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Peter Gammons on The Big Show: Don’t expect Victor Martinez back

10.29.10 at 11:52 am ET
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Peter Gammons

MLB and NESN analyst Peter Gammons stopped by The Big Show on Thursday afternoon, and he expects the Red Sox to make some sort of free agent splash to reinvigorate a sagging fan base.

“There is a distinct game plan in that there are so many things they don’t know. I think they’re prepared to go in about 10 different directions,” said Gammons, before highlighting one such route. “There is no doubt in my mind that they are going to go really hard after Carl Crawford. That will be a matchup with the Angels, and you know there are some puffs of smoke coming out of New York that suggest the Yankees might go after him, even though their primary need is pitching.”

Although he expects the team to bring in a new face, Gammons also believes it could come at the cost of familiar ones. “I don’t expect Victor Martinez to come back, I think Detroit is going to give him four or five years. And I don’t think anybody else is going to give him four or five years to be a catcher.

“I’m not so sure Beltre will be back,” Gammons continued. “I can’t gauge that market. But I do think they will go very hard after Crawford, I really believe that. And I think they will go hard after some relief pitchers.”

Following is a transcript of the rest of the interview, where Gammons discusses the World Series, Barry Bonds, Cliff Lee‘s destination next season, former Red Sox reliever Javier Lopez, and more. To listen to the full interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

I was expecting just a great pitching duel in Game 1, and man was I shocked.

Well, that’s exactly what the World Series needed. I mean, when the game has kind of boomed as we saw this year to elite pitchers are becoming stars again, as they were in the ’60s. With that buildup moment, Cliff Lee and [Tim] Lincecum, you think OK this is going to be great, and it turned into mud wrestling. That was an ugly game to say the least. It doesn’t help.

This team, because ownership was such a mess for so long, this year they have done really, really well. All three dug in. … The Cowboys are driving Jerry Jones crazy because they’re all chanting, “Go Rangers.” San Francisco is a great baseball town. They bring in 3.5 million every year at this ballpark. Again, the TV ratings even in the years in between [Barry] Bonds and this team, their ratings have always been really good. Especially compared to the Oakland Athletics.

Speaking of Bonds, they still really love him there don’t they?

Well, they do. The whole Bonds thing, for better or for worse, is an us vs. them thing. It’s the rest of the country against Barry Bonds against us. That’s not really the case, but at the same time I think that’s the way people out here take it. I’m a little surprised that he is as popular as he is. Willie McCovey is by far the most poplar player in San Francisco Giants history because he came up in San Francisco. He’s much more popular than [Willie] Mays, who is perceived as more of a resort guy who came out here.

But Bonds is more popular than Mays in this area, and that amazes me. I’m not passing any moral judgment here and yeah he was a great player before 1999, but at the same time I think people see him as the guy that built this ballpark. And when he came out here and completely changed what was a terrible franchise. [Giants owner] Peter McGowan bought it, signed Bonds and took them from being [bad] … to being in it almost every year.

I wonder how much of that is generational. Many of the fans were babies when Mays was playing. Plus, the television has changed everything so even if you’re not at the ballpark they’ve all  had an opportunity to watch Bonds every single game.

I agree with you, I think that’s part of it. McCovey’s a little bit different because he came up the year after they moved here and was Rookie of the Year in ’59 and hit the 500 home runs. He played his entire career here and he moved here in 1960 and has never left. He’s so much a part of the community that’s a little bit different. It’s not bad to have a piece of the ocean named after you [McCovey Cove].

But I agree I think it’s the television thing, the generational thing. I don’t think now if Roger Clemens went out in Boston, New York or Houston that he would be adored at all. I don’t think that Roger Clemens could get the intense affection on Opening Day that Pedro Martinez got in Boston.

I can’t imagine Willie Mays being below McCovey. He was the greatest player of all time.

I just think it’s because of the San Francisco/New York thing, and because they moved here. I’ve always been amazed at how people here openly talk about it. Slash Willie [McCovey] has been more in the community.

I agree with you, Willie Mays is my favorite player of all time. I got hurt a couple times trying to emulate the catch. I agree with you, and I love watching him. I’ve always said that if Willie Mays played today, he would lead Sports Center three days of the week. I think it’s just the affection in this city that they have for McCovey, it’s remarkable. I actually did about a 20-minute thing with McCovey yesterday, and he is a very warm person and he embellished the role that he has in this city. And I guess anybody would. Where Willie [Mays] was a little more distant.

I’ve always found it to be fascinating. There’s something about some people striking the city. I think Johnny Pesky is more popular then some great players that played for the Red Sox. Sometimes as you become more part of the community you become more beloved.

You talk about Bonds, do you think the revelation of all these guys getting caught with steroids lessens the hammer that was hitting him for so long?

I think so because if he gets off, I think a lot depends whether or not what happens when he goes to court in January. … I think the other guys come to the realization that maybe 40, 50 percent of players and pitchers are doing it. I think he was just so brazen about it, it was as if he was flaunting it into the public’s face, the rest of the country’s face. … I think he now realizes he wants to be back in the game, and I will say this, I think … he might have been the most intellectual hitter I ever met. But I can’t imagine Barry being a coach. I don’t think his personality lends to teaching and being unselfish.

How can you bring him back to baseball? In what aspect can you bring Barry Bonds back into baseball? Do you think you can bring him back as a hitting coach?

I don’t think it’s possible. I don’t think it will happen, but I do think if he gets out of this court case only slightly tainted I mean there’s nothing baseball can do to stop him from coming back . But, at the same time, I think it would be very difficult. … Barry would require so much attention I think it would really take away from the hours spent in cages, the hours, you guys know this, the hours that coaches and managers put in that the public has no idea how much work they do. … I don’t think Barry would do that. I think there’d be so much attention on him that it would take away from the players’ abilities to learn from him.

I think that McGwire relishes that role of almost being a gas station attendant. He doesn’t mind that, that’s his personality. Barry’s not every man.

Barry is the peacock you see there strutting along. It’s a presence he has. McGwire wants to go into the shadow, Barry wants to stand in the sunshine.

Oh yeah. He definitely does. He still talks about being a movie actor, things like that.

The steroids would work out fine for him there because that’s not an issue in Hollywood.

No issues in Hollywood.

We talk about these two teams, how do they play nationally? TV numbers are down 20 percent from Game 1 a year ago.

I think that New York, Philadelphia plus the Yankees were coming back. I think it’s overall we’re all worrying about TV ratings, they’re also hurt by the fact the game’s not on in New York because of the Fox cable thing. I think it’s good for the game to get a couple of different teams and different cities, a really likable ball park and all that, I think all that’s good.

What’s important for this series is that when they get the marquee guys, like last night Lincecum and Lee,  that they perform really well. That really hurt the series to have the premium matchup turned into Al Nipper against some relief pitcher. It’s too bad that that happened.

Which media member out there correctly predicted that two guys who would have a major impact this postseason would be Cody Ross and Bengie Molina? This is a story here.

It is amazing. [Giants catcher Buster] Posey‘s a great story. You look at the work of [Josh] Hamilton, Elvis Andrus and [Michael] Young, the Rangers have really good players. … The Yankee pitching definitely helped them out. The cast of characters that have done well has been amazing for the Giants. It’s fun because Cody Ross was a good platoon player for the Marlins. One thing that [Giants general manager] Brian Sabean did, and I’ve given him credit for this, was he added all of these guys for almost no money.

But Ross actually played really well for the Marlins two years in a row when they were in the race the last couple of years.  But he went out and got Javier Lopez, Aaron Rowand, they are all guys that have been on winners. I said the experience of winning is important. Guys who understand what it’s like to play on winners and to be unselfish and so forth it does help with atmosphere around a team. I think that’s one thing Brian Sabean did really well.

Javier Lopez has been amazing. He never had the breaking ball he has now. He’s really perfected that sidearm sweeping breaking ball. Left-handers are 5-for-45 against him. I think Lopez against Josh Hamilton, where the Yankees just gave up because he absolutely hammered the Yankees’ left handers they ended up walking him every time and got beaten by Vladimir Guerrero, I think the Giants will go after Hamilton. If two or three games comes down to Lopez getting Josh Hamilton out the Giants win this series easily.

Lopez really relishes that experience of getting a World Series ring in Boston. … I think the experience of winning goes a long way when you get into these things.

There’s been little offseason interest in the Red Sox. Do you think there might be a conflict inside the Red Sox offices about GM Theo Epstein’s vision of building for the long haul and the desire to do something to help market the club?

They’ve already laid it out. There is a distinct game plan in that there are so many things they don’t know. I think they’re prepared to go in about 10 different directions. There is no doubt in my mind that they are going to go really hard after Carl Crawford. That will be a matchup with the Angels, and you know, there are some puffs of smoke coming out of New York that suggest the Yankees might go after him, even though their primary need is pitching. I think Crawford will be huge.

I don’t expect Victor Martinez to come back, because I think Detroit is going to give him four or five years. And I don’t think anybody else is going to give him four or five years as a catcher.

I’m not so sure Beltre will be back. I can’t gauge that market. But I do think they will go very hard after Crawford, I really believe that. And I think they will go hard after some relief pitchers, although as you know, that’s the most [unpredictable] position in the game. [Lopez] was virtually a waiver concern from Pittsburgh on July 31.

Do you think the Red Sox will go after pitching?

Cliff Lee is going to sign with Texas. So the next pitcher, do you want Carl Pavano? He’s the next best free agent. He’s not better than John Lackey.

Read More: carl crawford, Cliff Lee, Cody Ross, Javier Lopez Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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