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Buster Olney on M&M: Red Sox think Jon Lester ‘is fouled up mechanically’

06.12.13 at 1:57 pm ET
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ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss Jon Lester‘€™s struggles, Jose Iglesias‘€™s role on the Red Sox and the potentially weak pitching market at the trade deadline.

Lester is 0-3 with a 6.90 ERA in his last five starts, which is a sharp contrast from his first nine starts of the season when he was 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. Olney said that the downward trend has to do with a recently developed flaw in Lester’€™s mechanics.

‘€œThe Red Sox really think he is fouled up mechanically,’€ Olney said. ‘€œIt was interesting when we had a conversation with John Farrell before we did the Sunday night game about 10 days ago. He was fairly circumspect when he was talking about [ClayBuchholz and he was talking about Lester and he made sort of these references to Lester’€™s mechanics, and his concern is that he tries to draw his arm back a little bit farther and get a little bit extra and that is when he begins to lose it.

‘€œI know that going forward what their plan is with him is to get him back to doing what he was doing in spring training in the early part of this year in standing tall on the rubber and throwing downhill. But they have felt all along that he is someone who tends to drift in and out of his mechanics, and I think that is what is going on right now with him.’€

One player who is not having any trouble for the Red Sox right now is Iglesias, who has a .449 BA/.494 OBP/.577 SLG line through 24 games for Boston. Olney said he is not surprised by Iglesias’€™s success.

‘€œHe has earned it,’€ Olney said. ‘€œI know that there were some people in the Red Sox organization that thought he was going to hit better. I have told you guys the story about how the Yankees thought he was going to be essentially a utility player and people within the Red Sox organization telling me he was going to be more like an Alex Gonzalez where he would hit with some pop, and he has been better than that. That happens. It’€™s why guys are 14th-, 15th-round draft picks and they ascend to the big leagues. It is the reason why a guy like a  [Cardinals pitcher] Michael Wacha can be picked in the middle of the first round last year and have an impact within a year that sometimes players get better. He has gotten better, he has earned the right to be up.’€

If Iglesias continues to be effective at the plate and in the field, he could be looking at more playing time at third base, especially with Will Middlebrooks having a difficult time in the batter’€™s box. Middlebrooks has a .199/.230/.398 line with only 15 hits in his last 79 at-bats.

‘€œI know that they absolutely believe that Middlebrooks is going to sort it out and figure it out and he is going to hit,’€ Olney said. ‘€œBut I do think that at some point during the course of the season, we have seen this with the Dodgers this season with [Yasiel] Puig, it goes from being ‘€˜OK, you got your chance,’€™ to ‘€˜We are going to start looking at other guys.’€™

‘€œBecause Iglesias has played well, at some point if Middlebrooks doesn’€™t hit, then they will try Iglesias at that position or they will move ‘€” give somebody else a shot. I think that you probably go from waiting and waiting and waiting to deciding you’€™re going to try alternatives.’€

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On Clay Buchholz‘€™s injury: ‘€œI’€™m curious because the Buchholz thing constantly pops up with physical problems, and I have said this all along, I don’€™t think that teams are ever obligated to tell us exactly what is going on. But at the same time I don’€™t think we have to take it face value what they are telling us is the absolute truth. You just wonder with Buchholz sort of coming and going with his physical issues if there is something more there.”

On the Red Sox being interested in relief pitching at the trade deadline: ‘€œI’€™m sure they are going to be interested in it. There are going to be a lot of teams interested in it. But in talking with general managers, they think the pitching market this summer is going to be absolutely atrocious. Terrible. There might be a couple of guys who might be presented from sort of the small-market, mid-market teams, but we have seen such a shift in how teams view closers and relievers and what their actual value is, that you wonder if a team like the Red Sox is presented with ‘€” let’€™s just call it the Lou Merloni, the right-handed reliever from Team X is available. Whether or not the Red Sox are going to be willing to pay the price, there are just not going to be that many guys out there and I think the Red Sox, given their experience with Eric Gagne and others, will probably be one of the first teams to say, ‘€˜You know what? We will just try other options from within.’€™ ‘€

On Daniel Nava’€™s All-Star hopes: ‘€œIf he continues with those numbers, there is no question about it. You guys know that he is going to be swimming upstream against the pure volume of players that the Red Sox will have at the All-Star Game. You would assume that Buchholz probably is going to have an excellent shot to be there, you would assume that [DustinPedroia is going to have an excellent chance to be there. David Ortiz because of who he is. That is going to play a factor. I covered Joe Torre for four years when he was picking All-Stars and it was hard because there would be guys he would want to put on the team but this rule of having one guy on each team and what positions you had, those are all huge factors. I hope it doesn’€™t work against him, but there is a chance that it may.’€

Read More: buster olney, Jon Lester, jose iglesias, Will Middlebrooks
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