Schilling in '01, Beckett in '03.
They're on one ticket now for '06. Perhaps the Yankees ought to start looking into Red Sox killers Rodrigo Lopez and Scott Kazmir right about now for their own campaign, no?
Not only do the Red Sox once again have a bona fide No. 1 at the top of their rotation, but they've also tipped the balance of power in the American League East. Or are about to, anyhow.
Even without a general manager at their disposal -- and how Larry Lucchino and company can even think about passing over someone like Jed Hoyer for the overmatched JB twins now is beyond me -- the Red Sox have pulled off a deal that will impact the current and future health of the franchise much like Pedro Martinez's arrival did eight winters ago, snatching stud ace Josh Beckett from the Florida Marlins for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Jesus Delgado.
Make no mistake, this is the next Pedro deal. Maybe not in pitcher stature, for it's difficult to argue that Beckett is quite at the level of mastery Martinez was at the time he arrived in Boston. But he is an ace. A 25-year-old ace that should be at the top of the Boston rotation for years to come, a la Pedro and Roger Clemens. That is, quite simply, why you make the deal, even if you are parting with a pair of highly touted, albeit unproven, prospects. Even if you have to take on an $18 million albatross in Mike Lowell. Beckett is a cocky SOB, the kind of player that will -- not should, will -- thrive in the pressure-packed atmosphere of Fenway Park. You thought he was pretty good in apathetic Florida? Just wait.
Hanley Ramirez might turn out to be a fine major leaguer, although I think the reactionary Jeff Bagwell comparisons are laughable. He might also turn out to be no better than Alex Cora, and his minor league statistics have yet to prove anything more than that. Yes, Anibal Sanchez may be a pretty good pitcher in a few years. Maybe even as good as Josh Beckett someday.
The opportunity to land a kid like Beckett comes around only every once in a while. You either hop on it, or regret it down the road.
They can't be liking this in New York, Toronto, and Baltimore. Sure, maybe not in Tampa, too, but who in that organization (an ironic term to be sure) has proven they've given a damn about anything in the past, anyhow? Today's New York Post had perhaps the best headline: "Josh Darn It!" As Newsday's Ken Davidoff writes, this is a move that will likely trump anything George Steinbrenner might possibly have up his sleeve. The Blue Jays could be on the inside track to landing Beckett's teammate, Overrated A.J. Burnett, a nice move depending on the dollars they have to dish out for a guy to suit up with Roy Halladay and Ted Lilly. The Yankees could end up trading the awful Carl Pavano, who reportedly is "miserable" in New York. The trio of hurlers who delivered the Marlins the World Series title in 2003 is all broken up.
And Boston has landed the best of them.
Beckett significantly improves Boston's rotation, and is a younger replacement for David Wells, who is expected to be traded any day now, perhaps to San Diego for bullpen help. While Boston adds a 25-year-old and subtracts a 42-year-old, a guy who welcomes the pressure for a guy who'd rather chill on Mission Beach, the Yankees remain status quo, a senior citizen at the top of their rotation, and their top free agent pickup of a year ago wanting to be traded. While the Red Sox begin to reload with pitching, the Yankees obsess over the likes of Brian Giles despite a pitching staff whose ace turned out to be Aaron Small among Mike Mussina, Randy Johnson, and Pavano.
It is poetic that the Red Sox now possess two former World Series MVPs who just happened to dominate their bitter rivals the last two times they played in the Fall Classic. But while Curt Schilling's career is arriving at its conclusion, Beckett's is just pulling out of the starting gate.
In Beckett and Lowell, John Henry has acquired a pair of his favorite players in the game today. Yeah, so is Matt Mantei. Big deal. Well in this case, it might be, as Henry was probably a little more willing than some others might have been to take a flyer on Lowell, even at a cost of $9 million per season, in order to get Beckett. At best, he's Nick Esasky, at worst, Tony Clark (yikes).
You might remember, Boston was in summer discussions for Lowell as well, when Burnett was the prize trade bait in exchange for Bronson Arroyo. If there is a park for Lowell to rebound in, it might be Fenway, where he could rediscover the stroke that delivered 27 home runs in 2004. Beckett told the Miami Herald that he thinks it will be even more.
''I told him he's going to hit 40 homers, 38 of them when I'm pitching,'' Beckett said.
Um, probably not. We will take the over in the Kevin Millar line of 10, however.
The possibility exists that the team could still find a taker for Lowell (Twins?), but it's a highly unlikely proposition considering how long and hard the Marlins worked on it. It likely spells the end of Bill Mueller's time in Boston, as Kevin Youkilis will likely be penciled in at first. Let's be clear, this is not a "mortgaging the future" deal as some have already incredulously opined. Josh Beckett IS the future, and if you're upset over his arrival just because the team is trading a couple of prospects that you have been told were good, then you've missed the point entirely. Ideally you build the team from within. When Josh Beckett falls in your lap and you have the resources to acquire him, you do it. Otherwise, you turn into the Brewers.
And while those blister problems may stir fears of a Game 6 situation in which Terry Francona lifts Beckett, only to be rebuffed in that story for the next 19 years, might we remind you of another Texas guy who had persistent blister problems early on in his career? And Nolan Ryan turned out to be kinda OK, right?
Clemens burst on the Boston scene in 1984, here for 13 mostly dominating seasons. After a one-year absence of an ace, Martinez showed up and dazzled Red Sox Nation for seven more.
Another year in between, and the Red Sox very likely have another ace for the foreseeable future, a pitcher who likely has his best days ahead of him, with quite the resume written already. They may not have a general manager, but the Red Sox have just pulled off the franchise's most significant deal since Dan Duquette sent Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. North of the Border in 1997.
Josh Beckett isn't Pedro Martinez. But his arrival in Red Sox Nation is no less significant.