Former Boston Globe baseball writer Peter Gammons conducted a chat on Boston.com today. Gammons is promoting his Hot Stove, Cool Music fundraiser on Saturday at the Paradise Rock Club.
Here are some excerpts from his chat:
Q: What’s your take on what Theo’s doing with the Cubs over the next few years? How about Dan Duquette with the Orioles? It’ll be exciting to follow them rebuild those two organizations.
Peter Gammons: They’re taking two totally different trucks. Theo realizes that the Cubs have to be rebuilt, that they’re probably in the bottom 20 percent in terms of talent. The Cubs are much closer to being respectable than the Orioles.
Q: So with Carl Crawford’s mediocre performance at the bottom of the order last season, where would you put him in the line up for 2012?
Peter Gammons: I agree with Bobby Valentine, who is going to move the lineup around a lot. Like Valentine, I don’t buy the idea that everyone has to hit in the same place every day. Even though Carl was not happy hitting in the bottom of the order, being there will free him up to run a lot more. If you remember, he really stopped running in the second half. Carl really did try too hard and worried tremendously about letting people down, and I think you’ll see him have a much better season this year.
Q: Do you think we should offer the Cubs Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway, and a second-tier prospect for Matt Garza? And will this be enough to get him?
Peter Gammons: It would be enough to get him, but I wouldn’t do it. With Youkilis’ injuries, I think Middlebrooks because too important to their future. As far as Lavarnway is concerned, they could have had [Andrew Bailey]. He can hit for power. They’re just too valuable, to me.
Q: Who do you like to win on saturday, Pats or Broncos?
Peter Gammons: I think the Patriots will win, pretty handily. I like Tim Tebow, he actually reminds me of Joe Kapp, who took the Vikings to the Super Bowl. But Tebow is not Tom Brady.
Q: Who wins the AL East this season?
Peter Gammons: I think in January, Tampa is the favorite. That’s because of their starting pitching, their flexibility, and their defense. That said, I think any one of the three best teams could finish first.
Q: Do you see the Sox making a pitch for Roy Oswalt as more of sure thing as a 4th starter and allowing the other pitchers to compete for the 5th spot? I know the Sox want to stay below the luxury tax, but I would think a one year deal for a pitcher of that category makes sense and could be the piece to win a title this year and next year you can look to reset the tax rate
Peter Gammons: I think it’s something to look at, especially now since prices are starting to fall. We just don’t know how hard-lined the ownership is about not paying any luxury tax. If Oswalt could be had for $7-9 million for one year with incentives, it might be at least something they’ll talk about. He had back problems in Philadelphia in 2011, which is why he didn’t start at least 30 games for the first time since 2003. But one thing to remember about Valentine is that in New York he was a master at getting his starting pitchers rest for the stretch. If he had Matsuzaka, Oswalt and either Bard, Aceves or Felix Doubront in his rotation from August on, I think he’d be able to protect Oswalt.
Q: Have there been any offseason deals that have particularly surprised you?
Peter Gammons: I didn’t think that Pujols would get the length of the contract he got, but when we learn how important the regional Fox deal was to the Angels, it made sense. The deal that surprised me most is that Jonathan Papelbon’s agents so quickly jumped and got him that $50 million deal when the market eventually took Ryan Madson down to one year and $8.5 million.
Q: Why isn’t Luis Tiant in the Hall of Fame yet? Did you vote for Barry Larkin?
Peter Gammons: I think Tiant has been left out because of getting to the United States late, and because he had two injured seasons in 1969 and 1970. Bill James once wrote that Tiant and Ron Santo were the two best players not in Cooperstown. Santo is being inducted this summer, so I will continue agreeing with James and add the name Ted Simmons, who in my mind is an unquestioned Hall of Famer, but was off the ballot in one year.
Yes, I voted for Larkin. I thought Larkin was a sure thing his first year on the ballot. And I still believe both he and Alan Trammell are two of the 10 best shortstops who ever played.
Q: Do you think Dwight Evans will ever make the Hall of Fame from the Veterans Committee? Very similar stats to Jim Rice, albeit he was less dominant
Peter Gammons: I don’t think Evans will ever make it, but I also think that he deserves much more of a look than he’s gotten. The first seven years of his career were dogged by injuries, including two severe beanings from July 1980 through the end of the decade. He, Eddie Murray, Mike Schmidt and Rickey Henderson were the four best position players in baseball and Evans actually led in more of the 10 most important offensive categories out of that quartet. Not only that, but he was one of the best defensive right fielders of the last 25 years.
Q: Do you think the Sox will make a move to add another right fielder?
Peter Gammons: I think that between now and the end of spring training, they will probably add another righthanded hitter who can play all three outfield positions. They seem convinced that Ryan Sweeney can be a good defensive right fielder with a high on-base percentage. After all, they had the second-lowest production out of right field among American League teams.
Q: To what extent have the Red Sox hurt their brand? I personally don’t feel as inclined to buy as many tickets or T-shirts, hat, watches, etc.
Peter Gammons: I think the fact that the novelty of the 2003-2007 run has worn off combined with last year’s September collapse has clearly impacted the brand. On the other hand, if they come back and win this season, the interest will return. The one question in terms of ticket sales is how much people can continually absorb in this economy.
Q: How involved do you see Junichi Tazawa being?
Peter Gammons: I think he’s a sleeper as a middle reliever and spot starter. Before he hurt his elbow two years ago, he was throwing very well at Pawtucket and he has an unusual feel for pitching. He could end up filling a couple of roles by June.
Q: Who are some of the names that the Red Sox might go after to play right field? Who are the best in house candidates? Hard also to believe that Darnell McDonald is still on the team. Do you think the Red Sox will release him or trade him?
Peter Gammons: Actually Bobby Valentine likes Darnell McDonald and if you go back over his three-year splits he has been a productive hitter against lefthanded pitching. That said, if Cody Ross brings down his asking price he would be a possibility and I think they’ll spend a lot of spring training looking at other teams and possible available outfielders. I have always thought that Chris Denorfia of the Padres would be an interesting fit for the Red Sox and since the Padres traded for Carlos Quentin, he might be available near the end of spring training.
Q: I am a lifelong Sox fan Peter... I’m 39 and have loved them since I was a child. I don’t know... the way they treated Terry Francona was just beyond horrible. All the personal stuff and backhanded shots, were in my mind disgraceful. I could deal with the on field stuff, but the way Terry was handled to me was just bad.
Peter Gammons: I agree that there was no need for the dirt that was shoveled on him. What we don’t know is who was responsible for leaking the stories and exactly the context of the clubhouse and personal issues. The man was a tremendous manager for years and he said in the end that the time had come to move on.
Q: What do you feel is fair compensation for Theo?
Peter Gammons: My guess is that all they’ll get is one or two Class A-level prospects who are not among the Cubs’ best young players. The only precedent for compensation for general manager was when Andy MacPhail went from the Twins to the Cubs, and all the Twins got in return was a minor league pitcher who never made the majors.
Q: Do you think Bailey is well suited to handle the pressure of a big market like Boston?
Peter Gammons: I think the pressure will not be a problem. The workload could be. He hasn’t thrown 50 innings in either of the last two years and to ask him to make 70 appearances and throw 75 innings may be too much. That’s why it’s going to be important for them to build a deep bullpen with Melancon, Morales and whoever else they add to the mix. They also have to do better in terms of getting innings pitched out of their starters.