Remember back when the Boston Red Sox used to have great starting pitching? They won two World Series in four years thanks in no small part due to the arms of pitchers like Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester. Well, Beckett, who was a star for the Red Sox in the 2007 season, leading the American League in wins, just is not the same pitcher he once was. Neither is Lester, who once pitched a no-hitter and seemed to be a rising star.
The two of them were part of the Red Sox’s infamous “Fried Chicken and Beer” brigade, a scandal which broke after Boston completely collapsed in the last month of the season. Both of them pitched horribly down the stretch and arguably caught their team a spot on the playoffs. Then it was discovered by the press that the two of them, along with fellow pitchers Clay Buchholz and John Lackey, spent time eating fried chicken and sipping cold beers during games. While there is nothing shocking about grown men drinking after the workday concludes, even if the workday is on the pitcher’s mound, there is something shocking about doing it during a game.
Since then, the players involved have had varying degrees of contrition, from what seemed like a sincere apology from Lester, to an angry, pointed response from Beckett. But the media and the fans would move on if the two went back to doing what they used to do – pitching well. However, that has been far from the case. All it would have taken for the Sox to have made the playoffs last year is that just one of the two win one game that they lost. Neither could do the job.
Beckett was 5-11, with a 5.23 ERA as a Red Sox, and Lester was 9-13, with a 4.96 ERA at press time. What a gruesome twosome. However, the Red Sox no longer have to deal with Beckett reportedly being a bad influence on his teammates like Lester. Beckett was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, along with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, at the end of August.
Since then, Beckett has picked up his ERA – it is 3.45 as a Dodger, but he is still 1-2. And Lester has had three quality starts since Beckett was traded, but he also has three losses.
Neither of these players are ones who want to hold onto in fantasy baseball keeper leagues. It remains to be seen if they will ever live up to their promise. Buyer beware.