Buster Olney

Buster Olney on MFB: 'The American League has maybe zero or one [seller] at this point'

July 15, 2015 - 9:20 am
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ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to talk about where the Red Sox stand coming out of the All-Star break and entering the second half of the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page. They went into the break on a bit of a tear, but it doesn't change the fact that the Red Sox dropped two of three to the division-leading Yankees and lost arguably their best pitcher in Clay Buchholz to injury for the near future. New York's second-half schedule also doesn't do the Sox any favors, as Olney noted that the Yankees play just 18 of their remaining 74 games against teams with records over .500. "I think the big question's obviously going to be about Buchholz and what exactly is his status, and how healthy is he," Olney said. "You have pitchers in that situation where they feel something, and then they say they're OK, and then they get shut down, and then they wind up missing a lot of starts. ... If for whatever reason Buchholz is not able to carry the load that they need him to carry in the second half, and you're going to have a rotation with Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez, that feels like a pretty heavy load for some young pitchers, especially since it really appears as if the Yankees are gaining momentum." Olney added that while teams like the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles are sort of in limbo and don't know exactly where they'll stand when the trade deadline rolls around, the Yankees are in a prime position to do what they have in recent years. "They're going to be sitting there in the last 72 hours before the trade deadline basically telling teams, 'Look, if you have a contract you want to dump for a good player, we are willing to talk about it,' " Olney said. Based on where the Sox are in the standings, still basement dwellers but 6 1/2 games out of first and six games back of the wild card spot, Olney said Boston could be looking to add someone who is more of a long-term acquisition rather than an expensive rental like a Johnny Cueto. The problem is there aren't really a lot of players like that on the market right now. The Red Sox also don't have many suitors within the American League to trade with, according to Olney, who pointed out that the tightness of the AL has most teams riding things out for as long as they can before throwing in the towel. "The American League has maybe zero or one [seller] at this point," he said. "There are just not teams that are going to give up an opportunity to try to make a run. You look at the worst teams in the American League, Seattle, they have so much invested in this year. They have to play it out a little longer. The White Sox have actually started pitching better so while their record isn't very good, they're going to play it out. The Indians are going to play it out because they have really strong starting pitching. "The place where you're going to find help theoretically is in the National League from teams like the Brewers, the Phillies, maybe the Padres, but there are just not that many teams out there. The other day I called a general manager and I said, 'So who have you been talking to?' And he said, 'I haven't gotten a call in two days,' and that's where it feels right now." If the first few series back from the break end up dumping the Red Sox out of conceivable contention, Olney said they might end up becoming sellers themselves. There's just not a whole lot they'd be able to do if they were in that position. "My question then would be what exactly would they have to sell that would necessarily interest other teams," he said. "They don't really have marketable guys. We know Mike Napoli, his status is up in the air. If the Red Sox ever decided to move him, they would probably have to eat a lot of money. At some point, Shane Victorino could be a guy that could interest a contending team, but they're not going to be able to move Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez, so there's not necessarily something they would have out there." Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. On whether there's more to David Ortiz not playing Sunday with an illness: "It's interesting because when you're around a team like the Pirates, or you're around a team like the Giants, or you're around a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, it feels like the decisions basically come down from the top. They tell the players basically, 'This is what we're going to do,' and the players go, 'OK, that's great,' and it feels like the Red Sox have a much more complicated situation. "I could tell you this, you talk to players of other teams and they raise their eyebrows when they hear things like, 'Well, I'm not going to play there, I don't want to play here, I don't want to do that,' and John Farrell's got a different dynamic than other managers do in having to try and sort through on a given day who wants to play where. I think it puts more onus on him, it makes it a more difficult situation for him to navigate around, there's no doubt about that. ... I just know that in the week leading up to that when you had the issue of is he going to play first, does he want to play first, is he comfortable playing first, is Hanley Ramirez willing to play first, that's not a situation that other teams have to deal with. Most of the teams are in a position where they can basically say, 'OK, this is what we want to do,' and the players buy in."