|John Kruk on M&M: Playing in Boston should bring Erik Bedard to another level||08.02.11 at 3:27 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk joined Mut & Merloni Tuesday afternoon to discuss the winners and losers of the trade deadline and determine which team has the upper hand in the home stretch of the regular season. To hear the full conversation, check out the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Red Sox made a last-second deal for starting pitcher Erik Bedard on July 31, hoping to fill the void left by Clay Buchholz‘ season-ending stress fracture. While more than a few critics have questioned Bedard’s ability to perform on a stage like Fenway Park (he’s 2-3 with a 6.99 lifetime ERA in Boston), Kruk endorsed the trade, and said Bedard should relish the chance to play for a contender.
“Maybe [playing in Boston] is what he needs,” Kruk said. “He’s never had to do it. Maybe this is what he needs. Maybe this is something that will get him going. Look, if you can’t go to Boston and get up to play games, if you can’t go to New York and get up to play games, knowing you’re going to have a chance every night to win … You have to remember the situations he’s been in. Awful. Baltimore, awful. Seattle, awful. He has a chance now to be on a team where if anyone has any sort of heart or any sort of determination at all, he dials it up a notch knowing he has a chance to get a ring and pitch in the World Series. If anyone can’t do that, they shouldn’t play.
“I think with Buchholz possibly being out for the season, they had to have an arm and [Bedard] wasn’t pitching bad for Seattle,” he added. “I know it’s not a great hitters division and Seattle is a pretty good place to pitch, bigger ballpark, but I still like the move. I understand his numbers at Fenway aren’t great. They’re awful. But he’s not pitching against [the Red Sox], he’s pitching against the opponent. So that’s a good thing for him too. Sometimes these under-the-radar-type deals where you don’t give up a whole lot, you take a shot and see what happens. He might come in and be a dominant pitcher like he was a few years ago.”
Kruk went on to say that even with the loss of Buchholz, Boston is the favorite to win the American League pennant. Entering Tuesday, the Red Sox are one game ahead of the Yankees in the American League East, and lead the majors in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
“It made it difficult without Buchholz, it really did,” said Kruk. “If Bedard can step up and pitch well for the next couple of months, then maybe the Buchholz thing eases a little bit. I think teams have gotten closer now to Boston. I still think they’re the best team. Just the way they hit. They just bludgeon people. It’s fun to watch, really. Watching pitchers go in there, knowing that if I get five innings out of my starter against the Red Sox I think I’ve had a quality start. I still think the Red Sox are the best team. [Jon] Lester and [Josh] Beckett are as good as anyone going right now besides [CC] Sabathia in baseball. I still think they’re the team to beat in the American League.”
As for Boston’s typically big-spending division rival, Kruk used one word to describe his reaction to the Yankees’ inactivity at the trade deadline.
“Shocked. Shocked. Some of the stuff we heard was, “They asked for too much, he’s too expensive.” When have you every heard the Yankees say that? When have you heard them even mention something about expense? It was unbelievable. Reading and hearing about some of the stuff that was coming out from people that the asking price was too much, they wanted too much money on the back end. Woah. If you’re Boston, you’re looking at this and saying, “Perfect.” They’ve got one great starter with Sabathia and then they’ve got four guys that are question marks. Why would you fear that now?”
While the Yankees did little to improve their ball club, the AL West-leading Rangers made a pair of big moves to make their bullpen one of the best in the league. Texas added the Padres’ Mike Adams (1.13 ERA) and the Orioles’ Koji Uehara (1.69) to set up young closer Neftali Feliz (21 saves). Kruk said the Rangers would now pose the biggest threat to the Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs.
“Detroit can hit but Texas can come close to matching up with what Boston has,” said Kruk. “So if you have a pitcher that’s not pitching well or is not on his game, there’s some guys on Detroit that you can get around. Texas doesn’t really have that issue. There’s not many guys you can pitch around on that team to get to someone who’s not as good. They’re pretty powerful and so that would concern me with playing Texas in a short series. I’d much rather have Detroit in a short series if I was Boston, but I don’t know if they’re going to have that choice.”
In Philadelphia, the National League favorite Phillies improved their chances at a title by trading for Hunter Pence, who’s hitting .305 with 11 home runs entering Tuesday. Coupled with the imminent return of Roy Oswalt from the disabled list, Kruk said the Phillies are poised for a late-season surge, although his money’s still on Boston to win it all.
“I get killed in Philly every time I say I think Boston’s a better team. Look, [the Philles are] outstanding. I still think that there’s some bullpen issues … They’re good. They’ve got [Placido] Polanco back now so their lineup is pretty set right now as far as health-wise. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the first day in the lineup with Pence, Ryan Howard went 4-for-4 hitting behind him. They finally have someone back there who is a threat and respected, so I think Howard is going to have a big month-and-a-half here.”
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