There’s a phrase for how the Red Sox should feel when they hear that Josh Beckett needs an MRI to deal with a lingering injury.
It’s all gravy.
Sure, Beckett’s injury complications further validate the front office synopsis that his time of usefulness for the Red Sox was over, just like hearing Carl Crawford whine in Los Angeles further validates how smart it was to trade him and keep him from whining in Boston.
But the Red Sox don’t have to wait for Crawford to underachieve (which he has), Adrian Gonzalez to continue his lack of power at the plate (which he has) or Beckett to fail to be the starter he was paid to be (which he has). Boston can rest easy, because it got the better end of that monumental August trade — no matter how the players it sent west pan out.
The beauty of that late-summer heist will always be how easily the Red Sox rid themselves of pieces they absolutely had to get rid of. Everything else beyond that, such as who they received in return (some good prospects) and how the players they sent away have fared, is really inconsequential.
If Crawford and Gonzalez were to go out and bat .400, put up 40 home runs apiece and keep a team built for success from being inexplicably unsuccessful (which they haven’t), the Red Sox still couldn’t lose this deal. What they gained in salary space and clubhouse relief would have been worth them paying the Dodgers to pull it off. Boston didn’t have to do that, and now the Red Sox barely even have to think about Crawford and Gonzalez anymore as those two continue their mediocre ways out West.
Beckett, meanwhile, is dealing with the kind of injuries that happen to a 33-year-old pitcher whose stuff has diminished over recent years. Beckett has been out since May 13 with a strained groin, and he will have an MRI on Tuesday to try to figure out why his fingers are going numb, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. (Beckett was 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA when he went on the disabled list, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times also reports.)
But Beckett’s limitations as a pitcher were, of course, the least of the Red Sox’ problems. As hard as it is to imagine slotting those numbers into this year’s Boston rotation, which has been a strong point for the team, what’s even harder to imagine is Beckett still being in the Sox clubhouse. The never-ending reports of the team being “toxic” and Beckett being a horrible person were hard to judge last year, when it was never clear who was knocking who and for what purpose. But the evidence of how well this team is doing with its markedly different perspective and upbeat attitude can’t be argued with. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz (to name two) taking fresh looks at how they approach the game, from their time between pitches to the tone they strike with teammates and reporters, it’s hard to see how Beckett would have fit in at all.
No one in Boston is tempted to add up the numbers and ask whether Ryan Dempster (2-5, 4.69 ERA, 67 strikeouts) is a better option than Beckett (0-5, 5.19 ERA, 41 strikeouts), if Mike Napoli (8 home runs, 39 RBIs, .262 average) is preferable to Gonzalez (6 home runs, 37 RBIs, .337), or even if Jonny Gomes (2 home runs, 10 RBIs, .176 average in 91 at-bats) is an upgrade from Crawford (5 home runs, 13 RBIs, .308 in 169 at-bats). The numbers, at this point, are of secondary concern to a Red Sox team that is the perfect real-life example of how stats don’t make winners, but teammates playing together do.
In their deal with the Dodgers last summer, the Red Sox rid themselves of huge, horrible contracts. They made a statement that whatever happened at the end of 2011 and throughout 2012 was not acceptable going forward. They got rid of three players who had proven to cause more problems than they solved in the clubhouse and on the field (while Beckett and Crawford attract obvious blame, Gonzalez’s flaw was that he was never a good fit for Boston). And they got great prospects and plenty of salary space to maneuver and build whatever they wanted for 2013.
Beckett’s injury, Crawford’s whining and Gonzalez’s solid-but-not-MVP play are fine to see whenever Sox supporters turn their eyes to Pacific Standard Time. But they’re hardly worth writing about, because this deal was a winner no matter what that trio did when it left town.
At this point, it’s all gravy.
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