MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar is teaming up with Leinenkugel to celebrate the return of craft’s most popular summer seasonal beer – Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.
“When you’re getting yourself ready for baseball season, grab a beer and bam,” Millar said.
The former Red Sox first baseman also talked some baseball with Metro, looking forward to the 2015 season.
Metro: What did you think of the Red Sox offseason, addressing their lineup first and foremost?
Millar: Their lineup last year was terrible to watch. It was a rough year. They went through some injuries. It was just one of those years. It was the first time in history we’ve seen it now — last place in 2012, to World Series champs in 2013 and back to last place in 2014. They have needs to address and when you have a year like theyhad — it’s offense, pitching, it’s everything.
I think they bolstered their offense. I like Pablo Sandoval. I think he’s a high-energy guy. I think the Hanley Ramirez thing in left field — hey, he’s never played left field, but it’s the Green Monster. It’s one of those left fields where you can play without a lot of experience. I like what they did.
Metro: What are you looking for from Clay Buchholz this season and what did you think of Curt Schilling’s criticism of the right-hander?
Millar: The problem that we have in society is I think we all try and paint this perfect athlete in everyone that we address. Clay Buchholz is Clay Buchholz. He has great stuff. I think he’s a guy that had a rough year last year, but we saw the brilliance that he has in his back pocket. The year before that I think he started out 9-0. You see the ace type stuff, but Clay doesn’t have to have the mentality of an ace to get outs and to win games in the big leagues.
I thought he worked hard this offseason. We live very close to each other so [I know] he was in there everyday working out with John Lackey, Brandon Workman, and that is all you can ask for. I think it is unfair to judge a guy’s character when the work ethic was there. Clay understands he had a bad year, he knows that. It is his job to bounce back and he did the right steps and worked hard to hopefully have a good year for himself.
Metro: Does it matter the Red Sox don’t have an “ace?”
Millar: I think that isthe one question everyone has talked about — the Red Sox don’t have an ace. Well you know what, there are only five aces in the world. Just because you start Opening Day on a big league team doesn’t mean you’re an ace. I think they have 5-6 guys that go out and compete. Justin Masterson is a guy, he’s got to throw strikes. It wouldn’t shock you if he bounced back also. Wade Miley, Rick Porcello — they have guys.
Metro: What are your thoughts on the AL East?
Millar:I think the Rays will probably be there at the end of the road. The Orioles, how do you bet against them every year with Buck Showalter? They always find a way to do it. The Blue Jays, are you sold on their starting pitching? Offensively they have added [Josh] Donaldson over there at third base and they added [Russell] Martin at catcher so they are always going to be tough offensively.
If you were to ask me, not playing Red Sox homer, I think the Red Sox are the best team in that division right now and the Yankees, I don’t know what the Yankees are. I don’t know if they are a fourth place team, a third place team, I think the Red Sox are much better and will play much better than they did last year. You can flip a coin in that division.
Metro: Why is Red Sox/Yankees not what it once was?
Millar: It’s just a changing of the guards right now. [Derek] Jeter, this is the first year you’ll see the Yankees without Jeter at shortstop. That is going to be weird. I don’t care if you are a Yankees fan or not. You always have this transition in baseball. I just think the rivalry has taken a backseat a little bit because both teams have to be good also. You haven’t seen both teams be good at the same time in awhile. How do you have a rivalry when you have a team in last place and the other team in the middle of the road?