Remember that thing nerds like me used to say about the Star Trek films? How the even numbered ones were great and the odd numbers were rubbish? There’s an almost similar, see-saw effect in Josh Beckett’s career with the Red Sox. When he first came to us in 2006, he went a rather unremarkable 16-11, prompting many of us to wonder if his body was somehow hijacked by Danny Darwin. The following year, he was all shotguns and lightning, going 20-7 and almost untouchable in the postseason. He followed that up in 2008 with another swoon: 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA. But he bounced back last season, going 17-6 and punching out an escaped yak on Comm. Ave (never proven, but I’m convinced it happened).
So, if you buy into the Star Trek analogy (and I’m not sure Theo would, as he always seemed more of a Space:1999 guy to me) and its up-and-down trending, 2010 looks set to be another tough year for Josh. But there are a number of reasons to believe this could be one of Beckett’s most dominating seasons in a Boston uniform:
First and foremost, it’s a contract year, and he wants to get paid. So every W, every K, every time he smacks Jorge Posada in the nuts with some inside heat will be like money in the bank. And nothing motivates a guy like the thought of bags of cash, unless it’s bags of cash in a convertible driven by Jessica Alba and Mila Kunis. Also, having fellow Texan and John Lackey in the fold will no doubt keep the fires of anger stoked in Young Josh. In fact, I can imagine the two of them adopting a pre-game psych-up of punching themselves repeatedly in the nuts. They just seem like those kind of fellas.
If he can put up numbers more like 2007 Josh than 2006 Josh, and when you consider the type of dollars being thrown at starting pitchers like Sabathia and — god help us — Barry Zito, then there’s no way Commander Kick Ass doesn’t make a run to become one of the highest paid pitchers — if not the highest paid pitcher — in baseball. Hell, even if he throws up some 2008 numbers, he’ll still command more cash for his next contract than the gross-national product of Mongolia.
The question is, will the Red Sox pay? Remember, we gave him his first contract extension back in 2006, when he was pitching like a guy who got bit by a radioactive Pat Rapp. At the time, Theo said he thought the Commander’s best days were ahead of him. Can that still be said in 2011, and would the Sox want to get tangled up in Beckett through, say, 2015, even with four strong, non-Beckett arms already in the fold in Lackey, Matsuzaka, Lester and Buchholz, and a lot of promising young pitching talent on the rise?
It’s an interesting question. One that will become even more interesting if Beckett goes on an ungodly campaign of terror in 2010, turning opposing batters to powder and re-establishing himself as the uncontested ace of the Red Sox staff.
Myself, I’d be more than happy to keep Commander Kick Ass in Boston. But it ain’t my money.