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Gammons on The Big Show: Leave Buchholz in rotation

05.09.10 at 9:49 am ET
By

Peter Gammons (AP)

Peter Gammons joined The Big Show on Friday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. He said that all three contending teams in the AL East — the Sox, Yankees and Rays — have issues they have to deal with, and the answers will be coming soon.

“All three teams have a lot of questions to be answered, between now and the July 1,” he said.  “I’m sure the Yankees will be saying, ‘Should we get Roy Oswalt?’ The Red Sox are going to be saying, ‘Should we take a chance on Lance Berkman?’ There’s a lot that may be decided in the next eight weeks.”

A transcript follows. To listen, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

What do you do with Daisuke Matsuzaka, especially now that Tim Wakefield is just sitting in the bullpen?

They’ll probably give Daisuke four or five starts. Victor Martinez was saying to me that he couldn’t believe the difference in his fastball between the first and second inning. He said it picked up like four or five miles in velocity. Then he’s having a little more confidence throwing a few sliders, where in the first inning he had no confidence in his fastball that he was overthrowing every slider. How long do you go? I appreciate that he had a lot of time off, that he was hurt and didn’t pitch that much to get here. But there isn’t a lot of time in a division with Tampa and the Yankees to sit around and say, “OK. We are going to give him 10 starts.” But if he doesn’t start, what are you going to do with him? I think it’s one of the many questions that will be answered in the next month.

Wouldn’t it make sense to put Clay Buchholz in the bullpen?

I don’t think you take a 200-inning, second-year starter and put him in the bullpen. I don’t see that as a viable alternative. I think you have to go find a veteran reliever somewhere. They’re not going to challenge Tampa and New York if Buchholz isn’t good enough to make 30 starts on the season. He’s got the second best stuff on the staff. He’s got to be one of your top starters. To me, you just can’t take a guy out because the other guys can’t do the role. You can’t take him out. To me, you weaken yourself immeasurably if you take Buchholz out of the rotation.

If you go out and find somebody, what do you do with Wakefield and Matsuzaka?

That’s the problem. Wakefield has pitched out of the bullpen. Now the question is, at his age is it too late to ask him to go back? Just as it may be too late to ask him to go back and make 20 starts if his back is going to go. I think they have more of a chance of figuring out the bullpen thing. Either Wake or Daisuke is going to end up being the fifth starter, and then you move on from there. It is good that [Manny] Delcarmen is starting to throw a lot better, that home run last night was a joke. They are going to have to go get one more veteran reliever, because they don’t have minor leaguers that are going to come in and step up the way [Daniel] Bard did.

What is Matsuzaka’s value on the market right now?

He probably has decent value in the National League, I really believe that. At times it seems as if he’s spooked to challenge hitters in the American League East. The lineups are very different from what he’s faced. You put him over in the National League West — you put him with the Arizona, the Padres or the Dodgers — he might be a very effective pitcher. I don’t think the Dodgers could afford him, because he costs more than the minimum. But if he would be able to go there and you were able to eat one of their salaries, I think he’d be very affective. I could see him in LA.

What do you take out of the last four games vs. the Angels?

I think it was just good to get some guys like Victor Martinez started. Some guys are starting to hit a little bit. I agree, the Angels, it was not only just the fact that [Scott] Kazmir is just a shell. If he can’t throw a slider because his arm hurts, then why bother to have him? Because he can’t pitch without the slider. They are not getting enough out of their starters, and their middle relief is so bad. Plus, that defense. I swear, Bobby Abreu was actually sitting in the stands. You know, he’d come out, catch line drives on the warning track and that’s about it. They are not the same team. They will probably wind up winning the division in the long run, but I thought it was a good time to get re-established. I thought what was really important last night, was you thought that they were going to come back and get this close and the [Sox] are going to have to use Bard and [Jonathan] Papelbon. [Hideki] Okajima did a pretty good job. They survived the night without having to use their two relievers, that you figure if they are going to win two out of three against the Yankees, they are going to use those two guys at least twice apiece.

Are we going to see Mariano Rivera this weekend?

I think so. I was talking to Joe Girardi, and he’s not going to catch [Jorge] Posada with that calf. It’s easy to say, “Look I ran in the outfield.” But when you have the quick jerk when you come out of the catching position or come out of the batters box, so he’s not going to catch here. Rivera can pitch. He told me he may back off [Andy] Pettitte for another week or 10 days. The good part for them is [Brett] Gardner’s played great. He’s second in the league in OBP. He’s second in steals. I think there is more upside to [Jacoby] Ellsbury, but there is a pretty good Gardner vs. Ellsbury argument to be made, on who’s a better player. He’s so under the radar that people don’t realize how great defensively he is. He can steal bases. He’s getting on base 43 percent of the time. He’s a good player and he’s really changed that team. I guess when [Curtis] Granderson comes back he’ll go back to center field and Gardner will go back to left, but Gardner is a better center fielder than Granderson.

What’s the story with Javier Vazquez?

I think they have little faith. We’ve seen it here and we’ve seen it in New York, there are certain guys who just get spooked. I always thought that in 2004 the reason that Javier struggled so much was because he kept losing his arm angle because he was hurt. But maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he lost his arm angle because he was afraid of being hit. In a lot of years he would have won the Cy Young last year. He had a great year for the Braves. The Red Sox tried to get him, and now [Yankees] are scared to death to use him in this series. It’s too bad. We’ve seen a few players like that. He’s not related to Edgar Renteria. It really is different. If you are playing for the Cardinals or playing for Seattle, it’s a lot different than being in the fire of Boston or New York, taking heat all the time.

Is Tampa that good or do you still feel that the bullpen is suspect?

I do. They’ve gotten great starting pitching. They have by far the best starting ERA. Their overall ERA is the best in the league. They’ve scored the most runs, and their run differential is by far the best. They have played great. But, maybe [Jeff] Niemann gets tired. Maybe someone else gets tired and they have an injury and that bullpen gets exposed. But right now [Wade] Davis, Niemann, [David] Price and [James] Shields are getting them into the eighth inning every night, so it’s a real easy game. It is a very long season when you are playing in the East. But they are athletic and really most of their best players really haven’t started hitting yet.

It might be the pitching that wins this division, it could be the intangibles.

I thinks that’s entirely possible. We haven’t seen [Mark] Teixeira and [Alex Rodriguez] get really hot yet. I think the Yankees are eighth in the league in homers right now, which is not going to continue as the season goes along. But I think that of all the different things that could happen with these teams, especially with the age of the Yankees. We saw it a little bit this week. You’ve got A-Rod 35, Jeter 36, Posada 39, Pettitte 38, Rivera 40, there are a lot of things that could bring them back to earth, just like the youth of the Rays and that starting staff could bring them back to earth. But the Red Sox do have to figure out who’s going to DH. The whole [David] Ortiz question, and I must say that I was a little surprised that he was in the lineup against [Phil] Hughes. I wasn’t sure that they would start him against hard throwers, right-handed or left-handed, and end up with Victor Martinez on the bench tonight. All three teams have a lot of questions to be answered, between now and the July 1. I’m sure the Yankees will be saying, “Should we get Roy Oswalt?” The Red Sox are going to be saying, “Should we take a chance on Lance Berkman?” There’s a lot that may be decided in the next eight weeks.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, peter gammons, Red Sox, Yankees
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