Monday, September 12, 2011

DV: Right Again

I do not dislike Josh Beckett.  At first, I did, and people who were followers of my pre-How Youz Doin writing or really my pre-How Youz Doin life in general know that very well.  But I like how he seems to care about winning, I like how he doesn't seem to care too much about money, I like how he is willing to retaliate, and I also like his accountability.  His quote of "good pitches don't get hit" is probably the best thing a Red Sox' pitcher has ever said.

But here it is, crunch time in his sixth season as a Boston Red Sox pitcher.  He's gone through two contract extensions, one when he was an injury-prone pitcher before the 2006 season and another when he was an injury-prone pitcher before the 2010 season.  When it mattered in 2006, he was healthy, but he gave up nine runs and walked nine batters during the second Boston Massacre.  When it mattered in 2007, he delivered.  When it mattered in 2008, Beckett was hurt.  Oblique injury, which (at least in my non-medical opinion) may have had somethning to do with showing up obese to camp.  Was pushed back in the ALDS and was ineffective in the ALCS.  When it mattered in 2009, Beckett started to break down, posting (Tony Massarotti's words) a 6.02 ERA over the "last quarter of the season" before being outpitched by Weaver in the "No More Tears" ALDS.  When it mattered in 2010, he was already out for the season.

Bottom line:  I was right.  Josh Beckett is a guy who cannot stay healthy.  I'll leave it to Felger to question Beckett's toughness.  He does, however, deal with facts.  Ankles can be taped.  Ankles can have cadaver tendons attached to them.  Ankle injuries are inevitable when you're a top-heavy pitcher landing on an inclined surface like the front of a pitcher's mound.  Those are facts.  But I do agree with Felger:  If you're as tough as you say you are, you are pitching sooner rather than later.

The Red Sox took a huge gamble on Beckett when they traded Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for him.  He was a guy who could not stay healthy for a season, had a chronic blister problem, and may have some minor tears in his shoulder.  It could actually be argued that they derived more value out of Mike Lowell, because before his hip degenerated itself, he was serviceable for long periods of time.  Beckett has given this team a great 2007 season, a good 2011 season, bad 2006 and 2010 seasons, and inconsistent 2008 (oblique injury) and 2009 seasons.  Meanwhile, we've had the injuries listed above.  While we've heard about the blister problems on his hand when he was in Florida, we have not had any blisters in Boston.  We've had "cuts" on his finger and "avulsions" on his finger, though. 

Bottom line: Beckett has come pretty much as advertised.  He is Rich Harden or Ben Sheets with a higher ceiling.

Josh Beckett has spent more time on the disabled list since 2007 than JD Drew.  He has exceeded 200 innings three times:  Once in the magical 2007 season, once when he took the whole season at 90%, not throwing the Blister Curveball and therefore giving up thirty-six home runs, and once in a year when he had no bullets left by September.


Look, I understand that there are plenty of pitchers in major league baseball that cannot throw 200 innings or record 32 starts.  I understand that Beckett's team accounts for this and gives many of their starters a skipped start or a phantom DL stint for the sake of keeping them healthy at this point of the season.  I don't want to say the Red Sox invested in a complete lemon when they gave Josh Beckett not one, but two contract extensions.  He's on the team until he's 34.

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

Tough night for boston last night. On an off day they really needed yankees and more importantly tampa losses, and got neither. This upcoming 4 game set with tampa should provide great drama.

- pf

Anonymous said...

And yet, PF, their most productive night in about a week...