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Peter Gammons on M&M: ‘Distinctly possible’ Yankees may retaliate

06.08.11 at 1:58 pm ET
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Peter Gammons

MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox, who started a three-game series in New York with a 6-4 victory over the Yankees Tuesday night.

In that game, Jon Lester hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch, knocking the Yankees slugger from the game. Gamons was asked if he expected any payback Wednesday night.

“It will be very interesting to see if they do open this up a little bit and get into it,” he said. “It’s a good night with Burnett doing it, because he’s not worried about having people on base. And Tim Wakefield‘s not exactly going to go drill people. Maybe something like that will happen.”

Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Jon Lester gets the win but once again doesn’t look sharp. … What are they saying down there? Is he just going through a tough period right now, or is there any concern?

It’s a tough period in overthrowing. I think at times, he’s reaching back so much that he’s getting his delivery out of whack early on. When he rocks back, sometimes he rocks back so far he just gets out of that delivery. And also I also think at times, he’s become so cutter happy. Rather than thinking about being able to use all four of his pitches, I think he’s trying to become too much of a power guy and overthrows, then throws that cutter, cutter, cutter.

But the good thing is that he hasn’t been losing while he’s been in this period. I was thinking about this last night, watching him. He never gives in. And that may be part of his personality. He is so aggressive. And he also is so accountable. He beats himself up unbelievably. And I think that makes him press even further.

But if he doesn’t lose while not pitching very well, what’s he going to be when he goes on one of those 10-game streaks where he’s almost untouchable? So, I think the good news for the Red Sox is they survived Jon Lester not being their best pitcher.

It seems like from the outside, that [Adrian] Gonzalez coming here has really given David Ortiz a guy to talk to about hitting, and that’s helped him this year.

Well, Gonzalez is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met on hitting. I remember [Padres manager] Bud Black used to tell me he’s the Greg Maddux of hitters. He’s a student of it, he studies it a ton, the video, and he talks about it — “OK, this is what this pitcher is going to try to give up.” I actually did a thing for NESN going over some at-bats against the Angels. As he went through each at-bat, it was amazing listening to him saying, “OK, he normally will throw me a cutter here,” or, “He knows that the one pitch that really bothers me is a split” — this is Danny Haren — “so I just thought, OK, I’m going to try to poke the ball into left field, have him throw his best pitch on his first pitch, dump the ball through the hole, get the run in, and then we’re tied.” And his thought process.

And I know Adrian has pushed David on the same thing. I remember talking to David a lot about it last year, I did a long thing with him this spring with NESN — regaining his strike zone. He got to a point where he was cheating a little bit. … He could never hit a fastball up and in. To me, he lost his strike zone. Then, because he was opening up so early, he started cheating, and he couldn’t hit any breaking balls. He’s back to just being what he is. He called it recapturing the strike zone this spring. And he’s obviously done that.

This Sox-Yankees rivalry, maybe it’s lost a little bit maybe, over the last two or three or four years. Could we get a little bit of that back tonight, after hearing Joe Girardi after the game, not too happy with David Ortiz flipping the bat?

I think it’s distinctly possible. A.J. is the kind of guy, he’s the one pitcher on that team who will drill anybody. Well, CC [Sabathia] will, too. You just don’t know. He might do it. I hope for his sake it’s not Kevin Youkilis. The Yankees always seem to make Youk [the target].

No matter who does anything wrong, Youk gets hit.

I know. I told some of the Yankees, just don’t look at Youk’s face, and all those facial expressions. He gets mad at himself. Let him go. But it will be very interesting to see if they do open this up a little bit and get into it. It’s a good night with Burnett doing it, because he’s not worried about having people on base. And Tim Wakefield’s not exactly going to go drill people. Maybe something like that will happen.

I think there’s been so much media drama ascribed to the Red Sox playing the Yankees that it’s lost some of that edge that it had. Obviously, it’s nowhere near like what it was in 2003, 2004. Every time they play, it doesn’t matter whether it’s ESPN or MLB Network or Fox, they’re going to back to Bill Lee fighting Mickey Rivers. I mean, please, just let them play games.

I think some of it’s worn off, and I think the players get so tired of listening to people talk about the rivalry that they just [say], “OK, let’s just go play another game.”

How surprised were you that Major League Baseball handed down a three-game suspension to Jonathan Papelbon after that [Tony] Randazzo incident that seemed instigated by the umpire himself Saturday at the ballpark.

I talked to a couple of people when I was down at MLB. Some of the people from the commissioner’s office who do work with the umpires were there, and they were saying that they fully appreciated my frustration by Randazzo losing his cool. But at the same time, they felt that [Papelbon] did bump him, and they felt that they had to make an example of it. It might get reduced to two games.

You know what was so crazy about that game was Randazzo, his strike zone was like an accordion. It was wide and then thin. And wide and then narrow. He kept changing, and I think that’s what the frustration was. He just had a really bad day, and he did lose his cool, there’s no question.

But they’re trying to break down the — they want to stop the confrontations. And it’s my understanding — and it’s a good thing, because they never will say it publicly — but it’s my understanding that the commissioner’s office has really started cracking down on umpires for causing confrontations. So, I’m positive Randazzo’s heard about this.

And they were not happy with Wednesday [in the Red Sox' game vs. the White Sox], where the second-base umpire couldn’t see whether [Dustin] Pedroia tagged him out and refused to get help. I’m told that the commissioner’s office has dealt with that situation as well. That’s good thing. We don’t need to see umpires. By and large, they’re very good. But they’re not supposed to be a part of the show. It’s not $135 a ticket to see Tony Randazzo run out from behind home plate. I hope the commissioner’s office is doing all that I think certain people in there want them to do.

The Sox now have won 6-of-7 against the Yankees. I look at those two teams and I think the Red Sox are a better team. But I don’t discount the Yankees, because you know, and everybody knows, that come trade deadline, they’re going to make a splash, and it’s probably going to be at that starting pitching position; I think that’s their need. Who’s out there? You hear Felix Hernandez’ name, but who would be the guy other than Felix?

The people writing about Felix Hernandez, it’s such poppycock. It has no chance of happening. The Seattle Mariners, that’s a huge market. They have one of the best TV contracts and they’re going to trade away their best player, especially when they have a couple of young pitchers coming along that gives them a chance to win? No, that’s not happening.

I think they’re going to have to settle for — there’s nothing on the free agent market this winter, basically. I think Edwin Jackson, who is a radar gun guy — I never thought he could pitch. I could tell you, if the White Sox had their druthers and [Jake] Peavy were healthy, Jackson would be the guy to be out of there and be traded. So, I think he may be available.

I’m not so sure [Francisco] Liriano‘s going to be available now. Never give up on the Twins in the second half, especially with [Joe] Mauer and [Justin] Morneau coming back. So, there’s very little. I don’t think Oakland would trade any of their young pitchers. Scott Kazmir‘s not going to bring you anything. … Really, the only teams that are really terrible are Houston and the Cubs. And the Yankees aren’t taking [Carlos] Zambrano‘s $18 million-a-year contract. So, there really isn’t a lot out there. Maybe [Brett] Myers. That’s a guy, he’s OK. But it’s not like going out and getting Cliff Lee at the trade deadline, either.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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