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Buster Olney on M&M: ‘You don’t want to play Oakland’

10.09.13 at 12:49 pm ET
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ESPN’€™s Buster Olney appeared on Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox‘€™s ALDS win over the Rays, and Boston’s opponent in the ALCS.

The Sox beat the Rays, 3-1, in Game 4 at Tropicana on Tuesday night to clinch the series. The Red Sox now await the winner of Thursday’s Game 5 of the Athletics-Tigers series.

‘€œIf you’€™re the Red Sox, you don’€™t want to play Oakland, because I think Detroit, while they have the great starting pitching, there are so many flaws,’€ Olney said.

Among those flaws is a nagging injury for star third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Last season’€™s AL MVP and Triple Crown winner has deviated from his otherworldly form in the last few weeks because of groin and abdominal injuries. He has just four singles and zero walks in 16 plate appearances this postseason, and two extra base hits since Aug. 26.

‘€œHis situation completely changes the lineup,’€ Olney said. ‘€œI was having some discussions with some scouts about this yesterday and they were talking about how this team is basically built to bash, they count on home run hitters and they count on extra-base hits.’€

The Red Sox won a wild game in Tampa Bay that featured Rays manager Joe Maddon calling on his bullpen eight times because starter Jeremy Hellickson could not escape the second inning.

Boston trailed 1-0 entering the seventh inning, and with one out Red Sox manager John Farrell opted to pinch-hit Xander Bogaerts for Stephen Drew. Bogaerts jumpstarted the two-run inning with a walk, and scored the tying run. Farrell previously had faced scrutiny for not pinch-hitting Bogaerts for the struggling Drew vs. a lefty late in Game 3.

‘€œMaybe after watching Drew struggle in Game 3, and then watching his at-bats that were futile early in Game 4, John may have changed his mind,’€ Olney said. ‘€œAfter the game, when Joe Maddon talked about this game, he talked about the Bogaerts walk as being the turning point in the whole night.’€

Jake Peavy turned in a solid performance, lasting 5 2/3 innings and allowing just one run on five hits and zero walks.

‘€œPeavy, like Roger Clemens, like Justin Verlander, is a guy who, to me, when he was younger he fought himself in big games, because he has so much energy, he has so much adrenaline, you guys see the way he yells at himself on the mound,’€ Olney said. ‘€œBut last night he was completely in control.’€

Jacoby Ellsbury only continued to further his case for a massive contract this offseason with an impressive ALDS. The center fielder batted .500/.526/.611 in four games. He hits the free agent market at the end of the season.

‘€œI think [the Red Sox are] going to have a hard ceiling, and I think it’€™s going to be in the 75-80 million [dollar] range,’€ Olney said.

Last week, Rays owner Stu Sternberg was quoted in a Tampa Bay Times article saying that the Rays organization, plagued by low attendance and a miniscule payroll for its existence, eventually will be vaporized.

‘€œThey’€™re like a rowboat that’€™s constantly having to be bailed over and over and over,’€ Olney said. ‘€œI wonder if Sternberg, who’€™s a really competitive guy, and I really believe runs the best organization top to bottom in all of baseball, where he might say, ‘€˜You know what, enough of this, I’€™m going to go buy another team, and we’€™ll let someone else deal with the Tampa Bay situation.’€™ ‘€

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.

Read More: buster olney, jake peavy, Jeremy Hellickson, Joe Maddon
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