|Buster Olney on M&M: Red Sox lack ‘defined chain of command’||07.11.12 at 3:17 pm ET|
ESPN MLB analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni for his weekly appearance on Wednesday afternoon, saying the Red Sox need a stronger chain of command. To listen to the interview visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“That’s really what a lot of this stuff comes down to, without having specifics of who’s having disagreements with who,” Olney said. “Ultimately the reason why all this is happening, and the same reason why years ago there was the issue between Larry [Lucchino] and Theo [Epstein] was because there wasn’t really a distinct chain of command that was determined by the ownership. They need to [fix] that and [the problem's] not going to get solved until that happens.
“All these issues of who’s speaking to who and who’s not talking to who and who’s not getting along with who, that’s not going to be settled until they deal with that. Again, as we’ve said in recent weeks, they can still win in spite of that. They’ve got a tremendous amount of terrific players.”
The analyst couldn’t comment on rumors of Boston restraining Bobby Valentine from using his managerial style, but Olney said the problem — if it exists — stems from ownership.
“Here’s the bottom line: That’s something where the ownership, if that’s an issue, whether it’s letting Ben [Cherington] have full control or letting Bobby be Bobby and do what he does, that’s got to come from the top,” Olney said. “That’s got to come from John Henry in the same way that they had to decide, ‘OK Theo you run baseball operations. Larry, you stand over here.’ Or ‘Larry you’re going to run baseball operations and Theo answers to you.’ They have to determine those things but that’s clearly, it’s sort of at the root of the issues they have that there isn’t a defined chain of command where they need it.”
Olney said when he noted Red Sox problems in a column he was referring to ongoing issues as opposed to ones already reported.
“I kind of find it funny because, within the baseball industry, it’s not even a secret,” Olney said. “It’s such an open conversation about issues that different people in that organization have that it’s funny that it hasn’t been written about more there, to be honest with you.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington on D&C: Kevin Youkilis trade ‘best for everyone’||06.25.12 at 10:47 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s trade of Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox, Clay Buchholz’s trip to the 15-day DL with a gastrointestinal disorder, David Ortiz’s role in the clubhouse and more.
Cherington told John Dennis and Dale Arnold, sitting in for the vacationing Gerry Callahan, that he felt Sunday’s dramatic day at Fenway played out well, thanks to a Sox win and an ovation for Youkilis.
“It was a busy few days,” Cherington said. “We were working hard to find a resolution and give our clubhouse and our manager a chance to get a little bit more stability back to our lineup and to find an opportunity for Kevin to get a fresh start.”
While Cherington said he had told Youkilis that the Red Sox were talking to teams about a trade a handful of times over the last two or three weeks, it was only in the last few days that they began to push for one in earnest.
“We got to a point several days ago where we decided ‘you know what, this might be the best thing, if there is a trade that we could find, it may be the best thing for everyone,’” Cherington said. “We’ve got so much respect for Kevin, certainly personally, I do. I was the farm director when we joined the organization and he plays his heart out every day he gets in a Red Sox uniform so I wanted to see him get an opportunity, but the reality is, Will Middlebrooks deserves to play and Bobby [Valentine]’s got to put Middlebrooks in the lineup. And it made for a tough situation and we tried to make the best of it and move Adrian [Gonzalez] around, and try to mix and match to get guys in there but it wasn’t ideal so we decided if there was a trade we could find that made sense we would pursue it and we’ve been working on that for several days and it just so happened that the White Sox one was the one we liked the best.”
As to whether trading Youkilis would help ease reported tensions in the clubhouse, Cherington said he didn’t know exactly what the media was referring to but said “I think it was hard, I think it created a challenge for Bobby, certainly. You have guys, you know, that should be playing and you have too many guys for the spots in the lineup. That’s just the reality. When you have guys that can play every day and are sitting on the bench, at least one every night that maybe you shouldn’t have.”
|Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, scouting director Amiel Sawdaye break down draftees||06.05.12 at 1:12 am ET|
The Red Sox acquired three college players on the first day of the 2012 draft, grabbing Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero with their top pick (1st round, No. 24 overall), following that with left-hander Brian Johnson of the University of Florida (1st round, No. 31) and finishing the day by grabbing Monmouth flamethrower Pat Light with the team’s third selection (1st round supplemental, No. 37 overall). Here’s what Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye had to say about the three picks:
DEVEN MARRERO, SHORTSTOP, ARIZONA STATE, 1ST ROUND (NO. 24)
Cherington on whether the Sox thought Marrero — who was slated in some mock drafts as a top-ten selection — would be available when they picked at No. 24: “There were a couple of teams we thought might be a spot where he’d go, and he didn’t. We were happy he got there. We look forward to trying to get him into the Red Sox organization. He’s a talented shortstop who’s been a good player at a major program and a good player at Team USA and a guy we liked a lot coming into the spring and like a lot moving forward.”
Sawdaye on his offensive ability: “He has a very quiet swing — functional. He’s a guy that sprays the ball around the field. He has what we call sneaky power — a guy that obviously doesn’t look like the biggest player on the field but can definitely juice the ball out of the stadium. He’s certainly somebody who we feel like has a chance to impact the baseball.”
Sawdaye on how Marrero’s offense compares to his defense: “We think he’s advanced on both sides of the baseball. Certainly I think he’s probably a better defender. We don’t see him moving off shortstop. We think he’s a guy that in the long term is going to be a shortstop. I don’t think the question of moving him to a different position is even one we’re going to tackle right now.”
Sawdaye on the idea that Marrero had a down year as a junior: “I didn’t actually the offensive decline was as much of a worry for us. He showed us some things in the box that we really liked and some things that we really look for. Certainly, I think he expected to have a better year statistically but it’s not something that is a concern for us either from injury or physical play.” Read the rest of this entry »
|The Red Sox’ approach in the draft: What best player available means||06.04.12 at 4:58 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington had a straightforward answer when asked what type of player his team might pursue with its top draft picks. His response was broad.
“Get the best players,” said Cherington. “We’re not going to go after need. We’re going to target the best player available at each pick, looking for the best total return on this draft class. The key with any draft is to again do more with your picks than the 29 other teams do. The nature of the draft is you don’t get all the players you want and you don’t hit on every player. But our job is to do more with our picks than our competition does. If we do that, more often than not, over a period of years, we’ll be building an advantage for the Red Sox.”
The idea is that the Red Sox do not want to confine themselves to a specific category of player or position. A look at the top overall selections in each of the last 10 drafts by the Sox suggests as much:
2002 – Jon Lester, high school left-hander
2003 – David Murphy, college outfielder (Division 1, large conference program)
2004 – Dustin Pedroia, college infielder (Division 1, large conference program)
2005 – Jacoby Ellsbury, college outfielder (Division 1, large conference program)
2006 – Jason Place, high school outfielder
2007 – Nick Hagadone, college left-hander (Division 1, large conference program)
2008 – Casey Kelly, high school right-hander
2009 – Reymond Fuentes, high school outfielder
2010 – Kolbrin Vitek, college infielder (Division 1, mid-size conference program)
2011 – Matt Barnes, college right-hander (Division 1, large conference program)
That’s six college and four high school top picks; two-left-handed pitchers, two-right-handed pitchers, four outfielders, two infielders. While the team hasn’t selected a catcher with its first overall pick, it is worth pointing out that the team took Blake Swihart last year with its second first-round pick and gave him the biggest bonus ($2.5 million) of any of its picks last year.
Unless they are picking near the top of the draft, major league teams simply can’t pick according to big league (or even organizational) need, given the number of variables in play over the years-long course of a player development trajectory needed from the time a player is selected to when he reaches the big leagues. As such, the Sox believe in taking the best player available regardless of position, given that a team can always make a trade to clear a prospect logjam.
So, when the team talks about lining up its board, it is very literally an exercise in stacking up players in descending order of talent (regardless of position) to simplify the selection process.
A few other final thoughts on the Red Sox’ take on the Monday night draft: Read the rest of this entry »
|Potential Red Sox draft picks: Marcus Stroman||06.03.12 at 5:56 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he was going to target the best players available when the Sox pick in the 2012 MLB draft, which starts Monday. When the Red Sox pick for the first time at 24th overall, there is at least a chance that the best pitcher remaining on the board could be Marcus Stroman, a hard-throwing 5-foot-9 right-handed pitcher from Duke University.
Stroman, who was drafted in the 18th round (532nd overall) of the 2009 draft, will undoubtedly hear his name called much earlier this time around, as he developed into the top pitcher in the ACC. After being named All-ACC on May 21, Stroman earned second-team All-America honors Thursday, after leading the nation in strikeouts with 136.
In his time as closer for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, Stroman did not allow a single hit in his 8 1/3 innings pitched, converting all four save opportunities. The Medford, N.Y., native struck out 17 of the 27 batters he faced, only surrendering one walk in the process. He was viewed as one of the top picks in this year’s draft class, but Baseball America suggests that he is sliding down the board (perhaps because of his short stature), and in a mock draft on Friday, the publication pegged Stroman as the Sox’ pick in a mock draft.
Various reports praise Stroman as one of the most polished pitching prospects of this year’s draft, possibly even capable of pitching in the major leagues as soon as this year, as he utilizes three MLB-ready pitches to give hitters fits. He can throw some serious heat for his size, with a fastball that tops out at 98 mph and sits in the mid-90s serving as the most impressive of the pitches in his arsenal. Stroman also has a changeup that is 10-12 mph slower that he can mix in with his fastballs and keep hitters off balance.
Stroman uses a hard, overpowering slider as an out pitch, and he has developed a cutter that he throws in the low-90s to give him a selection of four legitimate pitches. Many project Stroman as a closer because of his fastball-slider combination that is so common at the position. However, he has the changeup at his disposal as well (especially effective against lefties), as well as a cutter, a mix that would almost certainly leave the Sox inclined to develop him as a starter.
The knock on Stroman is his height. If he were a few inches taller, Stroman likely would be projected as a top-five pick as a starting pitcher instead of a mid-to-late-first round pick. Still, for a pitcher that is as close to MLB-ready as he is, Stroman represents a tantalizing prospect if he is still around when the Red Sox pick in the first round.
|Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington feel Marlon Byrd ‘can help a lot’ in Boston||04.22.12 at 12:20 am ET|
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said that the Red Sox approached his team about the possibility of acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd once Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury went down with injury. With the Cubs featuring some interesting outfield prospects (notably including Brett Jackson as well as Tony Campana) in their farm system who are knocking on the door to the majors, Chicago embraced the opportunity to deal Byrd to the Red Sox in exchange for reliever Michael Bowden and a player to be named later. Hoyer said that the player to be named would be a pitcher whom the Cubs will choose from a list by the end of May.
Byrd, 34, is off to a terrible start this year. In 47 plate appearances, he is hitting .070 with a .149 OBP, .070 slugging mark and .219 OPS. However, Hoyer said both that the slow start did not create the team’s willingness to deal Byrd and that, in fact, he expects the center fielder to rebound in Boston.
“Our feeling was we’ve been trying to acquire relief pitching since the end of the winter. We felt like an area we have some surplus with young players we want to play is in the outfield so that was a big part of it,” Hoyer told reporters in Chicago after the trade. “The slow start, a lot of guys have a bad 45, 50 plate appearance stretch. We wouldn’t be doing our job well if we let that play into it. This is something we talked about going back to spring training. We felt we had some guys who can be a big part of our future. Realistically, Marlon was in the last year of his deal and we felt we wanted to give some plate appearances to other guys.”
Hoyer thinks that Byrd will benefit from the change of scenery, including the fact that he’ll get a do-over with his batting average.
“I think he’s excited to have the opportunity in Boston, knowing they’ve had some injuries and some playing time. You’re on a big stage in Chicago and he’s going to be on a big stage in Boston and I think he relishes that. I think he’s excited about going to Boston. I think he’ll be successful there for sure,” Hoyer told reporters. “His slow start is really uncharacteristic for him. I think he’ll heat up here. Maybe it helps him. Obviously, he’s been in a little bit of a funk and sort of having the batting average reset and going to the American League might be a good thing for him.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Buster Olney on M&M: ‘The feelings of hurt are fresh’ with Terry Francona||04.11.12 at 12:40 pm ET|
ESPN MLB analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni to discuss Ozzie Guillen, the dynamics inside the Red Sox clubhouse and the relationship that exists between the Red Sox and Terry Francona, among other things.
Having worked with Francona throughout spring training and the early juncture of the 2012 regular season, Olney said that he has developed a relationship with Francona, and that the former Red Sox manager is still hurt by the way that his successful tenure in Boston came to an abrupt end at the end of last season. For that reason alone, Olney said he is not surprised that Francona does not intend to go back to Fenway Park to be part of any celebrations surrounding the park’s 100th anniversary.
“There’s no question — the feelings of hurt are fresh,” Olney said. “There’s probably some question in his mind about who exactly was the source of the information, who should I believe in this situation. To be honest with you, I don’t know many managers who, after they’ve been fired, can immediately go back to their old place.”
Building on the way that the 2011 season came to a crashing end for the Red Sox, Olney said that there is still some tension in the team’s clubhouse surrounding who or what could have possibly been the source for a story that detailed the team’s late-season collapse, most notably with players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.
“It’s not like 25 guys are sitting there playing a game of Clue on this,” Olney said. “It’s a small group of players. But it absolutely has been an issue in spring training — accusations going across the clubhouse, and it will be interesting to see if they can turn the page on it.
“From what I understand, it wasn’t like ‘OK, let’s turn the page, full steam ahead,’ it was, ‘Oh yeah? Well the heck with you, the heck with you.’ The thing is still festering.”
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