Chat with Peter Gammons
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, longtime baseball writer ESPNBoston.com's Peter Gammons stops by to chat about MLB playoffs.
Gammons serves as a studio analyst on Baseball Tonight and Baseball Today. He also provides "Diamond Notes" and other reports for SportsCenter. Gammons has been a senior writer for ESPN The Mag since December 1999 and contributes to ESPN.com. Prior to working for ESPN, Gammons worked at the Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated.
Send your questions now and join Gammons Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (4:00 PM)
We're getting Peter right now!
Who do you got today, Twins or Tigers?
Peter Gammons (4:02 PM)
I think the Twins. First of all, they are so tough to beat at home. They're 101-61 at home the last two years. Because baseball allowed the Twins to play at home on the second day rather than at Detroit the day after, Scott Baker is on full rest. Give the Twins credit, they are really hot, going 16-4 since Morneau got hurt.
Paul Carafotes (Los Angeles)
Peter- Given that Beckett, Buckholz have been a bit erratic of late and Matzuzaka has pitched pretty well what are your thoughts of not having him in there?
Peter Gammons (4:03 PM)
The Red Sox know they're not going to win if Josh Beckett doesn't win. Buchholz had eight straight outstanding starts and when they clinched had two bad ones. But he clearly has the stuff. He is also their best starter at holding base runners. The biggest game in that series could be Sunday night with Kazmir against Buchholz.
Kyle (Troy, NY)
I'm wondering how you see this series playing out. Will the Sox be able to control the Angels' running? Will Beckett pull it together and step up like he has in the past? Will Buchholz come up big in the big game?
Peter Gammons (4:05 PM)
The running will be interesting. The one weakness Victor Martinez has as a catcher is his throwing. But the Angels only stole 15 bases in 6 games against Boston during the season. They haven't run a lot in any of their postseason series. To me, the biggest key will be to keep Chone Figgins off base. He's a .395 on base guy. He can steal on Boston and they have to get him out.
Orange Julius (Austin, TX)
Hi Peter, do you expect Francona to go on another sentimental journey a la Millar and Timlin and hurt the team by starting Varitek through much of the playoffs?
Peter Gammons (4:05 PM)
No. Martinez is the catcher.
Is there any question that Joe Mauer will be the AL MVP?
Peter Gammons (4:06 PM)
I think the only question is whether or not he's unanimous and I think he will be.
Peter Gammons (4:06 PM)
He is the only player since Ted Williams to lead the league in batting average, on base, slugging and OPS and he's done it at the premiere offensive player at the toughest defensive position in the AL.
Schuyler (Chapel Hill, NC)
Going into the playoffs, which team has the biggest health concerns? Which team is in the best shape, injury-wise?
Peter Gammons (4:08 PM)
I would think the Dodgers would have the most physical concerns with Orlando Hudson's wrist problems, Casey Blake limping and some concern about Chad Billingsley, and the fact that Kuroda is out of the series. The healthiest team is probably the Yankees, even with Johnny Damon hurting. Their best players are healthy and they have the best depth of any team.
Any chance the winner of the Twins/Tigers can put up a fight against the Yankees in the ALDS?!
Peter Gammons (4:10 PM)
The only way that happens, for the Twins is if there is something wrong with Andy Pettitte physically, AJ Burnett implodes and the Twins crush the Yankees middle relief. The only way the Tigers could win the series is if Justin Verlander wins two games. I feel much better about the Twins scoring runs against the Yankees than the Tigers.
Tyler ((San Diego via Boston))
Where are the Dodgers mentally after their late season fall from grace? Is Kershaw going to be ready for playoff baseball?
Peter Gammons (4:11 PM)
The Dodgers' biggest concern is trying to get Manny Ramirez hitting again, because he has actually been a liability in the three-hole. Their young hitters do feed off of him so they need Manny to be something other than an average offensive player. Scouts who saw Kershaw Saturday night thought he had the best stuff of any pitcher in the NL. He is their best hope to win 2 games against either Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright.
Did you realize that all nine players that started the Rockies win against Milwaukee to clinch the wild card were home grown players? Is this an indication that Dan O'Dowd is the best GM in baseball?
Peter Gammons (4:13 PM)
O'Dowd has done a remarkable job rebuilding that organization when one considers that in 2000 they spent so much money on free agent pitching that flopped and forced them to do a second rebuilding project. Their system is still deep. Their best players are young and despite not having a large payroll, should be contenders for the next few years.
Jay (Los Angeles)
How (if at all) do you see Dice-K helping the sox in the Angels series? Does he come in with the bases juiced in the 6th with nobody out? Seems like a natural fit...
Peter Gammons (4:14 PM)
A lot depends on circumstances. For instance, they could need him as a fourth starter. Or, they could use him in long relief if Buchholz got knocked out in Game 3. Matsuzaka will become an increasingly important factor if the Red Sox are able to get by the Angels.
what are the yankees weaknesses (if any)?
Peter Gammons (4:15 PM)
Their only problems will come if there's anything wrong with Pettitte physically and if Burnett impoldes. They were far away the best team in baseball in the regular season and they go into the playoffs as favorites.
Peter, love the show! How short of a leash does Jim Leyland have on Porcello tonight? Is Cabrera's actions off the field going to affect his play?
Peter Gammons (4:18 PM)
I think the question with Porcello will come on what his stuff is like early in the game. He has shown signs of tiring in this his second pro year, jumping some 50 innings of work load. He has just 15 strikeouts in his last seven starts. The Twins are a good contact hitting team, so if his stuff is average, and they're hitting him early, Leyland might go take a shot with Zach Miner. Then again, if Porcello is struggling, the Twins are probably going to play the Yankees tomorrow.
Peter, who do you see the Twins turning to early out of the pen if Baker has to be pulled? Any chance it's Blackburn?
Peter Gammons (4:19 PM)
I doubt they would go back to Blackburn after he pitched his last start on 3 days rest. They can go with Jesse Crain or Jeff Manship to get to Mijares and Gueirrer.
Peter, I know the sox have some weaknesses, but doesn't the fact that the best big-game pitcher in the game is boston's # 2 starter say a lot?
Peter Gammons (4:20 PM)
It does, as long as Beckett's back is fully healthy. If he is healthy, he and Lester are probably the best front two starters in the league.
Peter Gammons (4:21 PM)
What's going to be interesting about the Red Sox is to see how their bullpen holds up in front of Papelbon. They have great stuff, but they've been inconsistent the last month of the season.
The Cardinals stumbled down the stretch going 2-8 in last ten. Will that translate to the playoffs?
Peter Gammons (4:22 PM)
No. They still have Carpenter and Wainwright. They are enough for them to be favored in any National League series.
Peter Gammons (4:22 PM)
Once teams clinch or know they'll be in the postseason, they tend to lose their attention span.
Peter, it is an honor to chat with you. It seems that the Cubs chances in 2010 rest more on their current players bouncing back (Soriano, Soto, etc.) than on acquiring high priced free agents. That being said, do you like their chances in 2010? If you were the GM, what would be your top priority in terms of offseason acquisitions?
Peter Gammons (4:24 PM)
There are very few free agents that will make a difference. The most important thing for the Cubs is to get Carlos Zambrano's focus back to where it should be, get Soriano and Soto healthy and hope that some of their young pitchers develop to be ready in the second half of the season.
Peter do you think A-Rod will finally redeem himself this year and have a quality playoff appearance?
Peter Gammons (4:25 PM)
Yes. I think Alex will have a monster postseason. He's relaxed and not worried about what people think about him. If you go back to June, when he became healthy, his batting average and OPS have gone up every month. It wouldn't surprise me if he were the postseason MVP.
Peter Gammons (4:26 PM)
It's really exciting to see this Tigers-Twins game. It should be a lot of fun. Whoever wins will tie the Texas Rangers for total wins for the season.
Buzzmaster (4:26 PM)