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Olney Looks at the Market For Jason Bay on D&H

10.15.09 at 11:51 am ET
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ESPN Senior Writer Buster Olney, in an interview on the Dale & Holley Show, suggested that the Red Sox could be inclined to draw the line on a new deal for Jason Bay at four years given the concerns about his defense. Olney said that general managers and scouts with whom he has talked have described Bay as “basically a designated hitter playing outfield,” which will temper the length of his contract.

“[Bay] provides the kind of power that the Red Sox need. But he’€™s basically a designated hitter playing outfield. That’€™s the assessment of most of the general managers and scouts that I’€™ve talked with. He’€™s so defensively challenged that he’€™s going to go very quickly to being a DH. If you’€™re the Red Sox, do you lock yourselves into a five-year deal with a guy who probably projects to DH after Ortiz leaves? I seriously doubt it,” said Olney. “I do wonder whether Seattle or San Francisco or some other team, maybe the Cardinals if they don’€™t re-sign Holliday, if some other team will step up and be so desperate to land a power hitter like him ‘€“ because let’€™s face it, the free-agent market stinks ‘€“ will there be another team that gives that fifth year? If that’€™s the case, I think the Red Sox aren’€™t going to move.”

Olney also said that he did not expect the Yankees to be involved in bidding on the premier free-agent outfielders — Bay and Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday — this offseason, given the anticipated arrival of heralded outfield prospect Austin Jackson and the potential need to move Derek Jeter to left field in the coming years.

“I think they’€™re absolutely not going to pursue one of the high-priced free-agent outfielders. I think what they’€™re going to do is make an offer and try to get Johnny Damon to come back for one year. Short of that, they’€™ll probably try to do something with [Hideki] Matsui,” said Olney. “They’€™ve got this terrific young outfielder in Austin Jackson coming up in the next two years. They’€™re going to have to make a decision, probably, to move Derek Jeter, and I think LF is probably going to be the most likely spot for him.

“I think the Red Sox’€™ primary competition for Jason Bay is going to come from Seattle and San Francisco. I really get the sense that the Red Sox internally are going to set a price for Jason Bay and they’€™re not going to go beyond what they’€™re comfortable with.”

Some other highlights from the interview are below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

Are you surprised that the ALCS is Angels-Yankees, with the Red Sox at home?

I am. I picked the Red Sox to win, and obviously that was wrong.

As the series went along and the season went along, I was sort of reminded of the 2005 Yankees, with Ruben Sierra in right field and Gary Sheffield in left field, the sort of older, slower, defensively challenged group of guys. I think that was exposed by the Angels. Certainly something I underestimated was how well John Lackey was throwing at this time of year. He had a lot of life on his FB in Game 1, and I think that set the tone.

Are the Yankees afraid to let Joba Chamberlain start in this series?

He’€™s clearly shown that, for now, for whatever reason, he’€™s absolutely suited to come out of the bullpen.

In the last game of the regular season, he came out of the bullpen and suddenly he was the old Joba ‘€“ the fire-breathing Joba. He was attacking the strike zone with fastballs.

I think at this point they’re, “Well, okay, that’€™s what works for him, and this is how we’€™re going to go.”

If the weather messes with their plans for CC Sabathia in Game 4, Chad Gaudin will go in Game 4, and Joba’€™s just going to stay in the bullpen.

The Yankees appear to have gone from a high-priced collection of talent to being a good team.

The guys they brought in deserve some credit for beginning to change the culture: AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia and Nick Swisher.

For years, there was a cold war going on between Derek [Jeter] and Alex [Rodriguez]. It’€™s probably too strong of a way to put it, but there was a lot of tension there.

I would give credit to both sides to make an effort to change. Alex certainly changed the way he goes about his business. He doesn’€™t make himself as available. He’€™s focused more on baseball. I think you saw, during the postseason, Derek acknowledged Alex and is working with him more than in the past.
I think the culture is really different.

Is the New York media making a big deal about A-Rod being seen having dinner with Kate Hudson in Miami last night?

No. But you know how these things go.

It will probably become a big deal if he goes hitless.

He’€™s as locked in as ever this postseason. You can always tell that by how he’€™s driving fastballs. In that series against MN, he hit the ball to CF and RF. That tells you he’€™s not anxious at the plate.

He’€™s swinging the bat as well as I’€™ve ever seen him in the postseason. And he has really good numbers in his career against Angels starters, Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders in particular.

You said that the Sox reminded you in the playoffs of the ’05 Yankees – a slow team that was beaten by the Angels. What can they do this offseason?


It’€™s a tough team to makeover because of the existing contracts. Lowell is under contract for 2010 and so is David Ortiz. I think they’€™re going to need to do something. They may not be able to go out and get the perfect solution now, and that would be someone like Prince Fielder.

They made some trades. Their depth in their farm system is not what it was a year ago because some of the guys have been promoted, some of them have been traded. So they’€™ll probably have to go for, especially if they don’€™t sign Holliday or Jason Bay, a Grade B solution.

I would not be surprised if they make a decision one way or the other to moving out, say, Mike Lowell, or telling Mike Lowell he’€™s going to have a very reduced role for next year. To me, he’€™s the most vulnerable guy, given what their strengths are and what they’€™re going to need.

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, buster olney, jason bay, joba chamberlain
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