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Beckett's Last Stand

If everything goes according to plan, Josh Beckett will not be a Red Sox in 2011. That said, there is a lot of room for that plan to falter.

The Sox currently have two veteran aces (Beckett and Lackey), an up-and-coming ace (Lester) a future ace (Buchholz), quality veterans (Wake and Dice-K), and a future stud (Casey Kelly). We also have in-the-wings, mid-level prospects (Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden).

If the plan as I see it works, then in 2011, everyone moves up. Lackey and Lester are the established aces. Buchholz will be the up-and-coming ace. Wake, Dice-K, Tazawa and probably a short-term free agent signing (Brad Penny-esque) will fill out the other two spots in the rotation and they will aim to get Kelly 10-15 big league starts as they did with Buchholz a few years back. In this scenario, Beckett is pitching elsewhere.

This is a great plan. It will probably fail.

It will likely fail because one of these pessimistic scenarios will probably happen in 2010 thus hurting the 2011 plan: Lackey will not be an ace he's supposed to be but rather a 3rd or 4th starter; Buchholz will not step up as we all hope/expect him to this year; some one is traded away or injured; or Casey Kelly is less than spectacular and stalls in the sub-AAA minors (a la Lars Anderson in 2009).

If the plan does take a hit this year, then the Sox will want to keep Beckett. The question will be their budget. They can't reasonably offer the ace less than they gave Lackey (same age, results, health, etc.). But I don't see them wanting two 36 year old righties getting paid tens of millions in 2015 which is what they'd end up with if they gave Beckett the contract they gave Lackey.

So, since they have a backup plan, and since I don't see how they sign Beckett, I expect he'll walk next off season. Then again, if we win the series, maybe they just over commit themselves a bit.

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