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Gammons on The Big Show: Sox ‘not going to catch Tampa’ without good Papelbon

08.13.10 at 5:35 pm ET
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NESN and MLB.com analyst Peter Gammons talked to the Big Show Friday afternoon and discussed the big topic of the day: Jonathan Papelbon and his ability to continue to close out games for the Red Sox going forward. Gammons said that he believes Papelbon will remain as the team’s closer for various reasons, including his need to pitch on an adrenaline rush. He also added that he doesn’t see the reliever getting traded in the offseason.

“The fact is going to arbitration, he’s going to be making so much,” Gammons said. “I’m not sure he’s tradable because he’s probably going to be close to $12 million in arbitration. I don’t think anybody’s going to be trade something good and pay a closer $12 million.”

Later, he brought up the possibility of the Red Sox making a waiver claim on Manny Ramirez should he hit the waiver wire just to block the slugger from going to the Wild-Card leading Rays.

“This is like the Red Sox worst nightmare. Can you imagine Theo [Epstein] saying, ‘Should I press the yes or no button on waiver claims on Manny Ramirez?’”

What follows are some highlights of that interview. To hear the entire interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

Does it alarm you that Papelbon has blown five saves since June 23?

Oh it bothers me. ‘€¦ I understand the whole thing about getting his pitches. I thought Monday was the best he was all year. Split, slider. He went back to being a three-pitch pitcher. I appreciate that because he came up as a starter and was a three-pitch guy and then eventually you end up being a one-pitch pitcher as a closer. OK, I understand that development. But what I don’€™t understand, because he had such a good delivery all the way through the minor leagues and right up to the big leagues, he said to me several times he can’€™t find his landing right. At times, he just gets completely out of sync of it, and I can think ‘€œAlright, it’€™ll come together, and it’€™ll be great for five straight weeks.’€ But it continues to be really erratic, and it seems strange to me.

Let’€™s face it. If he doesn’€™t find it and if he isn’€™t really good in September, they’€™re not going to catch Tampa. They have to get him out there. I really do believe that oftentimes the seventh and eighth innings are more difficult to pitch. That’€™s where [Daniel] Bard belongs for the time being.

Would it be a possibility that down the road this season Terry Francona goes up to Papelbon and says that they’€™ll finish the year with Bard as the closer?

I don’€™t think there’€™s any question that that’€™s a possibility. Let’€™s say he blows three saves between now and the middle of September and you still have a chance with Tampa, I would not be shocked if they did go and say, ‘€œOK, this night we’€™re going to go with Bard.’€ Maybe they alternate them, whatever. If Daniel’€™s really hot at the time and there is that great advantage. Left-handers are hitting .124 off of him. He can get left-handers and right-handers.

It’€™s a tough thing of what to do with Papelbon. People say to me, ‘€œWell, trade him in the offseason. The fact is going to arbitration, he’s going to be making so much. I’m not sure he’s tradable because he’s probably going to be close to $12 million in arbitration. I don’t think anybody’s going to be trade something good and pay a closer $12 million.

They wouldn’€™t consider trying to get him an easy inning here or there, would they? Like pitch him with a five- or six-run lead?

I don’€™t think so. That’€™s another problem because he is such an adrenaline guy. There are a lot of relief pitchers who come in games where it’€™s like a five-run situation and they’€™re terrible because they can’€™t pitch off adrenaline. You just never know quite what to expect out of him. I understand why people are upset.

I look at this trip and I thought this is a really bad trip about a week before they went. I thought if they could come out of this, New York, Toronto’€™s really hot and Texas, they could come out of this 6-4 and be four or five games back of Tampa when they get home, they’€™re going to be in really good shape and they’€™ll be able to have a chance, especially when [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Dustin] Pedroia and [Victor] Martinez are all playing. They’€™re still in a position to be able to do that because if they win two out of three in Texas, they go home 6-4 and it’€™s basically what you would have hoped for. The problem is that that game was so certain yesterday, and it leaves you with what are you going to do if you get into the ninth inning Saturday night and you’€™ve got a one- or two-run lead. You’€™ve got David Murphy, who is hot, and then you have Josh Hamilton who’€™s hitting only .388 this season at home. There will be a lot of nailbiting when Papelbon comes into that game if that situation arises.

What are some names that you’€™re hearing that the team could be thinking about as the season comes to a close?

Well, I think that if [Carlos] Delgado doesn’€™t hit at Pawtucket ‘€“ I heard the first couple of games he was swinging the bat really well but who knows ‘€“ ‘€¦ Lyle Overbay is clearly available to get moved because Toronto wants to get him out of there. He’€™s a guy that could platoon with [Mike] Lowell and do a pretty good job. I always thought Overbay would be a pretty good hitter in Fenway Park.

But the curious one — I asked a bunch of people about this today and over the last couple days ‘€“ if the Dodgers have the miracle of putting Manny Ramirez back on the active roster, which no one seems to the when and if, but if he gets back on the active roster and they put him on waivers, do the Red Sox put in a claim to block him from going to Tampa? My guess is they would say no. Theo [Epsetin] and Ben [Cherington] would be down on the ground saying, ‘€œPlease, Kenny Williams. Put in a claim.’€ ‘€¦ It’€™s a tough question because it may be that Manny doesn’€™t realize that he has to play and perform to get another contract. We have no indication that he’€™s understood that after three trips to the disabled list this year. If he does figure that out and goes to Tampa and has a great month of September, he’€™s exactly what Tampa needs. This is like the Red Sox worst nightmare. Can you imagine Theo saying, ‘€œShould I press the yes or no button on waiver claims on Manny Ramirez?’€

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Ramirez, peter gammons,
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