While we sit and wait to see what the Red Sox will do between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, here are the pitching matchups for this weekend's series in the Bronx and then a few random thoughts.
Friday: Aaron Cook (2-3, 3.50) v. Phil Hughes (9-8, 4.09)
Saturday: Jon Lester (5-8, 5.46) v. CC Sabathia (10-3, 3.30)
Sunday: Felix Doubront (10-5, 4.54) v. Hiroki Kuroda (10-7, 3.34)
Josh Beckett has not been a truly elite pitcher since the 2007 World Series, is 32-years-old, and is owed over $30-million between now and the end of the 2014 season. If the Red Sox were to trade him, and there are several teams who need starting pitching help, they would have to be prepared not to get much in return for him.
That is a bullet the team needs to bite as it has become necessary to deal Beckett. His inconsistent performance (5-9, 4.57) on the mound coupled with the negative aura surrounding him from last year's collapse at the end of the season (he was 1-2 with a 5.48 in his last four starts) and the "chicken and beer" fiasco which has contributed greatly to the team's lack of popularity in Boston.
Beckett also refuses to be accountable for his actions, such as earlier this season when it was revealed he had gone golfing the day after missing a scheduled start because of a sore lat muscle he simply stated that "I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them. My off-day is my off-day." Clueless comes to mind when I think of words to describe Beckett.
There still could be value in Beckett for a team looking for a pitcher. Maybe all he needs is a change of scenery and the challenge to prove to people he is still a very good pitcher (one would hope the millions of dollars the Red Sox pay him would be motivation enough to pitch his best all the time but let's ignore that for now). Entering a new situation, and a playoff race, might get Beckett to re-focus and re-commit himself and if he's on his game he can certainly help a team chase a championship. Beckett might not win many popularity contests right now but it would not be fair to forget how great he was in 2007, especially in the playoffs, when the Red Sox last won the World Series.
The top pitchers on the trade market are reportedly Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, and Matt Garza but if a contender fails to make a deal happen for one of those three, Beckett would not be a bad consolation prize.
This could very well likely be the last weekend as members of the Red Sox for guys like Kelly Shoppach, Mike Aviles, Ryan Sweeney, Matt Albers, and Daniel Nava.
They all played their roles well, some better than others, and all could be nice complimentary pieces for contenders who need some help filling in the holes as we get ready to enter the stretch.
One player that has proven he can help win a team the World Series, as he proved in 2010 with the Giants, is Cody Ross.
The hope here is that the Red Sox hold on to Ross and that he can help the team compete in 2013.