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Transcript: Peter Gammons On The Big Show

12.11.09 at 4:25 pm ET

Peter Gammons joined the boys on the Big Show this afternoon to talk about his return to the New England baseball market after 20 years at ESPN and discuss what is happening with the Red Sox. Check out the full transcript below.

Click here for the full audio version.

So, you will actually start at NESN and the MLB Network today?

No, I mean, we are sort of working it out. I am actually going over to NESN today to do something but most of the activity will start after the first of the year but give me time to figure out exactly what I am doing.

Well, welcome back home.

Thank you. It is fun to be home, it does mean something as you know very well since I have been with you for a lot of years and it does matter to me. I grew up here and I covered that team for a lot of time and the market is tremendous. People get so emotional. I was reading Dan Shaughnessy yesterday and I was actually laughing because people are taking one word [bridge] and making such a big deal. But that is the way we are, I mean, the Red Sox are lucky that fans care that much. You could be in some markets where people just go, huh, who cares? The New York Mets have made themselves that way. The Mets are running around announcing that they have made offers to Jason Bay and now Joel Sherman is saying that it is to make sure that people believe that they are actually trying. That is not what people want to hear.

Is the Red Sox reaction to the Yankees having just won a championship?

I think so, to a certain degree. They see where the Yankees are right now and they are, again, going to be $80 million above anybody else in the American League East and, you know, that is a lot of money that is different. They did such a great job last winter with Teixeira, Sebathia, Burnett that they are in a tremendous position right now. They are going to be, Theo always says, at worst you expect them to win 95 games and at best you expect them to win 105. That is what you are dealing with and I think that Red Sox fans are discouraged about that but they should also look at it and say that the Yankees did a good job rebuilding on the fly, albeit with a lot of money. And the other thing that I think is really frustrating to Red Sox fans is that when you look at the Yankees veteran players that have been there for 14, 15 years, they don’€™t seem to be getting older where a lot of Red Sox players have been getting older.

When you look at Mariano Rivera, he has been doing it forever. It may be the most remarkable thing that we have seen in the last 15 years that he has been able to be at the top of the game and he does it with one pitch.

I wrote a column about that during the playoffs and this is not hyperbole, I really believe this ‘€“ in the last 15 years in Major League Baseball he is the Most Valuable Player and he is the Cy Young Award winner yet he has never won an award. It is just astounding. Despite that incredible pitch he has tremendous fitness, he has a great body but the makeup. I remember I had breakfast with him on the first day of Spring Training 2002 and he had just given up the lead to Arizona in Game 7 of the World Series the previous October and I said to him ‘€œ are you ready for when pitchers and catchers reporting that you are going to get a thousand questions about it, are you ready for it?’€ And he said, ‘€œ oh yeah, I was over it when the plane landed in Newark.’€ He said ‘€I broke three bats, it is the nature of the game. He said there are games where I didn’€™t pitch as well and got the save so, now, believe me, I didn’€™t lose any sleep.’€ Most of the rest of us cannot relate to what makes great athletes great, Steve can, but most of us can’€™t relate.

What is your take on the Lowell trade?

I think they just decided it was best for everybody, for him and for everybody to just move him. They have to make a change at third base and I don’€™t think that Mike was very happy about it, but they said OK, we’€™ll clear the deck and move on. I know, I read all the defensive metrics and it was one of the worst seasons for a third baseman in like the last 10 years or something. But this time he has five months to rehab where last year he told me in January that he wasn’€™t sure what he was going to do in Spring Training. I hope he comes back but they just clearly decided to move on, he is not going to be happy and that is it. The guy they are getting may be leading the Venezuelan League in home runs but he is also leading the Venezuelan League in chickens consumed.

It all brings us back to Jason Bay. Do you buy that the Sox are hesitant to give him a fifth year that another team will?

I think there is a good chance about that. I know the Giants would go to a fifth year but I know that Jason does not want to play in San Francisco, pure and simple. If there was a mistake made here is that the Red Sox made him such a huge offer in July that it gave Joe Urbon the confidence that they will go for $3 million and another year. I am not sure that is going to happen. Would the Mets go to five years and $17 million? I think the Angels are going to end up resigning John Lackey so I think Bay is out of it there so I think it would be San Francisco, the Mets or the Red Sox and the first two are not exactly attractive alternatives. Though, it is a lot easier for a right hander to pull the ball in the new ballpark in New York than it is to go to right-center.

I assume that you do not think that Seattle is a player for Bay but people say the Adrian Beltre thing is not cut and dry in terms of him just walking to the Red Sox no questions asked and that Seattle will offer him a contract and they have some money to spend. Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I do. I don’€™t know how they would do it. I mean, maybe they would play Figgins at second base but Figgins thought he was playing third base so, it will be interesting to see. I also don’€™t know Beltre’€™s frame of mind. I know he likes being on the West Coast but he hates that ballpark. I haven’€™t had time to do all the work on it but Scott Boras‘€™s mathematics. I know he told the Red Sox that you can have Matt Holliday right now, just duplicate the Mark Teixeira contract. But, you know, Boras is great at what he does but his numbers will show that Beltre is a better hitter on the road than better, but, you know, we’€™ll see. Beltre is a very good player and a tough guy but he does have, like Jason, have a lot of injuries in his past.

I credit the Red Sox, it was phenomenal of them. Dana Levangie may be the best advanced scout in the game the way they prepare. Breaking ball, breaking ball, breaking ball, you worry about that a lot. We saw Jason go through a two month stretch where he got nothing but breaking balls but I am not sure Beltre would ever get a fast ball here.

What do they do in left field without either Bay or Holliday?

I don’€™t really know yet. Maybe a short term of get Mike Cameron and put him in centerfield and put Ellsbury in left field and sign Xavier Nady? That is a possibility. I think they have four or five alternatives where they go a lot more to defense, because they did have the did have the second worse defense in baseball last year and maybe they can save the pitching with that. Even though I have great respect for David Ortiz when he says they have to get more power they did hit 46 more home runs this year than they did in 2007 when they won the World Series. They scored more runs than they did in 2007, the defense of course will still be a problem but they have to have that balance. I don’€™t know much how much real power they are going to have. How much better can Kevin Youkilis be than he has been the last two years, I don’€™t know.

What do you think about the Sox acquisition of pitchers? Do they got low end reclamation projects or try to get in on the Lackeys and Halladays of the world?

I don’€™t think they go Halladay because I think it would be a disaster to give up Buccholz and Kelly and then try to pay a guy with his medical history $18 million a year through the age of 38. That won’€™t happen. I do think they are looking toward Lackey, but, there are guys, I know it is expensive for this market but what about Derek Lowe? The Braves have to move him and he didn’€™t pitch well this last year but he got really messed up mechanically and I know he is expensive but maybe there is a way of moving somebody who has a little bit of money left and do that. It may be that if they lose out on Bay and Holliday and so forth that maybe what they do is just hold on and look at all the teams that don’€™t start off well and maybe just buy off some of their players and see what they have come July 1st.

Do you see all of this approaching the Sox approach with Beckett? Even if they get a guy like Lowe or Lackey that they cannot have too many highly paid guys at the top of the rotation and that he will have to move on after next year?

I think that is a possibility. Josh had one great year here, but as you know Rob, in the eyes of the manager, the coaches and most of the players they have two captains ‘€“ one of them is Pedroia and the other one is Beckett. The way he does his between the starts sides in the bullpen, the way goes about things. There is a lot of respect that goes there. I think he has had a tremendous impact on Lester and he is starting to have a tremendous impact on Buccholz and I think they expect Kelly to be ready by late August and I know they would like to have Beckett around for him. So, even though, OK, he has a 4.05 ERA in a Red Sox uniform and yes in the last two postseasons he has four starts, 30 innings and 18 runs, but on the other hand there is something really unusual that if he is your third starter, that is pretty good. And I think that the makeup of leadership on the team that he would make a void that would be pretty difficult to fill.

What do you think of Scutaro and does that end the merry-go-round for the Sox at shortstop?

Yeah, I think for a couple of years. They did a lot of medicals on him because he had the plantar fasciitis the last five or six weeks of the season and it really effected him. As of about July 20th, if you believe all those defensive metrics they use in baseball, he was the best defensive shortstop in baseball and he struggled after that. Allan Baird went and worked him out and they got all the medicals on him and Allan said he was just the way he was early in the season, he is a very smart player. And, because of the nature of being able to vest the third year I think that they see him as a guy who eventually becomes a utility player and eventually becomes the mentor to Jose Iglesias who they and everybody I talk to in baseball thinks is really going to become one of the great defensive shortstops. About that merry-go-round, I am one who really like Jed Lowrie. I think he is an average to above average defensive shortstop who could have 50 extra base hits. But, once he gets those hand injuries he has got to be really afraid. That is one reason that they have been a little bit cautious on Mark DeRosa. He had that wrist injury last year, is he really going to come back from it at the age of 35? It is one of those questions, it becomes a gamble. They are paying for some guys who don’€™t play here anymore.

Do you know exactly what you are going to be doing at NESN? On the desk before and after games? Where will we see you?

I will be there, I will be at Spring Training, I will be doing shows in the offseason. I have kind of patterned my career after someone like Dick Schofield Sr. At every position I try to get in more innings than any other infielder in history.

Maybe they will bring you back for some Bruins games? People forget you used to over the Bruins back in the day.

I would love that. I was out in the L.A. Forum when they brought Frank Sinatra out to sing the National Anthem before, I think it was Game 6 of the 1976 playoffs and Wayne Cashman cut the cord. And Sinatra was supposed to sing the National Anthem and you couldn’€™t hear him because Cashman had already cut the line.

You are going to continue to do that national stuff for the MLB Network. How is that going to work?

I will go down to New Jersey occasionally and I can do some of it from Boston. So, it will work out very well for me.

You will be able to spend much more time at home.

Yes I will. Which I enjoy. I like being home. Not that I didn’€™t love the Residence Inn in Connecticut.

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