Gabe Kapler on M&M: 'I'm more surprised by the Red Sox' than the A's

September 26, 2013 - 10:09 am

Former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the MLB postseason, Wednesday's brawl between the Brewers and Braves, and other news from around the league. Kapler said he was more surprised with the Red Sox' success this year than the A's, who are second in the American League with 94 wins. "I'm going to be frank, upfront and honest with you here. I'm more surprised by the Red Sox. If you were to ask me at the beginning of the year, 'Would the Red Sox have the best record in baseball?,' I would say, 'No chance,' " Kapler said. "Ben Cherington has hit a home run with every move that he's made and it's surprising. He hasn't swung and missed once, even with Ryan Dempster, a guy who really was productive in April and has been productive in stretches throughout the season. ... Every guy has been an absolute home run. I thought it was going to be very difficult for this Red Sox team to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year, and I'm totally surprised that everything has fallen into place." Kapler also talked about the brawl between the Braves and Brewers on Wednesday night and said that while he thought Carlos Gomez's actions leading to the fight were unacceptable, he also said that he enjoys the showy play from other athletes, such as the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig.  "I've never seen anything like it, particularly [Brian] McCann standing at home plate and blocking a guy from finishing his home run trot, but I'll tell you this, I didn't mind Gomez 'pimping' his home run, I didn't mind him admiring it and maybe saying a few words as he got out of the batter's box, but listen, man, once you get halfway down the first-base line, it's time to get around the bases. ... It was totally egregious, it was totally unacceptable, and McCann sort of did the right thing by standing there and waiting for him and getting in his face. "I don't want to take away from the fact that there are celebrations that are starting to be, for my perception, good for the sport, like we want to see the entertaining guys shine, we want to see the flamboyant guys shine. I like how Yasiel Puig to a degree sort of celebrates as he goes in baseball, I think it's good for the game. But the minute you start showing other people up on purpose, and demeaning the value of them being on the baseball field, which is what I saw last night with Gomez, that's where I think it goes a step too far." Kapler added that he thinks the Red Sox should do everything they can to avoid the Tigers, who he believes has the strongest rotation in the American League. "It's going to be interesting," Kapler said. "The only staff that I like better than the Red Sox and Rays at this point is the Detroit Tigers. One through five, every guy has a fielding independent pitching -- which allows us to factor all of the defensive things that can make a pitcher go wrong, so only focusing on strikeouts, home runs and walks, so to me the most important stat for a pitcher is fielding independent pitching -- they have all five of their starters in the top 16, and the four guys you get before [Rick] Porcello are in the top eight. ... This pitching staff is ridiculous, one of the best I've seen in a long time." Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at On who he sees as the team to beat in the National League: "I think the Dodgers are going to come out of the National League. Now, the Cardinals are extraordinarily strong, really, really good back end of the bullpen as well, but yeah, I like the Dodgers. Again, leaning on the first two guys in the rotation with [Clayton] Kershaw and [Zack] Grienke and then the light-out bullpen since the middle of the year, and if Matt Kemp is anything close to the guy that he was in 2011, you've got a top-five of the lineup that might be unparalleled. ... I love the Dodgers coming out of the National League." On what a team needs to do to win games in the postseason: "For me, I think we've got Jon Lester and [Clay Buchholz] at the top, so those guys need to pitch well. Your one and two starters really, really lead the way in a postseason. Obviously, they have a chance to get two starts each. Huge, huge deal. Yeah, I think Lester, and Buch setting the tone, obviously having the back end of the bullpen being sound. In '04, you think about who led the way, it was probably Keith Foulke, so Koji [Uehara] I think has a really interesting opportunity in front of him to put it away at the end of games." On reports that Robinson Cano wants a $300 million contract: "Ridiculous. I don't think they have a choice, they have to sign Cano. But for me, I'm not going past four years for this guy. Look, we've seen this blow up in the faces of GMs, you've seen it with Alex Rodriguez in their own city, with going beyond these four- or five-year deals and signing guys to seven-, eight-, nine-, 10-year deals. It shouldn't happen. I'd overpay for Robinson Cano early in the contract if that would get him to sign. So, you know, $25 million a year for four years, four for 100. He's really not that much better than [Dustin] Pedroia, and Pedroia's on an average annual value of $13.75 million."