With the small exception of the Green Monster, nothing in Fenway Park is untouchable after one of the greatest September collapses in baseball history.
The guillotine has already fallen on manager Terry Francona, former GM Theo Epstein already works for the Chicago Cubs and upon his introduction new GM Ben Cherington promised “there will be changes.”
No element of the Red Sox's stretch-run was worse than their starting pitching and pressure mounts to clean house in response to the 7-20 finish.
Josh Beckett is a prime candidate for relocation as he was effective in 2011 (2.89 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) after signing a four-year, $68 million deal before the season but also imploded in his last two starts and was prominently involved in the clubhouse beer-drinking controversy.
The size of his contract and off-field issues reduce his trade value to little more than John Lackey territory (absolute zero), but a mostly-competitive 2011 means someone is likely to bite. Josh may have worn out his welcome in Boston and could be more valuable to an NL team with a lower degree of scrutiny.
Here are five locations that could justify his contract.
This is a crucial offseason for the NLCS Brew Crew, as Prince Fielder threatens to leave through free agency and their starters call for contract extensions after their surprising run to the 2011 NLCS.
Stalwarts Zach Grienke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf are all unsigned after 2012 and the Brewers must ride their veterans without any relevant minor league prospects.
Fifthstarter Chris Narveson just underwent surgery on his left hip and could open the door for a Red Sox replacement. Beckett would command almost as much as Fielder but without the weight concerns. He might elevate the Brewers' rotation into a Phillies-caliber staff.
Odds: 1 in 100
The Giants are a perennial pitching powerhouse and won the 2010 World Series behind the contributions of a shut-down staff that dominated against three rounds of superior lineups.
Their spacious ballpark is a haven for a fly-ball fireballer like Beckett, and while the addition would exacerbate the talent gap between bats and arms, the Giants never won with hitting in the first place.
The team was second-to-last in runs last season and could choose to offset their weakness by empowering their strength.
Odds: 1 in 50
The Braves could trump any offer the Red Sox might receive as they’re stocked with young arms and could use an another top-end starter to go from wild card in 2011 to division winner in 2012.
Including a prospect or two is essential for any Beckett-to-Braves deal, as Atlanta would never take on his full $68 million. The Red Sox paid part of Edgar Renteria’s outgoing salary in order to get the right prodigy from the Braves in 2005, and they might be willing to insure Beckett for the right combination of young arms.
Odds: 1 in 35
There is no on-field reason to think the Astros would want an expensive starter during their rebuilding effort, but you can never discount one’s hometown as a trade destination.
The Astros still have to sell tickets, and as a native of Spring, Texas (a Houston suburb), Beckett would do just that. The Astros will also have ample money to spend after purging the payroll at the trading deadline and have a size-able market to entertain.
Carlos Lee’s dreadful six-year, $100 million contract is set to expire after 2012 and then the Astros have no burdensome deals to prevent them from spending, making the prospect of a Beckett deal financially feasible and particularly lucrative for Houston.
Odds: 1 in 100
The McCourts are ready to settle their divorce, and whether or not Bud Selig forces Frank McCourt to sell is irrelevant to the Dodgers' immediate future—they want to win.
One thing you know about Frank’s fight to keep the team is that he must be a competitor and certainly values the team beyond its mere bottom line.
Rumors that the Dodgers would bid for Prince Fielder suggest they’re ready to spend money and Chavez Ravine would be Fenway’s opposite: gigantic, laid-back and host to the worst-hitting division in baseball.
A buy-low trade for Beckett makes perfect baseball sense seeing as the Dodgers can afford him and the move would work wonders for McCourt’s public relations in the city he hopes to win back.
Odds: 1 in 25 (The Favorite)