Josh Beckett

Jeff Passan’s outrage at Josh Beckett goes to 11


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.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.