Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox have 'good shot' at postseason

June 18, 2014 - 9:55 am
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ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page. At 33-38 and 7 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East, the Red Sox are a long shot in the hunt for the division. However, given the mediocrity of the division, and the AL in general, Olney can see the Red Sox competing for a playoff spot at the end of the season. "I think they've got a good shot," Olney said. "Before the season, I picked them to win the division. Can I tell you for sure that'€™s going to happen? Absolutely not. But when you look at what Toronto is going through and the problems that they have, and the Yankees are basically being held up by one guy. Masahiro Tanaka is not only a Cy Young candidate, but he really should be a candidate for MVP, because without him the Yankees would be far behind. The Rays are struggling, the Orioles are trying to figure things out. "So yeah, I don'€™t think there'€™s any doubt that the Red Sox'€™ issues this year, especially on offense, have probably been not only surprising to people who follow the team, but surprising to the front office. But they have time to figure it out. With the second wild card, with the fact that they are part of this big muddle in the American League East, things can happen. ... This league is so mediocre right now that you could move with a streak of a week or two." If the Red Sox continue to struggle and become sellers at the trade deadline, one potential trade option could be closer Koji Uehara. Uehara has pitched well this season, but has an expiring contract at the end of the year. Olney said relievers won't be as heavily in demand at the deadline, however. "Given the time left with his contract, you probably would be doing well a Grade B-plus prospect. You'€™d probably be more likely to get a Grade B prospect," Olney said. "There actually are going to be teams that are at the market with relief available, so in terms of supply and demand, unlike starting pitching, which there'€™s just not going to be a lot of guys, I think the relief market could wind up being watered down ... so I don'€™t think you'€™d get a ton in return." The Sox finish their series with the Twins Wednesday afternoon, then travel west for a 10-game road trip that starts in Oakland with a four-game series against the Athletics, who have the best record in the AL. "They'€™re the best team is baseball. Not only only in the American League, but the best overall team," Olney said. "In fact, I had a general manager say to me a couple of weeks ago, '€˜Look, there'€™s the Oakland Athletics then there'€™s the rest of us.'€™ Everyone else sort of in this muddle trying to sort through things. "Oakland has such depth in their roster, so many guys who help the team in so many different ways. Bob Melvin, their manager, his flexibility. The great position platoons they have, spot to spot, tremendous bullpen. But there'€™s no doubt the Achilles' heel of this team is their starting rotation because of the injuries they suffered in spring training to Jarrod Parker, their ace last year, A.J. Griffin, who was their No. 3, No. 4 guy, they'€™re out for the year. They basically do not have depth behind those guys down in their farm system." While the A's have struggled on the mound, starting pitching has been the Red Sox' strength this season, including younger players such as Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa, who have filled in for injured veterans Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront. Olney said the production of the younger arms buys the Sox time to get underperforming Buchholz right. "I think they'€™re probably at the point right now, and I know Buchholz, because of his salary, normally you'€™d probably give him and extra look at it," Olney said. "But I do think he struggled so badly and the fact is that the guys that they brought up have responded so well that that'€™s probably going to give the Red Sox more time to try to figure Buchholz out." The Sox have not played well offensively as of late, but have received a major boost from Brock Holt in the last few weeks. Some have argued he's making a case to be an All Star. Olney considers him a long shot. "A lot of that depends on which other spots are filled on an All-Star roster," Olney said. "Obviously he'€™s not going to get voted in, he'€™s not going to get a player vote. He'€™s going to have to be someone who gets added by the manager, and a lot of that will come down to what the need is in a particular spot. "My guess is, because let'€™s face it, he hasn't really become regular until we were well into the season, he'€™s probably a long shot at this point. But who knows? It really comes down to if they get a rash of injuries, especially in the last 24 to 48 hours, sometimes they just wind up grabbing guys and actually, whether or not they have plans during the All-Star break, have them come in to play."

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