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Ken Rosenthal on D&C: This Red Sox team ‘as likable as last year’s team was unlikable’

10.10.13 at 9:47 am ET
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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to talk about the MLB playoffs and the Red Sox’ bounceback season.

Rosenthal acknowledged he didn’t see this turnaround coming from the Red Sox based on their offseason moves.

“What I thought was that they plugged some holes, but none of the guys that they got was that good,” Rosenthal said. “It turns out that virtually all of them performed at a high level this year — maybe at the extreme end of their performance … and beyond that, of course, the mix has been so good.”

Added Rosenthal: “I didn’t think that they were going to get enough performance out of these guys — sheer baseball performance. But they have, and it’s worked out incredibly well.”

The improved chemistry in the clubhouse has been targeted as a key reason for Boston’s success.

“Had they not performed at this level and been such a quality team, then all of that intangible stuff goes away,” Rosenthal said. “What is impressive about this, and what you cannot measure, is the self-policing that goes on in that club to get guys to play the right way. And that’s if, for instance, if a guy doesn’t run hard to first base, or if a guy doesn’t take an extra base, the other players are there saying, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ That’s a great quality. It seems that they have it, it seems that they’ve had it all season. It’s one of the things in watching them I really admire.

“I don’t know — I’m not in Boston — if the town has taken to the team in a way that you would expect. It doesn’t seem to me from the outside that it has. But my gosh, this team to me is as likable as last year’s team was unlikable.”

Jacoby Ellsbury is slated to become a free agent after the season, and his stock is rising with his stellar postseason performance. Asked to predict where Ellsbury will end up, Rosenthal said: “I’m going Seattle, six or seven times 21 [million dollars].”

The Athletics host the Tigers in Game 5 of their American League Division Series on Thursday night, with the winner traveling to Boston for the American League Championship Series.

“It’s really hard to bet against [Justin] Verlander,” Rosenthal said of the Tigers ace. “The way he pitched in the last game, the way he’s pitched in the last month or so, he looks like he’s back to himself. Now, the A’s are at home, they’ve got the kid [Sonny Gray] on the mound who’s red hot and really good. But I went with [Cardinals starter Adam] Wainwright last night, and I’m going with Verlander tonight.”

Asked who the Red Sox should want to face, Rosenthal said: “I’m not sure it matters, and I’ll tell you why. The Red Sox in that last series … that was as strong a performance as you would want from your team. I’ve been so impressed with the way they play — this has been really all year, but particularly now. And off the four-day layoff, they looked as crisp as ever. I love that. I’m not sure it’s going to matter. They’ll find the way. And in my view, they’ll probably be favored either way.”

In the National League, it’s the Cardinals vs. the Dodgers.

“This next series in the National League is going to be fascinating,” Rosenthal said. ‘You’ve got two teams that are built quite differently, who have quite different ways about them, but are probably evenly matched to some extent, in large part due to the emergence of [Cardinals pitcher Michael] Wacha. If Wacha wasn’t as hot as he is, then I would probably pick the Dodgers, and pick the Dodgers in five. But now, I’m not sure. It will be really interesting to see if the Cardinals figure out how to handle [Clayton] Kershaw and [Zack] Greinke. But they’ve got the near-equivalent weapons in Wainwright and Wacha.”

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

Read More: Adam Wainwright, Jacoby Ellsbury, justin verlander, Michael Wacha
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