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Peter Gammons on M&M: Don’t expect anything major at trading deadline from Red Sox

06.29.11 at 1:46 pm ET
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MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni Show Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Gammons was asked about the schedule the Red Sox are in the middle of– nine straight games on the road in National League parks. He noted that the dilemma about what to do with Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz — whether to start Ortiz at first and move Gonzalez to right to improve the lineup — is a reflection of the tremendous consequences that losing Gonzalez to injury could have.

‘€œIt’€™s part of the schedule. … If anything happens to Gonzalez this team is not going to make it,’€ Gammons said. ‘€œThey aren’€™t going to be playing in October very long. That is a question, and an issue and how much of the defense is a problem if you have [David] Ortiz and Gonzalez in the lineup at the same time out of position’€¦ These are the issues they face now.

‘€œThey need to win these two games in Philadelphia and at least two out of three in Houston and move forward. They need Andrew Miller to continue to overcome adversity like he did on Sunday and eventually I am sure [Felix] Doubront will come up and be somewhat in the rotation’€¦ They haven’€™t had [Clay] Buchholz, [Jon] Lester and [Josh] Beckett going all at the same time this year and that would be a huge thing moving forward.’€

While players such as Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran and Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer could both be available in the coming month as the July 31 trade deadline nears, Gammons suggested that the Sox are near their payroll limit, to the point where they wouldn’t be able to take on players like Beltran and Cuddyer who are making eight-figure salaries.

“No chance. No chance. If they can add a million, maybe a Jeff Baker [from the Cubs] or someone like that, [Rockies outfielder Ryan] Spilborghs is [making $1.9 million], that would be [$800,000] at the trade deadline, they might be able to do that at the trade deadline, but as of right now, they spent their money during the winter,” said Gammons. “Remember in 2009, when they claimed Jose Bautista on waivers, and [Red Sox GM Theo Epstein] worked out a deal with [then-Blue Jays GM] J.P. Ricciardi. That deal was rejected because they were already at the level. They’€™re not getting Carlos Beltran. They’€™re not getting Michael Cuddyer. … If they do something it will be something very small.”

Beltran is enjoying a renaissance with the Mets this year after dealing with injuries over the last two seasons. The free-agent-to-be is hitting .281 with a .373 OBP, .862 OPS and 11 homers. Cuddyer is also enjoying a solid season for the Twins, hitting .286 with a .351 OBP, .805 OPS and 10 homers. Both have numbers that would represent a vast improvement over what the Sox have received to date from J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald in right field.

But Beltran is earning $18.5 million this year (and counts for $17 million for luxury tax purposes), while Cuddyer is under contract for $10.5 million ($8.375 million for luxury tax purposes). As such, Gammons does not think they are realistic options.

“They’€™re not taking on Cuddyer or Beltran,” said Gammons. “I know they set budgets, as do most companies, even though they have the worst right field production in baseball. I think what they’€™ll do is, two weeks from now, they’€™ll make a decision about where they go with Mike Cameron. Probably three weeks from now, they’ll make a decision about what to do with Darnell McDonald. If it’s really dire at that point, and they say, ‘We have to do something,’ then maybe they can make a deal for a Baker or a Spilborghs.”

He also believes that the Red Sox cannot give up some of the guys in their minor league system, because of the injury concerns within their starting rotation.

‘€œTo me they cannot afford to trade [Felix] Doubront or anyone like that as long as they’re not sure about the health of their starters,’€ Gammons said. ‘€œThey already lost [Daisuke] Matsuzaka and [John] Lackey has been a physical issue all year.’€

Indeed, Gammons raised the possibility that Lackey’s elbow remains a significant concern, and that the possibility exists that he, like Matsuzaka, could require season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Lackey has a 5-6 record and a 7.36 ERA that is the worst in the majors. The right-hander spent time on the disabled list earlier this year with a right elbow strain that required a cortisone shot, but Lackey told WEEI.com earlier this month that, while the issue is one that he needs to manage, MRIs suggested that his elbow isn’t significantly different now than it was when he signed with the Sox.

Even so, Gammons suggested that there are open questions about the kind of contribution that Lackey will be able to make going forward.

“With all the problems with Lackey’€™s elbow, is this guy going to end up needing Tommy John surgery before August? That’€™s something they have to decide,” said Gammons. “They’€™ve already lost Matsuzaka, and Lackey’€™s been a physical issue all year. …

“I’€™ve had indications that there are some questions about just how healthy [Lackey is]. We know he was disabled with the elbow problem. We know he had the shot,” Gammons added. “I thought his last start, the rain day, he seemed really distracted. … That was a lost day entirely. How much of it is health? How much of it is personal? We don’€™t know. I think this is something that will need to play out over the next two or three weeks or so. If the elbow is barking, that creates a pretty serious problem for them. That’s where Miller and Doubront and people like that become very important for them.”

As of Wednesday the Yankees sit a game and a half ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East standings, and going into the season that might have been a surprise to people. Gammons says that the Yankees deserve a lot of credit.

‘€œI really respect them for the way they have grinded it out,’€ Gammons said. ‘€œLets face it, people all talk about their starting rotation, but they have had more quality starts and better starters ERA than the Red Sox and more innings pitched per start. It speaks something about where the Red Sox dominance and superiority over the Yankees hasn’€™t been’€¦they deserve a lot of credit, they play hard all the time.

‘€œYou can hate A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez] and so forth and you don’€™t want to see Cameron Diaz‘€™s picture again because of A-Rod, but you never see A-Rod fail to play hard, and the rest of those guys, [Mark] Teixeira and [Curtis] Granderson has had the year or his life, they’€™ve really performed and they deserve a lot of credit for it.’€

Tampa Bay sits in third place, only a game behind the Red Sox, and 2 1/2 behind the Yankees. Gammons says they are a ‘€œwell constructed team’€ and they could be a big-time ‘€œthreat’€ come September and October.

Andrew Miller has started two games for the Sox since being called up from Pawtucket. In his last outing he gave up one run in six innings, and earned the win in the Red Sox 4-2 win over the Pirates. Gammons is unsure as to what the long-term plan is for Miller with Buchholz due back from the disabled list soon.

‘€œJust wait and see when Buchholz comes back,’€ he said. ‘€œAll along the thought was that Miller would come up and be a pretty dominant guy out of the bullpen and then next year figure out what to do with him.

‘€œHe threw the ball so well in his last four starts with Pawtucket and from what I was told when they made errors behind him [on Sunday] he never really got upset about it he just kept bearing down and throwing the change up. He didn’€™t have the velocity that he usually does, but they love what he did. He is a great athlete.’€

Read More: adrian gonzalez, andrew miller, David Ortiz, felix doubront
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