Buster Olney

Buster Olney on MFB: Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval would be 'really good fit' with Red Sox

September 24, 2014 - 10:37 am
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ESPN's Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss Derek Jeter's farewell tour and possible Red Sox offseason targets. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page. Asked about the future of promising rookie Mookie Betts, who has played center field and second base in the majors this season, Olney suggested that Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval might be a good fit for the Red Sox, and the acquisition of a player like him would affect where Betts would end up. "I saw the Giants the last couple of nights, and there's a lot of anticipation within that organization that someone's going to make a run at Pablo Sandoval. That team could turn out to be the Red Sox," Olney said. "He would fit them in a lot of regards. When I talked to some people with the Giants about that, they were nodding their heads and said, 'You know what? He'd be a really good fit.' Because he could play third base, and he had a good year defensively. He's regressed toward the end of the year. You guys now, he's had conditioning issues, he's put on some weight during the year. But he squares up a baseball. And if you sign him to a four- or five-year deal and the first couple of years he's playing third base, and when David Ortiz moves on he could slide into DH. He'd be a nice fit. "And if you had Sandoval then that obviously changes the equation with Betts. So we'll just have to wait and see what other moves they make. I think the bottom line is wherever you put Mookie Betts, he's going to be a good player. The number that really jumps out at me is pitches per plate appearance. It's almost 4.5. Which means even as a guy in his first days in the big leagues, he's demonstrating that ability to work the count, to get on base, to be an on-base percentage guy. And I do think we have to remember that after the postseason last year we all thought Xander Bogaerts would come in this year and be a major star, and he's had some growing pains. And that may be what happens with Betts. But when you talk with people on other teams, they think he's a legitimate, high-end player who is going to be with them for a long time." Another option at third base could be Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez, who might be available via a trade after having some defensive issues this season before being diagnosed with a season-ending stress reaction in his left foot. "He is a guy who this year really struggled with his confidence at third," Olney said. "It seems like he's got what's referred to as 'the thing' in terms of throwing. And I don't think if you were the Red Sox you would acquire him with confidence that he could play third base. Now, he is a big-time power hitter. ... But I do wonder, when you're talking about someone who is dealing with a confidence issue in terms of throwing, is Boston the best place for him? That would be one of the questions that I would ask." Derek Jeter will head to Boston on Friday for the final three games of his illustrious career. Olney said there is a contingent of people that views his final season as a disappointment. "Most of the Yankees fans are happy with it, because they've gotten what they've wanted -- they got to see Jeter out on the field," Olney said. "He got to go out in a way that at least he wanted to compared to what happened last year when he was injured all year. He's played all year. He's going to wind up finishing the season with more plate appearances than any other Yankee, which is remarkable for a player who turned 40 earlier this year. "I do think there's a small group of fans, and I know that there are a number of people around baseball with other teams, scouts, who have been shaking their head all year. And I wrote about this on Sunday, just as we talked about last week. I personally think Joe Girardi's done a disservice to the Yankees in how he's used Derek Jeter this year. It's not an insult to say he's regressed. He quite literally, when you look at him statistically, he's one of the worst players in baseball this year. Only three players have a lower OPS than Derek does. He's long been regarded as one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball, and yet day after day after day they kept him in a role of tremendous prominence, No. 2 hitter in their lineup, playing shortstop. "They're going to wind up missing the playoffs by a couple of games. And it's not out of the realm of possibility that different decisions couple have made a difference  with this team. There's no way to really know for sure. But I think Joe said early in the year that he was not paid to run a farewell tour. In the end, that's exactly what he did. And I think that the team overall for the sake of trying to win was hurt by it." Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. On potential rule changes to speed up the game: "I think it's inevitable that we're going to see rule changes that are going to be significant. Because people within baseball view this as a big problem. At a time when it seems like society is speeding up, attention spans are getting lower, baseball's dragging out. And it was great to see that they put together this committee early this week, although I was absolutely shocked at the composition of this committee. ... I was stunned by the names they had on there. It was sort of like they brought out the old guard. And I say this with all due respect to the individuals who are on the committee -- Tom Werner, Joe Torre, etc. -- how about a player? How about a current manager? How about a general manager? How about an umpire. You're telling me it's a bad thing if you were to put a Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright on the committee to have a conversation about how to speed up the game. How they put this committee together makes no sense to me. I hope they make an adjustment in weeks to come." On Dustin Pedroia: "It's hard to know exactly what he's going to be going forward. And I told you guys during the course of the summer that when you talk to people with other teams, they have serious questions about whether or not Dustin's going to be someone who's going to hit for power again, because he plays so hard. And because he plays so hard, he gets dinged up. As he get older he gets hurt often, does this mean that he's never going to be the type of power hitter that we saw when he won the MVP? I think that's a legitimate question. But look, at the current rate they have him at, and given how good he is defensively, and the intangibles, I think we're a long way from saying this is not a contract that's going to work out the way that we can about the last two years of CC Sabathia's deal with the Yankees or the end of [Mark] Teixeira, the end of Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, etc. I don't think his salary is going to be so outrageous that you're not going to get value out of him because the defense is so good."

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