Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn’t have money to spend.”

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    Gammons on Weei: R...

    WEEI:

    Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday

    A recurring theme in the discussion was the financial restraints the Red Sox and other major league teams are dealing with this season. Gammons took a question about Marco Scutaro accepting a utility role (now that he’s been replaced by Jed Lowrie as starting shortstop) and showed how the finances will play a key role in Scutaro’s future in Boston.

    “I think he’d accept [the utility role].” Gammons said. “I think the question is going to be: Do the Red Sox feel they need to clear his money to be able to get a catcher or another pitcher in time if they need one. I think that would be a question. I think a lot of teams — I know the Mets would love to have Scutaro play second base, but they don’t want to pay him. There’s one of the problems that you run into. He’s an ideal utility guy, because he can play second, short and third, and he’s so great around the clubhouse. But the question is, Do you want to pay that kind of money if indeed ownership doesn’t want to go any further until the trading deadline and you need another catcher and it costs 5, 6 million dollars.”

    Asked if the Red Sox have extended themselves close to their financial limit, Gammons said: “I think so. And I think that will change in the middle of the season. The Phillies are going through the same thing. [Phillies general manager] Ruben Amaro said last week — the question was posted actually about Scutaro, because they still don’t know when [injured second baseman] Chase Utley‘s coming back. They can say bravely, ‘He’ll be back at the end of May.’ They don’t know that. The thinking was Scutaro’s the perfect guy. And Ruben said, ‘I have no more money. We can’t make any moves.’

    “I think a lot of teams went right to the luxury tax threshold and spent a lot of money and said, ‘OK, we’re not spending any more until we desperately need something. So, figure out what’s wrong.’ I think the Red Sox, the Angels, the Phillies, Texas, the White Sox, I think a lot of them are in that position right now.”

    Added Gammons: “I think most teams in baseball this winter, I think most of the big-market teams spent to their limit before the season. I hear that from the Phillies, I hear it from the White Sox, I heard it from the Tigers, I hear it from a lot of people. It’s not unusual, but people don’t want to add money right now. And they’re not sure where the economy’s going, they’re not sure where the labor agreement is going — although I still don’t believe the labor agreement is going to greatly impact the game. But a lot of teams just are holding. It’s not just the Dodgers and Mets, it’s a lot of teams.”

    Money also was mentioned when talking about the Red Sox’ catching situation, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s early season struggles have meant more playing time for Jason Varitek.

    “I know what they were trying to do. They looked around. They didn’t have money to spend,” Gammons said. “They couldn’t go get Bengie Molina. They weren’t going to spend the money at this point. So, they decided that the best way to go was to let Jason catch a lot for a couple of weeks, let Salty work and hopefully get him back to where he was in spring training, when the season opened.

    “Whether that holds up, it’s still a precarious situation. They clearly don’t feel they have the answer in the minor leagues. So, what do they do? I don’t know. I know they’ve reached out to backup guys with the Mets that haven’t been able to do anything. Backup catchers who can catch four days a week are really hard to find. They’re finding that right now.

    “What the alternative is, they just don’t seem to have it. So, they have to hope that Saltalamacchia works out on this homestand and takes over and goes back to where they thought he was going to be. Otherwise, this whole medical staff declaring Russell Martin unsignable will raise its head the way it did with Jason Bay two years ago.”

    Adrian Gonzalez‘ numbers are not what were expected from the former Padres standout. Gammons isn’t too concerned.

    “I think part of it is the number of left-handers they’ve seen,” he said. “He hits for average against left-handers, but they do diminish his power a little bit. And I think the other thing is, I think the adjustment of being pitched in so much. In the National League, they pitched him away, because, ‘Nobody can hit the ball out of Petco, who cares?’ But here, they’ve really pounded him in, and I think he’s in the process of making adjustments.

    “I find it hard to worry about him. I still think he’ll hit, and he’ll hit big. It kind of reminds me a little bit of Mark Teixeira‘s first month with the Yankees, after he signed as a free agent. I think he will hit, and that it will work for him. I still think they’re going to score a ton of runs. I think that [Carl] Crawford and Gonzalez, we may look back in three months and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe how little they hit in the first month of the season.’ ”

    On a positive note, Jonathan Papelbon has shown signs that he has regained his dominating form.

    Said Gammons: “Near the end of last year, I had a couple of long conversations with him. He said, ‘I cannot find my landing. I just can’t get my landing the right way. So therefore, I end up with no command of my fastball. And when I’m behind, no one’s going to swing at that split if I’m behind.’ Which is obvious. You know, he throws a split in the strike zone, it’s a hanger.

    “Near the end of spring training, I did a thing for MLB.TV with Papelbon and he was really good — very thoughtful about his pitching. And he talked about that driving the fastball, getting the right landing leg, getting the right drive in his delivery, driving the ball down and away to right-handed hitters, but throwing strikes. And that’s what he did all the way through, like, 2007, in the minor leagues and the major leagues. He was a strike machine. And then he lost that. I thought he lost it with his fastball and then the other pitches followed.

    “But I think that’s what we’ve seen. And I think the more confidence he has in it —he is an adrenaline guy. And adrenaline guys usually need that confidence. And then all of a sudden the slider gets a little bit better, guys start swinging at the split.

    “His comeback has been one of the more encouraging things for the Red Sox in the first month. I agree with you, I think he looks different. He wears his emotions. You can tell how he feels when he’s on the mound. It’s not like a guy who plays the poker face. He’s not Rollie Fingers, he never looks any different. We all know where Pap comes from. That’s not a bad thing for a reliever, but it’s a fragile thing for a reliever.”

    With Papelbon anchoring a solid bullpen and the additions via free agency of some high-powered offensive players, the Sox were expected to win some high-scoring games this season. Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Orioles is an example of the reason that hasn’t happened, as the offense has struggled mightily.

    “They spent a lot of money on Bobby Jenks, and they have developed of the best No. 2 guys in the game in Daniel Bard. So, they’re geared to winning [high-scoring games], in theory,” Gammons said. “They spent a lot of money on the bullpen. They did that to win a lot of 7-5, 8-6 games. And they haven’t had those games thus far. The bullpen did win the one game on that road trip. But that’s what their supposed to do. They’re supposed to win those games. And the offense hasn’t provided them with that opportunity thus far.”

     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    I heard the interview yesterday on Tunein Radio on my iPhone.

    I take Peter's take about them not having the money with a grain of salt. Note he never says he has talked to anyone in the RS about the topic. He says he has heard that from folks with the Tigers and White Sox, wraps that around two teams with very public money issues (Dodgers and Mets) and comes to the conclusion because these teams and the Phillies have hit budgetary walls, that the RS join this group.

    It could be true but it is pure speculation on Gammons part and only his HOF status as a writer separates it from what a poster on BDC might conclude. it is just as likely that the market was weak for catching talent and the RS found themselves without in house answers and a glaring weakness, in spite of their willingness to be aggressive this off season after a few years of more cautious dealings.

    The fact that the RS backed off of Russell Martin because of advice from the medical staff was news, but to wrap that around Jason bay was odd since his non-signing at least based on his performance so far since signing the new contract suggests that RS dodged a bullet.

    Beyond that the observation that the RS are troubled at the catching position and no remedy aside from Salty improving seems apparent is far from earth breaking IMHO.

    Just my takes


     
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    katz- you have the right take on the grain of salt, for sure.  

    The Red Sox, by all accounts, did leave some money on the table, though I suspect they did so because they were anticipating a need for cash at the trade deadline for one reason or another.  And this cash, I think, was not just their contingency money - it was slotted for trades or FA signings.

    No, the Red Sox just said, "Enough.  Crawford and A-Gon are enough."

    They gave short shrift to their catching situation - perhaps thinking that nothing could be worse than Victor Martinez defensively, and that Salty/Tek just had to be an upgrade.  

    Wrong so far, I would say, though not necessarily wrong forever.  Jury is still out.  Wait until Mid-May for the verdict.

    The real news, if there is any, should be the attempt to say it was a cash -- aka business -- decision.  Wrong, IMO.  They had the cash - they still do - but not the will to spend it.  So the statement is disingenuous and should not be taken seriously.

    Here endeth the lesson.
     

        
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    In Response to Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn’t have money to spend.”:
    [QUOTE]katz- you have the right take on the grain of salt, for sure.   The Red Sox, by all accounts, did leave some money on the table, though I suspect they did so because they were anticipating a need for cash at the trade deadline for one reason or another.  And this cash, I think, was not just their contingency money - it was slotted for trades or FA signings. No, the Red Sox just said, "Enough.  Crawford and A-Gon are enough." They gave short shrift to their catching situation - perhaps thinking that nothing could be worse than Victor Martinez defensively, and that Salty/Tek just had to be an upgrade.   Wrong so far, I would say, though not necessarily wrong forever.  Jury is still out.  Wait until Mid-May for the verdict. The real news, if there is any, should be the attempt to say it was a cash -- aka business -- decision.  Wrong, IMO.  They had the cash - they still do - but not the will to spend it.  So the statement is disingenuous and should not be taken seriously. Here endeth the lesson.       
    Posted by summerof67[/QUOTE]Personally I think they found the FA market and trade market for catchers not terribly attractive.

    The FA (* option held by player and or team):

    Catchers
    Brad Ausmus LAD
    Rod Barajas LAD
    Josh Bard SEA
    Henry Blanco NYM
    John Buck TOR
    Ramon Castro CWS
    Ramon Hernandez CIN
    Reed Johnson LAD
    Gerald Laird DET
    Jason LaRue STL
    Victor Martinez BOS
    Chad Moeller NYY
    Jose Molina TOR
    Miguel Olivo COL *
    A.J. Pierzynski CWS
    David Ross ATL
    Yorvit Torrealba SD *
    Matt Treanor TEX
    Jason Varitek BOS
    Gregg Zaun MIL *


    Now this won't be a popular thought but the RS probably should have gotten a younger back up than Tek as the insurance to Salty's possible struggles. The focus seems to be all on giving the keys to Salty rather than having no viable back up plan if he was not a 125 game starter.
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Sox were obviously aware of Martin's health issues and I read that last fall. Bay failed the four year physical (Dr. Gill) and lowered their offer to only two years. Google WEEI Bradford Bay). Medical staff has been right on Pedro, Bay, but not on Martin.
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    ConcernTroll  '' Sox were obviously aware of Martin's health issues and I read that last fall. Bay failed the four year physical (Dr. Gill) and lowered their offer to only two years. Google WEEI Bradford Bay). Medical staff has been right on Pedro, Bay, but not on Martin ''






    how were they right about bay ?
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Maybe one of the red sox catchers will have a Jose Molina like turnaround.  35 year old catcher who is batting 303 this year.  Not bad for someone who hit 216 and 217 in 2008 and 2009 and batted 246 last year.

    Catcher is probably the hardest position to fill. 

     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Jose Molina might still be able to throw decently and move and block and make the tough catches decently. I haven't seen him, but the Red Sox management gets an F if they pretend they couldn't find an affordable light hitting decent defensive catcher for trade if not FA.

    The good news is that the state of the Red Sox is in pretty good shape, despite reports to the contrary. To get quality, quality must be traded or huge FA money must be spent. Since Peter isn't willing to be critical of management on the Crawford value brain cramp, he must know that the Red Sox are over loaded with slap hittting lefty OF'ers and middle IF talent. Whether they wait until next winter, they need to make the classic swap trades with other teams that matchup well. Ellsbury (fans should give Crawford the same doting love) and Lowrie are the best chips.

    Peter's out to lunch talking about trying to move Scutaro. No team is going to give anything of MLB ready player value for Scutaro. The Red Sox have Iglesias, a defensive SS who should be ready for a 2012 defensive role (if not he's overrated because SS defense whiz can hit near Mendoza and still be a fine everyday MLB SS). They also have another solid farm SS to go with the regular one year cheap veteran UIF SS that are easily picked up. Unless the Red Sox are going to trade Iglesias, currently less trade value than Lowrie, Lowrie is blocked at every position.

    Ellsbury and Lowrie should be on the trade block for a solid young RH corner OF'er and a solid proven overall MLB catcher. Theo's decision to shoot the moon on Crawford has him in a long term situation that is quite unbalanced. I see no urgency to make a trade before the winter, but if a good deal is there before then it should be done. 

    "Crawbury" was something like "New Coke", it's not a marriage that fits long term. Longer term, fans are going to need to love Crawford as much as Ellsbury, and Ellsbury is going to need to be in the trade bank.

    It's not rocket science. 

    2011 Needs:

    1. Better starting pitching production (locked in to current books)
    2. Better quality pen depth (Check)
    3. Proven good overall MLB Catcher (Zero)

    2012 and beyond Needs:

    1. New Superstar slugging franchise face (AGon)
    2. Proven good overall corner RH slugging OF'er (Zero)

    Frankly, there was no need for Crawford for 2011. And, frankly, unless Ellsbury is swaped for a need in a trade, there is no long term need for Crawford. 

    142M for Crawford, way to go you brilliant GM, Theo..............................


      

     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    2011 Needs:

    1. Better starting pitching production (locked in to current books)
    2. Better quality pen depth (Check)
    3. Proven good overall MLB Catcher (Zero)

    2012 and beyond Needs:

    1. New Superstar slugging franchise face (AGon)
    2. Proven good overall corner RH slugging OF'er (Zero)

    Frankly, there was no need for Crawford for 2011.

    I finally agree, but weren't you against signing Matt Holiday too? And Jason Werth?
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...




    Brian McCann!  Brian McCann!  We want Brian McCann!
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Salty nearly hit a grand slam. It was short by two feet from going out. It is a shame that Cambodia can't get DirecTV. How was the sauteed PittBull for your dinner?
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Isn't this why the Sox acquired Mike McKenry?  And why they keep Mark Wagner on the 40-man roster?

    Dump Salty and Tek and go with McKenry and Wagner...

     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    I finally agree, but weren't you against signing Matt Holiday too? And Jason Werth?

    Those guys aren't young, nor was their superstar contracts worth getting players that aren't superstars.

    Hart, Kemp, Upton, just to name a few, are young and talented and a better fit. Upton rumored demands were high, his extension is relatively cheap until it balloons in 2013 and pops in 2014.

    Goodness, do I need to do Theo's job for him...................
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    VMart should have been resigned, Ortiz would be gone before the last half of that contract. Theo also should have signed a solid defensive light hitting veteran catcher, that's not Varitek, and put Salty in AAA.

    None of this means the 2011 team can't get it done with Salty and Varitek and 2 lefty scatback OF'ers Drew, the starting pitching can take this team all the way. But, long term, Theo has mortgaged big on Crawford and still hasn't addressed obvious long term needs. The catching situation will not be any proverbial straw, but there was no excuse not to address the situation in a professional way. I mean, any of us could have just mailed in the money on Crawford and Jenks and picked up AGon, that's not even thinking at all.

    2 years at 12 to 14M, a 2nd year player opt out for Putz was a better move than Jenks. Putz didn't get a closer's contract, and he capitulated to a market that locks him out of cashing in big on a 2 year closer's deal if he has a big year this year. But, at least he did the job of addressing much needed quality pen depth.

     
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    The last catcher drafted by the Red Sox to play a meaningful role on the team was Scott Hatteberg (in 2001) and he was taken in the 43rd round.

     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Theo is always on top of things, and so is Varitek.
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Due to the Red Sox relative success in recent years their draft picks are normally so low that the elite, blue-chip position players are already selected by the time they make their pick. Such players usually end up in the farm systems of the poorer teams with fewer wins and more losses.

     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    In Response to Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn’t have money to spend.”:
    [QUOTE]Jose Molina might still be able to throw decently and move and block and make the tough catches decently. I haven't seen him, but the Red Sox management gets an F if they pretend they couldn't find an affordable light hitting decent defensive catcher for trade if not FA. The good news is that the state of the Red Sox is in pretty good shape, despite reports to the contrary. To get quality, quality must be traded or huge FA money must be spent. Since Peter isn't willing to be critical of management on the Crawford value brain cramp, he must know that the Red Sox are over loaded with slap hittting lefty OF'ers and middle IF talent. Whether they wait until next winter, they need to make the classic swap trades with other teams that matchup well. Ellsbury (fans should give Crawford the same doting love) and Lowrie are the best chips. Peter's out to lunch talking about trying to move Scutaro. No team is going to give anything of MLB ready player value for Scutaro. The Red Sox have Iglesias, a defensive SS who should be ready for a 2012 defensive role (if not he's overrated because SS defense whiz can hit near Mendoza and still be a fine everyday MLB SS). They also have another solid farm SS to go with the regular one year cheap veteran UIF SS that are easily picked up. Unless the Red Sox are going to trade Iglesias, currently less trade value than Lowrie, Lowrie is blocked at every position. Ellsbury and Lowrie should be on the trade block for a solid young RH corner OF'er and a solid proven overall MLB catcher. Theo's decision to shoot the moon on Crawford has him in a long term situation that is quite unbalanced. I see no urgency to make a trade before the winter, but if a good deal is there before then it should be done.  "Crawbury" was something like "New Coke", it's not a marriage that fits long term. Longer term, fans are going to need to love Crawford as much as Ellsbury, and Ellsbury is going to need to be in the trade bank. It's not rocket science.  2011 Needs: 1. Better starting pitching production (locked in to current books) 2. Better quality pen depth (Check) 3. Proven good overall MLB Catcher (Zero) 2012 and beyond Needs: 1. New Superstar slugging franchise face (AGon) 2. Proven good overall corner RH slugging OF'er (Zero) Frankly, there was no need for Crawford for 2011. And, frankly, unless Ellsbury is swaped for a need in a trade, there is no long term need for Crawford.  142M for Crawford, way to go you brilliant GM, Theo..............................   
    Posted by BaseballGM[/QUOTE]
    I disagree about the need for a right OF bat. Cameron and Drew fill that role nicely. Ellsbury hits lefties very nicely. Crawford is really the only hole against lefties Softy. I think this team might be better server with a righty DH, and a righty catcher with pop. Benji Molina.
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    Nice read Gammons.
     
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    Re: Gammons on Weei: Red Sox catching ‘still a precarious situation’; trading for a catcher-“They didn̵...

    I disagree about the need for a right OF bat.

    2012.
     

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