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Schilling on the Big Show: Sox Could Have Best Defense Ever

December 18, 2009

Curt Schilling appeared on the Big Show on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Red Sox’ offseason strategy of adding pitching and defense, whether he thinks a Red Sox lineup with Casey Kotchman can remain formidable, what he thinks of the team’s efforts to trade Mike Lowell and what Adrian Gonzalez is and should be worth on the trade market.

To listen to the interview, click here. A transcript is below:

Are surprised that they invested a fifth year of a contract in a pitcher rather than Jason Bay?

I am surprised at the fifth year. Absolutely. I’m shocked at any team that goes past four years for just about anybody, short of a [Tim] Lincecum or someone like that, given that, regardless of modern medicine, pitching arms are fragile.

But, you know what? If there’s a team out there that can afford a year of a contract where they’re not going to get production from a guy, this is one of the teams.

If you can’t beat [the Yankees] by out-hitting them, why not try to out-pitch them? The only way to get pitching is to overpay.

I’m not so sold that their offense is going to go from third to 12th. Mike Cameron is not a bad offensive player. I’m not sure, numbers-wise, last year where he was at, but average-wise I’m sure he and Jason [Bay] were somewhere in the same neighborhood. He’s not the run producer, but he also hasn’t played in an offense like this. And he is probably the gold standard for defensive centerfielders.

But if you’re pitching against the Sox, you’re looking at a lineup without Bay and Mike Lowell, where you don’t know what you’re getting from David Ortiz. Is that a scary lineup?

It’s still a deep lineup. There’s no Jason Bay, but there’s still Mike Cameron. You might get five, 10 home runs less a year? How does that average out? And who’s to say how he’s going to hit in Fenway? Remember some of the parks he’s played in.

Didn’t last year’s lineup have difficulty beating good pitching, and beating good pitching on the road?

Yeah, but they weren’t matching good pitching with good pitching. I felt like last year, their pitching was hot when their offense was cold, and their pitching was cold when their offense was hot. It kind of fluctuated. I never really felt like they clicked on all cylinders at any point in the season.

The Kotchman and Lowell and Youkilis, that transformation, Casey Kotchman is going to grind out at-bats. This is a guy who, through the course of the game, he can have a Youkilis night where he goes 0-for-4 but sees 28 pitches.

The gold standard offense was the 2004 Ramirez/Ortiz. Anything else pales in comparison. I’d like to think you’re going to see a David Ortiz who shows up for the first half of the season. I think he’s got something to prove. I think he’s going to be a presence in the lineup. It’s going to be interesting to see how it shakes out. You’ve got Scutaro at short. I just know that defensively, if they were to find a way to get an Adrian Gonzalez and not move Jacoby, this might be the best defense in the history of the game.

With the moves they’ve made, can they win a World Series, with a lineup that features Kotchman? (3:54)

Absolutely. Casey Kotchman – and I think I might be a little conservative – I think he’s a .285 to .300 guy, with an on-base percentage that certainly mimics what they’ve got already. I’m not thinking that they’re going to be suffering. Obviously, it all comes down to pitching. This pitching staff, they just got another horse – literally, another horse. Somewhere in the world I think there’s a horse running around with human teeth.

I would beg you to find a chance to stand next to this guy. You do not realize how big John Lackey is until you meet him in person. He’s a big kid, and he’s coming in here and he’s literally sliding into the three hold. This guy’s an ace. He’s a guy who’s pitched a Game 7 and done well. My goodness. If Daisuke comes back and is in shape and trying to prove a point that last year was a fluke, this could be an incredibly lethal rotation.

What happens with Beckett after all this?

I think Theo was right. I think they’re going to sign him. I think you’re looking at a three- or four-year offer, and you’re probably going to have to talk in the neighborhood of $50-65 million.

Why wouldn’t he look to what Lackey just signed for?

I’m not saying he won’t. I’m not saying he won’t. I’m just saying you’re going to have to start out in the three and $50-60 [million] neighborhood if you want him to think about it.

Will the arrival of Lackey take Beckett’s competitiveness to another level?

Josh has got a lot of fire in himself. Josh, I don’t mean this in a derogatory fashion, I never felt like he was a guy, I don’t feel like he ever competed against other pitchers on a staff. For me, that was a huge motivator. In a friendly way, I always tried to one up the guy one night before. I think Josh has got his own demons, for a lack of a better word, that kind of get him going every night anyway.

How do you see the Lowell situation? It seems like they’re ready to move on while prioritizing defense. Is that the right move?

Obviously, even though I didn’t write a book about him, I’m a huge Mike Lowell fan. He brings so much to the clubhouse. That’s such an undervalued and understated piece of the pie, and it’s hard to explain to people.

When you’re in a locker room, and there’s the cultural diversity that exists, and you have someone who can bridge the gap between Latin players and English-speaking players … he was such an impressive presence. He was very much a leader. That’s the question I have: who’s going to step in and be that guy? I’m not thinking there’s anyone in that clubhouse… Mike Cameron is a guy who probably has the ability and resume, the presence, from everything I’ve ever heard about him, he’s got that kind of makeup. It’s not a Dustin Pedroia, because if you’re not a red-ass, fiery guy, when Dustin says, I’m going to know this guy’s you-know-what off, J.D. Drew isn’t going to react to that very well.

Seems odd to pay another team $9 million to take Mike Lowell. He wouldn’t be happy without a full-time role, but why not keep him for that extra $3 million?

I like the team a lot better with him on a corner. I think maybe there’s questions around his health, questions whether physically he can be the player they needed him to be for what they’re paying. I don’t think you’ll find anybody in that organization who won’t speak extremely highly about Mike Lowell. To me, it says listen, him and Texas and us paying the $9 million, at the end of the day they have to believe they’re a better team. I’m not sure how you get there. Obviously, they believe it, but I don’t get that, unless there’s something else, another shoe to drop.

Range at the corners is a goofy stat, simply because, if you talk about infield defense, for a shortstop, your range is directly affected by your second baseman and third baseman. If you’re a third baseman, your range is directly affected by your shortstop. Mike Lowell’s range, the fact that his defensive rating was down last year, I’m not sure how much stock I put in the formulas to go with that, but it had to be directly impacted by the shortstops he was playing with. It’s a position that requires little range to begin with. You have to come in on the ball, and Mike is as good as anyone coming in on the ball, but laterally, if you’re not a Scott Rolen, it doesn’t matter. You either have enormous reach and range or you have none. He was one of those guys, when he caught the ball, it was an out. He brought so much else to the table. I’m not going to lie. I was surprised – he hit a lot better than I thought he was going to hit on a continuous basis. That was the thing that caught me off guard.

I played against Mike in the National League. He was always a decent offensive player. But he was a much better offensive player here than I expected him to be. In the day and age of juice, I think he was an above-average offensive third baseman.

What would you do to get Adrian Gonzalez? Ellsbury and Buchholz? Whatever it takes?

It’s organizationally dependent. At the end of the day, when you look at your roster, I think we can all politely assume this is not a bridge year. They’re trying to win a World Series. If you have a better chance to win the World Series at the end of the day, tomorrow, with what you give up to get him, then you make the move.

Defensively, the kid is phenomenal. To put up those numbers in that league is pretty impressive. His road numbers were off the charts as well. I didn’t see him a lot when I was out there. But everything I’ve heard is that this guy is a cornerstone, franchise player.

They dedicated themselves to getting better defensively. Depending on how they arrange the defense, you could be looking at one of the better defenses of all time, consistently all around. If you’ve got Cameron, Ellsbury and Drew in the outfield, Youkilis at third – and he’s got a chance to win a Gold Glove at third, I promise you that – Scutaro at short, Pedroia at second, depending on who you’ve got at first, you’ve got a phenomenal defense, which means you have to score fewer runs over the course of the season.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    December 18, 2009 3:43 pm

    The premise and headline is just dumb…Why even ask that question in December?! Defense is getting easier to quantify, but still more difficult than offense. It’s not even a practical question to ask. Try this practical one out, will Papi hit 30 hr’s?? Much more definable and easier to talk about.

  2. Adam permalink
    December 22, 2009 5:10 pm

    Mr. Schilling, I know you have vehemently denied ever using steroids in the past. What do you have to say to the critics out there that say you had your best two years in the middle of the steroid era (01,02) at the age of 34 and 35? You had 45 wins with over 500 innings pitched in those two years. Doesn’t that sort of production at that age warrant some questions? Not to mention successfully pitching into your 40s?

    As I’m sure you know the game in that era was tainted, what makes anyone believe that the two best pitchers in the national league in 01 and 02 were clean? (Randy Johnson at age 37 and 38 being the other) As well as having suspected users in Matt Williams and Luis Gonzalez on that roster?

    I have always respected the way you played the game and any thoughts would be appreciated.

  3. Steve permalink
    December 23, 2009 1:13 am

    Curt,

    It takes so long to have comments moderated in this blog so I believe people do not comment any more.

    How bout a going back to the old blog?
    Steve
    Kaneohe, HI

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