Buster Olney

Buster Olney on MFB: ‘Red Sox have a tremendous opportunity’ to make move in AL East

May 20, 2015 - 9:30 am

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to talk about where the Red Sox stand and where they might be moving in the near future. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page. With Red Sox starters finally settling into their roles, Olney said for some pitchers the grace period was necessary to get to this point while others might be responding to a more hands-on approach by John Farrell. He also pointed out that moving Justin Masterson was the correct move for Boston to make. "I think in the case of a guy like Wade Miley, I think there was going to be a period where he needed to stabilize, and that's happened," Olney said. "I do think, and I told you guys about this in spring training, about the perception and Masterson just can't get the ball down and it was the right decision for the Red Sox to move him out. And I suspect, based on what I've heard, that John has taken even greater control of the pitching staff. And look, the reason why John Farrell is manager of the Red Sox is because he was a great pitching coach, and maybe having John back in that role helps, but I do think a lot of it is these guys are finding their level and the Red Sox making the one really necessary adjustment with Masterson." Olney said Farrell had set sort of a deadline in terms of evaluating his pitchers, referring to a six-to-eight-start sample size that would tell him what he needed to know about his staff. Now that that time is just about up, the Red Sox have to start deciding how much needs to be tweaked in the roster. "At some point, the evaluation period for the team starts to go from, 'You know what, rather than just try to manipulate our roster in a way to learn as much about these players,' it's got to be, 'We're trying to win.' And if you look at the rest of the division right now, as I said, I think the Red Sox have a tremendous opportunity," Olney said. One of the opportunities Olney said the Red Sox can take advantage of is making a play for catcher Stephen Vogt of the A's. With someone as young as Blake Swihart, who was thrust into more responsibilities than he likely was ready for, Olney said Vogt could be a good presence for the backstop. "We came into the season, into spring training, with the Red Sox thinking, 'You know what, we're going to give Blake Swihart as much time in the minor leagues as possible to develop,' " he said. "When you talk with scouts with other teams who are watching Swihart, they're saying to me they think he's struggling with the learning curve, which is not, for catchers, that's not unusual." For Olney, Vogt would provide "a tremendous stopgap as [the Red Sox] wait for Blake Swihart to develop more, as they wait for Christian Vazquez to come back." He pointed out that the Tommy John surgery Vazquez underwent may be more complicated for catchers to recover from than it is for pitchers, noting that he could be miss time not only this year but next year as well. And while Vogt may not be the A's go-to trade chip at the moment, Olney said that Oakland should realize he's a hot commodity. With the Sox' prospect pool, Boston could provide the A's with some depth if they work at getting Oakland to move. Another opportunity the Red Sox have is to call up Rusney Castillo from the minors. Olney said he's hearing that the outfielder eventually will be promoted because of how well he's playing, that he's earned it. To prepare for that, Olney said the Sox could also explore the possibility of trading Shane Victorino. "I think Shane Victorino and the Cubs would be an interesting match," he said. "We know that the Cubs front office and the Red Sox can make a deal. The Cubs could use some depth, they certainly could use some veteran players, and we know as the season goes along and they're having a good year, they're interested in the idea of trying to win this year, and Victorino could be a guy who could hit against lefties for them and help their outfield defense."