February 17, 2007

Nowhere To Go But Up For Beckett

The main story in today's papers is Josh Beckett.

He led the club with 16 victories last year, but that was a fairly hollow achievement. While Beckett stayed healthy and pitched a career-high (and team-high) 204.2 innings, he also allowed a career-worst 74 walks and 36 home runs (his previous HR high had been 16) and ended the season with a bloated 5.01 ERA. (On the plus side, he had a 1.286 OPS!)

In the papers, Beckett talks about telling Daisuke Matsuzaka to trust Jason Varitek, but for long stretches last year, Beckett seemingly did not trust Varitek at all. He was uncertain about throwing his breaking stuff, and relied too heavily on his fastball. Which was often knocked all over the lot.

Wily Mo Pena and the Sox agreed on a $1.875 million contract for 2007. Theo Epstein said they "reached a last-minute settlement on the courthouse steps" before the arbitration hearing. Francona: "He can play left field, center field and right field, so every time someone needs a rest or is nicked up, he's going to get at-bats."

Francona said he was surprised to hear the news of Keith Foulke's retirement. Beckett was not:
He was so miserable last year. ... My locker was right next to his last year. I knew he was dying inside. I think his elbow, I think his back, and his knees [were hurting him]. I think his knees were just killing him. He couldn't walk, he couldn't run. And pitching was just a pain in his butt.
Manny Delcarmen tried to dye his hair blond, but it ended up orange.

1 comment:

Josh Wilker said...

Speaking of Matsuzaka needing to trust Varitek (as Beckett suggested), I heard an XM interview with Bobby Valentine in which he identified the key to Matsuzaka's success as being Varitek's ability to trust in the new pitcher's unusual abilities, i.e., his ability to throw many different pitches for strikes. Apparently Matsuzaka is more effective (masterful, in Valentine's words) when he can diverge from the American Way of getting ahead with the fastball, then throwing the breaking pitches.