Josh Beckett's seven-year tenure with the Boston Red Sox finally came to an end in 2012, and oh if it wasn't just perfectly according to script. An ERA nearly double that of his previous season (following perfectly that bizarre even year - odd year phenomenon), a golf controversy that ranks up there with one of the dumbest we've ever seen (from every angle), and finally, in the end, inclusion in a salary dump the likes of which has never been seen before. Such is the ignominious story to the end of Beckett's time in Boston.
Surprisingly enough, Beckett's season was not always headed down the tubes. While at any given point it was easy to be incredibly negative thanks to either poor season numbers (the seven earned runs in his first start left him a big hole to dig out of) or the off-the-field controversy that stuck to him like glue, performance-wise it wasn't really until July that he was a consistent issue. In fact, after the golf incident and the seven-run disaster against Cleveland, Beckett threw 21.2 innings of three-run ball.
Unfortunately, while the 10 runs in 22 innings that followed were not exactly terrible, he ended up on the disabled list, and was never the same. His ERA spiked from 4.06 to 4.54 over the next month, and by the time the trade rolled around he was sitting on a 5.23 mark and confirmed as persona non grata in Fenway.
To be fair to Beckett, he was in a way the scapegoat on the roster. Rare was the player who was actually living up to expectations at that point, leaving Beckett at worst a small outlier, at best a symptom of a larger problem. To be fair to Beckett, he was actually quite good in four of his seven seasons with the Red Sox (2008 gets a worse rap than it deserves thanks to the ALCS appearance), and performed well for Los Angeles after leaving, supporting the larger problem theory.
But to be fair to his critics--and at this point that encompasses most of the fan base--there were few players more frustrating. We knew what he could be, which made it all the more disappointing when he was not. Time and again those even years rolled around and we hoped that this would be the one where he remembered who he had been the year before. He never did, and every time we suffered for it.
Next year Beckett will probably come out and dominate the NL because, well, it'll be 2013. But I trust when that happens we'll all be able to step back from the ledge and pass up on the temptation to lambaste the organization for letting him go. This was a relationship that was not working out by any stretch of the imagination. Better for both parties that it should come to an end.
And, hey, that was a pretty great trade no matter what.