Thursday, August 2, 2012

Defending Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett's 2012 season has been less than Ace-like and on Tuesday night he left in the third inning of the game with the Detroit Tigers to a shower of boos.

I certainly understand the sentiment of the fans.  In April of 2010 Beckett signed a new contract extension with the Red Sox, 4 years for $68 million, keeping him with the team through 2014.

2010 turned into a career worst season for Beckett, giving Red Sox fans an instant case of buyers remorse.  After all with the new extension it would mean that Beckett would not only be very highly paid but also that he would acqrue 10/5 rights giving him the ability to veto any trades and making it much tougher for the Red Sox to move the aging pitcher.

Things looked much brighter in 2011, despite diminishing velocity Beckett put up 193 innings of 2.89 ERA pitching.

2012 has been up and down for Beckett but overall his 4.54 ERA is only slightly above his xFIP 4.14 and his BABIP of .296 is only slightly above his career .290 career BABIP.  So it certainly doesn't appear that Beckett is suffering from bad luck so much as decline.  With his fastball down to 91 MPH Beckett is no longer the same pitcher he used to be, Dave Cameron has a great discussion of this over at Fangraphs.

So as a fan it is easy to see why fans would be upset at Beckett and boo him.  He is very well compensated and under performing that compensation.  This is the inevitable outcome of the free agent system that MLB has in place.  The only way to avoid it is to avoid long term contracts, especially with pitchers as signing a pitcher long term is like juggling grenades.

The thing that bothered me about the booing of Beckett, is that when he was getting booed he was actually doing the right thing for the team. To often we have seen players play hurt when they should have come out of the game, sometimes they are successful but more often then not, the either perform poorly, like a pitcher grooving a pitch and giving up a home run, or they exacerbate the injury and make it worse.

Beckett taking himself out of the game when his recurring back injuries where a twinge may have prevented an extended DL stint.  If the Red Sox have any hope of making the post-season or trading Josh Beckett in the off-season they need him to pitch and to pitch well down the stretch,

Boo him for his recent performance if you want, but Beckett was right to come out of the game on Tuesday.