"We don't understand why the Red Sox played better without Nomar than with him, so we credit it to clubhouse psychology . . . . This is illogical, and it isn't really any different than attributing it to witchcraft." -- Bill James
There are any number of reasons why the Red Sox are playing so poorly. To attribute it to clubhouse psychology is to take the easy way out. After all, who knows what the players are thinking?
But if I was a member of the Red Sox . . . and if I saw Josh Beckett dawdle around all year . . . and then if I saw that his reward was getting traded to a long-term contender with an energetic fan base, a fun manager, a positive press corps, and owners who care about the team but don't meddle . . . well . . .
Of course, some of the very new players (Middlebrooks) and very old players (Podsednik) will never see such a sweetheart deal unless they play hard enough to get other teams interested. But for the others who already have established records, what's the point of playing their hearts out?
If you know that the Red Sox are in rebuilding mode, and if you know you have an established record that will interest other teams, maybe its better to take a break and not try very hard. You may just find yourself in a friendlier place to play ball.