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Peter Gammons Chat at Boston.com

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Boston's favorite sportswriter Peter Gammons had a nice little chat about the Red Sox yesterday at Boston.com. All of it has some really good information and insight, but here are some of the key things mentioned:

Q: This Alex Cora for Kaz Matsui rumor sounds bogus to me. Is there any truth and/or logic to this rumor?

Peter Gammons: The Mets would love to do it but the Red Sox love Alex Cora, the manager agrees with Paul Lo Duca that he is the smartest player in the game. Matsui is a huge question mark. The Mets throw everything out there, so I'm sure they tried.

I had no idea Cora was as smart as they say. Not only does he have a nice glove, he's apparently very intelligent. Knowing all that I know about both Cora and Matsui, I wouldn't make that trade.

Q: Do you believe Schilling will be healthy next year?

Peter Gammons: I do. I'm not sure he can come back and have the power arm he had two years ago but he can pitch well enough to win consistently. One thing about Curt, he really knows how to use Fenway Park. The key to right-handed pitchers at Fenway is to get right-handed hitters to hit to the deepest part of ballpark. Beckett should also be good at Fenway, Papelbon too.

This seems to be the general census on Schilling. He may be healthy, but odds are he won't be that 20+ wins, low-3 ERA pitcher that we are so fond of. He'll still be a good pitcher, though. I think a sub-4 ERA is something more reasonable to suspect, and 15 wins with good run support.

Q: Peter, grew up a Sox fan in the 60's and fell in love with Yaz. During the 70-80's no better Sox player than Rice. As a HOF member, what do you think Rice's chance of entering this year?

Peter Gammons: I think at least 50-50. I talked at length with some of the voters at the Winter meetings. Their feeling was Rice's great years were so great, six top five finishes in 12 years. Voters like Stark, Verducci, tend to take their ballot more seriously than some people. A good chance for Rice. A lot of things voters believe: how many times are his numbers in bold face in Baseball Encyclopedia? That's really a good qualifier for a player's great ability.

Rice-to-the-Hall will be a very, very close vote.

Q: Does Manny realize that as a baseball superstar anywhere he goes he will not get any privacy. So why is it that he wants to get out of Boston? Why can't he just grin and bear it, after all based on record he has performed well in Boston.

Peter Gammons: I do not think Manny thinks out certain situations very carefully. There appear to be personal issues involved in his desire to leave Boston. But I still believe that unless the Red Sox get Miguel Tejada, they will not trade him. There's no reason that Manny couldn't move out to where Pedro Martinez used to live by the Arnold Arboretum and get all the privacy he needs. I don't think he's going to retire. He'll be playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. His reporting date for the Red Sox would be within the last 10 days of March.

Manny doesn't think all that often. Like Gammons said, I'm sure he can find some privacy somewhere in Massachusetts or even Boston. And like the questioner pointed out, he's a pro-baseball player. He'd be recognized in California. I'm sure he'd even be recognized in Beirut for the popularity he has.

Q: Considering the glut of second basemen and dearth of shortstops on the Sox roster, is there any chance the Sox move Pedroia back to his natural position (short)?

Peter Gammons: It has been discussed and right now the last case scenario could be starting the season with Cora and Pedroia at shortstop. I don't think that will happen and I do believe Tony Graffanino will get traded by the end of of spring training. But it is a thought, Pedroia is a slight upgrade on range and arm than David Eckstein.

Though we'd all like to see Pedroia get some playing time, him being the solution at shortstop doesn't look to be in the plans right now. I'm sure they'd like to keep Pedroia at second base and use Cora, who the Sox organization really likes, at shortstop for now.

Q: Please settle an argument: I say it was Theo's plan all along to cut his losses and deal Renteria, others say Renteria was dealt only after Theo was gone. Which is correct?

Peter Gammons: Theo was very much for that trade. He worried that what we saw last year might be what he is in the future as opposed to the all-star that he was in St. Louis. Whether it was injuries, or Boston, there was concern on a lot of levels in the organization and I believe Theo would have made that deal and thought about it in Sept. and October. I agree with Lucchino that says most of the plans for the offseason were laid out in October, while Theo is still there. I think that one thing that has always impressed me about Theo is the ability to admit that he's wrong and cut his losses.

So the truth unfolds. I'm actually quite surprised that Theo wanted to trade Renteria, and that it wasn't a decision coming from a "higher power." At this point, however, I think it was the right choice.

Q: Do you believe that Theo will be back in Boston?

Peter Gammons: I believe it. But I don't know it. It wouldn't stun me if he waited and did some consulting work but I certainly get the impression that John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, and all the front office want him back. I would think by now, everyone concerned has a pretty good idea of what role he would fill. I do find it interesting the Patriots are trying to win their fourth Super Bowl in five years and the best GM in football, Scott Pioli, has his contract up at the end of the season.

Another believer.

Q: What is your prediction? Who will be starting at SS, 1B, and CF for the Red Sox on opening day?

Peter Gammons: This will be a heck of a guess because I'm sure I'm going to be wrong. At 12:45 p.m. on Jan. 4, I would guess Tejada at SS, Reed in CF, and Youkilis at 1B. But the only one I'm confident of is Youkilis.

I'll take that in a heartbeat.

Q: How is Trot Nixon valued by other teams, scouts, etc. It seems as though he has lost a step and not the player we hoped he would be a few years back.

Peter Gammons: I think your evaluation is probably right. The injuries the last two years have slowed him down and he's never been given the opportunity to show he can hit left-handed pitching. He will be one of the most interesting players to see this spring. I have a feeling he's going to come in to Ft. Myers in tremendous shape and have his best season in three years.

Trot is my boy. I hope he breaks out and really puts his name into Red Sox history this season.

Now go and read the rest of the transcript. There is some really good info in there. Gammons also touches on Clemens coming to Boston, Andy Marte's future, and who to watch for in Portland this year.