Time is running out before the non-waiver trade deadline, but the Red Sox need to try harder to trade Josh Beckett while they can. And while he still has value.
There's been no word yet on his waiver status. But Beckett should be able to sail through unclaimed, what with his 5-11 record, 5.23 ERA and $16-million salary through 2014, never mind the other assorted clubhouse questions.
While the Red Sox talked to a couple teams about Beckett before the deadline (the Rangers and Braves are believed to be two of them), one rival executive said Boston "weren't trying very hard to trade Beckett.''
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington agreed with that assessment, saying, "No, we weren't. We had a handful of inquiries from teams looking for starting pitching at the deadline.''
Some rival execs see a benefit in trading Beckett, a leader in a fractured clubhouse who's increasingly perceived as less of a mentor and more an instigator as the losses and negative stories mount. One rival GM implored, "Boston's first priority has to be to trade Josh Beckett.''
That seems logical with unflattering stories adding up about a starting rotation that, collectively, has been surprisingly abysmal this year and a belief he is like a pied piper to the others in it. Besides, as that storyline goes, Beckett, might reclaim past form with a fresh start. "Beckett would do better if he went somewhere else,'' the exec said.
"He'd be better in Texas,'' another executive surmised. "With Nolan Ryan there, he'd be much better.''
There was some talk between the Rangers and Red Sox, and a source confirmed the WEEI.com report that there was at at least a suggestion at one point of a deal that would have sent Beckett, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and since-traded catcher Kelly Shoppach to Texas. Nothing came of it, of course, and now Ellsbury would never clear waivers and Shoppach has been shipped to the Mets.
But Beckett to the Rangers still makes some sense this winter, and maybe even now. Before he reportedly lost his passport, Ryan Dempster hasn't exactly been blowing anyone away in his first stint in the American League with his 8.31 ERA.
The bigger issue, believe it or not, might be convincing Red Sox mangement, which isn't ascribinggiving much blame to Beckett over the chicken-and-beer parties, the golf outing after missing a start, the occasional refusal to talk to the media, or even the disappointing performances by some of Beckett's followers in the rotation (John Lackey has been generaly awful in Boston, Jon Lester is just starting to come around after a very slow start while Clay Buchholz is now pitching superbly after his own awful beginning).
Cherington called the storyline of Beckett as a negative influence "wholly unfair,'' saying, "He's been a guy who's been on the mound for our important games, he's taken the ball whenever asked and he's mostly been a very good pitcher.'' Cherington went on to say Beckett's been "accountable,'' further noting, "I don't see any issues.''
The way he said it, it didn't sounded like a GM trying to sell a player to others, it sounded like someone who believed in Beckett.
It's true Beckett will go down (mostly) as a Red Sox hero. But to most of the rest of us, clearly, it's time to move on.