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Peter Gammons on M&M: Jason Varitek ‘really believes’ in Alfredo Aceves

05.18.11 at 1:25 pm ET
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Peter Gammons

MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to offer his views on the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Gammons said that this month’s bad weather might turn into good news for the Red Sox in the long run.

“When they make this up in July as part of that day-night doubleheader on a Thursday night in July, theoretically, the Red Sox pitching staff should be in much better shape at that time,” Gammons said. “And the Orioles pitching staff should be pretty worn down. I think we saw, as [the Orioles] tried to use six relievers to get nine outs the other night, they don’t have a lot or reserves there after [Jeremy] Guthrie and the three kids. I think that’s a much better time for [the Red Sox] to play.”

With John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, Gammons was asked if there are any available arms in the minor leagues. “No, there really isn’t,” he said. “[Pitching coach] Curt Young said to me yesterday that they’re very hopeful that within a month, [Felix] Doubront will be ready. He got set back in spring training when he had the elbow problems. Then he recently had the groin. He got up to I think 4 2/3 innings, and had the groin pull. He’s out for a couple of weeks, so that sets him back.

“And even though Andrew Miller is starting to throw much better and, according to Curt, has really started to calm down his delivery, we know he’s got the stuff but he really needs to wait a couple of months. He needs to be able to repeat that delivery, get back to where he was 4-5 years ago. He is so intelligent and so hyper, if he came up here and it all sped up on him, it might set him back another half a year.

“So, I don’t think there’s anybody. [Kyle] Weiland is not ready yet. I had heard that there was a possibility that they would take a look at one or two of the veterans that are out there still looking for jobs. Like, sign Kevin Millwood, put him in Pawtucket and see what happens.”

Asked about Pedro Martinez, Gammons said that does not appear to be an option. “When I last saw Pedro at the end of March, I can tell you he was not thinking about pitching,” Gammons said. “It would be fun, but I don’t think possible. He really wasn’t throwing. He was talking about knocking coconuts out of trees, not throwing to a catcher.”

Alfredo Aceves is being moved from the bullpen to the rotation, and at least one Red Sox player is encouraged by what he’s seen so far. Said Gammons: “Jason Varitek was making a very passioned support speech to me about Aceves. He really believes. I started laughing at first, because it seems that Aceves shook off every pitch that Tek put down. But at the same time, he said that there’s a lot there. He’s really optimistic about him pitching well.

“You guys know, Jason doesn’t go out of his way — he is never a phony about pumping people up. But he really believes there’s a lot there. It will be interesting to see if the guy does do it for what they need him for — five, six starts, whatever the time frame. Maybe this is his chance to do well. I don’t know. Jason really believes it.”

Gammons said Lackey’s trip to the disabled list is for physical as well as mental reasons. “It’s a little bit of both,” he said. “There is some problem with his elbow, which is why he’s losing velocity in the fourth and fifth innings. And I think it’s interesting how much — and Lou knows, because he’s hit off of him — how much trouble he’s having keeping the ball down. His fly ball rate is double what it’s ever been before. And that’s just not John Lackey. And he can’t pitch that way. So, the elbow has to be — the extension of his arm, and driving the ball down in the strike zone — has to be physical.”

Added Gammons: “I’m sure the combination of ineffectiveness and injury and his wife’s illness have all kind of made this season like a whirlpool to him.”

Red Sox catchers continue to struggle with the bat. However, Gammons noted that it’s a league-wide problem. Said Gammons: “Even people with the Red Sox said, ‘We’re getting no production out of catching.’ There are five catching staffs in baseball that are hitting under .200. The Red Sox are actually only have the fourth-worst average of any catching staff. The most amazing thing is that the average catcher in the American League is hitting .221. So, raise your son to be a catcher.”

Touching on the controversy in New York involving Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and management, Gammons said: “There still is friction between Derek Jeter and ownership about the way his contract was negotiated — not what he’s making, I don’t think, at least I don’t believe that. But I think it was over the way so much of it was made public. Derek was really unhappy with that. Hence, when he signed the contract, he wouldn’t even drive from Tampa to Orlando for a press conference during the winter meetings. He made them come to him in Tampa. This carried over, and Posada and Jeter are the best of friends.

“I do think in some degree it’s been addressed, because in the end Jeter really does care about winning most of all.”

As for Posada’s future in New York, Gammons said: “If Posada continues not to hit, and they’re not going to let him catch … I think they’re going to go to [Jesus] Montero and release Posada. That would be very interesting.

“I know where he’d go. He’d go right to Baltimore, with Matt Wieters, do a little catching, let Wieters DH twice a week, and go back with Buck [Showalter], who knew him pretty well from the Yankee organization.”

Read More: andrew miller, Buck Showalter, curt young, Derek Jeter Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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