A year ago at this time, Cole Hamels was busted. The 2008 post-season bulldog had suffered through a middling 2009 season and when the playoffs started, things got worse. By the time the World Series began, Hamels had checked out and he made matters worse by telling the world as much. Thirteen World Series outs and five Yankee runs later, Hamels had bottomed out.
ESPN’s Buster Olney writes today that at the bottom:
“[Hamels] understood even then that what he really needed was some alone time, away from the vortex of the postseason, to fully understand why he had floundered in 2009, and to refocus on what he needed to do to change.
It wasn’t long after his time on the couch that Hamels started his offseason throwing program, far earlier than he’d ever started it before. He began a new regimen. He was like a college student who had had a disastrous sophomore year and had decided to make changes in the summer before his junior year. Hamels studied for 2010, prepped, and devoted himself to being great again.
Hamels’ fastball in 2009 was typically in the 88-90 mph range; he had no weapons to combat hitters. His final pitch to Scott Rolen on Sunday was a 95 mph fastball, and as Rolen swung through it, Hamels gestured with a jerk of his arms. How different it feels for him a year later.”
Josh Beckett, are you paying attention?
I say that because it strikes me that Beckett now finds himself in a similar place as Hamels did a year ago …. battered and beaten. It’s really not that complicated …… just like Hamels, Becekett needs to clear his head, get in better shape, and make a concerted effort to be good once again. In short, Beckett needs to break with the past and get serious about his future.
Sure, he could scuffle along as he has since 2008. That means missing a bunch of starts and getting shelled every third time he takes the mound. With four years left on his contract, this approach will surely be popular with the front office and the fanbase.
Or Beckett could follow Hamels’ lead and do something to revive his career. That means getting in MUCH better shape so his sixth and seventh innings don’t turn into shooting galleries. And it means putting in the work so he can confidently command his pitches, hit corners, and get into better counts.
If last night is any indication, Hamels has completely repaired himself. A year from now, it would be nice if we could say the same thing about Beckett.