It was October 29, 2007, and the best pitcher on the planet was Josh Beckett.
The strong right handed starter had just collected his second World Series title the night before as the Red Sox completed their sweep of the Rockies. Beckett did not pitch in the clinching game but to say he had done his part in the 2007 postseason would have been a dramatic understatement.
In his four starts during the playoffs, the Sox ace absolutely stuffed the opposition. He went 4-0, tossed 30 innings, fanned 35 batters, and walked two. This guy from Texas was tough. No sarcasm. Just ask the Angels, Indians, and Rockies.
The former second overall pick did not win the Cy Young Award. He was not deemed the MVP of the World Series. But Beckett won the Red Sox a championship. Boston had an excellent team that season, but the kid from Spring, Texas, drove the bus. He was the man.
A lot has changed in just under five years.
The deadline to make a trade is at 4 p.m. today, and the majority of Red Sox followers would rejoice if GM Ben Cherington found a way to move Beckett, a guy who once sat upon the throne of baseball in Boston.
I don’t believe the much-maligned former ace will find himself in a different city this time on Wednesday. There are just too many hurdles to leap. Beckett is a 10-5 guy. He is owed over $30MM over the course of the next two-plus seasons. Teams have serious and warranted concerns about his attitude. It doesn’t help that the former Marlin is in the middle of an exceptionally mediocre 2012 campaign (5-9, 4.57 ERA). Beckett is not easy freight to move.
The disciples of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Michael Felger and most Red Sox fans for that matter would advocate brass eating a large chunk of Beckett’s salary in an attempt to expedite the departure of the heavily criticized right hander. The argument comes down to a very simple question: Is Beckett part of the solution or part of the problem? Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as the inquiry.
For me, Beckett is not obviously part of the solution enough to stand firmly against the idea of moving him. In other words, I would be okay with shipping him to another team–only if the Red Sox did not carry the responsibility of paying any of his remaining salary, for this year and beyond. I’m not stupid enough to ask for a prized prospect in return for a guy who is playing under Beckett’s contractual status and not performing at a high level. At the same time, I’m unwilling to make Beckett the scapegoat for all that is wrong with the Boston Red Sox.
Beckett’s departure from this team is not the elixir that the masses crave. Trading the polarizing righty will not erase the bad signings that this organization has made over the course of the past 5-7 years. Getting rid of the Texas Tough Guy will not solve the communication issues that plague the Red Sox. Believe it or not, trading Beckett will not make Jon Lester locate his fastball any better.
Whether the 2007 postseason hero is with this team tomorrow or not, the Red Sox face a plethora of problems that run deeper than the right arm of Beckett. But no matter what, he will never regain the status he once had five years ago.