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Buster Olney on M&M: John Farrell deserves Manager of the Year award

10.02.13 at 1:33 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney appeared on Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and made his picks for the Manager of the Year award and the World Series winner.

“I turned in my picks the other day, I’ve got John Farrell,” said Olney. “I think we can’t have a conversation last year about what a disaster Bobby [Valentine] was and see the team improve as much as it did and see John Farrell’s presence make as much of a difference — and I know they added other players as well — without giving him a lot of the credit for the turnaround there.

Farrell took a 69-93 team from last year and made the Sox into AL East winners with the best record in baseball (97-65) in his first year at the helm.

“I think Terry [Francona] has done a phenomenal job in Cleveland, but I’d give it to John,”  Olney said.

Before the start of the playoffs, Olney chose Boston as the team to beat in baseball. However, he’s had a change of heart.

“I wound up picking Oakland, because I think they’re playing really well down the stretch, I do think that like Boston, they have a heck of a home-field advantage,” said Olney, who added that one could make a case for seven of the eight playoff teams (leaving out the Indians due to their lack of pitching depth). “The way they’re playing right now, they’re not concerned with convention or how people perceive them, they are going really well and to me that’s a really dangerous team.”

The wild card-winning Indians and Rays square off in Cleveland on Wednesday night for the right to play the Red Sox, the top seed in the AL. This is Cleveland’s first playoff appearance since 2007.

“The city’s all fired up, everywhere you go everyone’s wearing Indians garb,” Olney said. “I was in the Indians clubhouse after they clinched they other day, and they celebrated hard. This means a lot to those guys, and I think Terry Francona especially.”

Francona made the bold choice to go with rookie Danny Salazar as the starter Wednesday, instead of a veteran like Ubaldo Jimenez or Scott Kazmir. Salazar will face the Rays’ Alex Cobb.

“Salazar, who’s only got 10 starts in the big leagues, and yet the Indians couldn’t wait to get him the ball because he’s got electric stuff and he seems like he can handle any situation,” Olney said. “Their dream scenario would be that he pitch six innings and [Justin] Masterson goes the last three.”

In 52 major league innings this season, Salazar has a 3.12 ERA, a 1.135 WHIP and an 11.3 K/9 ratio.

On a non-related postseason baseball note, in the latest strand of an ongoing battle between Alex Rodriguez and MLB, Rodriguez reportedly claimed that he was duped into taking illegal steroids, according to the New York Daily News.

“Would it surprise you at all? Because it doesn’t surprise me at all,” Olney said. “We’ve been waiting all year for him to sort of step up and say, ‘Hey I did it, I’ll take my punishment, and move on,’ but that’s clearly not how he’s handling it.”

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

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