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Lester (left) and Beckett (right) will have all eyes on them following their involvement in the Septemeber collapse
I put Beckett and Lester on the same slide because their situation is nearly identical.
Both are fantastic pitchers and both will have good seasons if healthy. But they will need to step up in the clubhouse and emerge as leaders.
Despite what the mainstream ideology of the collapse was in 2011, whether it be fried chicken, drinking, video games, or any other ludicrous action, it comes down to the fact that the Red Sox lacked leadership and motivation. There was little chemistry and a lot of tension in the clubhouse, leading to the team having several abysmal runs.
The first to take the blame were Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey for supposed antics during games. Since then, each pitcher has taken a lot of heat, not only in Boston but the nation as a whole. After being subjected to the butt of endless jokes, these two pitchers will undoubtedly be determined to prove everyone wrong.
Both Lester and Beckett have apologized several times for the collapse and promised a better 2012. Lester especially has come off as sincere and determined, while Beckett has come off as more hot-headed and controversial. Still, no one can deny that he wants to better himself this season.
He has dropped the weight he gained in 2011 and is ready for a re-awakening.
Under the watch of Bobby Valentine, there will no longer be issues of presumed alcohol drinking or chicken consumption in the clubhouse, which is a good sign, at least from a public-relations perspective.
Nonetheless, unless injury plays a factor, both men are more ready than ever to have comeback seasons. The issue is their health and consistency, which were exposed last season in September.
As of now, both seem in top shape. Despite September, Beckett had a fantastic 2011 and Lester was serviceable for the most part. However, they need to emerge as true leaders, which was not apparent last season.
Lester wants to reconcile his relationship with Red Sox Nation, while Beckett wants to prove he still is able and willing to be a player that the clubhouse can look up to. I expect these two to have particularly great seasons, barring health issues.
Josh Beckett: 17-6 with a 2.95 ERA
Jon Lester: 18-5 with a 3.05 ERA