Josh Beckett enters 2010 in the final year of his contract with the Red Sox. Considering the bank-busting signing of John Lackey, does that mean he will wear a different jersey in 2011? Or are the Sox really building a team built on pitching and defense for the long haul? As our friends at NESN point out, a lot of that may depend on just how dominating Beckett is this season.

Beckett has a place in the Red Sox’ future, but only if he can prove he still deserves it.

In four seasons with the Red Sox, Beckett has won 65 games with an ERA of 4.05. He has averaged 181 strikeouts in 198 innings per season. He’s a workhorse, he’s a competitor, and despite pitching in a hitters’ park in a hitters’ league in a hitters’ era, he’s a true ace.

But he turns 30 early next season, and his best years might be behind him. Beckett has a decision to make — either he needs to sit down with the Red Sox now and hammer out an extension, or he’s got to put together a banner year in 2010 to get his market value up.

Beckett’s four seasons with the Sox have been up-and-down. His 2006 transition to the AL was tough: walks and ERA up, homeruns allowed way up, and K’s were down. In 2007 he figured things out and had a near-Cy Young season. In 2008 he battled injuries and only made 27 starts. 2009 may be the best barometer of what the future Josh Beckett can bring. He went 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 212 innings.
Is that good enough to land a long-term, big-money deal with the Sox? Or will this become John Lackey’s team…a thought that does not instill great confidence in me?
Since my predictions, well, suck, I leave it to you on the comment board to see the future…