ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the attention drawn to Eduardo Rodriguez tipping pitches and the flexibility of Clay Buchholz‘s contract among other things. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
Going into Tuesday’s game the talk centered around Eduardo Rodriguez and how he tipped his pitches to opposing batters as to what type of pitch he was going to throw. The Orioles managed to figure it out when they were able to chase him after he allowed six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings last Thursday, but he bounced back Tuesday night, tossing six innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits.
During its broadcast of Tuesday’s game, NESN showed exactly what Rodriguez had been doing. He would tilt his head downward when throwing an off-speed pitch, while his head would stay up when he was about to throw a fastball.
Olney said the segment detailing the issue was useful for him as a member of the media, but that it probably wasn’t what people in the Red Sox organization wanted on air during their broadcast.
“As a reporter, of course, I love it,” he said. “Give me as much information as possible. But if you’re actually working for the team, I wouldn’t want it out there.
“If we broke that down on Baseball Tonight, I’d be excited about it,” Olney added. “If I worked at Major League Baseball Network, you’d be excited about breaking that down, but if you’re within the Red Sox community, you’re probably not thrilled that that’s out there.”
Olney brought up the impression he’s received from other front offices is that the Red Sox will probably look to shed some money during the offseason, most likely via Rusney Castillo and his seven-year, $72.5 million contract.
“Let’s face it, Hanley Ramirez doesn’t have a lot of trade value right now,” he said. “You’d have to eat a lot of money to move Pablo Sandoval given what’s going on there, and there’s not a lot of other ways to do it, which is why people of other teams come back to Castillo. But I still think that it’s early, and even though you look at the standings and it doesn’t look good for the Red Sox, it’s not like there’s some horse running away with the American League, and it doesn’t hurt the Red Sox to wait three weeks.
“If they’re back within four, five games, maybe their perspective changes. If the hole gets deeper then yeah, they could look to do some things, but I think it’s going to be really difficult for them to move some of those pieces that have been written about without eating a lot of money and teams don’t usually do that this early in their contracts.”
Clay Buchholz has turned things around of late, posting a 2.50 ERA since May 10. While his recent success might make him appealing to other teams via trade, Olney said he’s asked other executives in the league whether they think the Sox should deal him or not.
The general consensus from those executives is they don’t believe he’s going anywhere.
“Let’s say he does go through a period [of struggling on the mound] or let’s say he does get hurt, then they can easily walk away from the contract,” Olney said. “Now is the time when they can really take advantage of paying him money up front because of the option years, and they can control the situation, and at $13 million in the current marketplace, to have a player with that kind of experience with options where you can actually walk away, that has a lot of value in itself.
“Again, talking with executives of other teams, and I’ve asked them, ‘What do you think the Red Sox would be going for if they wind up selling before the deadline? What do you think they’re going to do during the winter?’ And the thing they always come back to is they need starting pitching,” Olney continued. “If that’s how the Red Sox feel about it, then I don’t know how you let Clay Buchholz go given how well he’s thrown and given the fact that they have such a need there.”
Even with the Sox’ current record, Olney said with all the other obstacles AL East teams are facing, it’s not totally impossible to think the Red Sox could get back into the thick of things.
“It continues to be the case where when you look at the Yankees and the issues they have there, when you look at the Blue Jays and they’re starving for pitching, the Rays can’t hit now, on and on,” Olney said. “The teams with all the different problems, I don’t think we should be surprised if any one of the teams emerges, including the Red Sox.”