10 Most Despised Red Sox Players & Coaches of the Decade

Aashish SharmaCorrespondent IApril 15, 2013

10 Most Despised Red Sox Players & Coaches of the Decade

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    There is something different about the 2013 Red Sox. The plethora of colorful personalities makes this team likeable.

    This year’s version of the boys of summer is a total 180 from what fans experienced in 2011 and 2012—a team that is easy to root for.

    So let’s remind ourselves how lucky we are to finally have our Red Sox back.

    Let’s take a look at some Red Sox players we have not been too fond of over the last 10 years.

    This list is in no particular order of significance—it is difficult to quantify someone’s level of despicability.

    All stats per ESPN.com and baseballreference.com

Eric Gagne

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    Gagne was acquired from Texas at the 2007 trade deadline. The former Cy Young Award winner had a terrific first half with the Rangers as the team’s closer, notching 16 saves in 17 opportunities with a 2.16 ERA.

    But he struggled mightily after joining the Red Sox, allowing 14 earned runs and nine walks in 18.2 innings while blowing three saves.

    Although Gagne did make the Red Sox playoff roster in 2007, he proved ineffective yet again. In Game 2 of the 2007 ALCS against the Cleveland Indians, Gagne surrendered two earned runs in the top of the 11th inning, taking the loss.

    Despite being a member of the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox, Gagne is remembered as a failed experiment in Boston. 

Carl Crawford

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    On December 8, 2010 the Red Sox signed free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford to an enormous seven-year, $142 million deal.

    He had a career year in 2010, hitting .307 with 19 homers, 29 doubles, 13 triples, 90 RBI and 47 stolen bases in 154 games. But he failed to produce the same numbers in 2011.

    Crawford managed a .255 average, .289 OBP (the lowest of his career) and a .694 OPS (third-lowest of career). He also registered just 18 steals—probably due to the fact that he rarely reached base—after averaging 50 per season since 2003.  

    Due to offseason wrist surgery, Crawford did not play a game in 2012 until just before the All-Star break. His return was short-lived however; after just 31 games, Crawford once again had a procedure—this time season-ending Tommy John surgery.  

    He was eventually shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers with pitcher Josh Beckett, utility infielder Nick Punto and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. 

J.D. Drew

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    J.D. Drew was signed to a five-year, $70 million contract in January 2007, but like some of his predecessors on this list, failed to produce numbers equivalent to the value of his contract.

    His career with the Red Sox was defined by countless stints on the disabled list, as well as questions surrounding his passion for the game.

    Drew did little to show for his $14 million annual salary.

    In his five years with Boston Drew averaged just 121 games a year, breaking the 140-game threshold once (2007). His on-field production was not something to brag about, either.

    His .264 career average with the Red Sox, along with 57 RBI per season, were hardly worth the $70 million the Red Sox shelled out for him.

    His one saving grace, however, is his postseason heroics during the 2007 ALCS (the $14 million grand slam) and the 2008 ALCS (walk-off ground-rule double in Game 5). 

Johnny Damon

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    A curse-buster and an “Idiot,” Johnny Damon was truly one of the most beloved figures in Red Sox nation—until the 2005 offseason.

    On December 20, 2005 Damon turned in his Sox for pinstripes, and since then things have just never been the same. Per New York Yankees rules, Damon was forced to cut his long locks and shave his thick beard, becoming almost unrecognizable upon his return to Fenway during the 2006 season.

    As he approached the plate in his first at-bat at Fenway Park since joining the Yankees, the few cheers were drowned out by boos. As he took his position in center field, dollar bills were thrown at him from the bleachers, indicating that he was a sell-out and a traitor.

    The fact of the matter was that Damon could have chosen almost any team to sign with as a free agent and returned to a standing ovation that would have likely lasted a minute.

    But he chose the Yankees, and returned to a chorus of boos and obscenities. 

Grady Little

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    Every Red Sox fan knows this story.

    In Game 7 of the 2003 Red Sox, pitcher Pedro Martinez pitched eight innings of two-run ball. With the Red Sox clinging to a 5-3 lead, just a few outs away from their first World Series berth since 1986, manager Grady Little headed to the mound.

    The thought was that he would pull Pedro Martinez, who was clearly fatigued, but to everyone’s surprise, Little left Martinez on the hill.

    The results were disastrous. The Yankees tied the game, and the game continued into extra innings, with the Yankees eventually winning on a walk-off home run by Aaron Boone. 

Josh Beckett

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    The 2011 Red Sox are known for being entitled prima donnas, and Josh Beckett is a big reason why.

    Ever since he was acquired in 2006, Beckett has been a walking display of arrogance. His inflated ego was rarely backed up by his on-field play, though, as he was a model of inconsistency.

    Beckett had a Cy Young-caliber year in 2007, winning 20 games with a 3.27 ERA (he was edged out by CC Sabathia), but followed it up with a horrible year in 2008, when he went 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA.

    Despite bouncing back to win 17 games in 2009, Beckett missed the majority of the 2010 season with an injury.

    The pattern of alternating years of decency was not something fans took well.

    Then in 2011, despite pitching incredibly well (13-7, 2.89 ERA) Beckett became a lightning rod of controversy when he golfed after missing a start with an injury. His next start after the incident did not go well, and the Fenway faithful let him have it as he walked back to the mound after getting yanked.

    He also was a part of the 2011 “chicken and beer” scandal, which had fans calling for him to be traded despite his solid numbers. 

Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    Perhaps there is no signing in recent memory that came with more hype but less substance than Daisuke Matsuzaka.

    Marveled for his endless arsenal of pitches, which included the so-called gyro-ball, the Red Sox signed the reigning 2006 World Baseball Classic MVP to a six-year, $52 million deal.

    While Matsuzaka got off to a decent start with the Red Sox—33-15 with a 3.72 ERA—his six-year career with Boston was marred by various injuries.

    He was also criticized for his tendency to “nibble” at the plate, causing him to run up several full counts to hitters and often surrendering an unusually high number of walks (80 in 2007 and 94 in 2008).

    The former Japanese phenom is now in the Cleveland Indians organization.

Manny Ramirez

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    Whether he was cutting off a Johnny Damon throw from center field or disappearing into the Green Monster between innings, Manny Ramirez was one of the quirkiest players in franchise history.

    He was also one of the greatest right-handed hitters in the history of the game.

    In his prime, Ramirez was capable of putting up freakish numbers. In his illustrious 19-year career, Ramirez averaged the following per season: .312/.411/.585/.996, with just under 30 homers, 29 doubles and 96 RBI a year.

    But he was known to do some bizarre things. For example, he once made a fantastic catch on the run in a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. But before throwing the ball back into the infield (for a double play) Ramirez leaped towards the bleacher seats and high-fived a fan.

    The entertaining experience known as “Manny being Manny” made Ramirez one of Boston’s most popular athletes.

    But there was a dark side to his antics. Ramirez’ commitment to baseball was often questioned. In addition to routinely arriving late to Spring Training (citing his grandmother’s illness on several occasions), Ramirez would often display minimal effort.

    In 2006—when Boston was struggling to stay in the playoff picture—he missed 28 of the team’s 36 remaining games because of a phantom knee injury.

    He forced his way out of town in 2008 when he got into two altercations, one with Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick, and the other with teammate Kevin Youkilis in the dugout (they had to be separated).  

    On July 5, Ramirez pinch-hit late in a game against the Yankees. With the go-ahead run at third base, Ramirez stepped into the box and took three consecutive strikes (without lifting the bat off his shoulder) from Mariano Rivera. The Red Sox ended up losing the game 4-5.

    Ramirez continued to become a cancer for the team, lying about yet another knee injury. When an MRI showed no damage, fans and members of the media became infuriated with the star left fielder.  

    He was traded on July 31 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team deal that brought Jason Bay to Boston. Bay received a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd during his first at-bat.

    Ramirez, on the other hand, was pelted with a shower of boos during his first at-bat against the Red Sox as a member of the Dodgers, in June 2010.

Bobby Valentine

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    The Red Sox were in turmoil following a disastrous conclusion to their 2011 campaign. They had fired their manager of eight years—arguably the greatest one in franchise history—and brought in a fresh face, Bobby Valentine.

    Valentine’s one-and-done stint with the Red Sox can be described as a daily soap opera. His bombastic personality made it impossible for non-issues to stay as such.

    Valentine took problems and made them worse. For example, he discussed on a radio show that Kevin Youkilis seemed to lack the same passion for the game he had shown earlier in his career.

    The comments weren’t well received by Youkilis, or teammate Dustin Pedroia for that matter, who sprung to Youkilis’ defense, telling the media "that’s not the way we go about our stuff here."

    It was no surprise the Red Sox won just 69 games in 2012 in one of their worst seasons in decades. Some give Valentine a mulligan, saying he was given a team that didn’t want to win.

    While that may be true, the flip-side of the argument was that he inherited a team that refused to win for him.

    We may never know.

John Lackey

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    The five-year, $82.5 million deal John Lackey signed in December 2009 made him the highest paid player on the Red Sox (before the arrival of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez).

    He made his Red Sox debut on April 7, pitching six innings of shutout ball in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees. Four of his next five games were quality starts as well.

    However, Lackey began stringing together several brutal outings, eventually ending the year 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA.

    He was even worse in 2011, going 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA in 160 innings, while also playing a key role in the Red Sox “chicken and beer" scandal.

    He is widely regarded as one of the main reasons Boston experienced an epic collapse, losing an 8.5-game lead for the division in September and ultimately missing the postseason.