|Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘Rays are a scary, scary club’||10.04.13 at 12:48 pm ET|
MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to preview the ALDS between the Red Sox and Rays.
Millar said his biggest concern regarding the Red Sox is their four-day layoff, while the Rays have played twice in that span.
“I’d rather be the Rays,” Millar said. “That’s the routine that we’re in — two different countries, four different cities, playing baseball, elimination games, and then they get a chance to throw Matt Moore against them? A 17-game winner? That’s the scary thing. The Rays are a scary, scary club.
“The good news for the Red Sox is that they know each other. They know the strengths, they know the weaknesses. But right now, it’s going to be nice if the Red Sox can get out to a nice two-run lead, the double off the Green Monster by somebody to get this crowd fired up, and know that your timing at the plate is back.”
Jon Lester faces Moore in Game 1 Friday afternoon.
“It’s going to be a good little game, I think,” Millar said. “I don’t think you’re going to see balls flying out of the yard tonight. I think Lester and Moore will throw a nice game. The advantage is Jon Lester. But stay away from Evan Longoria. … If you see Evan Longoria go deep tonight, shame on you, Sox.”
Koji Uehara has had a record-setting season as Red Sox closer. While Uehara usually starts the ninth inning, manager John Farrell has said he won’t hesitate to use the 38-year-old for more than three outs in the postseason, and Millar agrees.
“I think you ride the hot hand,” Millar said. “He’s been unbelievable. Can’t take anything away from him. He’s been unbelievable. … Keep riding him. Throw him five, six outs, whatever it is. Do whatever you can to win the game that night.”
|Kevin Millar on M&M: Red Sox’ comeback against Yankees ‘was eerie, it was very similar’ to ’04||09.06.13 at 12:12 pm ET|
MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday morning to discuss the Red Sox following Thursday night’s dramatic 9-8, 10-inning victory over the Yankees.
“[The rivalry] is back. That’s what I love about it,” Millar said. “Whatever you think about the [Ryan] Dempster-[Alex Rodriguez] thing, it brought this rivalry back. It gave it some substance. The Yankees are back in the playoff hunt, which is better for baseball. As much as Red Sox Nation would love to see the Yankees 46 games out, this is better for baseball right now. It’s exciting. The Orioles, the Rays, the Yankees, the Sox — this is great.
“So now we have a chance to watch a series, and it’s going to be a great four-games series. And we saw a great first game.”
The Red Sox’ ninth-inning comeback against Mariano Rivera on Thursday was reminiscent of the 2004 ALCS Game 4 comeback against Rivera that started with a walk from Millar and a stolen base from pinch-runner Dave Roberts, who then scored the tying run on a single by Bill Mueller. This time, Mike Napoli hit a two-out single and was replaced by Quintin Berry, who stole second, went to third on an error and scored the tying run on a single by Stephen Drew.
“Yeah, it looks like we squashed those ghosts,” Millar said of the ’04 team. “There used to be ghosts in Yankee Stadium. … We killed those ghosts. We killed those ghosts. , that Aaron Boone ghost, he’s gone. So, I think we kicked those ghosts out.
“It was eerie, it was very similar.”
While Thursday’s loss appears devastating to a New York team that is battling to stay in the hunt for a wild card spot, Millar cautioned not to count out the Yankees.
“It’s a bad loss, but it’s not the end-of-the-world loss,” Millar said. “It’s a tough loss, they lost, they shower, they get right back out and they’ve got another game tonight. So, it’s not like, oh, they’re coming out with their bottom lip hanging down. … The Yankees are a veteran club. And they’re a different club. They’re a way different club than they were early on in the year. You’re looking at [Alfonso] Soriano and A-Rod and [Curtis] Granderson and Derek Jeter in the lineup, and [Robinson] Cano obviously on fire. This is a different club now. So, I think they’ve got a little swag and I think they’ll bounce back. … If they go out and win three games in a row, we’re not even talking about last night’s game.”
|Kevin Millar on M&M: David Ortiz is Hall of Famer, best DH of all time||07.12.13 at 2:48 pm ET|
Kevin Millar checked in with Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon, and the MLB Network host was unequivocal when talking about the merits of David Ortiz, who earlier this week broke the all-time designated hitter hits record.
Ortiz has been on a tear for much of the season since returning in mid-April from an Achilles injury. He leads the team in home runs (19), RBIs (65) and OPS (1.041) while posting a slash line of .327/.412/.629.
And, according to Millar, Ortiz is far from done.
“I think he’s the best DH of all time, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a closer friend, either,” Millar said. “I’m telling you that because of who this man is. This man has dominated this position. I get so sick of, ‘Oh, he’s a DH. He doesn’t field, he doesn’t throw.’ That’s not his job. He’s a designated hitter. … He’s the best ever in history at that job.
“If they’re going to, at times, down the road, talk Hall of Fame — and his numbers aren’t even done — David Ortiz should be a Hall of Famer. He’s 37 years old. … He’s smarter, his body doesn’t have a whole lot of stuff going on there. He hasn’t ran in right field for 10 or 15 years, he hasn’t played shortstop for 10 or 15 years, so there’s not a whole lot of wear and tear.
“The man is in better shape than when I played with the guy. You go grab Big Papi’s arm, and this man is built like a brick. You look at this man that’s the best at his position in the history of the game.”
|Kevin Millar on M&M: Red Sox have ‘very similar clubhouse to what we had’||06.28.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
MLB Network host Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon, and the former Red Sox first baseman, who finished spending much of his week in Boston and at Fenway, had praise for the Red Sox in general and a pair of players in particular: John Lackey and Dustin Pedroia.
Millar was in attendance for Lackey’s dominant outing Wednesday and gushed about the right-hander who has been the Red Sox’ best starter in recent weeks.
“He’s back,” Millar said. “His velocity is at 94, hitting 95, and he’s got the eye of the Tiger. He was injured when he was throwing — he had that rough year , then he had surgery — now you’re looking at a healthy John Lackey. That’s a huge, huge addition because you have Jon Lester, you have [Clay] Buchholz, you went out and signed [Ryan] Dempster, you got [Felix] Doubront.
“Now you have Lackey as the old Lackey? That’s what is going to keep this team going.”
Millar also referenced the time he spent in the clubhouse as Fenway this week when mentioning Pedroia. The second baseman’s preparation in particular is representative of what Millar credited with spurring much of the team’s success in 2013.
“Dustin Pedroia cares about the wins and the losses, and it shows. There’s not a lot that he can give up. He’s 5-foot-7. He can’t do a lot of things, but he’s one of the best players in Major League Baseball. He’s got the heart of a tiger,” Millar said. “This group, the preparation, you look in all these guys’ eyes. I’m walking around, and it’s a very similar clubhouse to what we had. Just a bunch of baseball players, long beards. They’re gamers and they care about each other.”
The past two weeks, Millar has insisted Will Middlebrooks is the Red Sox third baseman and that the team had to decide between Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias at shortstop.
Now that Middlebrooks has been demoted indefinitely to Triple-A Pawtucket, however, Millar gave credit where credit is due to Iglesias.
“He went out in the offseason and got a little stronger. He’s not swinging a butter knife anymore,” Millar said. “He’s got some offense. He’s not just a guy with some tremendous hands. Watching him, you start to see the game slow down.
“Iglesias forced his way to play — forced his way into the lineup. Is he your everyday third baseman? Right now he is. But future-wise, he’s ultimately going to be in the middle. But he has forced John Farrell and the Red Sox to basically show their hand.”
|The Real One-Five: How Kevin Millar became a star||06.24.13 at 9:39 am ET|
Gabe Kapler spent parts of 12 years in the major leagues from 1998-2010, playing for the Tigers (1998-99), Rangers (2000-02), Rockies (2002-03), Red Sox (2003-06 – with a brief interlude in Japan), Brewers (2008) and Rays (2009-10). He also spent a year managing the Red Sox’ Single-A affiliate in Greenville. Follow him on twitter @gabekapler.
In 2004, at a tiny breakfast spot at the base of the Westin Times Square in New York City, Kevin Millar and I sipped coffee and explored a number of familiar themes. As usual, Kevin was trying to persuade me to join him in the exercise of “show-driving” in a town car with tinted windows, bottled waters and crisp copies of the Wall Street Journal. As usual, despite his endless efforts and persuasive gifts, I remained steadfast in my desire to take the subway to the park.
But the substance that day involved more than the usual banter. That morning was a meeting that secured our bond as friends forever. It created a connection stronger than our love as teammates, which was already very much intact. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Millar on M&M: Andrew Bailey ‘needs to get that confidence back,’ AL East poised for exciting summer||06.21.13 at 1:31 pm ET|
Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni Friday afternoon, and the MLB Network host was sure to chime in on the latest controversy in Red Sox Nation— that of the team’s closer, or lack thereof.
According to Millar, Bailey’s problem is similar to the one he said last week that Jon Lester has.
“He needs to get that confidence back,” the former Sox first baseman said. “This game is all about confidence. Everybody at this level can throw, hit and catch, but you go through these little two-, three-week periods where we all lose our confidence. I don’t care who you are, Tiger Woods on the golf course, it happens. And right now Bailey just needs to take a deep breathe and realize, ‘You know what? I’m OK.’ ”
Millar suggested a few days off, or at least in low-pressure situations, would do Bailey a lot of good and help him get back on track. In the long term, he added, Bailey is the team’s closer since the Red Sox don’t have too many other legitimate options.
Millar also stuck to his guns when it came to the left side of the Red Sox infield. He said in his appearance last Friday that Will Middlebrooks is the third baseman, and there shouldn’t be any controversy about that.
That leaves the Red Sox with making a decision between Stephen Drew and Jose Igelsias.
“I’ve never been a fan of the whole platoon situation,” Millar said. “I couldn’t stand having to look at the lineup every single day. … We know [Iglesias] isn’t going to be a third baseman unless he starts running into 15 to 20 [home runs] a year, let’s face it.
“I don’t think this whole revolving door is healthy.”
|Kevin Millar on M&M: Jon Lester needs confidence, Red Sox need to decide between Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias||06.14.13 at 1:23 pm ET|
Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon and was pretty adamant when it came to how Jon Lester can get back on track.
“Lester needs to take the ball, get on that mound, pull his hat down and believe in himself,” the former Red Sox and current MLB Network host said. “He does go through these periods where it’s almost like Jon Lester doesn’t believe how good Jon Lester really is. I think that’s just part of keeping going. John Farrell needs to be a big part of this and figure this out, because [Lester] needs to get straightened out.”
The two other obvious factors are location and velocity, Millar said. Lester’s velocity is down — from 95-97 mph to 88-92 — and when location isn’t there during any given start, it spells bad news for the lefty.
“A guy on the golf course asked me yesterday, ‘Mariano Rivera, how does he dominate the game with one pitch?’ ” Millar recalled. “Let me tell you, it’s real easy. Location. Mariano Rivera paints the baseball. Whether it’s a cutter or a fastball, it’s down and in, it’s down and away, it’s elevated up and in, it’s elevated up and away. Period. You never see Mariano Rivera pitch in the middle of the plate.
“This isn’t rocket science. Lester needs to find a way to hit spots, work down in the zone and pound the zone. Pound the zone.”
One player who does believe in himself — and has performed better because of it — is the same guy who had a walk-off single against the Red Sox last night: Chris Davis. The Orioles first baseman is an early MVP candidate with a .338/.417/.688 slash line, 21 homers and 56 RBIs.
Millar attributed a lot of that to the mental part of the game.
“[Orioles manager] Buck Showalter deserves a lot of credit with this young man,” Millar said. “You saw the numbers and talent in the minor leagues, and finally he said, ‘You’re my guy. You’re going to strike out. You’re going to play every day.’ It allowed Chris Davis to know that I’m going to be in the lineup whether I strike out or hit a home run, and you’re starting to see the game slow down.”
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