The Red Sox lost their opening game of the 2012 season on Thursday, with the bullpen surrendering two runs in the final two innings to seal the team’s fate.
Peter Gammons of MLB.com joined Felger and Massarotti on Thursday, and he said the issues in the back end of the bullpen could be Boston’s biggest problem this season.
Gammons expressed confidence that Alfredo Aceves could be a capable closer, but the problem for the Sox lies in the setup position.
“[Mark] Melancon – I don’t know what happened to his curveball,” Gammons said of the Sox’ reliever who took the opening day loss. “He had a great curveball in Houston. … He’s not the same guy. He’s very flat now. I thought it was very obvious yesterday when Bobby Valentine had no patience with him. … How they evolve with the setup crew is going to be really interesting.”
That setup position is obviously open from Daniel Bard’s move to the starting rotation, but Gammons said he believes Bard “has a chance to be a really good starter.” Still, if the setup issues don’t get solved, it could prove to be the difference for the season.
“I think they can make the playoffs, even though I think they’re in by far the best division,” Gammons said. “And I also think there are some things that can go wrong, if they don’t get the bullpen fixed and if they don’t get Carl Crawford back, that could become serious issues.”
Gammons expressed concern for Josh Beckett’s thumb, saying it could be an issue that arises throughout the season.
He also chimed in on the seeming feud that’s generating between Curt Schilling and new Sox manager Bobby Valentine. While Gammons credited much of it to Schilling seeking attention, he did say Valentine’s radio commitment in New York with Michael Kay could actually become a distraction if the Red Sox fall far behind the Yankees this season.
Mazz also asked Gammons to expand upon his tweet, which said, “The Bountygate scandal is many times wors than the entire steroids era. I hope Ken Williams meets the criminal Gregg Williams in an elevator.”
“I couldn’t feel more strongly about it,” Gammons said. “I just think it’s unbelievable that people are so totally insensitive to what goes on and what happens to people who get concussions. Ordering players to go after Kyle Williams’ head made me want to throw up. Obviously Gregg Williams is never going to work again. But I wish him worse than that.
Gammons will be a regular with Felger and Mazz starting next Wednesday at 3pm.