With the furor over the infamous golf outing subsiding, the vociferous fan demands for the Red Sox to trade Josh Beckett have dulled to mere whispers. After a disastrous outing immediately after the story broke, Beckett has rattled off consecutive superb performances, and most have either forgiven or forgotten the firestorm of just two and a half weeks ago.
Now is the perfect time to deal him.
The reality of this situation is that the Sox are better off without Beckett. He has been surly as ever this season, and although his teammates and manager defend him, his actions have been those of a “me-first” player not terribly concerned about the other 24 guys on the roster.
Beckett has been with the Sox for seven seasons. While he has enjoyed great success there (20 wins and a championship in 2007, three All-Star appearances), the time has come for the two to part ways.
Rather than asking what Beckett has done for them lately, the Sox need to take the long view here.
He is 32 years old, has seen a decrease in his velocity and is owed a lot of money in 2013 and 2014 ($15.75 million per season). If they can find someone who will take him off their hands, they would be wise to pull the trigger.
The question then becomes, where would be the ideal destination for the right-hander? Although most (or all) MLB teams would like to have Beckett, the Sox must be judicious in selecting where to send him.
Yes, the players they receive in return should be a serious consideration; however, they also need to consider that fact that if they keep Beckett in the American League, they could be confronted with the rather unpleasant situation of facing him during the regular season or in the playoffs.
A Beckett roadblock en route to the World Series is a nightmare the Sox would prefer to avoid.
The ideal solution, then, is for the Sox to send Beckett either alone or in a package (Kevin Youkilis, anyone?) to a National League contender. This resolution would benefit all parties involved, from the Sox to Beckett to the team receiving him.
Beckett’s track record in the NL is outstanding. As a young fireballer for the Marlins, Beckett led his team to the 2003 World Series title over the Yankees. His complete-game, five-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium in Game 6 not only cemented Beckett’s reputation as one of the preeminent big game pitchers in baseball, but also earned him the World Series MVP award.
For his NL career, Beckett owns a 3.46 ERA and 41 wins in his 103 starts. His past success would be a major confidence boost for both the pitcher and his new team going forward—as would his more recent success in interleague play with the Sox. Beckett is 13-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 21 starts against NL teams while in Boston.
Beckett would also reap the benefits of the many offensively-challenged NL stadiums.
Of the 10 most pitcher-friendly parks in MLB, according to ESPN’s Park Factors, seven of them are in the NL. When pairing the stadium with the weaker NL lineups, any team acquiring Beckett would essentially guarantee themselves a pitcher with sterling statistics.
More than anything else, though, Beckett just needs a change of scenery. It has become increasingly clear that he has grown weary of all the attention he receives in Boston. And for their part, the fans have gotten sick of the pitcher’s curmudgeonly demeanor. A change would be refreshing for both parties.
There’s no question that Beckett is still an effective pitcher; if his two disastrous outings from this season are excluded, he is 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA. And he looked great in his last two outings—something he’ll surely look to build upon this weekend against the Rays.
That said, as a player with 10 years of MLB service and five with his current team, Beckett has earned a full no-trade clause in his contract. This makes the likelihood that he’ll be dealt even smaller, as he’d essentially be able to choose where he went.
However, it would be best for everyone if the Sox used this hot streak as an opportunity to send Beckett to an NL contender. In doing so, they’d free themselves of what has become a burdensome distraction while also building for the future. As long as he’s going to a good team, Beckett would likely agree to such a move.