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Buster Olney on MFB: ‘I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this [All-Star Game] matters’ 07.16.14 at 2:31 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the controversy surrounding Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter during the All-Star Game, Jon Lester‘€™s contract negotiations with the Red Sox and the season outlook for Boston. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

After surrendering a leadoff double to Jeter to open the All-Star Game, Wainwright admitted after his outing that he gave Jeter, who was playing in his final Midsummer Classic, a few “pitches he could handle.”

Wainwright later backtracked from his comments, adding that it was supposed to be a joke. Olney leaned in favor of Wainwright, as many pitchers have done the same thing before in an effort to honor a retiring player on the national stage.

“I kind of felt bad for [Wainwright],” Olney said. “First off, Adam Wainwright is one of the really great people in the sport. He’s honest and he’s earnest and to what he originally said, he just spoke the truth. What he originally said that he did, that’s been going on for years and years and years. … It’s a pitcher’s way of honoring a hitter.”

Olney added: “I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this game matters, which is really the basic problem in this thing, where Adam can’t really come out and say, ‘Hey, it’s an exhibition game and I wanted to give Derek an opportunity to enjoy the stage,’ and instead everyone has to do all this backtracking and pretend that something happened than what actually did happen.”

While Jeter received a large amount of praise during the All-Star Game, there was no mention or ceremony for either Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn or long-time manager Don Zimmer, both of whom passed away this year. Olney said that he was shocked that there was no dedication for Gwynn during the game.

“I was surprised,” Olney said. “It’s certainly, in the case of Tony, because he’s a Hall of Famer, we see it at the Oscars every year, where they roll the videotape of all those who’ve been lost the year before in the film industry, and I was surprised at the very least that that wasn’t done on behalf of Tony.”

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Read More: Adam Wainwright, buster olney, Derek Jeter, Jon Lester
Ken Davidoff on D&C: ‘Derek Jeter is the No. 3 Yankee of all-time’ at 10:29 am ET
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New York Post baseball columnist Ken Davidoff joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss Derek Jeter‘s treatment at the All-Star Game and his standing among all-time Yankees greats. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Jeter went 2-for-2 in what was a celebration of his final All-Star Game on Tuesday night. The Yankees shortstop led off the game with a double off starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. Wainwright said afterward that he gave Jeter a pitch to hit out of respect, inspiring Davidoff to write a column saying that Wainwright should’ve covered up for Jeter when asked about it.

“My point was, it’s fine he gave him one to hit, he just shouldn’t have admitted to it because then it’s kind of like, ‘I was trying to help out the old man,’ ” Davidoff said.

When asked why Jeter deserved a grooved pitch, Davidoff said, “For the same reason Cal Ripken Jr. did 13 years ago, because when a legend, a future Hall of Famer, retires, because there’s no harm in grooving him a pitch so he looks good in his final moment on the national stage.”

Jeter scored one batter later and the American League went on to win 5-3 to earn home-field advantage in the World Series. Serving up a grooved pitch to Jeter on Tuesday night could prove consequential for the National League club in the World Series.

“I agree 100 percent,” Davidoff said, continuing to defend his argument by saying, “I don’t care about the National League. That’s my opinion. It’s a free country, isn’t it?

“If David Ortiz decides to announce his retirement in advance and he gets the same kind of love and farewell tour that Derek Jeter gets, and David Ortiz would deserve such a farewell tour, I would think he deserves a grooved pitch in the All-Star Game as well,” he said.

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Read More: Derek Jeter, Ken Davidoff,
Jon Lester relishes All-Star inning of work, opportunity to play with Derek Jeter; Koji Uehara fans only batter he faces 07.15.14 at 9:05 pm ET
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MINNEAPOLIS — Jon Lester‘s third All-Star Game consisted of one inning of work, with the Red Sox lefty pitching the second inning for the host American League.

Lester allowed two runs on three hits over his only frame.

The lefty retired the first batter he faced, Giancarlo Stanton, on a pop-up to second base. But he then surrendered a single to Aramis Ramirez before giving up back-to-back doubles to Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy.

Lester would come back to strand Lucroy at second, getting Carlos Gomez to pop out to the catcher before inducing an inning-ending fly ball to center off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.

“Obviously you’re coming in here, you’re facing the best players in the world and just trying to get outs. You’re so used to going through the scouting reports and advance meetings and this and that,” said Lester. “All of a sudden, you get out there and you’re throwing to a guy you just met a day ago. It’s like, ‘Hey, all right, let’s see what we can do.’ Made a couple mistakes and obviously they’re here for a reason, put some good swings on balls. Luckily got out of there still with the lead. That was the main thing. Fun. Had a good time.

“Any time you get to run out on this field with these guys, it humbles you. It makes you just enjoy this even more,” Lester added. “Getting to be a part of this, getting to be in the clubhouse with these guys, you just walk around the room, you’ve got future Hall of Famers all over the place. It’s an awesome experience that I definitely always remember. I always remember the ones I’ve been to and get to be around these guys, cherish the talks and the conversations that we’ve had in the dugout or on the field. You get to learn a lot from these guys.”

The Sox starter threw 22 pitches, 17 of which were for strikes.

Despite being named to the All-Star team two other occasions, this was the first game action for Lester.

To listen to Lester sum up his experience at the All-Star Game, listen to the Bradfo Show podcast (also featuring Stanton) by clicking here.

The other Red Sox representative, Koji Uehara, retired the only batter he faced, Devin Mesoraco, on a strikeout for the final out of the top of the sixth.

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Read More: Derek Jeter, Jon Lester, Koji Uehara,
Nomar Garciaparra on MFB: ‘I don’t know how [Jon Lester's contract situation] is going to fold out’ at 2:22 pm ET
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Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra joined Middays with MFB Tuesday to discuss a number of baseball topics, including the All-Star Game and Jon Lester‘s contract situation. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The inability of Lester and the Red Sox to come to an agreement on a new contract continues to be one of the biggest stories of the Red Sox’ 2014 season.

“I don’t know how it’s going to fold out. Who knows? I don’t know what’s going on in the sense where one day it’s good, one day it’s bad,” Garciaparra said. “Anything can happen from one day to the next.”

Garciaparra added: “I don’t know what’s going on or what’s going on behind closed doors. I know firsthand it’s not always the same. What’s being said and what’s behind closed doors are two different things. That’s stuff to kind of calculate as well.”

Tuesday night will be Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter‘s final All-Star Game before retiring at the end of the season. Like Mariano Rivera, Jeter’s reception is expected to be significant.

“I think it’s one when you send him out there he’ll start, he’ll get an ovation,” Garciaparra said. “I think at some point too, very similar to what Joe Torre did when the All-Star Game was held [at Fenway Park] in 1999 when Jeter took my place at shortstop, was, ‘Go out there, I’ll call you in, get the ovation.’

“I think that could be a moment as well, especially then, because I’m sure it’ll be a long moment too, getting his ovation coming off, that people will take their time and the pitcher has time to stop, wait and get going again. I think that would be pretty cool as well.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Derek Jeter, Jon Lester, Nomar Garciaparra,
Buster Olney on MFB: ‘You cannot find threads of logic’ with MLB’s disciplinary decisions 06.11.14 at 1:52 pm ET
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ESPN baseball insider Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss John Lackey‘€™s future, Stephen Drew‘€™s struggles and Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘€™s suspension. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Buster Olney

Buster Olney

Questions have been raised about Lackey’€™s future in Boston, as the righty is owed the league minimum of $500,000 next season due to a clause in his contract that penalizes him for missing a year due to injury. It’€™s been speculated that Lackey might leave Boston and sign with a team in Japan in order to get a larger salary.

“I’€™m pretty sure it would be impossible, because Japan has a working agreement with Major League Baseball,” Olney said. “€œIn other words, when you see players go from Major League Baseball to Japan, often times they are players that are sold, there’€™s a transaction. That’€™s what happened with Masahiro Tanaka and his team, which got $20 million before he went to the Yankees. … The idea that John Lackey can walk out of his contract, or any player, and just simply say, ‘€˜I’€™m not going to honor that contract for 2015. I’€™m going to go play in Japan,’ I’ve got to believe that there would be a big problem with it and the leagues in Japan wouldn’t allow that.

Olney continued: “At this point, it seems like it’€™s a lot more media speculation about what might happen with a situation then actual reality.”

Machado was suspended for five games after throwing his bat across the field while at the plate during Baltimore’€™s game against Oakland on Sunday. Meanwhile, A’s reliever Fernando Abad, who twice threw at Machado, was not suspended. This raised questions in Boston, because Sox pitcher Brandon Workman was handed a six-game suspension on June 3 for throwing behind Rays third baseman Evan Longoria on May 30.

“I wrote a column today about how, when you piece together all the decisions made by Major League Baseball, especially the last couple of years, you cannot find threads of logic. They make no sense,”€ Olney said. “Think about it. Last year, Ryan Dempster threw at Alex Rodriguez repeatedly, smoked him eventually –€“ he got five games. Brandon Workman hit nobody, and only Brandon knows exactly what he was trying to do, but I think you could make the argument that he actually sort of intentionally missed Longoria by throwing behind him. … And he gets more games than Ryan Dempster? That makes no sense.”

Olney added: “Carlos Quentin charged the mound last year –€“ he got eight games. On the other hand, Manny Machado does this thing that [MLB] is most afraid of in wielding a bat during a game and he gets five games? … It makes no sense, and they’ve got to come up with a better system.”

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Read More: Brandon Workman, buster olney, Clay Buchholz, Derek Jeter
Red Sox minor league roundup: A significant advantage in the American League East 04.07.14 at 1:22 pm ET
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Derek Jeter

The Yankees do not appear to have a homegrown successor to Derek Jeter

When Jacoby Ellsbury arrived at free agency, the Yankees blew away the field in bidding because they had to. They had nothing close to a prospect who was ready to step into the role of an everyday big league center fielder. The Red Sox, by contrast, had Jackie Bradley Jr. The Yankees spent a small fortune on Masahiro Tanaka because they had to, because they don’t have starting pitchers who are close to big league-ready. The Red Sox, by contrast, have a passel of prospects in the upper levels, with Brandon Workman (currently in the majors), Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes (when he comes off the DL) all in Triple-A or above and top pitching prospect Henry Owens not far away.

The roster dynamics of the division are largely a reflection of the state of not just developments at the big league level but of entire organizations. That being the case, to understand not just what happened this past offseason but what may transpire in future offseasons, it’s worth taking stock of the overall shape of player development systems of each of the American League East competitors. Such an exercise, at least at this moment in time (with the necessary caveat that perception can shift drastically in the span of a year or two), suggests a considerable advantage for the Red Sox in the division, explained Keith Law of ESPN Insider on WEEI’s Down on the Farm. (Podcast here.)

“I think they’re in the best shape of anyone in the division right now,” said Law. “They’ve got talent at every level. They’ve got position players coming. They’ve got some up-the-middle guys coming, which is the scarcest and most valuable commodity. They’ve got pitchers coming. They’ve got starters coming. They’ve got some relief depth coming. They’ve been pretty successful in the draft. They had changeover a couple of years ago on the scouting director side, and there’s been no interruption. The drafts have continued to be successful. They’ve been aggressive on the international side and it looks like that’s yielded some positive results as well. And they’ve got guys who are coming soon, which means either they can help the major league club — [Xander] Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. as soon as Grady Sizemore gets hurt again, which happens a lot — but they’ve also got guys close to the big leagues who have trade value for them, which is just as important. I imagine the Red Sox are going to get to July and they’re going to need something because everybody does. They have the assets to go and get almost anyone they want, because when you look at the other teams with comparably strong farm systems, a lot of them are also-ran teams, maybe the teams that are selling like the Astros and Cubs, so the Red Sox will not have a lot of competition if they’re trying to go out and land, say, a Jorge De La Rosa.”

Here are some of Law’s thoughts on other farm systems:

On the Yankees’ ability to provide homegrown depth to the big league team: “Not in a good place. Triple-A, they’re going to have extremely little. [In Single-A Greenville and below is] where it starts to get a little interesting. But I could say that for probably 20 other clubs around baseball. … They’re so young and inexperienced we can dream on those guys. By the time you get to Double-A, there’s been some separation between guys who aren’t going to be able to cross the chasm and guys who at least still have a chance. The Yankees have had a lot of trouble getting guys across that chasm in the last couple years.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: corey littrell, Derek Jeter, keith law, Mike Adams
Buster Olney on M&M: Stephen Drew ‘in a really bad spot now’ 02.14.14 at 1:47 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss MLB news as teams begin to gather for spring training. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Derek Jeter announced this week that 2014 will be his final season. Olney speculated that Jeter might have made his decision public due to lingering injury issues.

“I really thought that we started to see signs of this last spring,” Olney said. “Because when he did his first press conference he made for the first time mentions of age and time in a way that he never had before. Because as you guys know, one of the great things about Derek — and maybe one of those reasons you would say he’s been one of the best players [of the last 20 years] — is because he’s been so reliable. ‘€¦ Last spring he didn’t look right. That was at the beginning of spring training. And then he had the setback with his ankle, and he never looked right; he made only 73 plate appearances.

“I do wonder if in his early workouts and preparation for this year if he’s feeling similar things, that he doesn’t look right. I think that everyone, if you’re a Yankees fan, or if you’re with the Yankees organization you’d love to see him finish up his career the way [Mariano] Rivera did last year. But I think there’s a good chance that’s not going to be the case.”

Added Olney: “I do think, and you guys have seen the numbers on some of the tickets, there’s a lot of pressure on the Yankees, there will be, to play him a certain number of games this year. It will be interesting to see how Derek handles that.”

Stephen Drew remains a free agent, and Olney said the Yankees appear to be an unlikely destination.

“No. Based on everything as of today, no,” Olney said. “They can always change their bottom line. But basically what they’ve been saying is, ‘We’re done. We are finished spending money during the course of the offseason.’ Unless that changes, unless Hal Steinbrenner says, ‘OK, you can add more payroll,’ they’re not going to be the team that signs him.”

Added Olney: “Drew might make sense to the Pirates. but they’re just philosophically not going to give up a draft pick. And the problem is as the winter goes on, teams just decide, ‘You know what, we’re not going to spend money.’ ‘€¦ If you’re Drew, your best play might be to sit back and wait and see if some shortstop gets hurt someplace on a good team. Besides that, these guys [who turned down qualifying offers] are in a really bad spot now. Some people have said, ‘Well, the system doesn’t work.’ I think we’re at a point where, two years into it, no. Bad decisions were made, in my opinion, on some of these players in terms of not accepting the qualifying offer.”

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Read More: buster olney, C.C. Sabathia, Clay Buchholz, Derek Jeter
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