Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Josh Beckett: Philanthropist?
(A lot of Yankees so far this week. Enjoy a Red Sox post that DV prepared before leaving for vacation.)
It is probably good that I'm on vacation, because I feel like I will probably get crushed for this conspiracy theory.
But all winter last year we heard about how Josh Beckett's salary benchmark STARTED at the amount of money John Lackey got. Not sure why that was the case, but it was the general consensus that a player who had been much less consistent was going to make at least as much money as Lackey, provided he had a good season.
Well, he didn't. I'd still argue that 2006 was his worst, but this one is in the same category. He has not been on the field much, but when he has been on the field, he was almost as disastrous as he was in '06. Bad luck?
It probably was just bad luck. From everything Beckett has done regarding contracts, he seems like the kind of player who would rather get the crap finished quickly and get back to competing. He's never come within a year of free agency. This is probably why. Either that or he's risk-averse, willing to take less money just in case he had a year like this year in a contract year.
The real conspiracy theory is, though, does Josh Beckett know something about his health that the Red Sox don't know? Is his back issue a chronic problem that's not getting any better? For many pitchers it has been, historically. Does he have a bad rotator cuff? Elbow? Is Josh Beckett anticipating a career-derailing injury? It would make taking the money a year quicker in a bad economy make a bit more sense. I'm not a full believer in this, but I know a few people who do believe this theory.
It's already been well-established that the competence of the Red Sox' medical staff is dubious at best. Forget 46 - think about Jason Bay's contract situation, Mike Lowell's trade situation, and think back to Curt Schilling's 2008 season he didn't play due to injury. Consider the following two situations:
1. Beckett really is injured, the medical team misses it, and the player makes a ton of money.
2. Beckett really is not injured, the medical staff would have said he is this winter, and the player can't sign anywhere because the Red Sox' medical team has initials at the end of their names.
So let's not write this all off as a player taking a hometown discount. The Josh Beckett signing-in-advance seems to be a calculated - and smart - business decision. Beckett is risk-averse. If you had his injury history, wouldn't you be, too?