Former Red Sox first baseman and current MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Middays with Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday to talk about the latest with the Red Sox. To hear the full interview, head to the Middays with Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.
Following the Dave Dombrowski hire, Millar believes the Red Sox will be better off with a long-time baseball executive leading the way.
“He brings a presence,” Millar said. “He’s been doing this for 29 years as a general manager. Talking with him last night, he’s here, he gets the chance to be around the club … he’s going to ask questions, he wants to learn the town, he wants to learn the city. But now you know who the point man is. … There’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of meetings he’s going to have to go through — all the way to the scouting directors to the food and beverage directors to whoever he wants to see — he’s going to sit down and learn. But this man’s done it for 30 years so there’s going to be that presence and that leadership.
“You need to fear somebody in this game. Salaries dictate a lot because players make so much money these days and they don’t fear anybody, so you try to create this culture and the way to get that culture back and that discipline. So I think Dave Dombrowski is going to come in here with a plethora of knowledge and good ideas.”
With Dombrowski being president of baseball operations, he will have the final say in all Red Sox decision matters.
“Yes, he’s got enough experience,” Millar said. “… You know Dave Dombrowski had a plethora of other jobs, this wasn’t rocket science. He does some great things wherever he’s gone so he came here, and I’m sure he’s got some pull to make his decisions and why wouldn’t he? You don’t do this for 29 years and then come here and have to go down the totem pole. He’s got a relationship with John Henry. … You’re bringing in a veteran, which is basically what you got. You went out and got a veteran in the front office, not on the field.”
Coming off Rusney Castillo’s five-RBI day, Millar presented his opinion on how the Red Sox should manage their athletic, young outfield going forward.
“Jackie Bradley Jr. throws the baseball as well as I’ve ever seen in this game,” Millar said. “… He’s had some success now the last few weeks. You’re starting to hopefully see that Jackie Bradley Jr. is not the guy that’s going to hit three home runs and drive in eight RBIs every game, but he’s also not a .180 hitter. I like him. He plays all three positions. He’s a great center fielder. Mookie Betts is a great athlete that’s going to keep getting better and better and better with baseball instincts, because he’s a tremendous athlete. And then Castillo — we haven’t seen him play. So you’re starting to get a chance to see the power. He’s big and he’s strong. You see the thunder off his bat. And I think you need to get the at-bats to see what you’ve got in him. You gave him $70-plus million at 27 years old, let’s go see.
“You’ve got some dynamic scenes, it’s just how far and how long can you wait to keep waiting and waiting. I don’t know. But that’s where Dave Dombrowski comes in and sees, ‘We’ve got some talent. We’ve got some young talent. Do I have to make a few moves? Do I have to get somebody here and somebody there?’ They’ve got a great, athletic base.”
Unsurprisingly, Millar cited starting pitching as Dombrowski’s biggest need this coming offseason.
“He’s got to go get arms,” Millar said. “This game is won with the big dogs at the top of the rotation. … Go get arms and pitch, pitch, pitch and pitch. If you pitch and catch the baseball, you’re going to win games. The Tampa Bay Rays pitched and caught the baseball for many years and they won a lot of games. You can’t name five of their starting hitters.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
On Hanley Ramirez: “Going into the season I thought Hanley would be much better, I’ll be honest with you. He’s a soft-spoken, nice kid, but then there’s times I want to go out there and it’s hard to watch. It’s a hard watch on the baseball field and in left field. … Hanley’s going to have to look in the mirror and ask, ‘What’s Hanley want to be in this game?’ You want to be great? Do you want to think you’re Manny [Ramirez] without the numbers? Do you want to be Miguel Cabrera? Because he can be whoever he wants, I’m not Hanley. … Can you imagine if Hanley really loved baseball and gave everything he had every single day? Then this guy’s underpaid. But if you’re going to go out there and play on just one side of the field, which is offense and that’s not even that good. Do you want to hit .338 like Miguel Cabrera and have 39 home runs and drive in 130? Then we can put blinders on him.”
On comparing Joe Kelly to Jake Arrieta: “What a great comparison to Jake Arrieta, because I worked out with Jake Arrieta a few years back when he was with Baltimore and not finding his thing, strong kid. … Then he went to Chicago and now he’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues. Joe Kelly, Clay Buchholz, all of these guys [have] great arms, great feel, but it’s another thing to find that consistency. I love Joe Kelly’s arm, I love everything about him. … At this level, 2-1, 3-1, 2-0, you’ve got to learn to hit a spot, you can’t just sit here and throw heaters down the middle, and think, ‘Ok, let me throw a strike,’ because then you get hurt. … Some guys are [late-bloomers], but I wouldn’t give up on a guy like Joe Kelly by any means. Because the arm and the person, you like.”