Nearly seven years ago, the Red Sox swapped super prospect Hanley Ramirez for Beckett—the 2003 World Series MVP— and supposed throw-in Mike Lowell (via ESPN).
Ramirez went on to become an MVP candidate for the Florida Marlins, and the Beckett/Lowell duo proved to be the deciding factor in the Red Sox’s title run.
Fast forward to 2012, and the landscape has undergone sweeping changes.
Lowell—the MVP of the ’07 World Series squad—hasn’t played since 2010.
Ramirez—the 2009 NL Batting Champion and three-time All-Star—regressed so badly the past two seasons that he was shipped across the coast to Los Angeles on Wednesday (via ESPN).
As for Beckett, the 6’5” Texan is mired in a 5-9 season with an ERA (4.57) that looks like its been feasting on some KFC.
The team’s one-time ace has certainly secured his spot in Red Sox lore, but if you look beyond his dominant ’07 postseason performance, Beckett’s seven-year tenure in Boston has been typically disappointing.
Take his debut season for the Red Sox, for instance.
One year removed from going 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA with the Florida Marlins, Beckett actually won more games in his first season with the Red Sox.
It just so happens his ERA ballooned to 5.01 while his strikeouts dropped from 166 to 158 despite pitching 26 more innings.
Luckily for the Sox, Beckett rebounded in his second year, winning 20 games and putting together one of the best playoff runs in league history.
In leading Boston to its second title of the decade, the 11-year veteran allowed just four runs in 30 innings, striking out 35 while going a perfect 4-0.
Since that magical season, the team’s “ace” has gone 41-38 with a 4.23 ERA in 127 regular season starts.
The two-time World Series champion also completely lost his touch in his four postseason starts since ‘07, allowing 18 earned runs in just 21 innings.
Beyond his continually underwhelming on-field performance, Beckett doesn't exhibit the leadership skills of a staff ace.
The three-time All-Star was one of the culprits in the infamous fried chicken and beer scandal last season, which happened to coincide with the biggest September collapse in MLB history (via Bob Hohler of The Boston Globe).
While he was chomping down on some of Colonel Sanders’ best, the 225-pounder just happened to record a single win and a 5.48 ERA in September.
Although his 2012 numbers don’t exactly tell the whole tale, Beckett hasn’t endured himself to the fans or the media, either.
Earlier in May, Beckett missed his scheduled start after experiencing stiffness and soreness in his shoulder and lat muscle (via Rob Bradford of WEEI).
However, according to Hub Hardy of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beckett was seen playing golf just two days before his missed start.
Doesn’t sound like the smartest idea for a guy who got paid $68 million to stay in Boston for another four years.
For a guy who can be an animal on the mound, he’s spent way too much time licking his wounds in recent years.
Since ’08, Beckett has been placed on the disabled list four times, missing time because of elbow, shoulder and lower back injuries (via Baseball Prospectus).
For comparisons sake, the New York Yankees’ CC Sabathia didn’t make a single trip to the DL until this season, and Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander has only missed one game since ’08 was due to food poisoning (via Baseball Prospectus).
During that period, Sabathia has pitched an astounding 1,078 innings during the regular season.
Meanwhile, Verlander checks in at an equally impressive 1,065 innings.
Beckett’s total? 815.2.
There once was a time that Beckett was a workhorse.
Unfortunately, today’s version of No. 19 is out-of-shape, overpaid and on the decline.
Whether the Red Sox recoup even 50 cents on the dollar for their one-time ace is beyond the point. This team needs a staff leader. It needs consistency. It needs change.
It needs to rid itself of Josh Beckett.
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