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Beckett: ‘I look at it more as what I gained than what I potentially lost’

04.05.10 at 3:43 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Josh Beckett announced the completion of a four-year, $68 million extension that will keep the pitcher in Boston through the 2014 season on Monday afternoon. The contract includes a $5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $15.75 million per year from 2011-2014.

There is little question that, had Beckett reached the open market after 2010 (presuming that he stayed healthy), he could have seen more guaranteed years and money in a deal. The five-year, $82.5 million deals signed by both Sox teammate John Lackey and Yankees starter A.J. Burnett — pitchers to whom Beckett compares favorably — suggest as much.

Yet Beckett made clear that he had no reservations about the possibility that he was not seeking every available guaranteed dollar.

“I guess I look at it differently than most people do. A lot of people look at what you could lose, or what you lost. I look at what I gained here,” said Beckett. “I gained four years more of stability knowing that i’m going to be in an organization that’s going to put a competitive team out there every year.

“That really can’t be underestimated, either, because the season gets really long when you’re losing 90 games. Whenever you’ve got a chance to win 100 games every year, the seaosn goes by a little bit faster. I know i’m going to have a chance to win here every year. For me, I look at it more as what I gained than what I potentially lost.”

Here is a transcript of highlights from the press conference, which featured Sox GM Theo Epstein and Beckett.

Epstein on what allowed the deal to get done:

It’s pretty easy when you have a strong desire to retain the player and the player has a strong desire to stay in the city. Those types of deals tend to get done

Beckett on not prioritizing a fifth guaranteed year:

I don’t know. I guess I look at it differently than most people do. A lot of people look at what you could lose, or what you lost. I look at what I gained here. I gained four years more of stability knowing that i’m going to be in an organization that’s going to put a competitive team out there every year. That really can’t be underestimated, either, because the season gets really long when you’re losing 90 games. Whenever you’ve got a chance to win 100 games every year, the seaosn goes by a little bit faster. I know i’m going to have a chance to win here every year. For me, I look at it more as what I gained than what I potentially lost.

Epstein on having most of his current starting rotation under team control for the next five years:

It feels good. It’s hard to have an elite organization without excellent starting pitching. I think we have an even higher standard here. We need starting pitching that can succeed in the American League East against these tough lineups that we face night in, night out. When you have that starting pitching, you don’t want to let it get away. It’s hard to acquire in free agency. It’s hard to acquire in trades. And it’s hard to draft and develop this kind of starting pitching. Knowing that we have Josh and Jon Lester and John Lackey and Clay Buchholz all signed through 2014 means that, there are no guarantees in baseball, but it should mean that we have outstanding starting pitching for that period. That’s the biggest building block on which we can go about finishing off the rest of the club. Knowing that we have that in place and we can focus on other areas should be very helpful.

Beckett on what it meant that Epstein contacted him after signing Lackey to restate the team’s interest, and on the importance of signing a deal at the start of the season:

I just think it’s a lot more likely to become a distraction for everyone if it’s lingering. I think everybody in our clubhouse knows that there’s nothing worse than people asking you questions about other people. I didn’t want my teammates to deal with that, and I didn’t want to deal with that either.

[Epstein's contact] meant a lot. It definitely, Theo and I actually talked before I left here last year. There was definitely some desire then. For them to sign Lackey and everything like that, for him to reach out, I knew there was no reason for him to do that without some merit to it.

Beckett on the core of starting pitchers that will now be together for the next several years:

Yeah, I think it just goes into putting a competitive team together. I know I’m going to have a chance to win every year here. It starts with pitching. It starts with each and every one of us on our day, going out there. More than anything, that’s one thing this organization has allowed to happen, for us to get an organizational philosophy of this is my day, I have to go out there and perform and do what I have to do to help this team win.

Epstein on whether the pitching prospects in the farm system will be discouraged at the lack of opportunities:

I don’t think that’s a legitimate concern. We use about 25 pitchers every year to get through a season. There’s so much attrition that you can’t look at what you have right now and think that’s going to be in place for 162 games a year, let alone for the next five years. There is opportunity here.

When we have our Rookie Development Program, we tell our position players, ‘You might have to wait. If we have someone at your position, you might have to wait and become versatile, learn another position and your time might not come when you think.’ But we tell the pitchers, ‘As soon as you’re ready, we can just about guarantee you an opportunity, because that’s the nature of pitching, with the attrition due to health and performance swings.’

What I would tell our young pitchers is, ‘Look at Josh, and look at the reasons we signed him.’ Yeah, it’s for his performance on the field, but it’s also for the way he goes about his business and how important routine is to him, how much he cares about preparation, how much he cares about his teammates, how he prioritizes winning over his own individual performances. That’s the model.

We already do that. We tell our minor leaguers in their first year in big league camp, like Casey Kelly this year, watch Josh Beckett, watch Jon Lester, and learn the difference between being a guy who just goes out and takes the mound every five days and being a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. If you want to succeed in the American League East, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just toeing the slab every five days. There’s a lot of mental, physical and fundamental preparation and work that’s required. The guy on my left is a great example of how to do it the right way.

Epstein on Beckett’s long-term health:

We have outstanding health reports. … All the testing now is better than it’s ever been. The commitment that we made today demonstrates that. We kind of put our money where our mouth is. He’s a guy who is insurable. He’s someone who we count on to be as healthy as he’s been. And look at what he’s done for us.

He’s been remarkably consistent. He’s thrown as many innings as anybody. There’s not a medical reason why that shouldn’t continue with the work that he’s put in to create a foundation for his success healthwise.

Beckett on his health:

It’s one of those deals. You’ve just got to put yourself in the best possible position. The work that not only myself but the trainers and strength coaches do puts me in that situation.

Coming over here in 2005, I missed my last start of the season with shoulder stiffness. I’m probably not the first guy to ever do that. It just automatically raises flags because it’s the last start of the season, so people think, ‘Oh, he’s been shut down ‘€“ is there something wrong?’ Things like that.

There’s not one guy who you could go out there and grab and take an MRI who has pitched 1,000 or 1,500 innings and take an MRI and it’s going to show up perfect like he’s a 14-year-old boy. Everybody has their little issues. I think that the thing that the Red Sox see is that they’re not worried about me skimping on things that make me healthy.

Beckett on whether he could have envisioned spending perhaps the rest of his career in Boston at the time he was traded.

At first, no. But when you come to an organization like this, like I alluded to earlier, that puts you ahead in everything, they know what makes an organization successful, and that is to make the players as comfortable as possible. They do such a great job of it, so at first, you’re like, ‘I thought I’d spend my whole career with one organization.’ You don’t see that very often. But for me to go that direction, from there to here, is quite a blessing.

Beckett on whether he will remain driven by the quest for another ring:

I think that’s what we’re all striving for every year. It’s a very difficult thing to attain. I would say that with this organization, I think we have a chance to win a ring every year. I haven’t been on one team here — I’ve only been on one team that didn’t make the playoffs here — I haven’t been on one team that I didn’t think we couldn’t, at the beginning of the season, win a World Series. That’s pretty remarkable to think about. I’ve been here, this is my fifth year now here, and in five years, at the beginning of the year, I really had a strong feeling that we could win a World Series.

Beckett on whether he views this as potentially his last contract, or whether he’ll evaluate that at the end of the deal, when he’ll be 34:

I think that’s actually a pretty good age to assess things. Obviously, people go through changes in their lives, stuff like that, in their late-20s and early-30s. I definitely think that 34, 35 years old would be a good time for me to sit down and really think about, ‘Hey, is this something I really want to continue doing,’ or maybe take a step back and take some time.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Contract, john lackey, Jon Lester
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