ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox, their status within the American League East and how they can improve. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Last week, with the Red Sox seeming to heat up, Olney said that the team had a great opportunity to take advantage of a relatively weak AL East. Since then, the Sox offense has sputtered and the team has lost five of seven. However, Olney maintains that the Red Sox still have the best chance of any team in the division to turn things around.
“When you look at what they have as their list of potential solutions, it’s just a lot longer than, say, a team like Tampa Bay or the Yankees, where they’re pretty much stuck with the guys that they have, and it’s part of the reason why I think going forward [the Red Sox] have a chance to get better,” Olney said.
While the Red Sox have struggled this season, Olney said, “They have the most fixable problems and the most resources to fix them with,” as compared to other teams in the AL East.
One change Olney recommended is to move the lineup around based on day-to-day matchups rather than each player’s pedigree. The Sox, for example, moved the struggling David Ortiz down to fifth in the order for Tuesday and Wednesday’s games.
“That feels like the first step in what has to happen next in fixing the 2015 team, which is to get away from stature and past records and all that and just get back to picking the best lineup every day,” he said. “If you move Ortiz, who has the most stature on that team, you can probably do a lot of other things as you go.”
As for the pitching staff, Olney said that manager John Farrell may consider moving Joe Kelly to the bullpen if Kelly continues to underperform as a starter.
“At some point if they decide to put him out there I think he has a chance to be dynamic because of his stuff. If Joe’s in a position where he knows that once every two or three days he’s coming out of the bullpen for 18 to 20 pitches, he could be someone who could really light up a radar gun and change the options for John Farrell in the eighth or ninth inning,” Olney said.
Olney indicated he expects Red Sox manager Ben Cherington to make a move for a pitcher via trade, but only if it comes at the right price.
“The fact that the division is so mediocre and there doesn’t appear to be any team poised to run away buys Ben Cherington time to wait to see if anything materializes that’s actually a good deal. I do think at some point he’s going to strike and add a guy like a [Scott] Kazmir,” Olney said. “Maybe that right guy for the right price is Cole Hamels, maybe it’s Johnny Cueto, but he doesn’t have to jump because of what’s going on with the other teams.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
On pitchers getting suspended for using a foreign substance on the baseball: “To me, they’re like the guys who get caught going 56 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone and they’re getting their license suspended. It’s ridiculous, because everybody in the game knows that this goes on.”
On Ortiz getting older and getting out of his prolonged slump: “He’s told me a number of times he’s got to focus on taking the ball to left-center, and once he can get that going, then that’s fine. … Once you start to get older, people don’t talk about you being in a slump, they just talk about you being old, and that’s right with David now. He’s at that point where the Red So have to ask that question seriously, especially when they do have other options on their roster if they’re looking to play more of a matchup thing.”
On the possibility that Alex Rodriguez could become the next Marlins manager: “The guy knows baseball, he’s actually really good with young players, he has a passion for the game, he’s never been someone who’s been afraid of working hard and he certainly would fit [Marlins owner] Jeffrey Loria‘s intention to make a splash with his managerial hiring. … For all of the other B.S. and the suspension and the lies that he’s had in the past, the guy loves the game and he actually has a lot of knowledge about the game.”