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Peter Gammons on M&M: Recent Red Sox allegations are ‘absurd’

10.19.11 at 1:56 pm ET
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Baseball writer Peter Gammons joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday at noon for his weekly appearance. Gammons gave his opinion on the most recent Red Sox news, which includes allegations that pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey drank in the dugout during games.

“At this point, there’s so much swill out there, I need specific, I need names from references, because a report doesn’t have any validity unless it has a name behind it and secondly, when it happened and exactly when was it? Was it a rain delay, an eighth inning rain delay? More specifics,” Gammons said. “Otherwise it’s just so absurd at this point.”

While Lester admitted that there was drinking in the clubhouse during games, he, Beckett, Lackey and former manager Terry Francona all released statements denying that any drinking went on in the dugout. Owner Larry Lucchino also released a statement accepting these denials and calling the report a “reckless, unsubstantiated accusation.”

While more rumors and reports come out almost every day, Lucchino’s statement was the first time any of the owners have addressed any of the allegations surrounding drinking in the Red Sox clubhouse. Gammons said that the owners have been focused on finishing the Red Sox’ deal with the Cubs to send Theo Epstein to Chicago and will continue to stay relatively quiet until the deal is finished.

“Until they get the situation done with the Cubs and Ben [Cherington] is officially the general manager and starts his managerial hunt and so forth, it’s not going to go away because they’re in a state of limbo at this point,” Gammons said. “Until that gets done and a new regime is in place, it’s just going to drift on and people can have whatever sources they want, real or imagined.”

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

On if there was a change in Beckett this past season, compared to other years when he suffered a September drop-off: “I didn’t really get that sense from him. … I think that what became a struggle to figure out [was] a different style of pitching; he’s no longer the gunslinger that throws 97-98 mph. I believe he did a very good job most of the time using his changeup and his fastball, letting the curveball be the dessert piece. The struggle with him a lot of the times was, how perfect was he? And I think physically, he had the oblique injury, he’s had a couple of odd injuries late in the season [in the past], and this year it wasn’t anything, it wasn’t back, it wasn’t oblique, it just was he wasn’t quite as good.”

On Beckett not addressing recent allegations: “I thought it was good that Lester came out and did a mea culpa. But I do think that while Josh is not comfortable with large scale media, I think it is something he does have to address. Just say, ‘Look, this happened, this happened, this didn’t happen, this didn’t happen,’ and move forward.”

On Red Sox moving forward: “The players are really faced with proving themselves and I think that that factor and that sort of motivation will be really good for whoever takes over [as manager]. I think that moving forward, they can take a lot out of this, out of this collapse and they’re still a pretty good team. But the thing is they have to, these guys all have to kind of address whatever has been said about them, whatever is real or unreal perceptions. I think that as they move forward, they have a lot to prove here. Josh has a lot to prove, I don’t think there’s any question that Jon Lester basically said, ‘I have a lot to prove.’ And I think that that will help them move forward. In the end, while other people didn’t hit or didn’t do this, it all came down to the fact that the pitching was the reason they didn’t get to the playoffs.”

On who the Red Sox can bring in to improve the team: “We’ve all speculated a lot about what a great signing Michael Cuddyer would be … plus he plays a lot of positions, which I think is really important. I think that Cuddyer may end up being more expensive than his ability, but he’d be tremendous. He’s such a positive guy and he can play right field, left field, third base, first base, second base, and I think he would be a very positive guy.

“Whether they can afford those [high-character] guys is another question. They’ve got some money coming off, but how much money are they really going to have to put in, especially when you figure they have to sign three or four of the lower-echelon pitchers, the $5-6-7 million pitchers they’re going to have to add to this staff.”

On lengthy negotiations between Red Sox and Cubs: “This thing with the Cubs, they don’t actually have anyone negotiating that actually has been in development, so they don’t know the players the Red Sox talk about. They have the CEO of business, and the Assistant General Manager who wasn’t actually involved in the farm system. So, it’s been a difficult negotiation. And frankly, I think everyone involved knows the Cubs are a bottom-three farm system. Trey McNutt would be Red Sox prospect 25. For the Cubs to act like they’re giving up the next Billy Williams is kind of absurd. But at the same time, holding that thing up has also hurt the Cubs, because they need Theo there building that organization. There isn’t a lot there. They need him to go out and not only find a manager, but to fill several roles in scouting, development and all the rest. The absurdity has hurt the Cubs, and it’s certainly hurt the Red Sox, because they need to move on and let Ben take over, Ben and Mike Hazen, be running the organization and get the right people in place. …

It’s so silly. … The rebuilding process that Theo is going to undertake in Chicago is far greater than the job that he inherited as the general manager of the Red Sox. Far greater. And it’s going to take a long time. They’re not talking about guys that are franchise pieces. They should get it done from both sides and move on. …

The [Cubs] need to move on, making this a long, long process, the Red Sox hold the cards in this situation, except for the fact that the Red Sox need to move on, too. I actually think it might get done today at some point. I think if they get the thing done, then they can announce it Friday and then it’s all fine. By then, Theo can have things lined up and start talking to people about whether it’s Jed Hoyer or Josh Byrnes he brings in, who he brings into scouting.”

On whether the chaos in Boston will impact free agent decisions or the managerial search: I think it will affect free agents to some degree. The leap of faith that all these stories were put out by ownership has hurt them. And again, I think it’s more and more proven that it wasn’t ownership — at least John Henry or Larry Lucchino — but I think there’s a perception that this happened, and I think it might hurt them.

I don’t think this is going to be a huge free agent year for them anyway. Cuddyer, maybe. I don’t think they’ll be going after C.J. Wilson or somebody like that. They’re not going after Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. But I think that the way it ended up with Carl Crawford, and I think the way some of this has unfurled in the last three weeks, will make people say, ‘What in the world is going on there?’ I think it will make agents say, ‘Do I really want my players to go there?’

Read More: Albert Pujols, ben cherington, C.J. Wilson, carl crawford
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