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Peter Gammons talks playoffs and Red Sox on the Big Show

10.01.10 at 9:00 pm ET
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With the end of the regular season approaching, Peter Gammons of the MLB Network and NESN joined the Big Show to discuss the upcoming playoffs, the changes the Red Sox have to make in the offseason, and the retirement of Mike Lowell.

Following are some highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page. Click here for the interview.

On a season of injuries for Red Sox:

If you take [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Dustin] Pedroia, Victor Martinez and [Kevin] Youkilis, you probably have the best front four in baseball. They were together eight times all year. But there were other factors. The fact that their pitchers have a 4.99 ERA besides [Clay] Buchholz and [Jon] Lester, there’€™s blame there. … I never realized how important Okajima was to this team until they didn’t have him. …

I have no idea where they are going to go. I think the number of options that they have from here, there’€™s like ten scenarios, and I don’€™t know where they’€™ll go.

On how the Sox will proceed with David Ortiz:

I think they will pick [David Ortiz' option] up because I know they are really worried that if they don’€™t he’€™s going to be hitting against right-handed pitchers in either New York or Tampa, and I think that’€™s a tough thing to swallow. Now, he may not be happy about them picking up the one year … [but] he did sign the contract. I understand where he’€™s coming from and what he’€™s given to this franchise but that’€™s the luck of the draw.

On whether free agent Adrian Beltre might be back:

I think that’s going to be a very tough signing. I find Beltre a really compelling guy. He plays so hard. Now he’€™s at the point where he won’€™t tell them when he’€™s hurt because he’s afraid that they’ll make him sit down. Beltre just plays so hard all the time. I love the thing when on breaking balls he drops to one knee and hits the balls into the seats.

He has to be comfortable. He was really comfortable in Los Angeles and he’s really comfortable here. He was uncomfortable in Seattle. If he ends up in Detroit — which I think might be a stopping point for him — how comfortable is he going to be there? Very bad ballpark for him. It will be very interesting to see how he and [agent Scott Boras] come to this.

Could Adam Dunn end up in New York?

Adam is so adamant about not wanting to DH, I don’t think he’s going to have any choice. I really don’t. The Nationals are putting up a great front because people love him and he’s a great guy. They’re not going to sign him because they don’t know where to play him in the field. I can see that. He’s a big on-base guy. I could see the Yankees doing it. But the other problem there is, if you bring him in as the DH, what do you do with [Jorge] Posada?

On Carl Crawford’s free agent destination:

I’ll be fascinated by the Crawford thing. Everybody assumes he’s going to go to the Angels. I’m not so sure. First of all, [Angels owner] Arte Moreno isn’t always great with free agents. Arte likes to kind of do business, ‘OK, this is what I’ll pay you and that’s that.’

Crawford would like to move from being a leadoff guy to being a third hitter. He’d like to win batting titles. He likes this ballpark. This will be an interesting situation. If the Red Sox went to him, and said, ‘You’re going to play left field. Ellsbury is still going to be leading off. He’ll do more running. You only have to run 40 times a year and hit line drives all over the ballpark.’ That’s an intriguing guy.

On whether he thinks it more likely that the Sox pursue free agent Carl Crawford of Jayson Werth this offseason:

I think Crawford. I think. It’s clear that they believe in 2012 that [Ryan] Kalish is going to become a really good player in right field. And I buy that, I think he’s going to become a tremendous player. He’s going to hit, and I love the whole Darin Erstad, Grady Sizemore personality that he brings to a team. I was amazed — he walked in here and all the veteran players were like ‘Great, this is better than a trade, we brought up Ryan Kalish,’ which speaks volumes about who he is, what he is, the way he plays. I’m sure he’ll play at least half the season next year in Triple-A, but he’s the one guy who’s come up and made quite an impression.

Who are the contenders in the playoffs this year?

I think the shift has started to the National League. The best young players are in the National League. I think the best two postseason teams are Philadelphia and San Francisco. … Don’€™t underestimate the fact that the Giants‘€™ ERA is the best in one month since May 1968 and that the three main guys [Matt] Cain, [Tim] Lincecum, and [Madison] Bumgarner are 12-1 with an ERA of about 1.20 in September, even better than Halladay, Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

I still think it’s going to be Minnesota [coming out of the American League]. They’€™ve got to get their pitching back. [Francisco] Liriano has had three bad starts in a row. The Yankees have lost  nine consecutive starts by opposing left-handers. If the Yankees play the Twins, who they usually have beaten, Liriano and [Brian] Duensing have to come up big.

On John Lackey‘€™s struggles for Boston:

I think he should be better than this. He’€™s been OK. But it’€™s not just like they found a few holes. His stuff has not been as crisp. He’€™s been durable but his stuff hasn’€™t been as good as it was in Anaheim. I don’€™t think that that consistency he showed last year using both his off-speed pitches and his fastball was there this year. But it’s also different being here. Maybe his father-in-law is upset at him because he’€™s not winning all his games for the Red Sox. He has had a couple of arm problems and it will be interesting to see how he comes out next year. … In his case, it is how does he get his velocity back? In Beckett’s case, it’s how do I get my arrogance back?

Does Daisuke Matsuzaka come back:

I think they might trade him. Because his contract is not bad and he can pitch in the National League. Let’€™s say they lose Victor Martinez and Beltre, I can see them trading Daisuke for Carlos Beltran and putting him in left field. I think Beltran will come back and have a monster year. The Mets would love to do that if they have a general manager by Opening Day. I think there are a number of places he can be traded to. The Dodgers, Seattle. Of course, he may end up in court if he gets traded to the Dodgers.

On Mike Lowell’€™s retirement and legacy:

One of the most popular players in my time covering here. The number of people every day who come up and say, ‘I really love Mike Lowell,’ it’€™s great. He won two World Series rings, which means two more World Series rings than Ted Williams. He had great years in 2003 for the Marlins and 2007 for the Red Sox. He knocked in, what, 120 and 110 runs in those two years. He’€™s been a really good player, he’€™s played hurt and never recovered from the hip. It’€™s a nice thing to leave the game, or your job, and be that respected and that well-liked. I don’€™t think we’€™ll have anything to worry about Mike Lowell losing his money. He got hurt and he kept trying to play, but there was nothing he could do.

Read More: Adam Dunn, Giants, john lackey, Jorge Posada
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