectations of the two sides were different. The Cardinals basically were telling them, ‘Look, we’ll take on the salary but we’re not going to give you anything in the way of a prospect,’ where the Red Sox were hoping for something a little bit more. … I think Jonny is kind of in the same boat, depending on what they want to do with their young outfielders. Do they want to use the last two months and ensure the fact that they’re going to give those guys playing time down the stretch and begin to not only try to win this year but focus ahead for next year.”

The Red Sox will travel to Tropicana Field to take on the Rays for a three-game set this weekend, as both teams look to chip away at the division standings with July drawing to a close. Olney said that fighting for a playoff spot likely will remain the main focus for both teams during the series, rather than the personal feud between David Ortiz and David Price, stemming from the last time the teams played on May 30- June 1.

“The Rays right now are in a position where every out in every game means something,” Olney said. “I mean, they’re literally hanging on the fence on what to do in terms of whether or not to trade David Price. … They’re 24-11 since June 10, so I tend to think that this thing will be deferred. Now, are there hard feelings still there? Absolutely. But I don’t think this is going to be the time or place. That said, I didn’t think it was the time or the place for the whole thing to flare up the last time.”

Pedroia is in the midst of his worst season at the plate, as the Sox second baseman is hitting .269/.338/.364 with just four home runs and is mired in an 0-for-17 slide over the last five games. Olney acknowledged that rival teams have noted that Pedroia’s long-term future in the league could be shortened due to his all-out mentality on the diamond.

“He’s like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and players like that,” Olney said. “People with other teams love him and they want him to do well and when they see him play this year, they cringe and they’re concerned. Because they see a guy who goes out, plays hard every day, and they assume that he plays through injuries, and the other part of it is that they see someone who plays with maximum effort all the time and they worry about him wearing down. … Eventually, he may wear down faster than other guys because of those dynamics. … Nothing is going to come easy for him, and if he’s playing along those lines, this is what I’m hearing from rival evaluators, they think that he may have a shorter shelf life than other guys who may cut themselves a break and drift a little bit.”

While closer Koji Uehara remains a candidate to be dealt if the Red Sox struggle in the coming weeks, Olney said that he expects the reliever to remain with the team past the trade deadline.

“I don’t think he gets dealt before the deadline. You can’t be in the Red Sox’ position where you’re certainly not so far out that you have no hope. You’re close enough that you at least have some hope, especially given how well they’ve played. What kind of messages do you send to fans who bought tickets for the last two months and paid out their money. That would be a difficult thing for them to do, because obviously if you trade Koji, that’s a white flag, and that would be really, really tough to sell the fans.”

For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan
David Ross joined the show to talk a little bit about his foot injury, but mostly about some of the other guys on the team. He spoke about Jackie Bradley Jr's defense, Pedroia's leadership, and how well Christian Vasquez is playing.

[0:02:24] ... on novice sort of about a lot better than he had been Jonny Gomes coming up with big hits. I think it just I really -- Steve Rogers started and about a lot better I mean. ...
[0:04:08] ... give us some time to compete each with with with this group. David Ross for this right now here on 937 WER Red Sox catcher you just said David we were just talking about it not more than twenty minutes before he joined us about Dustin Pedroia trying to play for -- played through injury. I can you speak to us about how he's dealing with that and whether or not it's gonna get to the point where he passed do. Sit donning -- go to the bench as he plays. Yeah I think I think I think he's I think that they dusted one of those guys that it is hard to get -- out of lineup. I think we're a better team he helped us in some way to win a game on nightly basis that's why he's Dustin Pedroia. He whether he hits or doesn't hit whether he is is healthy -- not healthy. Brains and a candle to our team ...
[0:05:13] ... make you wanted to them. Most valuable teammate other -- team. There's Dustin Pedroia mean that what he brings -- mentally. Physically on a nightly basis the way he plays occasionally make her -- better is ...
[0:08:36] ... a good -- -- the best left handed pitchers in the game. David Ross for this year on WEEI David if you could this is for some of -- on our show since. AJ Pierzynski was like going here the other catcher in the locker room with him how did he handle himself -- in the locker ...

Matt Barnes logged 6 1/3 solid innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Matt Barnes logged 6 1/3 solid innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:



Matt Barnes didn’t shy from the fact that his first half had been disappointing. Prior to his start on Tuesday, the right-hander took to Twitter for a public declaration of intent: “1st start of the second half. Time to turn it around and finish strong”

Barnes was anything but dominant on Tuesday, but given that he entered the All-Star break with a 4-7 record and 5.06 ERA, the 24-year-old appeared to be in need of a toehold for the stretch as much as anything. That he got, as Barnes tossed 6 1/3 innings in which he was charged with two runs (one in the sixth, one in the seventh after he’d left the game, after he sailed through five shutout innings to start the contest) on three hits (two doubles and an infield single) while walking three and striking two. The outing marked the third in 15 starts in which Barnes pitched more than six innings. Though his strike percentage (61 percent of his 102 pitches) was unspectacular, he commanded a 93-95 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and employed an 85-87 mph changeup liberally to garner weak contact throughout the start.

The 2011 first-rounder elicited just four swings and misses in the outing, and he’s averaging just 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings in his last eight starts. One interesting facet of those strikeout numbers: He’s struck out 20.1 percent of the left-handers he’s faced, compared to just 12.8 percent of right-handers.

That speaks in part to the effectiveness of his changeup against lefties, while also highlighting the long-noted absence of a consistent breaking ball to handle same-handed hitters. But, given what Barnes has done against lefties (.238/.332/.338 line, as opposed to a .338/.384/.484 line by righties), the raw materials of success may not be as far away as his first-half struggles might suggest.

– Feats of Mookie: Catalyzing. Mookie Betts had his second straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a triple, driving in three runs and scoring two.

Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-5, and he’s now reached base multiple times in four straight games, going 7-for-17 with a homer and walk during that stretch.



– Right-hander Luis Diaz continued his strikeout surge, punching out seven in seven innings while allowing three runs on five hits (including a pair of homers). The 22-year-old now has 29 strikeouts in his last four starts spanning 24 2/3 innings (10.9 per nine innings) after he accumulated just 6.1 strikeouts per nine in his first 16 starts of the year between High-A Salem (13 starts) and Double-A Portland.

He’s limited his opponents to three or fewer earned runs in all seven of his starts with Portland while averaging just over six innings an outing and limiting walks to 2.2 per nine innings, showing good command of a three-pitch mix (fastball, curveball, changeup) with a good understanding of how to employ the change to disrupt the timing of his opponents. On Tuesday, for instance, he worked primarily at 91-93 mph with his fastball, threw a changeup around 80-81 mph and featured a mid-70s curveball with 12-to-6 break. His stuff lacks a wow factor, but even the possibility of an average three-pitch mix and an understanding of how to use it could give him a path to being a big league starter.

Ryan Lavarnway, in his second rehab game with Portland, went 1-for-3 with an opposite-field homer and a walk while serving as DH.

– Catcher Blake Swihart went 2-for-5, his third multi-hit game in his last five contests. He’s hitting .296 with a .352 OBP and .485 slugging mark.



– Right-hander Pat Light dominated, allowing just two hits (both singles) while walking three (two after he returned to the mound for the seventh inning), striking out five and eliciting nine groundballs. The outing continued an upward trend for the 23-year-old, who has a 2.25 ERA in his last five starts — a stretch that includes one struggle (five runs in five innings) and four outings of no more than one run allowed in at least five innings. In that span, Light has trimmed his ERA from 7.01 to 5.33.

Carlos Asuaje, playing left field, went 2-for-4 with a homer, his first extra-base hit in four contests since a promotion from Greenville. The versatile 22-year-old now has 12 homers, 24 doubles and 10 triples on the year, a total of 46 extra-base hits on the season that ranks second in the Sox system to Salem teammate Jantzen Witte (50).

– Outfielder Aneury Tavarez went 1-for-3 with a double and two walks — his first multi-walk game since he was in Lowell in 2012. Over the last two years, the 22-year-old — who shows an intriguing ability to impact the ball when he makes contact — has a 4.2 percent walk rate between Greenville and Salem.




– Outfielder Bryan Hudson went 3-for-5 with a double, his first multi-hit game since July 2. Though he’s hitting just .208/.304/.267, the 19-year-old has a solid ratio of 14 walks to 19 strikeouts in his 115 plate appearances, with the possibility that added strength, in combination with his speed, could create the possibility of offensive improvement.

– Shortstop Mauricio Dubon went 2-for-4 for his second straight multi-hit game and his fourth in seven contests. He’s hitting .385 (10-for-26) with one walk and two strikeouts as well as one extra-base hit — and inside-the-park homer — during the recent hot streak.




– Center fielder Yoan Aybar continues to show the makings of a diverse skill set. The 17-year-old hit a rocket for a triple to right field, giving him six triples (tied for seventh in the league — teammate Luis Alexander Basabe is pacing the DSL with 11 three-baggers) and 15 extra-base hits on the year, good for a .302/.355/.468 line on the year. The left-handed hitter continues to do virtually all of his damage against righties — he’s hitting .327/.364/.525 against righties and .200/.323/.240 against southpaws.

Luis Alexander Basabe went 2-for-4 with a double, and the 17-year-old now has 18 extra-base hits on the year, tied for fifth in the DSL. The switch-hitter owns a .284/.408/.480 line in 40 games.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The Red Sox continue their four-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Wednesday when Clay Buchholz opposes R.A. Dickey.

Buchholz (5-5, 5.46 ERA) wasn’t at his best in his latest outing last Friday, but he was effective enough to lead the Red Sox to a 5-4 win over the Royals. The right-hander gave up four runs, scattered 10 hits and had three strikeouts over six innings for the win. According to MLB.com, he’s the first Sox starting pitcher to win the last two games the Red Sox have played since Don Schwall in 1961.

“I gave up some loud outs and some loud hits for the first couple of innings, but that’s another team that swings the bat, and they put some balls in play that found some holes and led to a couple of runs,” Buchholz said after the game.

Buchholz is 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA since returning from the disabled list June 25. He’s allowed just one walk to 26 strikeouts in his last five starts.

Buchholz will try to keep this stretch going strong against a Blue Jays team he’s had mixed results against in 2014. He’s 1-1 against Toronto this season, giving up eight runs in 11 2/3 innings.

Buchholz’s last start against the Jays was especially brief. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings at Fenway Park on May 21. He gave up five runs (four earned), nine hits and two walks in a 6-4 Red Sox loss. Buchholz is 10-6 with a 2.71 ERA against the Blue Jays.

After three straight quality starts, Dickey (7-10, 3.95 ERA) struggled in his first outing since the All-Star break last Friday. He gave up five runs on six hits and two home runs over six innings in a 5-1 loss to the Rangers.

Dickey has lost six of his last seven starts. Recently, it’s been thanks in large part to a lack of run support. The Blue Jays have scored just two runs for the righty in his last two starts.

Dickey’s lone start against the Sox was one of his better outings this season. He allowed just one run on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts over 6 1/2 innings in a 7-1 win April 27. Dickey is 3-3 with a 4.85 ERA in six starts and 12 total games against the Sox in his career.

R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey

Red Sox vs. Dickey (RHP)

Shane Victorino (27 plate appearances): .240 AVG/.296 OBP/.440 SLG, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (16): .133/.188/.133, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

David Ortiz (14): .333/.429/.750, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (12): .364/.417/.545, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Stephen Drew (10): .333/.400/.444, 1 double, 1 walk

Jackie Bradley (8): .286/.375/.714, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

David Ross (7): .143/.143/.143, 1 strikeout

Daniel Nava (6): .200/.167/.200, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Jonny Gomes (5): .200/.200/.200

Xander Bogaerts (3): .667/.667/1.000, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Mike Carp (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Brock Holt got a hit in his only plate appearance.

Blue Jays vs. Buchholz (RHP)

Jose Bautista (43 plate appearances): .289 AVG/.349 OBP/.395 SLG, 1 HR, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts

Melky Cabrera (23): .238/.304/.238, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Colby Rasmus (17): .154/.313/.154, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Jose Reyes (16): .357/.438/.500, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Anthony Gose (11): .300/.364/.300, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dioner Navarro (9): .500/.364/.500, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Munenori Kawasaki (8): .125/.125/.125, 1 strikeout

Juan Francisco (6): .000/.333/.000, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Dan Johnson (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Darin Mastroianni (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

Based on the most recent version of the 2015 schedule, the Red Sox will open next season April 6 against the Phillies in Philadelphia followed by a three-game series at Yankee Stadium before playing the Nationals in the home opener April 13, according to an ESPNBoston report.

Based on the most recent version of the 2015 schedule, the Red Sox will open next season April 6 against the Phillies in Philadelphia followed by a three-game series at Yankee Stadium before playing the Nationals in the home opener April 13, according to an ESPNBoston report.

The schedule is being reviewed by all major league teams and could be revised.

The Red Sox will play all National League East teams, squaring off against the Braves in back-to-back two-game series in Boston and Atlanta in June, hosting the Marlins in July then playing in Miami in August, and visiting the Mets in late August. The last interleague series would be against the Phillies at Fenway in early September.

The Orioles are scheduled to play at Fenway for the annual Patriots’ Day game. The Yankees‘ first visit to Fenway is May 1-3. The Sox close the season Oct. 4 against the Indians in Cleveland.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Jake Peavy says his focus is on the Red Sox despite continuing trade rumors. (AP)TORONTO -- Jake Peavy wanted this to work. The Red Sox wanted this to work.



TORONTO — John Lackey has a message for those fretting about Jon Lester living up to a contract stretching at least five years: Don’t worry about it.

“Jon’s a different deal, man. He works his butt off,” Lackey said. “He’ll be just fine in five years.”

TORONTO — John Lackey has a message for those fretting about Jon Lester living up to a contract stretching at least five years: don’t worry about it.

“Jon’s a different deal, man. He works his butt off,” Lackey said. “He’ll be just fine in five years.”

The debate surrounding the merits and pitfalls of signing a 30-something pitcher to a long-term deal has been in full force. Lester is setting himself up for a big payday –whether with the Red Sox or another team after the season — which would kick off with the lefty living life as a 31-year-old 0n Opening Day, 2014.

Lackey knows the mindset of a pitcher heading into such territory better than most.

The Red Sox starter was also 31 when he started his five-year, $82.5 million deal, which has a sixth-year option which will surely be picked up considering it is at the major league minimum. (“I haven’t even thought that far ahead. I’m just trying to get through this one first,” said Lackey of the contractual alteration born from missing the ’12 season due to Tommy John surgery.)

“I had multiple offers on four and five. I guess there were some teams that didn’t want to do it, but there’s always somebody who wants to do it,” he said. “I definitely wanted the five years, wanted the security at that time.”

As for the hesitation some clubs (including the Red Sox) seem to have when committing to a pitcher in their 30′s past four years, Lackey is an example of how free agency can sometimes alter what teams had hoped the market might be.

“That’s just an excuse for them not to give up money for an extra year,” he said regarding not going five years. “It’s their business. But there are exceptions to everything.”

As is the case with many pitchers’ long-term deals, Lackey hit a bump in the road while executing his deal. In his case it was the elbow operation. Cliff Lee is another example of a pitcher earning a long-term commitment despite heading through his 30′s. The Philadelphia lefty was dominant for the first three years of the deal, but is now battling elbow issues.

The reality is that such contracts may have unwanted hiccups. But Lackey insists that whatever team commits to Lester won’t have to worry about such a dynamic.

“He’s an example you want to be around the young guys. He’s how you do it. He’s a pro,” Lackey said of his rotation-mate. “You could take him and write a book about how to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. He works his butt off. He handles his business. He never gets into any trouble. He’s not a guy you have to worry about. He doesn’t do anything dumb. He gets it.

“I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of good guys who do things the right way, but performance-wise and ability-wise he’s better than those guys and does it the right way. He’s pretty good.”

And now that Lackey is winding down to the end of his big deal, how does he feel pitching on the other side of 35?

“Overall, especially with last year and the way things are going this year, I guess it’s worked out pretty good,” he said. “I definitely physically I have a few more years left in me, for sure.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Rob Bradford is joined by Red Sox leadoff hitter Brock Holt, who since being inserted into the top spot in the batting order has been among the best leadoff men in baseball. Heading into Tuesday night, no other leadoff hitter has had more hits (77) since May 23, with Holt having played every inning of every game during that stretch.

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