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Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox have ‘most fixable problems’ of AL East teams

05.27.15 at 1:49 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

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.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, buster olney, David Ortiz, Joe Kelly

Former Red Sox OF Yoenis Cespedes unhappy about treatment in Boston

05.27.15 at 12:54 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes’ time with the Red Sox was brief, and he said he knows why. Cespedes, now with the Tigers after an offseason trade, said he clashed with Sox first base coach Arnie Beyeler, and that led to what the outfielder implies was a smear campaign against him.

“There were some rumors in Boston, things that were said about me that I said were not true, so I knew they were going to trade me,” Cespedes told USA Today’s Jorge L. Ortiz. “The first base coach treated me like I was a rookie when I got there, wanted me to do things a rookie would do, and I told him I wasn’t going to, so he started talking.”

Cespedes was acquired by the Sox from the A’s at last year’s trade deadline. Right away there was speculation that he would not last in Boston, as he is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season.

The 29-year-old also questioned the decision-making of the A’s, who saw a drop-off in production after moving the Cuban slugger in a deal for Jon Lester. Oakland, which was in first place in the AL West at the time of the trade, went 22-33 the rest of the season. This season the A’s have the league’s worst record (17-31).

“[Fellow Cuban Ariel Prieto] would tell me Oakland is a school where they develop the players, then they let them go,” Cespedes said Monday before the Tigers opened a three-game series in Oakland. “I was a little surprised to see some of the main figures leave.”

Reminded that the A’s have a reputation for trading up-and-coming players rather than paying them, Cespedes replied: “Then why operate? Don’t they want to win a championship?”

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he’s not interested in discussing his former player.

“I think we have to move on,” Melvin said. “He’s with a new team and we have a new complement of guys. . . . Baseball’s a transient business. Guys move around from time to time. He’s just one of the guys who was here and had an impact, and he’s no longer here.”

Cespedes, who is hitting .285/.318/.469 with five home runs, 24 RBIs and a league-high 16 doubles in 47 games, is the two-time defending All-Star Home Run Derby champion, and he said he plans to defend his title this summer.

Read More: Arnie Beyeler, Yoenis Cespedes,

Live blog: Red Sox, Rick Porcello take on Twins in series finale

05.27.15 at 12:22 pm ET
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Live Blog Red Sox vs. Twins, series finale
 

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Jack of all trades: An in-depth look at Red Sox players’ versatility

05.27.15 at 12:16 pm ET
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Brock Holt has played six different positions in the field so far this season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Brock Holt already has played six positions this season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Versatility is becoming more and more important to a team’s success.

Of the 13 position players on the Red Sox‘ 25-man roster, six have played multiple positions this year, and over the course of their careers 10 have played more than one position.

This movement goes down to the Triple-A level as well. Of the 12 position players on the active Pawtucket roster, nine have played multiple positions this year, many three positions.

“The benefit is the more options the manager has. At the major league level with good players, the better chance the manager has to fill out a deep lineup 162 times a year,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “If you have a bunch of guys on your roster that are more bound to one position or two, it just gets harder to get through the season and create deep lineups, good matchups, and then it’s also a huge advantage in terms of managing players’ health throughout the season.

“Brock Holt could play seven, eight places on the field theoretically. If there is a time when a player is dragging for whatever reason you can play Holt one day and still give yourself a chance to get good production and not get a drop-off. It might help the team, but also helps the player who gets the day off. There are all sorts of things for a potential benefit.”

The most notable versatile player in the organization is Holt, who has played six positions this year and last year played every position in the field besides catcher and pitcher.

There are others like Mookie Betts who was an infielder until early in the season last year when he was switched to center field, Xander Bogaerts, who added third base to his repertoire in 2013 and played both positions last year, and Hanley Ramirez, who is playing left field after spending his whole career on the left side of the infield.

“It’s huge,” Betts said of being able to play multiple positions. “You get to get in the lineup every day and, like I said, you create value for yourself and the team as well. That’s huge.”

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Read More: ben cherington, Brock Holt, deven marrero, mookie betts

Red Sox notes: Eduardo Rodriguez to start Thursday; Rusney Castillo has shoulder issue

05.27.15 at 12:12 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

MINNESOTA — The Red Sox continue to mix things up a bit.

Prior to his team’s series finale against the Twins Wednesday, John Farrell announced Eduardo Rodriguez would be getting the start against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas Thursday.

It will be the major league debut for Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Orioles at last season’s non-waiver trade deadline in exchange for Andrew Miller.

The lefty has posted a 2.98 ERA in his eight starts with Triple-A Pawucket, striking out 44 and walking just seven. He is coming off a seven-inning outing Saturday in which the 22-year-old allowed two runs on nine hits, fanning six and not walking a batter.

Farrell noted that the Rodriguez start will allow for an extra day of rest for the rest of the Red Sox starts, while allowing for an opportunity get major league experience for the rookie.

“Very good stuff. Very good ability with his fastball, a lot of strikes, a lot of power to it,” Farrell said. “Changeup is a true weapon for him. The slider is a pitch that continues to come along. We wanted to build in the extra day for guys and get his debut kind of under his belt before we may possibly need him later on in the season.”

However, when asked what would happen if Rodriguez pitched “really, really, really well,” Farrell responded, “Then we’ll have to really, really, really reconsider.”

According to Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart, who caught Rodriugez earlier this season in Pawtucket, the pitcher’s strength is his power and competitiveness.

“He’€™s not scared to go after guys,” Swihart noted. “He’€™s very confident out there on the mound and he goes out there with the confidence that he’€™s going to win the battle. To just have a guy who goes out there and competes like that is nice.

“He just went out there and was consistent every time. You know you’€™re going to get a good game out of him, even if he doesn’€™t have his best stuff that day. … When you make it look easy to throw 95 it’€™s pretty easy to go with that. It’€™s just sneaky. Everything is hard. Slider is hard. Changeup is hard. And everything moves so much it’€™s effective.”

– Rusney Castillo, who made two outstanding diving catches in the Red Sox‘ 2-1 loss Tuesday night, is out of the lineup after aggravating a shoulder injury that plagued him during his time in Triple-A.

Farrell noted that it didn’t appear a trip to disabled list was going to be needed.

“He felt like he could swing the bat, and that was even the case last night if his at-bat came up in that final at-bat,” the manager said. “But was not going to go on the field defensively if we extended that game. He tested out the same this morning. There’€™s a couple of plains in the physical testing where we were able to reproduce the discomfort. We think this is minor in nature but he didn’€™t’€™ feel comfortable trying to get loose here this morning.”

Red Sox lineup: Rusney Castillo gets day off; David Ortiz still batting fifth

05.27.15 at 11:16 am ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

MINNEAPOLIS — The Red Sox will stick with generally the same batting order as Tuesday night, as Pablo Sandoval will again hit third and David Ortiz fifth in the series finale Wednesday afternoon against the Twins.

The Red Sox will look to avoid a three-game sweep.

Rusney Castillo will get the day off as Brock Holt starts in right field, as the team goes up against Twins right-hander Phil Hughes.

Blake Swihart will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here’s the complete Red Sox lineup:

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mookie Betts, CF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Hanley Ramirez, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Brock Holt, RF
Blake Swihart, C
Rick Porcello, RHP

Read More: David Ortiz, Rusney Castillo,

Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘Nothing has worked out’ for Red Sox

05.27.15 at 10:40 am ET
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ESPN baseball analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday to talk about the state of the Red Sox and the reasons for the team’s struggles. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling said that, looking at the Red Sox roster back in spring training, expectations and hopes were justifiably high.

“You look at this team and said, ‘They’re going to score, they’ve got a very solid rotation of power arms,’ and nothing has worked out that way,” Schilling said.

However, Schilling does not think that a big trade would be guaranteed to be a difference-maker for the Red Sox. He cautioned against making such a major move just for the sake of making one.

“You don’t want to do something at the deadline that has absolutely zero impact on you other than to give away prospects. … Do you make a move with a Mookie Betts or a Jackie Bradley Jr. or something that brings in that ace, that Cole Hamels, and then you finish seven games under .500 and out of the playoffs?” Schilling said.

Regarding the struggles of both Joe Kelly and David Ortiz, Schilling expressed frustration with Kelly’s disappointing start, considering his ability to throw “98 [mph] pretty much effortlessly.”

“I think you can look at just this eight-week sample and realize that you should be a little concerned. … He hasn’t adjusted, and it’s frustrating as hell to watch because you’re talking about a guy who should be going to the All-Star Game every year, battling to win his 20th in August and looking to put some hardware on his shelf every single season, and instead you’ve got this nightmare,” Schilling said.

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Read More: Curt Schilling, David Ortiz, Joe Kelly,

Wednesday Red Sox Farm Report: 3 Sox prospects in Keith Law’s new Top 25, RHP Joe Gunkel solid for Salem

05.27.15 at 10:22 am ET
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ESPN.com’€™s Keith Law updated his MLB Top 25 prospect list (with players currently in the majors ineligible), and three members of the Red Sox organization made Law’€™s register.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

11 — Yoan Moncada, 2B (Low-A Greenville Drive). Law writes, ‘€œHe has barely begun to play, but there’€™s broad consensus that he’€™s going to hit for average and power, although he may ultimately be better defensively at third than second.’€

14 — Rafael Devers, 3B (Low-A Greenville Drive). ‘€œDevers is still not that polished at the player,’€ Law writes, ‘€œbut he has explosive bat speed and power, and even if he has to go to the outfield because of his size, he’€™s still a potential middle-of-the-order bat.’€

18 — Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox). Law says, ‘€œRodriguez has two plus pitches in his fastball and changeup, excellent control (albeit not command yet) and dominates lefties even though he doesn’€™t have a wipeout breaking ball.’€

The other American League East prospects to make Law’€™s Top 25 are:

16 — Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees (Double-A Trenton)
17 — Daniel Norris, LHP, Blue Jays (Triple-A Buffalo)
21 — Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles (Double-A Bowie)

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Read More: eduardo rodriguez, jantzen witte, joe gunkel, rafael devers

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Phil Hughes

05.27.15 at 9:14 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox will send AL Central veteran Rick Porcello to the hill Wednesday to face longtime AL East pro Phil Hughes and the Twins in the finale of the three-game series.

Porcello has faced adversity during his first year in a Red Sox uniform after coming over from the Tigers, posting a 4-3 record and a 5.07 ERA through nine starts. The right-hander has proven incapable of keeping the ball in the yard this season, allowing nine home runs in 55 innings of work. To put the number in perspective, Porcello allowed 18 dingers in his 204 2/3 innings pitched last season.

An $82.5 million signing meant to stabilize the rotation, Porcello has done anything but that over his last two starts. In 11 innings pitched, he has given up three home runs, nine earned runs and five free passes. Opponents have crushed 24 percent balls in play for line drives, leading to a .273/.360/.545 slash line.

In his most recent outing last Friday, Porcello lasted just 4 1/3 innings against the Angels before Red Sox manager John Farrell pulled the plug.

“I walked those two guys in the fifth, that hurt,” Porcello said after the 12-5 drubbing. “The fourth inning, whatever happened, happened. But those two walks and not being able to get out of that was the difference. I took full responsibility for the loss today. That was completely on me. I’ve got to do better.”

Porcello will look to get back on track vs. a Twins squad against whom he has succeeded against in the past. Porcello has logged an 8-7 record and a 3.91 ERA in 23 starts vs. the Twins.

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Read More: Phil Hughes, rick porcello,

Day after disaster, Joe Kelly channeling his closer’s mentality

05.27.15 at 2:23 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

MINNEAPOLIS — A day after allowing seven runs over just 1 2/3 innings, Joe Kelly was still the focus of attention prior to the Red Sox‘ Tuesday night tilt with the Twins at Target Field.

Would he be moved to the bullpen? Would he get sent to Triple-A? Would he be staring blankly at a screen, breaking down video of his disastrous outing?

It was none of the above.

First thing, Red Sox manager John Farrell met with the starter, identifying some issues that have plagued Kelly through a season that has seen him give up five or more runs in five of his nine starts.

“We had a chance to sit down and review yesterday’s game with him, and the one thing we continue to try to point out to Joe is that he’s learning himself as a pitcher and what makes him most effective,” Farrell said. “Yesterday there were a number of balls that leaked back to the middle of the plate that he paid for.

“I still contend and strongly believe that his curveball is a major weapon that’s got to be used in his pitch mix. You look back at the Texas game: He made a very tangible adjustment after three innings of work when he went to his curveball more than his slider and slowed them down and had some quick and efficient innings. It’s part of the education process of who Joe is as a pitcher and what makes him most effective.”

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