|Beckett Trade a Win-Win Years Later||| Print ||
Written by Jake Bielecki (Contact & Archive) on May 03, 2012
The same can be done for General Managers, and one who garners a lot of respect is Theo Epstein. Looking back on a pivotal move made by Epstein -- the Josh Beckett for Hanley Ramirez trade -- how well did he do? Has Josh Beckett produced well enough to earn what Theo gave up for him?
When it was announced that Marlins pitcher Josh Beckett would be shipping up to Boston the 25-year-old was the center of excitement for Red Sox Nation. The Marlins, per usual, were in rebuilding mode and targeted stud prospect Hanley Ramirez and complementary piece Anibal Sanchez.
The newly acquired righty struggled out of the gate posting a 5.01 ERA while Hanley Ramirez excelled in Florida. The 22-year-old shortstop batted .292, hit 17 home runs and swiped 51 bags in 2006. Beckett would become the object of Boston's hatred if he didn't produce quickly after seeing what Hanley Ramirez brought to the table.
Beckett answered the call in 2007. He cruised to a 3.27 ERA in the gritty AL East and led the league with 20 wins, finishing second in the Cy Young voting. He followed that up with a dominating post-season performance allowing four runs over 30 innings of work.
During the Marlins 2003 World Series run Beckett excelled throughout. His Game 6 performance against the Yankees, a complete game shutout, lingered in the minds of Red Sox Nation as they entered the playoffs.
Beckett's World Series MVP wasn't lonely for long. Unable to take home another Series MVP in a quick sweep of the Cardinals, Beckett had to settle for the 2007 ALCS MVP. After these dominating postseason performances the Texas native earned the label of a big game pitcher.
Since 2007 Ramirez has been one of the premier shortstops in the game each season excluding his injury-riddled 2011 campaign. He led the league with a .342 batting average in '09, pulled off a 30/30 season in 2008 and for the second time swiped 50 bags in '07. His career saw some turbulence in recent years but I see no reason to believe he won't return to top form unless he develops chronic injury issues.
Like Ramirez, Sanchez also had a stellar 2006 campaign. At 22, Sanchez held a 10-3 record with a 2.83 ERA over 114 innings, finishing ninth in the rookie of the year voting. However, he was unable to stay healthy and perform consistently the following three seasons. In 2010, he reclaimed his spot in the rotation and the past two seasons he posted a 3.55 and a 3.67 ERA while pitching just under 200 innings.
In 2010 Beckett struggled and finished with an ERA skyward of five. Questions about his longevity arose but once again Beckett silenced the whispers with a terrific 2011 performance. But how much of that performance can be attributed to the ball bouncing his way a little more than he deserved?
With solid ratios of 8.16 K/9, 2.42 BB/9 and .98 HR/9 Beckett certainly pitched well in 2011. However, he bested all of these stats in 2008 when he finished with a 4.03 ERA. He certainly was unlucky that year but the opposite can be said about his 2011 season. Temper your 2012 expectations if you were expecting similar numbers.
Now to the real question, was the trade worth it for the Red Sox? Looking at it for 2012 purposes the Marlins certainly, and expectedly, got the better end of the deal. While Sanchez's stats from the NL East can't be directly compared to Beckett's in the AL East, I'd say there isn't a huge gap between the two. Toss in Hanley Ramirez and it's a clear Marlins victory.
For previous years, it gets a little hazier. The two prospects performed right out of the gates in 2006 and it was Beckett who took a season to get his feet wet. With that said, did the Red Sox win in 2007 in large part because of the performance from Beckett? Yes. Would they have won with Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez instead? Possibly, but we'll never know.
Baseball is a business of results. If a manager leaves a starting pitcher in the game longer than expected and he produces, that manager is a genius. If he falters, that manager is a scapegoat. I would say the trade was worth it for the Red Sox simply because they won it all in 2007 and you can't argue with results. Unlike many Theo Epstein decisions -- looking at you, John Lackey, Carl Crawford, JD Drew -- this is one Red Sox nation should sign off on.