I’ve been pretty down on Josh Beckett over the past few years. He hasn’t lived up to his billing nor his contract. While one start doesn’t make an all-star, it was very nice to see him shut out a very good offense last night.

Beckett had 4 pitches working including his change-up which, if he can throw it consistently, will help off set the loss of velocity on his fastball. Keep them guessing as they say. Beckett is really important to this team not only because all of the other starters stink right now, but because they have big resources invested in him and when he is right, like last night, he is a very good pitcher. The Red Sox need him productive this year and beyond.

Just as Beckett enters the first of a 4-year, $17mm per contract, the Red Sox also locked up Clay Buchholz to a 4-year, $28.7mm deal. The deal also includes 2 team option years. The deal doesn’t start until next season meaning the Red Sox have Buchholz tied up for the next 7 years including this year. The 2 option years are $13mm and $13.5mm respectively. I like this deal as the years are limited and the team can extend it if things go well. Granted a disaster means this is wasted money, but if a consistent all-star emerges, the Red Sox make out.

These deals make so much sense to me as it affords the team a relatively affordable contract for a player’s prime years and it makes sense to the pitcher as one pitch can end a career. Having what should be lifetime security at age 26 is a blessing (or a curse if your character is flawed).

Tampa Bay is in town for a series. They aren’t what they use to be those Rays. With Evan Longoria hurt, there aren’t many familiar faces left in the line-up (one less especially since Manny Ramirez has “retired”).

Carl Crawford will lead off again tonight which I must say is an experiment. Terry Francona is trying to gauge whether Crawford can handle that spot. I am really not sure what Francona is trying to accomplish actually, but I can’t claim to have any better ideas. When your team isn’t hitting, what’s there to do? I still think Ellsbury and Craword back to back is a great idea from a menacing the opposition on the base paths standpoint, but having 2 lefties back to back and then forcing either Pedroia, Gonzalez or Youkilis to hit too far down is a tough trade off.

Let’s see if a consistent and successful line-up emerges soon.