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Posts Tagged ‘Josh Beckett’


Photo by Christopher Evans

As many have noted, the Red Sox have hit the reset button on the team. The unthinkable happened as many people’s grandest dreams have been fulfilled; Beckett is gone and so is Crawford’s albatross of a contract.

I’ve been on record for not liking the Crawford deal, even before it happened. I hoped it would work out. It hasn’t. He is (was?) a very talented guy. But the burden of the contract, and Boston, worked against him. Even in a recent interview, he couldn’t avoid talking about being a $20 million/year man.

In Tampa, the expectations were not high. The team hadn’t left the basement of the AL East until 2008. So Carl only played on a winner for 2 years, and no one expected them to be any good. The Ravine will be more to his liking. People show up late and leave early. What they really care about is the Lakers. The Dodgers? Eh.

Beckett remarkably exhausted all of the good will from 2007 and what should have been in 2008. He was dominant last year until late August. And never recovered. Worse, he didn’t seem to accept any responsibility (unlike Lester), continued to do stupid things (unlike Lester) and continued to stink (unlike Lester). He probably has some injuries, but significantly he’s lost velocity on his fastball (not a good sign going forward). Dodger fans got a taste of our frustration as Beckett gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in Blue.

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When he looks like you ace … you’ve got trouble.

It is the All-Star break. This means that the Red Sox can’t lose any games, and no more players can get hurt unless they pull an Irving Fryer or get hit by a bus. New England can catch its breathe, breath deep and so some version of “Serenity now!”, “Goosfraba!” or “Calgone, take me away!”. It was a most frustrating first half of the season. There has been lots of analysis. I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents worth, which is probably more logical and levelheaded than people like CHB, or his nemesis The Schill.

What Went Wrong

It would be easier to ask what went right. Injuries. Check. Bad manager’s moves. Check.

The main problem, from my perspective, is starting pitching. This should sound familiar, because I said this was the main cause of the September Slide of 2011. They got nothing out of Lester and Beckett, and Buchholz was hurt. This is nearly a replay. Lester and Beckett have nearly respectable ERAs and have pitched very well in 2 or 3 games apiece. But these guys are not supposed to be on the north side of respectable. They are supposed to be pitching 7-8 innings a start, not 5-6. They are supposed to be leading the staff in ERA, wins, Ks and every other pitching state aside from saves and holds. But they aren’t. Not close. You’d be happy if they were the 4th and 5th starters, but they are the 1st and 2nd.

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Who’d of thought he’d be such a huge loss?

Since I can’t find my copy of Four Views of the Book of Revelation in order to cover the 3rd view, I’ll consider sports. I’ve been meaning to work on this post for a few weeks, but haven’t had the free time and mental space. You may think I still don’t have the mental space for it.

I want to consider a similarity between the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics: injuries. The point being how injuries have derailed the last few seasons for both teams. Sports teams are really fragile things. There are times when teams can survive and even thrive during a rash of injuries. The Green Bay Packers did this to win the Superbowl in 2011. Those instances are rare. Most often, the depth of a team is tried and then depleted. Hopes vanish and dreams are squashed.

The Celtics won the NBA title in 2008 and seemed poised to win a few more before the New Big Three fell apart. But injuries have continually derailed that hope, and Celtics fans are disappointed. In 2009 it was Kevin Garnett’s various injuries that left them depleted. Without him they nearly beat the Magic to advance in the playoffs, but it was not to be. A healthy KG, and the Celtics go to the Finals. The next year, KG was not healthy, but was playing. They made it to the Finals against the Lakers. Then, in Game 6, Perkins blew out his knee. His presence in that abysmal Game 7, the film of which should be burned for the sake of both teams, may have made a significant difference. We won’t know. But the Lakers did triumph.

Then there was last year. KG was healthy, but there was the big trade that sent Perkins packing for 2 players. He was still not right, but the emotional toll on the team seemed too big. Both O’Neals had injury problems. Until the playoffs. They put it together after their late season skid. They made it to the conference finals against the arrogant Miami Heat who hope to win 7-8 titles in their imaginations (Father, may it not even be one- oppose the proud!). In a painful moment caught on film, D-Wade pulled down Rondo while falling. Really cheap play, and their series this season against the Pacers shows they are inclined toward the cheap plays. Rondo’s dislocated elbow sunk the Celtics. He valiantly tried to play, but with only one functioning arm, his defense was a liability. That moment dashed the Celtics hopes.

We felt his pain.

The Red Sox are in a similar state of affairs. They won the World Series in 2007. Despite injuries to Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, the Red Sox made it all the way to the AL Championship against new rivals the Rays in their first ever play off appearance. Beckett pitched, but was a shell of himself. So close, but they fell in 7 to the Rays who would get handled easily in the World Series. Oh, for a healthy Beckett or Lowell. Just one would have tipped the scales enough. Just one.

2009 was just a mess for the Red Sox. It is a blur of injuries in the last few months that sunk a promising season. I have erased it from my memory.

2010 looked so promising. In the opening weeks they lost Ellsbury and Mike Cameron for essentially the season. Beltre not only provided power to the line up but single-handedly destroyed the outfield.  The only remaining starting outfielder was J.D. Drew, and we all know he’s good for a few trips to the DL. Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald came out of nowhere to provide some spark. But then the injuries began to mount up- Youkilis, Pedroia, Martinez. So many injuries to key players- there were done. D-O-N-E.

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This was not the collapse some of the economists have been predicting.  But it felt as devastating.  The team that had the best record in May-August utterly fell apart.  They went from leading the division to not making the playoffs in the course of a month.

There are plenty of people pointing fingers. I’ve read some ridiculous statements.  I’m going to try and put all this together so it makes sense- not sensationalistic headlines.

Issues of payroll are utterly irrelevant.  I don’t care how much a guy is being paid, if he’s hurt he can’t help the team.  So the size of the Red Sox payroll is ultimately irrelevant in this discussion.  You also can’t look at the roster on paper.  You have to see the roster that can actually suit up.

I refuse to point the finger at Theo or Francona.  At the trade deadline the Sox were in an enviable position.  People were largely singing their praises.  Only hindsight is 20/20, so don’t blame them for not having the gift of prophecy.

The seeds of the collapse were sown in Spring Training with Felix Doubront showing up out of shape.  The team had high hopes for him, and he was positioned to be the spot starter like Lester and Buchholz had been before him.  His job was to be ready.  He wasn’t, and suffered a number of injuries.  The depth they had at pitching took its first hit.  And a big hit since they would be forced to rely on the inconsistent Miller and overmatched Weiland.  This would cost them critical games.

It's lonely when you lose

Ryan Kalish’s injury was also pretty big.  Reddick was the guy who ended up filling in for the injured Drew.  He’s streaky, the book says, and he proved it.  He was on fire when he came up.  But down the stretch he struggled horribly.  A healthy Kalish, the heir apparent to right field before the season, would have made a big difference.  But it was not to be (and THAT, my friends, is part of what A-Gon was trying to say).

Diva-K’s injury seemed like a boon at first.  He was horrible!  But if his arm wasn’t messed up, he would’ve been better.  Instead we got a loveable but too old Wakefield and his quest for 200 wins.  It became a source of instability in the rotation.  Combine that with John (S)lackey’s ever deteriorating performance and the 4th and 5th spots on the rotation gave the Sox next to nothing.  Not even innings since no one when deep into games.

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2010 was an injury plagued season, a lost season, for the Boston Red Sox.  They lost Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youk for most or all of the season.  There were other injuries as well.  The Red Sox just couldn’t bounce back enough.  There were too many injuries to too many players.  The only good outfielder they had was JD Drew.  If he’s your healthiest and best outfielder you’ve got some serious problems.

This has been a different season.  The injuries hadn’t sunk the Red Sox.  The lost Dice-K, but that was a case of winning by losing.  That’s how horrible he was pitching.  But the loss of Rich Hill to the bullpen was pretty big.  They have struggled since then to get a good situational lefty.  His loss may prove bigger should they get to the playoffs which until this weekend wasn’t in doubt.

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"Are you ready to listen yet?"

Peter Gammons know calls Dice-K the Riddler.  I’d prefer to call him The Enigma, though I’ve called him Diva-K in the past.  He is an incredibly talented pitcher who nonetheless drives Red Sox crazier than Manny “Money” Ramirez ever did.

Dice-K arrived as a highly touted front-line starter destined to conquer America.  He had 6 “plus” pitches.  But somewhere along the road to glory something went seriously wrong.  It started well.  He was a key component of Red Sox 2007 World Series championship (32 starts, 15-12, 4.40 ERA, 201 Ks, 1.32 WHIP) by eating up over 200 innings as advertised.  He had a mystifying 2008 season (29 starts, 18-3, 2.90 ERA, 154 Ks, 1.32 WHIP in only 167 innings).  Notice that consistency in the WHIP.  He gave up 13 fewer HRs.  He put guys on base at the same rate, but fewer scored.  The maddening aspects began to kick in.  But it was easy to look at the record and ERA and get hopeful for the future.

Then started the injuries and power struggles.  Francona has said that he essentially can’t talk with Dice-K.  There is a cultural divide that seems quite ginormous.  His WHIP and ERA have gone up, innings have gone down.  The frustration factor has correlated with the WHIP and ERA.

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The allegation over the winter was that the Red Sox had become the Yankees.  They are perceived as in the Yankees’ league.  But I think that despite the fact that the Red Sox are in the upper tier, yet again, no one is in the Yankees’ league.  Here is the Top 5:

1. Yankees $202,689,028
2. Phillies $172,976,379
3. Red Sox $161,762,475
4. Angels $138,543,166
5. White Sox $127,789,000

The Red Sox are not 2nd in salary.  The Phillies have that distinction.  And they are the only team from the AL in the top 5.  Don’t worry, it balances itself out.  3 of the 5 teams with the lowest payrolls are AL teams.

The Yankees are spending about $41 million more than the Red Sox.  That is great than the payroll of 2 teams, the Rays and the Royals.  The Mets, ranking 7th, are spending $43 million less than the Red Sox.  So, in context, the Sox aren’t in the Yankees’ league regarding payroll.  The Yankees spend far and away more than anyone else.

Note some specifics as well.  Among the top 20 players in salary (Crawford would be there if you include his signing bonus), the Yankees have A-Rod, CC, Tex (in the top 5) and Burnett.  The Red Sox only have 1, Beckett who comes in at 19th.  This means the Red Sox spread out their salary a bit more than the Yankees.  The Yankees will pay A-Rod, CC & Tex just over $79 million dollars.  That is more money than the payrolls of 12 teams.  Yes, 12 teams have lower payrolls.  Toss in Burnett and it is $96 million.  This more than the payroll of 18 teams, 18!

Yes, the Red Sox are one of the teams that spend the most.  But no one spends like the Yankees.

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