I Don’t Know Whether to Root for or Against Josh Beckett Anymore

– Shane Carley –

Well well well, what to make of this Red Sox team? Before we begin, I’d like to point out that while I correctly predicted that the Red Sox would win four of their seven games this week, I was wrong about absolutely everything else. Let’s recap:

– I said the Red Sox would sweep the Royals. They lost the series.

– I said the Indians would take three of the four games in the series. The Red Sox won three of four.

– I said the Red Sox would play well on the road and poorly at home. They lost their road series and won their home series.

– I said Justin Masterson would continue to own the Red Sox. The Sox scored four runs off him in the very first inning.

This is the sort of season it has been for the Red Sox. Even when they’re winning, they’re winning in ways you wouldn’t expect, against the pitchers you wouldn’t expect, and in ballparks you wouldn’t expect.

Every time I see the Boston Celtics play, I marvel at how hard it is to figure them out. They’re an old team that plays like a young team. They started the season incredibly poorly, then were the best team in the league after the all star break. Instead of quietly fading out like they were expected to do this year, they’re a chic pick to win the Eastern Conference. Avery Bradley came out of nowhere. Kevin Garnett has played lights-out at center. If you had told me any of these things at the beginning of the year, I never would have believed you.  More importantly, I have absolutely no idea what’s going to come next for this team.

But the Celtics, for all of their enigmatic performances, can’t even TOUCH how confusing this Red Sox team has been.

Jon Lester has been so-so. Josh Beckett is a douche. Clay Buchholz has an ERA hovering around 9.00, but inexplicably has four wins. Felix Doubront has been the best guy on the staff.  David Ortiz is hitting in the high .300s. Will Middlebrooks is starting in May. Mike Aviles has been an offensive surprise. Daniel Bard is pitching okay but suddenly can’t strike anyone out. Alfredo Aceves is either locking down every save or giving up 5 runs.

Nothing about this team is predictable.

In fact, I’m already looking at my 5 Fearless Predictions from the preseason and laughing at them. 98 wins? Lester for Cy Young? Youk to play 140 games? Was I on CRACK?!

I won’t be too hard on myself. This team has defied all sense and reason. Even the fans don’t know whether to root for them or not. They’ve been booed at Fenway more than I have ever seen in my lifetime.  This isn’t a fan base that boos simply for poor performance.  It’s the unlikable nature of the team right now that has people agitated.

And that’s why it’s nice, even in the midst of all of the Red Sox turmoil, to have some things that fans can still root for. Will Middlebrooks to develop into a star. Dustin Pedroia to keep his fiery passion. Bobby Valentine to get impaled on a broken bat. You know, things everyone wants to see.  While the team as a whole might be full of selfish, me-first players, but there are still smaller storylines and threads to latch onto.

Middlebrooks has been a revelation. In just about two weeks at the major league level, he’s rattled off four home runs and tipped off the inevitable “what will the Red Sox do with Kevin Youkilis?” conversations. And frankly, I don’t think there are a huge number of Red Sox fans who would be overly broken up if Youkilis ends up on his way out of town.

Listen, I have a Kevin Youkilis jersey. Used to love the guy. And although his bat has been a fixture in the middle of the Red Sox lineup for years, all too often he proves that he absolutely cannot stay healthy.  Throw in the fact that he is widely regarded as a grating personality who is not well-loved in the locker room, sending Youkilis on his way out of town might be step one towards fixing the locker room divide on this team.

Sending Beckett out of town is, of course, step two.  After last week’s golfing scandal (for those unaware: Beckett was seen golfing one day after being scratched from a start, and was utterly unapologetic about it when confronted) and subsequent shelling at the hands of the Indians, most fans have absolutely had it with Beckett.

Conveniently, Beckett pitches today, on a day that happens to be his birthday. What are Sox fans rooting for? Will the divided loyalties show themselves again tonight? Are fans actively rooting for Beckett to get knocked around, perhaps to hasten his departure from Boston? It will be very interesting today.

This is actually what Josh looks like when he’s happy.

On to other matters:

Report from the Ryan Sweeney Bandwagon: Sweeney was just 5 for 24 this week, but his season average remains at a pleasantly high .333. Sweeney continues to compete for regular playing time. MORE SWEENEY! MORE SWEENEY!

Middlebrooks v. Youkilis (Prelude): Expect the Middlebrooks v. Youkilis argument to intensify as Youkilis returns from the DL, which he is expected to do shortly.  I’ll be using this feature to compare their numbers, as Youkilis is likely to earn at least a moderate amount of playing time (if only to showcase him for a potential trade). Middlebrooks will probably anchor the hot corner for years in Boston, so the outcome here is predetermined; however, the timing will be interesting to follow.

The Nava Nova: On Monday, the diminutive Daniel Nava hit his first major league home run since his first at bat in the majors, when he memorably hit a grand slam off the very first pitch he saw. As someone who didn’t even realize Nava was still in the organization until last week, it was nice to see him perform well again.

The Week Ahead:

The Sox have a quick two game series against Seattle at home, followed by a two game series in Tampa Bay and a three game series in Philly. The Sox are currently on a four game winning streak, but the last time they taunted us with a win streak they immediately followed it up with a week of failure. I don’t want to get sucked in again, but it’s tough not to salivate when Seattle and Philly are both struggling mightily. Let’s take a look at the probable pitching matchups:

5/14: Seattle (Vargas) @ Boston (Lester) [NOTE: Red Sox won, 6-1]
5/15: Seattle (Beavan) @ Boston (Beckett)
5/16: Boston (Buchholz) @ Tampa Bay (Hellickson)
5/17: Boston (Doubront) @ Tampa Bay (Moore)
5/18: Boston (Bard) @ Philadelphia (Hamels)
5/19: Boston (Lester) @ Philadelphia (Blanton)
5/20: Boston (Beckett) @ Philadelphia (Lee)

The Sox have already won the first game of the week (yes, this article is late), but I have no faith in Beckett to polish off Seattle. The Rays are playing very well, and Buchholz has not been pitching well.  I’m going to be optimistic and give us a split in that series. And I think we’ll take two of three in Philadelphia, as the Phillies have had as disappointing a start to the season as the Red Sox have. The Sox will look to kick them while they’re down and build off the momentum.

Fearless Prediction for the Week: 4-3

Last week’s prediction: 4-3. Last week’s results: 4-3

Follow the writer on Twitter @Rescue_Shane

One Response to “I Don’t Know Whether to Root for or Against Josh Beckett Anymore”
  1. Sean Breslin says:

    It’s sad that this is the way the Josh Beckett experiment is ending.

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