Kevin Millar on M&M: Jon Lester needs confidence, Red Sox need to decide between Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias
|06.14.13 at 1:23 pm ET|
Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon and was pretty adamant when it came to how Jon Lester can get back on track.
“Lester needs to take the ball, get on that mound, pull his hat down and believe in himself,” the former Red Sox and current MLB Network host said. “He does go through these periods where it’s almost like Jon Lester doesn’t believe how good Jon Lester really is. I think that’s just part of keeping going. John Farrell needs to be a big part of this and figure this out, because [Lester] needs to get straightened out.”
The two other obvious factors are location and velocity, Millar said. Lester’s velocity is down — from 95-97 mph to 88-92 — and when location isn’t there during any given start, it spells bad news for the lefty.
“A guy on the golf course asked me yesterday, ‘Mariano Rivera, how does he dominate the game with one pitch?’ ” Millar recalled. “Let me tell you, it’s real easy. Location. Mariano Rivera paints the baseball. Whether it’s a cutter or a fastball, it’s down and in, it’s down and away, it’s elevated up and in, it’s elevated up and away. Period. You never see Mariano Rivera pitch in the middle of the plate.
“This isn’t rocket science. Lester needs to find a way to hit spots, work down in the zone and pound the zone. Pound the zone.”
One player who does believe in himself — and has performed better because of it — is the same guy who had a walk-off single against the Red Sox last night: Chris Davis. The Orioles first baseman is an early MVP candidate with a .338/.417/.688 slash line, 21 homers and 56 RBIs.
Millar attributed a lot of that to the mental part of the game.
“[Orioles manager] Buck Showalter deserves a lot of credit with this young man,” Millar said. “You saw the numbers and talent in the minor leagues, and finally he said, ‘You’re my guy. You’re going to strike out. You’re going to play every day.’ It allowed Chris Davis to know that I’m going to be in the lineup whether I strike out or hit a home run, and you’re starting to see the game slow down.”
The Red Sox have the reverse of that situation, in a way, on the left side of their infield. The hosts questioned Millar on what the team should do with Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias.
The answer is simple, according to Millar. Just make a decision. Middlebrooks is and should continue to be the third baseman, so the only decision is who the Red Sox would rather have playing shortstop.
“I know Drew is making [$9.5 million], but if he’s not going to hit, you have a guy who can pick it and maybe not hit also that is a heck of a lot cheaper that might hit better,” Millar said. “I don’t think the Middlebrooks situation should [be a factor], because then it becomes a revolving door. It’s not fun. Middlebrooks is your third baseman ’til he fails. You can’t say, ‘Two months, he failed.’
“[Iglesias] looks so much better [than past years]. He went out and got stronger. I like what he’s doing. He looks great. Now he’s able to handle the bat. But the Red Sox have to make a decision, is he the shortstop or not?”
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