Peter Gammons stopped by Boston.com to chat with sports fans about all things Red Sox. Below are some of the highlights.
- With the additions of Smotlz and Penny the Sox have one of the best rotations in all of baseball.:
Gammons: "Obviously Josh Beckett has to be healthy and I think they really improved the set up crew in front of Papelbon with the addition of Ramirez, and Masterson and Okajima. Obviously they should have three really good starters, the alternatives with Wake, Smoltz, Penny, Buchholz, and Bowden could be potentially the deepest staff in the league. I lovve the Smoltz signiing. Both John Farrel and Ben Cherington went to Atlanta to watch him throw and were very impressed. And Smoltz is one of those rare players who thrives on pressure and crowds."
- About young catchers on the Sox radar screen:
Gammons: "There's a difference between wish list and realistic wish list, but right now, they seem to be focused on Miguel Montero from Arizona, with Saltamacchia in Texas a possibility. Early in the fall, they tried to make a run at Russel Martin of the Dodgers and Mike Napoli of the Angels, but without success. They can have Montero if they'll trade Michael Bowden but thus far the Red Sox have refused to trade him."
- Why the Sox are leaving Masterson in the bullpen instead of starting him:
Gammons: "There's still a chance that Masterson will start, but until he blossomed late in last season, the 7th and 8th innings were serious problems for the Red Sox. I agree that 600 outs are worth more than about 200 outs, but the Red Sox do need a strong bullpen and his learning to finish games could make him a better starter two years down the line."
- Will MLB teams consider sign and trades to avoid losing 1st round draft picks, as in the case of Jason Varitek:
Gammons: "That is a great question. I think it's a possibility and I only think it's fair. Scott Boras can explain to Varitek why he turned down arbitration. And Boras has to understand that Florida will never give up their first draft choice to sign a 37-year-old catcher. Considering the depth of the Fla. farm system, the Red Sox probably could get the equivalent of a sandwich pick if the Marlins are willing to give Varitek $5 million."
- The status of Clay Buchholz:
Gammons: " I still think he can be a No. 2 starter in the big leagues. There were front office people from the Marlins nad Dodgers who saw him in Az. and believe he can be a No. 1 starter. My guess is they'll send him down to begin the season and let him prove that he has enough command of his fastball to make his changeup and curveball that much better."
- Do the Sox need another big bat to hit behind Ortiz?
Gammons: "What they need will depend on the health of both Ortiz and Mike Lowell. Ortiz's 190 point decline in OPS wasn't because of who was hitting behind him b/c Manny Ramirez only batted behind Ortiz in 7 games of 2006 and 2007, and in '07 Ortiz led the major leagues in Sept. OPS. I do think that the economy is going to force some teams to have to unload salary in June and July and the Red Sox are so under budget that they're going to be in a great position to acquire a contract when they know exactly what they need. For instance, if J.D. Drew is hurt come the middle of June, a player like Magglio Ordonez may be available because of the economy in Detroit, and that contract would only cost them for a season and a half."
- Are there any trades for Theo to make before the season starts?
Gammons: "If they make a trade, I still believe it will be for a catcher. And that might not happen until spring training when teams like the Rangers, D'backs, and Angels have had the opportunity to assess their pitching."
A reminder that Peter Gammons presents Hot Stove Cool Music tomorrow, for tickets and information vist www.hotstovecoolmusic.org. ITM will attend the Hot Stove round table discussion at Fenway Park and we'll have our thoughts and hopefully some pictures for those who could no attend.
Thanks to Peter Gammons and Boston.com, the full transcript can be seen on boston.com.