|Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox expect renewed commitment from Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks||09.03.14 at 1:18 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the future of the Red Sox as the team’s miserable season moves into its final month. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Red Sox and Yankees are in the midst of a series in Yankee Stadium, and Olney noted that you’d have to go back to the days of Babe Ruth (during one of his rare off seasons) to find a time when both teams were ranked so low in offense.
“We’re closing in on a century since we’ve seen these two teams struggle this much offensively,” Olney said. “As you guys know, the Red Sox are always typically a good offensive team, the Yankees usually have their share of left-handed hitters who thrive in their home park. It just hasn’t been the case this year. It’s been a completely aberrational year.
“And as they play tonight, I was talking to a person within the Yankees organization today, they feel like they’re at the tipping point. The question is whether or not the Red Sox are going to shove them over the edge.
Rusney Castillo started playing in the Red Sox minor league system last week, and he’s moving up to Double-A this week. Olney said he isn’t sure if the Cuban outfielder will make an appearance at Fenway before the season is over.
“I think they should, because they think he’s going to be part of the team next year, and why not?” Olney said. “I know, for example, a lot of teams are doing that these days. The Cubs are doing it with Javier Baez, they’re doing with with Jorge Soler. … If I were the Red Sox, sure. Because you’re not going to pay a guy $72 million unless you think he’s ready to translate right away. So, why not? It’s a signed, sealed deal, so the arbitration clause doesn’t come into it, you might as well throw him into the deep end of the pool.”
Jackie Bradley Jr., who was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 17, is expected to return to Boston for the last few weeks of the season, although his offensive struggles have continued with the PawSox.
“[A return] would make sense,” Olney said. “And if they don’t, then let’s face it, it would have to be taken as punitive. It would have to be taken as a sign from the Red Sox organization that they want Jackie to focus more on making adjustments. That’s the big question now about him within the Red Sox organization: Will he make adjustments? Because I know that during the course of the year when he was approached about that, his response was, ‘Look, I’m fine. I’ll work my way through it. I feel good.’
“Now that we’re near the end of the season, they feel like that just wasn’t done in the way that it should have been done. And they’re going to want him to do that going into next year, and they’re going to want to have him respond. And given the fact that they have this volume of outfielders, I really think next spring is going to be absolutely huge for him.
“And this winter’s going to be huge — I was going to bring this up, too — for Will Middlebrooks. I know that there is desire within the Red Sox organization that Middlebrooks go and play winter ball to get more at-bats, to get more experience and to turn the corner. And if he doesn’t, then I think there’s a good chance he’s going to spend next year in the minor leagues. They don’t want to give him away. And I heard this from a couple of different teams, that when they approach the Red Sox, the Red Sox know that they have a really talented guy in Middlebrooks who hits for power, but they want to give it every opportunity for that to happen with them, because they know if they trade him now it’s essentially going to be at a cut rate, and it’s not going to be at what they believe his value to be. So if he’s going to be in the big leagues next year I think winter ball is going to be a big part of it, and a good spring training would have to be a big part of it.”
|Jim Callis: Blake Swihart the most difficult Red Sox prospect to part with||07.29.14 at 1:45 pm ET|
It’s a hectic time for the shaping of the Red Sox. The team is currently in sell mode, with the possibility of dealing any number of key veterans such as Jon Lester and John Lackey. At the same time, the Sox are no doubt in the early stages of contemplating how they’re going to address some of their pressing needs for 2015, whether beefing up the middle of the order or identifying a starting pitcher who could serve as a replacement for Lester should he not be with the team in 2015.
That, in turn, has created scenarios in which the Sox could both sell (parting with players slated to reach free agency after this year) and buy (adding long-term assets). For instance, could a team that has an organizational commitment to limiting the risk associated with long-term deals let Lester walk (or trade him, as the case may be) rather than signing him to a five- or six-year deal at, say, $24 million a year, and instead seek to trade for a pitcher like Cole Hamels who is essentially Lester’s age (Hamels, 30, is less than a month older than Lester), but whose contract guarantee would count as just a four-year, $96 million commitment for luxury tax purposes? In essence, doing so would have the Sox acquiring prospects for Lester and trading other prospects away in order to avoid one or two years at roughly the same AAV that Hamels would be receiving.
The Sox would certainly appear to have the trade chips to acquire Hamels, certainly. As Jim Callis of MLB.com noted in this podcast (on whether WEEI.com and/or the baseball industry overrates Red Sox prospects), the Sox might have the best catching prospect (Blake Swihart), the best left-handed pitching prospect (Henry Owens) and the best second base prospect (Mookie Betts) in the game. That permits flexibility to strike a deal. Read the rest of this entry »
|Giancarlo Stanton on The Bradfo Show: ‘Rumors are rumors’||07.16.14 at 10:31 am ET|
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton joined Rob Bradford on The Bradfo Show to discuss transactions and trade rumors. To hear the interview, go to the The Bradfo Show audio on demand page.
Stanton has been involved in a number of trade rumors throughout his career, including some with the Red Sox.
Stanton said the first time he was involved in trade rumors was as a minor leaguer in 2008 when he was discussed as a potential trade chip in a deal for Manny Ramirez.
“I actually didn’t understand the business side of it as much or pretty much at all at that point so I was like, ‘Wait a minute, me for Manny Ramirez. This makes no sense. That can’t be even close to true,’ ” Stanton said.
“As I grew up and got older I understood how it works a little better and understood that was a possibility.”
Stanton said he first found out about the rumors on the Internet.
“It was actually pretty flattering to be compared to that caliber at that time,” he said. “It’s a huge risk when you do that for a minor league guy that’s never touched foot in the big leagues.”
Stanton said the first person he contacted after he saw the rumors was his agent.
“It’s usually something me and my agent talk about,” he said. “That’s the easiest route to know legitimacy or not, so that’s pretty simple. You talk to him on what matters then get back to what I’m supposed to do.”
That was only the first of multiple trade rumors Stanton’s name was in. He said he gets sick of being asked about them.
“Rumors are rumors, but then again the route of all truths could be some rumors, so you never know,” Stanton said.
Stanton’s first time at Fenway Park came in an interleague series in 2012.
“It was kind of like a fantasy field,” he said. “It’s like one of those fields you design in a video game and kind of just play in. It’s different seeing something for so many years on TV then walking into it. That was the awe that I was in.”
|Tom Verducci on MFB: Red Sox ‘have to be in at least a partial selling mode’||07.14.14 at 1:46 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss the state of the Red Sox, Jon Lester‘s impending free agency and trade rumors surrounding Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
In an interview with The Boston Globe published Sunday, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said that the organization has yet to determine if Boston — sitting at 43-52 and 9 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East — has accepted the role of “buyer” or “seller” this season, a stance that Verducci said he agrees with.
“I think right now, they’ve got to sort of be both,” Verducci said. “In other words, you have to lay the groundwork for some deals, you have to see what you can get for somebody, whether it’s a Jake Peavy, maybe a Stephen Drew, even a [Koji] Uehara. … But I do think they have to be in at least a partial selling mode and see what they can get for these players.”
Another week has gone by with no news of any progress regarding a new contract for Lester. Verducci said that while Lester — who has posted career-best numbers with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP this season — could be a trade chip, the Red Sox should go all out to retain the southpaw.
“I’d do everything I can to re-sign this guy. … I think you give it your best shot. … It’s hard for me to imagine the Red Sox going forward without Jon Lester,” Verducci said. “The durability that he brings is just irreplaceable. Yeah, you look in the farm system, there’s a ton of arms that you really like, but some of those guys are 2-3 years away from the potential of being Jon Lester, and Clay [Buchholz] just has not proven he’s a 200-inning guy, 33-start guy year after year. … The minute you lose a pitcher like that, you’re trying to replace a pitcher like that, and that’s not easily done.”
|Buster Olney on M&M: AL East ‘hasn’t defined itself’||05.14.14 at 1:09 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox and the American League East, whose teams have been stung by a rash of injuries. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
All of the AL East teams except the Red Sox are dealing with injuries to key players.
“Just imagine every team wading in about 6 feet of mud,” Olney said. “No question about it. The other day I was talking to an executive from one of the five teams and he sounded so down. I said, ‘Hey, have you had a chance to look at what everyone else is dealing with?’ This division hasn’t defined itself. It’s essentially sitting out there on a tee for someone to grab — whoever can sort out their issues.
“The Yankees‘ issues are absolutely acute with their starting pitching a complete mess. I think even if CC Sabathia is able to come back from the knee problem that he has, I think there are real serious questions about whether or not he’s going to be effective going forward and whether or not their starting pitching is going to be able to support a lineup that hasn’t been as productive as they expected. Toronto has starting pitching issues. You mentioned the Rays with their starting pitching. We came into the year saying well, they’re a World Series contender because of their starting pitching. But with Matt Moore out, are they going to be able to sort through that?
“The Orioles may face a situation at some point very soon where Matt Wieters is going to have surgery and be out for the year. Where do they make up for it in the catching? Their starting pitching is an issue. So, the Red Sox aren’t alone in trying figure out some issues. The whole division is three games under .500 collectively.”
The Red Sox could use more production from their young players, as Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. all are struggling offensively.
“I think they’re going to stick with Bogaerts for sure, because they committed to him in the offseason,” Olney said. “When they had their last conversation with Stephen Drew at the beginning of January, at that point when they weren’t close to a deal, they said, ‘You know what? We have to commit to this kid.’ So I think they’re going to do that. That’s not going to change. It’s always possible that you take Jackie Bradley out, you look for better matchups, that type of thing. But they believe in his talent. And they think it’s just a matter of time. They absolutely believe in his defense. So I don’t think those things are going to change.
“I am curious about Will Middlebrooks. I’d love to be in the room and give truth serum to the guys making decisions to know what they are seeing and what they are feeling about him. Because of course they’ve seen times when he’s been a help with his power, but then they’ve seen times when he goes into an absolute funk. Before I came on with you guys I was looking at some of his numbers, and the thing that jumped out at me was his performance with two strikes. The numbers suggest that he’s been absolutely helpless: 5-for-33 in two-strike counts — and not [just] 0-2, but 0-2, 1-2, 2-2 and 3-2, with 19 strikeouts. … With 0-2 counts, for example, 0-for-11, nine punchouts. That makes you wonder exactly how he’s approaching his at-bats, and is he one of those guys that once the pitcher gets an arm up on him in the ball-strike count that he becomes a really vulnerable hitter.”
|Reports: Marlins shopping Logan Morrison and Ricky Nolasco, but no plans to deal Giancarlo Stanton||11.14.12 at 4:07 pm ET|
In the aftermath of the trade that unloaded shortstop Jose Reyes and starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to the Blue Jays, the Marlins may not be leaving the proverbial dust to settle. According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post (via twitter), there is an expectation that Miami will now trade right-hander Ricky Nolasco and first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison.
Though Nolasco continues to have low walk rates and has been relatively durable, his impressive 2008 campaign — in which he went 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA — seems like something of a career outlier. In the last four years, he’s gone 49-43 with a 4.68 ERA (worse than league average), and his strikeout rate has gone down in each of the last three years, from 9.5 per nine innings in 2009 to 8.4 to 6.5 and finally to 5.9 in 2012. He is set to earn $11.5 million in 2013, the final season of a three-year, $26.5 million deal he signed before the 2011 season.
Morrison could represent an intriguing option for a Red Sox team that is without a first baseman or corner outfielder. The 25-year-old struggled to a .230 average, .308 OBP, .399 slugging mark and .707 OPS in 2012. However, those numbers reflected in no small part his struggles in an offense-killing home ballpark in Miami, where he hit .209/.278/.329/.608 with four homers in 176 plate appearances. On the road, he hit .254/.342/.478/.820 with seven homers in 158 plate appearances. In parts of three seasons, the left-handed hitting Morrison is a career .250/.339/.442/.781 hitter who has shown similar splits against both right-handed and left-handed hitters. However, he was limited to just 93 games in 2012 and missed the final two months of the year for a knee injury that ultimately required surgery in September. Read the rest of this entry »
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