Buster Olney

Buster Olney on MFB: 'There's just not that many sellers' in baseball right now

June 17, 2015 - 10:12 am
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ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Red Sox, the AL East and other news around baseball. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page. While every other team in the AL East has seemed to have some sort of upswing during the past month, the Red Sox continue to slide. Olney said that the nature of the division this year makes certain runs by teams look more meaningful than they are because every team is so close. "I think that Joe Girardi actually had a good line about it after the Yankees lost last night, and he was expressing frustration because they got blown out by the Marlins," he noted. "He said, 'You know what, that just might be the American League East this year,' that you have everyone so closely bunched together that if you go on a five- or six-game run you look like you're a World Series team, and then because the teams aren't really that good, you're capable of going on an extended losing streak ... But in general, let's face it, it's a mediocre division. They're all packed together." John Henry gave his backing of manager John Farrell a couple weeks ago, but after his team's seven-game skid, there might be some shakiness there. Olney said that that's not necessarily the case because there is likely another level between Farrell and Henry, and because Farrell's experience with the team is so lengthy. "The baseball operations department has essentially made the case on behalf of the people who were in the dugout saying 'Look, it's on us, what happens this year is on us and where they are right now, it's on us,' " he said. "And so I do think there probably is a buffer between John Henry and John Farrell, and let's face it, at some point they may just decided they're going to ride it out in part because of the history that John has with the team. If he didn't have the extensive history with the Red Sox, I think they probably would have already done something, but the fact that they won the World Series with him and he had the success under Tito [Terry Francona], I think that helps him get through a situation like this." If the Red Sox are looking to make a change by way of the trade, Olney said it's most likely to happen after July 20, that that's when teams start switching gears. "One general manager was saying this is when teams are going to really start to dig in. Bottom line is right now, there's just not that many sellers. The Phillies are aggressively pushing veterans like [Jonathan] Papelbon and Ben Revere. They're not necessarily pushing the [Cole] Hamels decision because they're in a good position in terms of marketing him because he's kind of a one of a kind on the market, and maybe that's something the Red Sox could revisit. But probably in those last 11 days, you're going to have more teams declare themselves as sellers." On Tuesday night Brock Holt hit for the cycle as part of his 4-for-5 game. The question was raised as to whether hitting for the cycle was more impressive than tossing a no-hitter. Olney said that they're both accomplishments, but that hitting for the cycle is based much more on luck while pitching a no-hitter is about consistency over nine innings. Olney also addressed the safety issue brought forth when a fan was struck in the face with a bat during the Red Sox' game against the A's at Fenway on June 5. However, the issue is more complicated than just putting more netting up behind home plate. Part of it, Olney said, is complicated by television angles and broadcast partners. "It's not simply a case of putting up netting because there are high third angles in TV, there's high first-base angles, do you come in with robocams to make up for those?" he said. Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/RedSox. On the expanding strike zone: "The complaints about the strike zone have reached a level that I can't remember, and it's all about the east-west nature of this strike zone in 2015 vs. the north-south that you hope that it would be. "I'm just going to reflect what I hear constantly from players and managers and coaches, and they feel like there's more being called off the outer edge of the plate, more being called off the inner edge of the plate. And of course everyone remembers when the Atlanta Braves had those great pitching staffs in the '90s -- Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz -- the complaint constantly from other teams was why do they get those inches off the outside corner because there's nothing a hitter can do about that pitch. Maybe you can get to a north-south type strike zone, but if they're calling that pitch off the outer edge, you literally can't respond to it." On the Cardinals' hacking scandal: "I have not heard that it involves other teams, and it's been interesting because it's obviously been the No. 1 topic among front offices all around baseball. I think everyone wants to know did someone above know what was going on, and that's why I think it's so much like Deflategate because the question is did it involve a very small group of people or is it something that was above. It's interesting because the Cardinals do, John Mozeliak, their general manager, they have a sterling reputation. ... And people are speculating no, they don't think they were involved. There are a lot of questions like, boy, if you were going to actually do 'corporate espionage,' as it was called in the New York Times, why would you leak it to a [website like Deadspin]? Because then you would give up any advantage that you were actually getting out of the thing. On the other hand, front offices are relatively small, so if two people in a front office of 12 people are involved in something like this, are they really not going to mention it to the other people? That's why I think we need more information." On complaints about inconsistent rulings via instant replay: "Brad Ausmus, the Tigers manager, said exactly that after the Tigers game yesterday, and he essentially made the point that when people are guessing, and he made reference to that where you're not exactly sure what the end result's going to be, that's not a good thing. And he said he was a big supporter of replay in 2014 and he thinks it slid back this year. In the last few weeks, I've seen numerous decisions where you watch the replay and you try to guess as to how it's going to turn out, and when they come out with a decision, you're like, 'What are they looking at?' "

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