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Buster Olney on MFB: ‘A little scary’ that Red Sox are so reliant on David Ortiz 09.17.14 at 12:59 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox‘ prospects for next season and other baseball news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

David Ortiz recently talked to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford about how he feels he proved his worth this season after being disrespected last offseason. Olney said he understands Ortiz’s feelings, but he also appreciates that the Red Sox can’t go overboard to keep the aging slugger happy, despite his solid production.

“He was tremendous. He certainly I think added to numbers that are already Hall of Fame-worthy,” Olney said. “But in some respects it’s got to be a little scary for the Red Sox, because I kept on hearing from people with other teams, they’re like, ‘You know, David Ortiz is great, but when you’re in a position where the Red Sox are and you have a player in his late 30s who’s your best offensive players, that’s a little scary. And you don’t want to be out on that ledge. The fact that they were so reliant on him this year, where it felt like if Ortiz didn’t hit they really didn’t have much around him, it probably is an impetus for the Red Sox to go out and make some improvements. He was great, there’s no question about it.

“And I know that part of [his attitude] is related to David’s feeling about the contract and was it handled right. The bottom line is, is that where we are in 2014 is that designated hitters, like closers, do not get huge dollars. That’s part of the reason why — and age has a lot to do with it — why the Red Sox are never going to go way out on a long-term contract on a player in that position.”

Asked what was the key to the Sox’ struggles this season, Olney said: “Offense. Taking a big step back. AJ. Pierzynski was supposed to be more than what he was, it just didn’t work out. They clearly didn’t get as much out of [Xander] Bogaerts than they thought they would. Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn’t close to being what they thought he would. And I know Jacoby Ellsbury hasn’t had a huge season with the Yankees, but he’s a much better offensive players than Jackie Bradley Jr. was, and they never made up for what Jackie couldn’t do. And that’s been a problem all year for the Red Sox.”

Olney said it’s not unreasonable to think the Red Sox could return to the top next season, pulling off another worst-to-first, especially when looking at issues the rest of the American League East teams have.

“I do think if [Rusney] Castillo makes an impact for the Red Sox next year, if you see Bogaerts bounce back, if Mookie Betts is a great player for them all season and if they get one rotation anchor, then yeah, you could absolutely see the Red Sox bounce back,” Olney said.

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: buster olney, David Ortiz, jackie bradley jr.,
Mookie Betts to play second down stretch as Brock Holt sent to concussion specialist 09.11.14 at 10:33 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia is out for the rest of the year. Brock Holt, after the persistence of symptoms (nausea and light-headedness) that were initially viewed as the flue, is now on his way to see a concussion specialist. And so, with second base in flux, Mookie Betts will move back to second base, the position where he’d spent nearly all of his professional career until this May when the Sox had him transition to the outfield.

Mookie Betts will shift to second base given the injuries to Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt. (Getty Images)

Mookie Betts will shift to second base given the injuries to Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The Sox had initially resisted the idea of moving Betts back to second based on their desire to give him consistent exposure to his new position. But that commitment was based on the expectation that Holt would be the everyday second baseman. With Holt sidelined, the team viewed moving Betts to second as a chance to get regular playing time in center for Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo. Manager John Farrell said that Betts, who took grounders with infield coach Brian Butterfield prior to Thursday’s game, could get a start at second as soon as Friday.

“With Pedey being done for the remainder of the year, we’ll look to get Mookie at second base going forward,” Farrell told reporters. “With Castillo coming, center field would be shared by Jackie and Rusney. … It’s based on the changes that have taken place to the roster. It was unforeseen. At the time, when Pedey went down, Brock was going to get the remainder of the reps at second, but with that being in question, this is a chance to keep Mookie on the field every day and get Jackie and Rusney on the field as well.”

Despite the fact that Betts will play second base to give the team an opportunity to offer playing time to Bradley and Castillo, Farrell said the Sox have not altered their outlook of the 21-year-old as someone who can patrol the outfield. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brock Holt, jackie bradley jr., mookie betts, Rusney Castillo
Red Sox notes: Rusney Castillo moving up to Triple-A; Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Gold Glove question 09.07.14 at 12:26 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo will either stay with Double-A Portland or move to Triple-A Pawtucket this week. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo will either stay with Double-A Portland or move to Triple-A Pawtucket this week. (Getty Images)

What’s next for Rusney Castillo?

After the Portland Sea Dogs’ season game to an end Sunday thanks to an 8-5 loss to Binghamton, Castillo will now be moving on to Triple-A.

The newly-signed outfielder is scheduled to make his debut with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Tuesday at McCoy Stadium.

Castillo went 2-for-5 with a double, run scored and RBI in in his final game with the Sea Dogs. Thus far, in six minor-league games, he’s hitting .357 (6-for-19) with four runs, three RBI and a stolen base. He has struck out twice and walked twice.

“It’s a matter of him getting his timing down,” said Farrell. “The reports have been favorable, just with the overall explosiveness, the speed, the bat speed, but still, we’re looking at roughly 14, 15 at-bats.”

Farrell said that he’s simply been following reports on Castillo rather than spending time looking at video footage of the 27-year-old.

“I don’t want to make too much out of the number of at-bats that he’s had already,” said Farrell. “But, just talking to those who have been there in the ballpark during games played, he looks to be an exciting player.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

Mookie Betts has shown improved comfort in center field in this callup as opposed to his previous ones, showing better jumps on the ball and more direct routes. He has looked better in center — where he’d spent part of his amateur career and had most of his minor league experience this year — than in right. Jackie Bradley Jr., on the other hand, has looked tremendous in every outfield position. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington: Concerns about Jackie Bradley Jr.’s coachability ‘absolutely not’ part of sending him down 09.03.14 at 6:20 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — It has been a difficult time for Jackie Bradley Jr. The 24-year-old hit .212/.288/.290 in the big leagues, a performance that resulted in his being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-August. His results have been little better there, as he’s hit .212/.246/.273 in Triple-A.

As reported at the time of his assignment to Pawtucket, there have been questions inside the Red Sox organization about whether Bradley was receptive to some of the messages that he was receiving from team officials and coaches — a concern that is distinct from his willingness to work or his desire to improve. While those questions were real, however, GM Ben Cherington suggested that such concerns had nothing to do with the move to demote Bradley and call up Mookie Betts to be the everyday center fielder in mid-August.

“First of all, as far as the question about whether that was part of the decision to send him down, I can say absolutely not. The decision to send him down was based on our feeling at the time that the offensive part of the game — that he needed to develop a routine that worked for him and it was going to be easier for him to do that for some period of time in Pawtucket,” Cherington said in Yankee Stadium. I’€™m not a coach. I know that every player is different, is going to respond differently to guidance. We know that Jackie has had a ton of success in his life as a baseball player, at the major league level, at the minor league level. It hasn’€™t come as quickly for him, at least on the offensive side at the major league level, and that’€™s not easy for a guy to deal with. There’€™s never been an issue from the Red Sox’€™s perspective of whether he’€™s willing to work or whether he cares, anything like that. We’€™re trying to find the right way to reach every player, including Jackie, and then the player has to have a responsibility then too. That’€™s a relationship that we strive to reach. We want to build a good, functional relationship with any player. And if one is struggling it means we still have to work on that, but it had nothing to do with sending him down to Pawtucket.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox expect renewed commitment from Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks at 1:18 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

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.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: buster olney, giancarlo stanton, jackie bradley jr., Rusney Castillo
John Farrell: Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘still a work in progress’ but expected back in big leagues this year 09.02.14 at 6:41 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — The Red Sox added a pair of players to their roster on Tuesday, with right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (the scheduled starter for Wednesday) and catcher Dan Butler joining Steven Wright. But at a time when teams can carry rosters of up to 40 players (as opposed to the standard 25) for the final month of the season, there was a notable omission in the group coming up from Pawtucket to the big leagues.

When Jackie Bradley Jr. was sent to Triple-A a couple of weeks ago, manager John Farrell said that his expectation was that the center fielder would be back in the majors at some point in September. That point has yet to arrive. And so, Farrell was asked, has anything altered with regards to the idea of bringing back Bradley?

“Nothing has changed in that way,” said Farrell.

Still, Bradley has been struggling in Pawtucket. In 14 games since being sent down, he’s hitting .212 with a .246 OBP and .273 slugging mark with three walks and 18 strikeouts. His ability to make some of the adjustments that the Sox hoped to see has been inconsistent.

“Jackie was well aware when we sat down and described what needs to be the focal point. I don’€™t know that has necessarily needs to be repeated right now. The reports have been mixed,” said Farrell. “There have been days as he’€™s executed between the lines as he’€™s been working on but it’€™s still a work in progress.”

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Red Sox look for Jackie Bradley Jr. to ‘build some momentum’ down in Pawtucket 08.19.14 at 9:06 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Despite hitting at a productive .308 (4-for-13) clip over his last four games with Boston, the Red Sox had evidently seen enough of Jackie Bradley Jr. at the major-league level.

Boston optioned Bradley down to Triple-A Pawtucket prior to Monday’€™s game against the Angels –€“ the final stage in a long series of evaluations that general manager Ben Cherington and the rest of Red Sox management went through to determine Bradley’€™s standing as a big-league hitter.

“€œWith Jackie, I think we had gone through several phases through the year,” Cherington said. “Obviously it looked like, before the All-Star break, that there were some things that were starting to take hold and some momentum, so we certainly hoped and expected that might continue after the All-Star break, and he started to struggle again. I think as we got past the deadline and as the direction of the team changed, I think we started about how do we give him the best chance to build some momentum going into the offseason knowing that he’€™s a really important guy for us going forward.”

Bradley already emerged as a Gold Glove candidate in his rookie campaign, leading all major-league outfielders in assists (13) while seemingly tracking down every fly ball hit near him out in center field.

However, Bradley’€™s great defensive play could not carry over to when he stepped up to the plate. At the time of his demotion, Bradley was hitting just .216 with a .288 OBP and .290 slugging percentage this season. The 24-year-old was on pace to register the lowest batting average from an American League starting center fielder since Mike Cameron hit .210 in 1998.

“Certainly there’€™s no questions about the defense, so it was really more focused on the offense,”€ Cherington said. “We just got the point where we felt like …  it would be best for him to get a bunch of at-bats in Pawtucket and try to lock into a routine that works for him – that he can feel good about.”

Cherington made it a point to mention that this will likely not be the last that anyone sees of Bradley at Fenway this season, as the club will not need to use one of their two remaining options on him if he’€™s called up when rosters expand in September.

“We fully expect him to be back in September, but then to be able to go into the offseason feeling like he has a good, solid routine plan in place to build off of in 2015,” Cherington said.

Read More: ben cherington, jackie bradley jr., Red Sox,
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