Bobby Valentine of the Boston Red Sox removes Josh Beckett in the third inning after Beckett had given up seven runs in three innings against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park May 10, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Josh Beckett's Golfing, Pitching Raise Questions

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FanGraphs: Golfing Not Josh Beckett's Biggest Problem

Recently, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett was scratched from a start due to injury, and then he had the temerity to go out golfing. Depending on your perspective, that sentence might read sarcastically or non-sarcastically. Beckett's golf outing was wildly unpopular, and after Beckett ... well I'm sorry for the phrasing, but after Beckett shit the bed in a start Thursday, now Beckett is wildly unpopular. Fans in Boston just can't stand the guy for seemingly fiddling while Fenway burns.

Over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron isn't concerned with Beckett's golf outing or personality so much. Cameron doesn't think Beckett's problem is that he doesn't care. Cameron thinks Beckett's problem might have to do with something else, something physical and intuitively significant:

Last year, Josh Beckett’s fastball averaged 93.0 MPH, and he topped out at 94-95 with regularity. This year, Beckett’s fastball is averaging just 91.5 MPH, and the fastest pitch he threw last night was 92.9 MPH. The difference is easy to see in graph form.

Beckettvelo_medium

It’s not just his fastball, either. His curveball is off over 2 MPH from last year, so this isn’t just a case of a missing top-end velocity, but instead, Beckett’s just not throwing anything as hard as he has in the past. Missing velocity isn’t always a sign of a health problem, but in Beckett’s case, we don’t have to speculate about whether there’s something physically wrong – the Red Sox already confirmed that there is when they skipped his last start.

In closing:

Maybe Beckett really is apathetic, doesn’t care that he’s struggling, and is just counting the days until the season is over. Or maybe he’s trying to pitch through an injury and figure out how to pitch without the ability to throw his fastball by hitters anymore. One of those two theories can be supported by the evidence and isn’t all that uncommon in the world of pitchers. The other requires us to judge the motives of another human being despite having no real knowledge of his inner thoughts.

It is absolutely possible that Beckett is just this indifferent prick who's totally over pitching for the Red Sox and putting in the necessary effort. It is absolutely possible that that isn't the issue at all. Sometimes there are players who badly want to play for the Yankees or the Red Sox, because those are two of baseball's truly historic, iconic franchises. Sometimes there are players who very much don't want to play for the Yankees or the Red Sox, and you can understand why. The media isn't like other media. The media will string you up and cut you.

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Jeff Passan: Letting Josh Beckett Run The Asylum

It's Jeff Passan's turn to weigh in on The Beckett Affair, and he done it good. Passan's big finish:

What his actions suggest, though, and what the responses have shown, is that if you're a Red Sox player – or at least one with a great arm – common sense, decency and responsibility aren't among the necessary tenets. They might as well set up a KFC window and tap a keg in the clubhouse. The asylum is broken, and inmate No. 1, Josh Beckett, has no intention of letting the reins go anytime soon.

One thing I haven't seen anyone mention today: Bobby Valentine was ostensibly hired to change the tone in the clubhouse, which supposedly had gotten out of control under Terry Francona.

Which seems to be working out really, really well.

Okay, so it's early. But is Bobby Valentine built for the long haul? With a losing team?

As the Zen master might say, "We'll see."

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Gordon Edes: Josh Beckett Just Doesn't Get It

If you'd like to read an anti-Josh Beckett column today, you could do a lot worse than ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. See, some poor reporter had the temerity to ask Beckett about his now-infamous golf outing -- you know, the one two days before he missed his last start with tightness in one of those muscles most of us don't have -- and Beckett didn't respond with an excessive amount of grace. Essentially, he said he gets "18 off-days a year" and if you don't like what he does on those off-days, you can go ... well, you know.

Just a bit of Edes:

Let's start with "18 off days a year." That's how many Dustin Pedroia gets in the course of a season. Not Josh Beckett or any other starting pitcher. Many of them play golf as many days as they can between starts. Former Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, who beat Beckett on Thursday night for Cleveland, said he plans to golf Friday.

And the true extent of his tone deafness was that for most people hearing or reading his words, the immediate response is: 18 days? What about the 3½ months after the season, or 4½ months if you blow a certain playoff spot and don't play in October?

--snip--

... Josh Beckett is paid $15.75 million. If he makes 32 starts in the course of a season, that means he is paid $492,187.50 per start. Is it so egregious to have to answer a question or two about the wisdom of golfing when you're supposedly too hurt to pitch? Or to concede that perception does matter and when people are desperately looking for a reason to fall back in love with this team after last summer's fiasco, you have to be sensitive to those perceptions?

That's not the way Josh Beckett sees it.

Let me offer just a couple of thoughts in Josh Beckett's defense.

One, we can't say with any certainty that Josh Beckett doesn't care. All we can say is that he doesn't seem to care. Which, yes, does matter. It's just easier to run a baseball team when everyone seems to be pulling on the same end of the rope.

Two, Beckett might not be the same pitcher -- the good pitcher he used to be, I mean -- if divorced from his I'm-Josh-Beckett-and-go-f-yourself-if-you-don't-like-it attitude. When the Red Sox committed $68 million to Beckett, they must have had a pretty good idea of what they were getting, both pitching- and attitude-wise.

It's fair to point out, though, that since signing that four-year, $68 million contract in the spring of 2010, Beckett's won only 21 games and managed to really annoy Gordon Edes. To some degree, this is about poor management as much as it's about Beckett's poor judgment.

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