Buster Olney on M&M: ‘Red Sox are the team to beat in baseball’
|09.18.13 at 1:52 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and declared the Red Sox the cream of the crop in MLB as the regular season comes to a close.
“The Red Sox are the team to beat in baseball right now, I don’t think there’s any question about it,” said Olney.
With 10 games remaining, the AL East-leading Red Sox lead the Rays by nine games, and their 92-60 record ranks first in all of baseball.
“Their rotation is in excellent shape, you would probably take it over any other teams that are going to be in the postseason right now. So they would definitely be the team to beat,” said Olney.
The Athletics and Tigers lead their respective American League divisions, and Olney sees those two teams as the main threats to knock off the Red Sox in October.
“If you’re asking me which of the two teams do you not want to play, Detroit or Oakland, I know Detroit has the bigger names, but if you’re talking about how is Justin Verlander throwing right now, Id rather play Detroit, quite frankly,” said Olney. “And given all the physical issues you have with Miguel Cabrera and the defensive issues they have at first and third base, I think you have more opportunity when you play Detroit.”
Detroit leads Cleveland by six games in the AL Central, while Oakland is making a bid for its second straight AL West title, as the A’s lead Texas by 6½ games.
“I’ve talked to scouts about this, and they say the thing about Oakland that’s interesting is that every team seemingly at the back end, you know, players number 20 through 25 are guys who aren’t really that good, they’re just kind of filling out the roster. When you look at the Athletics roster, they’ve got 25 guys, none of them are superstars, there’s not a single superstar on that team, but you have 25 guys who are all good baseball players,” Olney said.
After spending time around the Red Sox over the past few years, Olney spoke about the new positive chemistry from the team.
“I think that last year guys with the mentality like Dustin Pedroia were so much in the minority, and I think Dustin even would probably admit that he fell into it, that there was so much negativity around that club with everything that was going on with Bobby Valentine – that was the first domino and it just got worse and worse and worse as the year went along,” Olney said. “And now it’s the complete opposite. Dustin Pedroia is fully invested, and they bring in Jonny Gomes, who’s fully invested, and [Mike] Napoli, and Shane Victorino and [Ryan] Dempster.
“I think they all look around and say, ‘Well, you know what, that guy’s going to care that much, this coach is going to care that much, I’m going to care that much,’ and there’s such an incredibly high degree of accountability, player-to-player, coach-to-player, manager-to-coach, and that’s why it reminds me of those teams in the late ‘90s with the Yankees because that’s what they had,” Olney said.
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