The focus of my ire is Jerry Callahan of the Dennis and Callahan show (WEEI's primetime "drive" programming). I don't normally listen to WEEI in the morning for a variety of reasons but I happened to have it on the other day. The topic of discussion was the Josh Beckett contract extension. For those living underneath a rock in the New England area, the Sox gave Beckett a three extension to his existing one year contract at an average of $10M/year locking him up until 2010.
Now here's the thing. I know that Beckett isn't perfect. He's had some tough games this year where he's given up the long ball WAY too many times. But at the end of the day, he's 26, he throws 95-97 mph, he has a lifetime record of 53-39 with an ERA of 3.68. Oh yeah, he's also 12-5 and leads the league (along with Schilling and Halladay) in wins. One more thing, he single handidly took the 2003 Marlins on his back and did the impossible by beating the Yankees and winning the World Series -- as a result he was named WS MVP. He was 23 at the time.
In spite of those impressive stats, and a pretty darn good record this year, Jerry Callahan was all over the Red Sox about doing Beckett's extension now. Callahan's point was that Beckett isn't reliable enough due to the FOUR bad games he's had this year. FOUR. He also was nervous about Beckett's past injuries (blister problems). This is a legitimate concern but you know what, it's a concern with any player in any sport at any time.
What really got me was the fact that Jerry Callahan is a pretty smart guy. In spite of being a smart guy, Callahan insisted on complaining about how stupid it was for the Sox to do this deal. "You don't know what you're getting in Beckett over the next four years," he contended. "Why not wait until his contract is up to see what kind of pitcher he turns out to be for the Sox before extending his contract?"
Jerry, here's the problem with that stupid logic. 1) We know exactly who Beckett is. He's a flame throwing stud who CAN pitch in the big game, doesn't seem phased by the Boston fans (no small feat). He's also 12-5, has 10 quality starts, and is the second best pitcher on the Sox this year. 1) So far, he's been the oppitomy of health with no blister problems at all. 3) Premium pitching is almost impossible to acquire these days and as a result, teams pay exhorbidant sums for mediocre performers. To wit:
- Andy Pettite (Houston): 8-10/5.08 ERA -- Salary = $16.4M
- Chan Ho Park (San Diego): 6-6/4.64 ERA -- Salary = $15.5M
- Mike Hampton (Atlanta): NA/NA -- Salary = $14.5M (out for 2006)
- Matt Clement (Red Sox): 5-5/6.61 -- Salary = $9.8M
- Eric Milton (Cincinatti): 6-5/5.48 ERA -- Salary = $9.8M
At the risk of beating a dead horse, Callahan sounded like a complete ass trying to make a case as to why the Sox shouldn't have re-upped Beckett now. Really Jerry? Should they have employed the same strategies they did with Pedro and Damon? The "let's wait until their contracts are up and the player is on the verge of free agency" tactic? That didn't seem to work out too well in those negotiations. It also bit them in the behind with Varitek when the market for decent catchers dried up and they were stuck paying him $10M/four years when they really wanted to go $8M/three years.
I don't always agree with Boston's front office moves. I also know that Beckett has been far from perfect this year. But more often than not, he's pretty freakin' dominant. He's also entertaining to watch, he's a competitor, and more importantly, he's 26 years old -- with a World Series ring. I will now step off my soap box but I can promise I won't be listening to Dennis and Callahan anytime in the near future.