There really isn’t a member of the Red Sox that is criticized more than Josh Beckett. That has been the case the past two days after yesterday’s report of Beckett golfing last Thursday with Clay Buchholz on the teams’ day off.

Why it has been made such a huge story is the fact that it was announced the day before, (last Wednesday) that Beckett would be unable to make his next start (last Saturday) because of a sore right lat. Then he went out and golfed the next day. While it probably wasn’t the best idea because it sent the wrong message and gave the wrong perception, it doesn’t warrant all the negative media coverage that it has. It wasn’t that big of a deal.

Let’s look at things more closely. Beckett threw 126 pitches in his last outing, Sunday, April 29. He said even before that start his lat was sore, but he did not tell manager Bobby Valentine. Then, it was decided last Wednesday that it would be best for Beckett to miss his next start. This is what Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington had to say last week:

“I don’t think there’s any concern about him making his next start or even if he could have with the extra day made this start,’’ Valentine said. “But it would have been a situation that we would have had to watch carefully. So no need.

“There’s a reason for everything, and I guess the reason is that Aaron Cook gets the start and Josh gets more than just that one day extra.’’

“We’re not concerned about Josh,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “At different points of the year, he might pitch with it. But we just wanted to be cautious and get ahead of it.”

Judging by those comments, there really wasn’t much of an injury with Beckett. With it being early May it isn’t unusual to be overly cautious and skip a start of a star pitcher. Also, it gave the chance for the Red Sox to see what Aaron Cook had, since he needed to be called up last week to avoid an opt-out clause in his contract. Everything considered it made sense for Beckett to miss his start, not due to an injury, but just to give Beckett some extra rest and Cook a chance to start.

Ever since the report came out the local sports media airwaves have been filled with everyone hammering Beckett for going golfing on the teams’ off day, two days before the start he was being skipped in. Beckett wasn’t really injured, it was more of a precaution than anything, so what is the big deal for two friends on the pitching staff to go play 18 holes on the morning of their off day?

Some have said he should have been in the clubhouse getting treatment. How do they know what he did the rest of the day? It doesn’t take all day to play 18 holes, it takes 4-5 hours. Beckett could have very well gotten treatment after the round. Nowhere was it confirmed what he did with the remainder of his day.

Others have said he should be spending time with his family, considering his comments in the offseason about family coming first after the birth of his daughter last September. How do these people know for sure his wife and daughter were in town? They could have been at his Texas ranch. How can people call him a fraud without knowing all the facts?

It was also brought up that Beckett didn’t offer his services to pitch in Sunday’s 17-inning game with the Orioles. Valentine said Wednesday that it would be up to the starting pitchers to volunteer themselves because of a starters routine and how long it takes them to get loose, etc. Valentine did note that in the ninth inning he went up to Jon Lester and asked if he would be available to pitch in extra innings if needed since it was the day in between starts for Lester where he would normally throw his side session. If a starter were to go in and pitch it made most sense to be Lester. He replied, “no.” Why hasn’t this been brought up at all? Sure, Beckett could have offered his services, but so could have the other three Red Sox starters. Everything has been centered around Beckett, but what about the teams’ number one starter who was asked to pitch, why not get on him?

Beckett has actually pitched quite well this season with the exception of his first start where he gave up five home runs. In his last four starts he has allowed one, three, two and three runs respectively. Even last year, despite the poor September, Beckett pitched well, making 30 starts, the third most in his 12-year career. He went 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA, his lowest in a full season of his career. With the way he is being talked about it is like he went 7-13, with a 9.82 ERA.

For whatever reason Beckett is the one the media gets on with the Red Sox pitching staff. Maybe because of his fiery personality, or even something personal against him. The fact of the matter is that Beckett delivers when he is on the mound, and he really doesn’t miss much time either. In his six full seasons as a Red Sox he has started 27 or more games every year except 2010 where he battled a back injury virtually the whole season. So, the criticism of Beckett for missing starts due to phantom/minor injuries in fact really is not accurate.

Beckett almost always comes back strong with strong performances after things such as this come up, and I’d expect tonight wouldn’t be any different.

Questions, comments, fire away to ryanhannable@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter @hannable84.

 

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39 thoughts on “Coming to the defense of Josh Beckett

  1. Beckett gets the attention for Sunday because he was the only pitcher who was on 5 days rest.

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  2. Holy crap Ryan…this is by far the dumbest thing you have written.  Where to begin.

    – Beckett was given a start off as a precaution for “tightness” in his lat after throwing 123 pitches.  Let’s take everyone at their word.  Beckett says it hurt before the start.  Bobby V says it was a precaution taken after the start because there was stiffness.  At that point if Beckett is at all PR aware he should not be out playing golf.  All that playing golf does is call into question his veracity and that of the organization.

    – As Dave pointed out in a different thread…you do not sit your ace or number 2 starter to give a journeyman a “tryout”.  The sox have never said they did that.  There is speculation that is what happened but it is just that speculation.  I think there is coincidence rather than direct evidence.  If it turns out that is what the Sox were thinking…then Sox management is dumber than I already think, and Beckett is a coward for not standing up and saying “give me the damn ball”.  I don’t believe it was ever the case and it is just being floated as a hindsight explanation by some Mediots who think of Beckett as a binkey.

    – John Lester had already thrown his side session earlier Sunday so he was not available to volunteer.  This has been widely reported and that is why he is not getting any heat.  Beckett is taking heat because the assumption is a normal competitor would have volunteered to help the team.  He had no excuses.  Bobby V also made a mistake…he should not have been asking for volunteers.  If he wanted a starter to pitch he should have told him, whoever it was, to warm up.

    – Beckett has been average this year.  He has had good and bad starts.  The Sox are currently 6 games under .500 (7.5 games out of first) and Beckett has a 2-3 record with a 4.45 era.  Nothing to get excited about or think trending as dominant.

    Beckett is taking the scorn from the media because his actions so far have been those of a spoiled, petulant brat and not those of a professional athlete who understands his role on the team.  His sense of entitlement does not endear him to any fans, while his act has gotten old.  Because he is a 10-5 guy I have no idea what Cherington does with him…but don’t for a second believe that Beckett did not bring all of this upon himself. His unapologetic behavior and outright disdain for the team, organization and all Sox fans did that.

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    1.  You know, your posts would probably get more respect if you didn’t feel the need to include over-the-top ridiculous statements, such as Beckett having “outright disdain for the team, organization and all Sox fans.”  You clearly pulled that directly out of your own ass, and I say that as someone who strongly dislikes Beckett.

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      1.  After Beckett’s comments last night about only having 18 days off and He does what he wants on his off days do these statements seem over the top now??  He does have disdain for his teammates and the fans.  How else do you explain his total lack of caring??

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        1. Beckett should have disdain for most of the fans. You’re confusing him not caring about what you think and him not caring about his job.

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      2. I don’t have a respect issue with very many posters. And do you still want to argue I am wrong after Beckett’s post game presser?

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          1. Dripping with sarcasm, took no responsibility for anything…shrugged his shoulders…not a care in the world.

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  3. This reminds me of when you call out of work sick and a co-worker finds you at the bar with friends that day.

    “Well, I just came from the doctor”

    Just rename that to: “My dog ate my homework”

    Luckily, you only have to answer to hierarchy and your co-workers here.

    Getting paid whatever he is means you have a fan base to address. The only excuse I can factor in here would be if he was doing some charity event/work here.

    At this point, your cover-up is worse than the crime, as we continue to learn with the modern scandal.

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  4. “The fact of the matter is that Beckett delivers when he is on the mound”???

    Would you say the same thing about AJ Burnett the past few seasons as well?

    Beckett’s #’s last few years:

    2008 – 12-10, 4.03 ERA, 174.1 Innings Pitched
    2009 – 17-6,   3.86 ERA, 212.1 Innings Pitched
    2010 –  6-6,    5.78 ERA, 127.2 Innings Pitched
    2011 – 13-7,   2.89 ERA, 193.0 Innings Pitched
    2012 –  2-3,    4.45 ERA,  32.1 Innings Pitched

    AJ Burnett’s #’s last few years
    2008 – 18-10, 4.07 ERA, 221.1 Innings Pitched
    2009 – 13-9,   4.04 ERA, 207.0 Innings Pitched
    2010 – 10-15,  5.26 ERA,186.2 Innings Pitched
    2011 – 11-11,  5.15 ERA, 190.1 Innings Pitched
    2012 –  1-2,     6.08 ERA,  23.2 Innings Pitched

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    1. Not sure what your point is, Beckett is a much better pitcher than Burnett. You cannot really count 2010 since Beckett was out for a considerable amount of time with a back injury. The only year Burnett out pitched Beckett was in 2008, and in that year Beckett had a better ERA, and the two had the same amount of losses, so it wasn’t that much better of a season from Burnett. Wins don’t always tell the story. 

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      1.  You can’t discredit a year due to injury. Becket still pitched 127 innings compared to Burnetts 186. What’s telling is the fact that they are even comparable.

        Don’t know what you were smoking when you wrote this piece Ryan.

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      2. Beckett should clearly be heads and shoulders above a pitcher like AJ Burnett… he is not. I do not see how you can defend a s/b # 1 starter such as Beckett and claim that he delivers when he is putting up 3rd starter type of numbers.

        This doesn’t even factor in the off the field/club house stuff that is coming out.

        I just don’t see how an objective observer can look at Beckett’s recent body of work and say they are ok with it.

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      3. Ryan, it may have not been Felgey’s original point, but looking at Beckett’s numbers it’s easy to spot the every-other-year trend in Boston, and frankly even-numbered years have not been his best friend.  Certainly doesn’t appear 2012 is starting all that well, even though it appears Valentine has conceded that Shoppach is going to be Beckett’s regular catcher. 

        Having said all that, I actually thought some of the points in your column were fairly valid.  The media has made some assumptions regarding Beckett like you said, but OTOH Josh isn’t doing himself any favors after skipping a start and then spitting the proverbial bit.

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      4. I think the point is no one would run to the defense of Burnett given his stats. And Burnetts stats next to Becketts since 2008 are essentially the same, Becket out pitched Burnett on season, Burnett out pitched Beckett one season, essentially their stats are almost the same.

        People just have an affinity for this guy because they remember 2007. However since then this guy has been decent at best and now he is rotting the team from inside out. And now, when he speaks about him struggling, and why he misses starts at least as a precautionary measure but then is well enough to go play a round of 18, it just reeks of someone who could give two craps about the team, and even about how he pitches. He will go out there when he feels well and if he pitches good….great, if he pitches like crap…great. He doesn’t care thats the point, he has clearly shown it is about Josh, not about the team, just Josh.

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  5. Beckett is a turd. Anyone who is still defending him would have to be fan boy with his Beckett trading cards and a poster of him above your bed so you can do god knows what. Pathetic.

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  6. So, in the pre-game presser today, Valentine said:

    @GordonEdes:twitter  Valetnine said he talked to Beckett, “I’ve never seen a pitcher get
    hurt playing golf.”…I didn’t think he was injured. He was skipped.”

    Remember when Josh Beckett got injured taking off his jacket in Toronto?

    J.D. Drewitis on steroids.

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  7. Ryan — per Pete Abraham’s reporting, Lester said no because he had already done his regular throwing for the day, so pitching in the game would have been riskier vs. someone who had not done their day-to-throw workout.  That’s a reasonable baseball explanation, which is why I think Lester’s refusal hasn’t gotten any play in the media.

    (Edit: oops, I didn’t see that LTD had addressed this already.)

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  8. Ryan, did you forget about last year?? This starting staff collapsed in September but it was even worse than that. The dynamic was so bad in that clubhouse. The starting pitchers segregated themselves not only from the every day players but also from the bullpen guys…..and Josh Beckett was and is the leader of that group.
    IMO two things happened that poisoned this Sox staff.
    John Farrell, a very strong personality left as pitching coach.
    John Lackey arrived and the Texas boys bonded and partied and poisoned the young guys like Lester and Buchholz
    Now let’s look at this season. The starting staff is a disaster yet again.
    Josh Beckett playing golf is not the issue. Josh Beckett being passed over on his day to start so they can rest him because of lat tightness is.
    Lat tightess and he’s out working that very same muscle by playing golf??
    Was always a big Josh Beckett fan but even I think this guy is a team cancer and needs to go.

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  9. Probably for a post tomorrow but a nice shot of some of the Atlanta players and Celtic fans:

    Stay classy, Hawks.

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  10. Wow does this article take on a whoollllee different meaning today.  “My off days are my off days”.  “I only get 18 off days per year”.  Ryan maybe next time you will wait for Beckett’s response before writing an article like this.   You aren’t an every day player you ass!!  You play golf multiple times during the season!!  How about explaining that your family is more important than baseball.  Well if that is so, shouldn’t you be spending those “18 off days per year” with them!  What an absolute clown this guy is.  No remorse.  No responsibility.  He basically gave his teammates and the fans the proverbial finger last night saying “I do what I want and if you don’t like, screw you”.  That is what is wrong with this team.  They have a ton of talent and I think we can all agree that they are under performing  because of the poisonous culture in the clubhouse.  Care to guess where that starts?  To defend Beckett is to defend that attitude and excuse the way the Sox are currently performing.  Shame on Ryan and the rest of you who defend Beckett.  Remember the old adage actions speak louder than words. 

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  11. Pretty soon you can add Whiplash to his ailments with him turning his head back watching all those home runs flying by. What a disgrace.

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  12. For the first time in my 26 years on this Earth, I HATE this “Team” (group of individuals). I don’t watch the games anymore, my time is more valuable than this. I feel for Pedroia and Ortiz and the others who do care but this cannot go on. Until the venom and poison have been sucked out of the wound, or the leg is cut off,  I will not give them any support or attention.

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    1. Yeah, they need to get some high character guys like Derek Lowe, Orlando Cabrera, and Keith Foulke back.

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        1. I root for Beckett because he plays for the Red Sox. I don’t like or hate individual players because I do not know them. I am a fan of the team when they are good and when they suck. Jumping on and off the bandwagon like it appears you are doing is the definition of a pink-hat.

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  13. Ryan, you sure you want to defend Beckett after today?

    Yeah “blah blah” hindsight “blah blah” 20/20 and all that.. but im wondering what you think today after the performance/presser last night.

    And, the topic of “losing focus on baseball” comes up again. (Found this via Twitter)

    http://98ontheblack.com/2012/05/11/success-is-not-a-birthright-for-fsg/

    Still gotta think that they’re ready to jettison Baseball. With soccer exploding, I’d much rather own a soccer club than a baseball team, esp with the Dodgers sale.

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    1. Well he sure didn’t bounce back like he usually does. He deserved the all the boo’s. Golfing had nothing to do with the poor start, and furthermore I don’t think an injury was the issue either. It was just a bad start. As for the presser, that’s always been him. He isn’t going to change. Looking back, I still think the criticism and golf-gate stuff was unnecessary, but after last night’s performance he deserves every bit criticism he got, not for what he did off the field, but what he did on the field. 

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      1. I didn’t want to pile it on, like Sports Talk here has been and was all day. It just seems like, especially after last night, you have to really be not paying attention to defend him after last night.

        DP had on John Tomase(sp) — it’s that bad.

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  14. I was going to post a rebuttal but I think Beckett took care of that for me last night. Hope this is a lesson to you. If you can’t understand why getting treatment in the morning/night and still swinging the clubs with a bad lat is bad for Beckett, then you have a lot to learn.

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  15. Beckett has shown more interest in finding the clubhouse rat who informed the media of the chicken and beer while the ship went down fiasco last fall. The perception that he just doesn’t care has not been dispelled by anything that we have seen this season and getting lit up to the tune of a 5.97 ERA is Lackey-esque, not the kind of stats one would expect to see from a #1 starter. So combine last fall and his seeming lack of accountability and mix in this seasons horrible outings and you have the recipe for getting booed off the mound, which is exactly what happened last night.   

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  16. Not sure there is an easy solution here. Everyone needs to step away from their radio! None of us have a clue about what is really going on, but we can easily get whipped into a frenzy. 

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    1. Sound advice, Gafraidh.  I find the worse the Sox play, the harder it is to listen to sportsradio. 

      In no way am I condoning Beckett’s attitude from yesterday’s press conference, yet it’s stuff like this that works up many members of the local media into a witchhunt mentality.  Guys like Felger who have had a years-long Beckett-bashing agenda remind me of similar instances like when Steve Buckley wrote that anti-Nomar column in the Herald over a decade ago.

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  17. Defense for Beckett???  How bout just seeing him get on a plane and not returning…Defend that….Trade the arrogant SOB….This team needs a leader not someone that needs babysitting….

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  18. It’s not correct to suggest that all five starters were equally available to pitch in the Sunday (May 6th, 17 inning game). Obviously it wouldn’t be very wise to use the starting pitchers from the previous two days (Friday and Sat.). They’d still be relatively tight and sore if they’d pitched more than a couple of innings. Lester went 6 innings on Friday May 4th. Probably not a good idea to bring him back two nights later, even for an inning. Aaron Cook pitched only 2 2/3 innings Saturday May 5th. He might have been available, but he was probably already on his way back to triple A after getting bombed.

    Likewise, if you go to one or both of the guys scheduled for the following two games (Doubront, and Bard) you’re stuck with pitching somebody on short rest in those games.

    Beckett should have been the first choice of the starters to pitch in the 17 inning affair, because

    1.  He hadn’t pitched for a whole week.
    2.  He hadn’t golfed for three days.
    3.  On Saturday the 5th Beckett told Valentine he was available if needed. Valentine revealed this in one of the interviews he was required to do in order to try to placate the angry mob riled by Beckett’s selfish and idiotic choice of golfing on May 3 with a lat so sore his scheduled start on Sat the 5th had been erased, presumably with the understanding that he would use his time off to rest, get treatments, etc. Not go golfing.

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  19.  Since when does a pitcher have a right to say no when a manager “asks” him if he wants to pitch? “Dear me. Well, thank you kindly for the offer, but I believe I shall decline on this occasion. Bit chilly you know.”

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