Peter Gammons checks in with Fire Brand

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Gammons, who may, before all is said and done, be known as the most popular and influential baseball journalist in the history of the sport. Getting his start at the Boston Globe and spawning the Sunday Baseball Notes section of which Nick Cafardo currently pens, he has been in Sports Illustrated and ESPN and appears regularly on ESPN television programming. He is a Hall of Famer, having received the J.G. Taylor Spink award for outstanding baseball writing in 2004.

Last year, in his ESPN Insider blog, he graciously mentioned Fire Brand of the American League as an influential Red Sox blog that many club officials read. Today, he joins us to answer a few questions about the Olde Towne Team…

Are the rumblings that the Red Sox refuse to be outbid for Mark Teixeira true? If so, what do they see in the future for Lars Anderson and what would they seek in a Mike Lowell trade? Why would they want Teixeira instead of patching other holes? What would they do if they signed Teixeira and couldn’t trade Lowell?

They look at Teixeira at age 28 and see a star who can produce for an easy eight years, then figure out what to do with everone else. I don’t think they’re in the mode of refusing to be outbid; they never work that way. But with the age of Ortiz and Lowell, to put Teixeira in with Youkilis and Pedroia in their primes would give them offensive predictability.

Anderson – Portland Sea Dogs

They don’t know what they have next year in Lowell or Ortiz, although I’d be hesitant to give up on them. Lowell says he is progressing very well, and Cora was stunned by how far he’s come, and I believe that Ortiz will come back with his knee, wrist and condition far different. But if they have Teixeira, they can get to spring training and see what happens.

As for Anderson, there may be a 1b/DH situation, maybe he can play some outfield, but they think he was born to play in Fenway because of his ability to drive the ball in the air to left center.

In light of the Ramon Ramirez acquisition, where do the Sox see Justin Masterson best profiling as? And who do you expect to assume the fourth outfielder mantle?

Considering that after being such a terrific team guy Crisp wanted to go, I thought getting a cheap, young, high strikeout, high groundball power arm (and Dayton Moore raves about his aptitude) like Ramirez was terrific. Masterson can now start or relieve. My guess is that in time, Justin will be a starter, but the more flexibility, the better. They’ve been talking to Rocco Baldelli, and I’ve wondered if, given Arizona’s money crunch, if they took Eric Byrnes’ contract, would it be possible to get Montero. Byrnes would be a very good fourth outfielder.

What young catcher do the Red Sox covet the most (Saltalamacchia, Teagarden, Montero, etc) as their future catcher? Will they be able to land this person? Are they expected to solve the future of catching this year or could they hold it off a couple more years?

I don’t think Texas will trade Teagarden, and their asking price for Saltalamacchia has been either Buchholz or Masterson and Bowden; not happening. I know they like Montero, and with the Angels’ catching depth, Jeff Mathis is an interesting guy. I keep thinking that if the Sox offer arbitration to Varitek that he will take it, collect $10M and help develop whomever they acquire.

So apparently CC Sabathia’s either going to take the money (Yankees?), go out west (Angels? Dodgers?) or stay in the NL (Brewers?). Which route and team do you see him taking? Is there a possibility of the Sox putting a surprise bid in?

I don’t think the Red Sox will jump on CC, knowing it would take $150M. Don’t underestimate Arte Moreno and the Angels, although if it comes down to money, the Yankees might creep to $160M. CC wants to pitch on the West Coast.

Ortiz – Evan Brunell

A lot of fans seem to be concerned/convinced that David Ortiz is on the decline and should leave as a free agent after 2010 or 2011. Do you agree? Why?

Ortiz could not work out properly last winter after knee surgery, and the weight, the knee and, finally, the wrist lessened his year. But, remember, in 2007 he led the majors in OPS in September, and Manny Ramirez batted behind him in one game. Be careful writing him off too fast.

What can Dustin Pedroia possibly do next to top what he’s done in his first two seasons?

I’m not sure Pedroia can top his offensive stats, but he will continue to improve every minute phase of his game. I do think if they get more power behind him, he will concentrate more on pitch selection. I talked to friends at Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe that say he’s more obsessed than ever. I want to see some of those marathon ping pong matches between Pedroia and Brian Roberts, whose tennis/eye/hand coordination skills and off every chart.

Some place the smaller seat revenue of Fenway over the comprehensive worth of Fenway. What do you think the value is of having the Sox playing in “the Cathedral” of parks to growing and sustaining Red Sox Nation? Does this national and international status create additional revenue to ownership from multiple other streams? If so, does this status and revenue help Boston retain competitive parity with the truly large market teams?


New Coke seats at Fenway – Evan Brunell

This ownership looked around and saw there’s no land for a new park, and they’ve done a brilliant job marketing Fenway and the Red Sox brand. There is a limited ceiling to revenues, but I can’t believe they will not remain in the top 3-5 in revenues even with the $2500-a-seat tickets at the new Yankee Stadium. How about those tradeoffs to give Mayor Bloomberg his luxury box.

How do you feel blogs, both as a tool for grassroots media like MVN, as a part of mainstream media like Extra Bases, or as an athlete’s direct to fan communication device have changed the media landscape? Do you think media is better now in total because of it, less collectively informed (given Bob Costas’ arguments), or just different? How do you think media and coverage of the game will continue to evolve?

The media world has dramatically changed, and I feel the blogs are part of our landscape. Are there instances when there is little accountability? Yes. Do I think we need reporters who understand players as people? Yes. Do I agree with everything? No. Look, I always read every word that Sean McAdam writes, because he is a giant. But the fact remains that if you line up the seriousness of good bloggers vs. the angry white minority shock jocks on radio–not Michael Holley, for instance, but those whose worlds exist to spread agenda–are superior to listening to talk radio. My car has Sirius, so I listen to Rivals Radio (I love college football), Little Stephen’s underground and the BB King blues station.

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