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An investigation into Buster’s farm bets

It’s his go-to line but does it come with a guarantee?

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The saga between the Red Sox and Mookie Betts has run from the end of the season all the way to the departure of the equipment Truck and the unofficial start of Spring Training. Rumor after rumor after rumor has emerged with the Sox superstar likely to spend the 2020 season on the Dodgers or Padres if Boston pulls the trigger.

One source of rumors isn’t quite like the other though. Buster Onley, through his signature move has taken the deal to his own brand of confirmation: he bet the farm.

For those who are unaware, Olney grew up on a farm in Vermont and has taken this as his ultimate stamp of confirmation for rumors, beliefs, and ideas. When he bets the farm he’s all in. Buster is a good reporter - and he’s got well-placed sources - but how well do Buster’s “all-in” declarations really predict baseball moves?

Let’s investigate!

January 17, 2007

“When has Bonds, in his public statements or in his grand jury testimony or in his dealings with the media, ever taken full responsibility in the realm of performance enhancing drugs? If T.J. Quinn’s report the other day is accurate — and I’d bet the family farm that it is, because T.J.’s a great reporter — Bonds has still never owned up to Sweeney and said flatly, either privately or publicly: Mark, I am wholly responsible for drawing you into this. I blew it, I panicked, I screwed up. And I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.”

We start off with the BALCO case. Considering we’d learn T.J. Quinn was there Buster was right on.

June 23, 2011

Sure enough Johnson became the Nationals’ manager on June 26th - just three days later. Right again.

September 20, 2011

Justin Verlander won the Cy Young award and AL MVP that year. Sorry Granderson (and Jacoby Ellsbury). Miss.

December 28, 2011

The original tweet he’s responding to has been deleted but I’m assuming this refers to Andrew Bailey, who the Red Sox acquired that very day. Right. Also, Andrew Bailey was Rookie of the Year in 2009?

December 12, 2012

Did Jeter do PEDs? Buster said no and there’s been no rumors and, well, he’s in the Hall of Fame now so that’s a full win for Buster.

August 18, 2013

Ryan Dempster threw at A-Rod in his return Fenway Park after the Biogenesis scandal broke. Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes were hit by pitches during the series with the Yankees in September, but neither by C.C. Sabathia. I guess that’s a miss.

September 21, 2013

“I’d be willing to bet the family farm back in Vermont that there were people in the organization who weren’t real thrilled about [the Kyle Lohse signing], either.”

Given the draft pick compensation etc. Do we know if ownership was disappointed in Lohse after one season? What more did they really expect?

July 30, 2015

Sonny Gray was not traded until 2017. Miss.

July 27, 2017

“Buster Olney firmly believes that Oakland A’s ace Sonny Gray will be a New York Yankee before the MLB trade deadline Monday July 31st at 4pm. In fact Buster Olney grew up on a farm so when he says “bet the family farm on Sonny Gray being traded to Yankees” it holds a little more weight to me then someone that just says it as a cute saying.”

And on July 31, 2017 he was in fact traded to the Yankees. One more for Buster.

July 31, 2018

Family farm status: lost. Bryce Harper was not traded at the deadline in 2018.

March 3, 2018

“Anthony, as you know, I grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont. I would bet the family farm back in Vermont that...if I were just asked to bet today, I think that Bryce Harper goes back to the Nationals and I think that Manny Machado winds up with the Phillies

Nope. Harper to the Phillies and Machado to the Padres.

March 25, 2018

Buster made an entire column of bets in spring 2018. We’ll run through those quickly:

  • Mets Noah Syndergaard will finish No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 in the NL Cy Young Award” - Miss
  • “The hitters’ pendulum will begin to swing the other way, with more and more focus on hard contact rather than launch angle.” - Miss
  • Twins hitting coach James Rowson will be interviewed for managerial jobs within the next 4-5 years.” - Still time to go on this but he did become the Bench Coach for the Marlins this winter. That’s a step in the right direction.
  • “The mound-visits limit will have far less impact than anticipated, and that players will adapt easily.” - I’d wager hit on this one.
  • Aaron Judge will improve.” - Miss, although his 2017 rookie season was going to be difficult to stop. Plus, injuries were a factor.
  • “If the Brewers are in serious contention at midseason, they will be aggressive to deal for what they need (and they might need less than expected, given the wave of young pitching near the top of their farm system).” - The Brewers did acquire Jonathan Schoop, Mike Moustakas, and Joakim Soria, so it feels like Buster got that one, even if there wasn’t a repeat of the 2008 Sabathia acquisition.
  • “At the end of Alex Cobb’s four-year, $57 million deal with the Orioles, it will turn out to be a good investment for the club.” - Half way through the contract it’s a solid miss.
  • “Ronald Acuna will be a superstar, and sooner rather than later.” - Rookie of the Year in 2019, fifth in MVP in 2019, 9.6 WAR over his first two seasons and he just turned 22 in December? Hit.

June 24, 2018

The Philles did not sign Machado. He went to the San Diego Padres. It’s a few months later, presumably he revisited his sources since March. Miss.

November 6, 2019

“I’d bet the family farm [Rich Hill] will wind up with the Red Sox. He’s 39 and isn’t in a position to get a lucrative long-term deal, and grew up just outside of Boston, where lives in the offseason. The Red Sox need inexpensive rotation depth given the questions that hover over Chris Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi, and in a year in which the Red Sox are trying to reduce payroll, Hill and the Red Sox could fit each other.”

Nope. Signed with the Minnesota Twins. Miss.

Ok, so it looks like Buster got, with some fuzziness each way, nine bets correct and ten bets incorrect, with a managerial position still out there for the future.

How should Red Sox fans feel right now? If you thought Mookie was going to be traded, you and Buster could be right. If you’re rooting for Mookie to at least begin 2020 in Boston, you’re also doing ok.

It’s probably not good advice to actually bet on Buster’s “betting the farm” comments. But hey, from one afternoon of searching for examples, they are at least far from a sure thing.