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Peter Gammons on M&M: ‘I’m pretty sickened’ by trashing of Terry Francona

10.12.11 at 1:28 pm ET

Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance. Gammons gave his take on Wednesday’s Boston Globe article that gave a picture of the dysfunction that reigned in the Red Sox clubhouse during the team’s September collapse and even before that. One of the most controversial items in the article detailed how ex-manager Terry Francona may have been distracted by a failing marriage and health problems that forced him to use pain medication.

“I must say, I’m pretty sickened,” Gammons said. “I don’t need the Terry Francona out-the-door trashing. It’ll be interesting to see if they can screw it all up and trash Theo [Epstein] once he leaves. … It doesn’t speak really well about the way Tito left and the things he said, and the way Theo’s leaving, about how insane New England has become. There’s so much freneticism.”

The article suggested that Francona’s use of pain medication may affected his managing during the season. Francona has denied these claims. Gammons said that he feels that similarly controversial stories on Epstein may come out now that he is leaving for the Cubs.

“That’€™s my feeling on it, it’€™s just going to happen now with Theo, too,” Gammons said. “It’€™s not attractive. When I read this at, whatever, 4 o’€™clock in the morning here in St. Louis. I went, ‘€˜Why?’€™ … A couple of players texted me, ‘€˜Who in the world would read this?’€™ … It may be that some people in ownership think that Theo betrayed them. Maybe in the next week, we’€™ll get the owners of the Red Sox, the New York Times corporation, will trash Theo, too.”

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

On Epstein leaving with a year left on his contract: “It was my understanding that they would have discussed extending him. I don’€™t think he was interested in that. They clearly wanted him to stay. I’ve heard that some people in ownership have felt that he should stay for the last year of his contract. And I think the Cubs made it very difficult to turn it down with the power he’s going to end up having. … I sense more and more this year that it was getting difficult, that Theo was feeling claustrophobic. He went in there and right away had great success. He became, in a sense, a rock star. That burns out. … I think that it burned out a little bit. I think that was really, really hard on him. He’€™s such a private person. To lose that privacy I think is something that impacted him and his family.”

On what the Red Sox will get for compensation for Theo: “I think that more important is going to be the $15 million to $20 million, and then I think it’€™s going to be a prospect. A guy like Brett Jackson who is young, would immediately take over as the Red Sox’ regular right fielder, right-handed hitter, which they need. A guy like that is probably the most logical The Red Sox aren’€™t going to get Starlin Castro. They’re not going to take [Carlos] Zambrano or [Alfonso] Soriano, who they’ll probably end up releasing anyway. I think it will maybe be Jackson or a couple of young arms. They don’€™t have many major league-ready young pitchers.”

On who wanted to sign Carl Crawford: “It was Theo and Terry. They were in together on it. And Terry went down there with Theo to Houston and did a tremendous job recruiting him. There was no question that John Henry is wary of free agency. There’s no doubt about that.”

On Josh Beckett’s future after allegations of drinking in clubhouse: “I think they can turn it around with Josh. I really believe that. I have found him to be very accountable. … He blames himself and goes into it. And [Jon] Lester is the same way.”

On if the chances that Jonathan Papelbon re-signs with Boston are lowered with Epstein leaving: “It could be. … I don’t think there’s going to be another Francisco Rodriguez contract for a closer. And I think that’s the question. Is there going to be a four year, 50-60 million dollar contract for a closer who’s around 30 [years old]. I’m not sure that’s going to happen. You have to find the right team to be able to be able to spend that money. And I think there’s more and more of a tendency to say, ‘Wow, if we can find John Axford out of the semi-pro league in Canada and he ends up our closer …’

“So, it’ll be interesting. I do believe that Papelbon is really important. A couple of players, a coach have said to me, ‘In the last year, he’s really looked in the mirror and become something of a leader.’ And we know he can pitch in Boston, which not everybody can close in Boston. And he also gives you the opportunity to say OK, you go find a couple of eighth-inning guys and you put Daniel Bard in the rotation and you’ve got 180-200 innings, which they need. So I think it’s going to be fascinating. There are those people who say, ‘Jeez, Papelbon was in great shape in his walk year.’ I think he has proven over six years that he’s one guy who can really do it in Boston.”

Read More: carl crawford, Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Beckett, peter gammons
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