Baseball icon Peter Gammons stopped by this afternoon to answer your questions about the Red Sox and the Hot Stove, Cool Music Summer Session concert taking place on Sunday at the Bank of America Pavilion.
JGIONTI3: Peter.. Thanks for stopping by. John Heyman posted on his site that Larry Lucchino could be heading out of town at the end of this season. Please tell me this isn’t the case. You were one of the first to report that he might be part of the new Red Sox ownership group..long before it happened. Larry has his share of critics, but look at what the Sox have accomplished with this current nucleus. I hope you can shed some light on this???
Peter Gammons: I had heard that rumor two weeks before from some people that worked for the Padres, I do know that Frank McCourt would love to bring Lucchino to the Dodgers to straighten out the archaic mess in LA. But I was also told by someone close to Larry and with the Red Sox that there is no way that John henry and Tom Werner would let Larry go because of what you stated. I’ve spent a lot of time with the Cubs this season and they are stating that their entire business model is copied from the Red Sox right down to the design for luxury boxes that Janet Marie Smith and Lucchino drew up.
Derek: Peter do you expect the Sox to start Justin Masterson on Sunday? Thanks.
Peter Gammons: I know there is a ground swell among the players that he should start but there’s also the feeling that come Sept. he should be a vital part of their bullpen. I found it interesting that two national league scouts both said he reminds them of Kevin Brown and a young Darren Dreifort because of his sinker, which is pretty high praise.
wierzbowski: Has there been any discussion about adding Hunter Jones, Richie Lentz or Daniel Bard to the bullpen when the roster expands?
Peter Gammons: The only name I’ve heard is Hunter Jones to give them another lefthander in the bullpen. Bard has made sensational progress but it’s clear they don’t want to get him to the big leagues before he’s ready which is what happened to Craig Hansen.
PJ: Good Afternoon Peter, How to you evaluate Lowrie’s performance so far? Will he be the starting SS in 2009 and where could/will they trade Lugo to this off-season?
Peter Gammons: I think Lowrie is their shortstop at least for the next couple of years. I realize that his is a very brief window but one national league team that does defensive ratings like Red Sox and Indians has Lowrie’s defense ranked 5th among the 62 major league shortstops. I might add that Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes were in the 40’s. Whether or not his range holds up way above ave. over an entire season is something we’ll have to see but he is an above ave. offensive shortstop who brings a grinding approach to every at-bat. I think they’ll have to figure out what to do with Lugo once season is over. If he accepts it it will be interesting to see if he goes back to his role with Tampa which is a super utility man. He’s played second, third, and the outfield and might be valuable in that role again if he would accept it.
PJ: Peter, what do you think Buchholz’s biggest problem is right now? Mechanical, Mental?
Peter Gammons: All of the above. It’s really surprised me because he’s such a great athlete but all season he’s seemed to have lost his mechanics and when he gets in trouble seems to panic. The great changeup that we saw last year had seemingly disappeared at times. I thought he could be a righthanded Cole Hamels with a great curve ball, a great changeup, and mediocre fastball command but he’s lost that.
SeanAPalooza: Hi Peter, will we have the pleasure of seeing you throw down one Bourbon, one Scotch and one beer with George Thorogood this Sunday??
Peter Gammons: I actually played with him on a piece I did for ESPN but while I expect George will play with my band, paying customers probably don’t want to see me mess up his show. One time used to be a pro baseball player.
Bushie: Can you comment on the clubhouse atmosphere pre/post the Manny departure? Are players generally angry by the abhorrent behavior?
Peter Gammons: I don’t think players were angry because so many of them like Manny off the field but what happened was that he became a distraction and players don’t like answering questions about other players when those players won’t answer the questions themselves. This was one of the problems Barry Bonds had at times in San Francisco. When he was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run total, there were nearly 100 reporters covering Bonds in Philly. Several players complained about the media and I told them, blame Barry. If he had just gone into an interview room each day and answered three questions, the players in the clubhouse would have been left alone.
Giovanni: What do you think of Manny’s option for the Yankees next year?
Peter Gammons: I am told that as long as Brian Cashman is the GM and Hank Steinbrenner is owner, Manny will not be going to the Yankees. Their plan is to take the money they have stashed away and go after CC Sabathia.
SeanAPalooza: Hi Peter, very much looking forward to seeing you jam along with Buddy Guy this weekend! My question, there have been a lot of theories (younger teams, late-night partying, closer usage, no greenies, etc.) regarding the universally poor road records this year. What is the REAL reason?
Peter Gammons: I think it’s more of an aberration than anything else although I will say but I think that the strict testing for amphetamines has had an effect. The schedule for a lot of teams has been tough and players may have worn down on the road. I have long thought that because of the testing the old adage about needing experience on a pennant contender has changed and players are better off with younger, energetic, and talented players.
Bushie: What kind of contribution do you expect Paul Byrd to give the team?
Peter Gammons: I think he’ll be what they need right now which is consistent. He’s not Josh Beckett, but he throws strikes and generally keeps his team in a position to win 5-3, or 6-4 games. Remember, he did beat both the Yankees and the Red Sox in playoffs last year and if you go back to when he and Pedro Martinez went on the free agent market after the 2004 season, Byrd has won 44 games, Pedro 30.
bermdog: Gammo- Tito’s loyalty to Crisp has gone way too far. How do you justify him in a game other than a late inning defensive replacement. He can’t catch up to a fastball over 92mph and is downright awful with breaking balls with NO plate discipline. Ellsbury needs the playing time to reach his potential while Coco has maxed his out. Lugo/Tek/Crisp when in the line-up are like having pitchers hitting!
Peter Gammons: The bottom third of the Red Sox order has been an issue, no question. Coco has been streaky in the past and I think that is what Tito is thinking. Hes a great defender who when he gets hot, adds a lot but if Ellsbury gets his approach straightened out and gets hot, there’s no doubt in my mind that he will play and Crisp will be a utility man.
lowell_fan25: Peter, what do you think about the Mike Lowell situation? Is a trip to the DL a real possibility with the oblique muscle?
Peter Gammons: I was very worried about Lowell before he pulled the oblique b/c it was clear his hip was bothering him and his swing was mainly just with his arms, not his lower half. Maybe the best thing for Mike is to sit for a couple of weeks because he’s one guy who never asks out of the lineup.
Tuscarora: Hi, Peter. Do you think Manny has reduced his value as a FA because of his treatment of the Red Sox? Are there teams who will avoid him because of that?
Peter Gammons: I think there will be teams that were put off by the fact that he did not wish to honor the contract he signed. There also will be teams that simply cannot afford to sign a player in his late 30’s for more than $15m a year. He believes he’s going to get $100m for 4 years which is why he didn’t want to be tied to the possibility of making $40m over the next two years. If he can get more than $40m over three years, he will have done well.
lukefromduke: Dear Peter, Last night notwithstanding, do you think Youkilis can keep it up all season, and if not, who could give Ortiz some protection, assuming Lowell will be out or hobbled for awhile.
Peter Gammons: The one thing that worries me about Youkilis is that he could wear down because he is so intense. He probably is the best protection Ortiz could have in the cleanup spot but remember, in 2006, Ramirez played 6 games in September and Ortiz was second to Alex Rodriguez in OPS for the month. Last September, Ramirez played 6 games, batting behind Ortiz once, and David led the majors in OPS. If Ortiz’s swing is right, he’s one of the few players who rises above protection.
golden9x: Realistically, what are the Sox options next year in the catching department with Tek waning , Kottaras not really taking it to the next level and Cash basically as Wake’s caddy?
Peter Gammons: They’ve spent a half year looking for young catchers in other organizations so they are prepared should Varitek get a 3-or-4 year deal somewhere else. My guess is that they’ll make a run at Jarrod Saltalamacchia in Texas or Mike Napoli with the Angels, but they may have to forge some kind of platoon with someone like Brian Schneider and hope that the next couple of years they can develop a Mark Wagner or a Luis Exposito. Remember, the average production from the catching position per team as of this morning was a .251 ave. with 10 homers and 52 RBIs. The 2005 Jason Varitek is not going to be out there.
Lowrie2008: What insight do you have on the Brian Giles situation? Do you think it fair to criticize him for rejecting a trade to a team for which he negotiated a no-trade clause?
Peter Gammons: I don’t blame Giles because he loves the life and the surf of the west coast. It surprises me because had he come to Boston and had a good September, he might have had his option for 2009 picked up, which isn’t going to happen in SD. The Cubs management was recalling that in 2003 they made a deal to bring Rafael Palmeiro out of last place in Texas to first place in Chicago and he rejected it because they wouldn’t extend his contract for the 2004 season.
MikeTorrez08: Peter, do the Sox keep Timlin for the rest of the season, or bring up the younger fresher arms? I know Tito’s loyalty, but it is clear he isn’t ready to rely on Mike again for more than mop-up. Is it a given he retires?
Peter Gammons: Timlin has been throwing the ball better recently and they know that he will throw the ball over the plate and has pitched very well in the postseason. So my guess is he will get every opportunity to prove he is close to as reliable as he’s been in the past.
Fisk27_in_CT: Hi Peter – thanks for taking my question. Have to ask about Manny. What do your sources tell you about his final hours in Boston? Did he really ask to stay at the last minute?
Peter Gammons: It has been denied to me that he called or Scott Boras called or anyone called and asked to stay. He had said to me in Anaheim that what he’d like to do is buy his way out of his contract and immediately leave. I really have never understood why he felt so cramped in Boston but two years ago, when he asked to be traded, his former agents at Legacy Sports have told me they thought they had deals worked out with several teams including the Mets, Angels, and Dodgers.
Amanda: Do you think Tampa Bay is going to hold on to the AL East lead? What do you think is going to happen with the Yankees in the last 2 months of the season?
Peter Gammons: I think the Red Sox have a great chance to overcome Tampa, especially with the losses of Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford. Boston’s advantage is that they have three very good starters and despite some decline in offense, have the best home schedule. I get the distinct impression that the Yankees are looking at the rest of this season the way the Red Sox looked at Sept. in 2006, which is a time to build and develop their young pitchers and find out what they have before the offseason… gotta run, thanks folks, and hope you can make it out to the show at the Bank of America Pavilion on Sunday night. PG.