Look, it was apparent as of last night that Josh Beckett was going to get ripped to shreds for the next few days, but I don’t think I was prepared to see as much vitriol thrown his way as Jeff Passan does in his column this morning:
The rot in the Boston Red Sox organization runs too deep for cosmetic upgrades, and nobody better personifies it than Josh Beckett, the clueless, defiant egomaniac who’s poisoning another Red Sox season.
He describes all that has gone down — from beer and chicken through the off-day golf — and then says “This is about common sense, decency and responsibility.” Which is the same as saying that Beckett is senseless, indecent and irresponsible.
I dunno. It’s one thing to point to an instance of performance and/or behavior and say “that is bad” or “that is dumb.” It’s another, far more serious thing altogether to say “that person is a piece of shit,” which is what Passan is doing here. And I just don’t understand what puts anyone who is not close to him in the position to make such an assessment, at least on the facts we know about him and which are being reported.
Is Beckett the quintessential team player? Doesn’t sound like it. Has he made the best decisions, both in his conditioning and his public attitude and stances? No.
But it seems a little extreme to me to go from pointing out flaws in the man and his game to such sharp, sweeping character assessments as Passan does here.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.