Lackey to Boston very Interesting (and Confusing)…
By now this report is everywhere (I originally heard it on ESPN, my pal Walsh caught it on MLB.com) and by the sounds of it free agent hurler John Lackey will be calling Fenway Park home over the next few seasons. Lackey, considered by most the prize fish in this year’s free agent pitching pond (Aroldis Chapman anyone?) is in Massachusetts at this hour for a rigorous physical examination by the Red Sox medical staff and top brass (imagine Theo snapping on a rubber glove to check out Lackey’s insert-your-favorite-body-cavity-here).
Most free agents don’t take physicals for the helluva it, so consider Lackey to Beantown an almost done deal.
When and if this signing is completed it will not only represent a great addition to the already solid Red Sox it will also make for a great many questions and an air of confusion around the future of said Sox.
The first question is the obvious one; why sign Lackey when his history (and stats) say he’s not the man you want to be on the hill in Fenway.
Lackey’s 9 career starts in Boston look like this:
2 Wins, 5 Losses…..5.75 ERA…..1.66 WHIP…. .314 Batting Average Against…. .371 On Base Against….. .527 Slugging Against (a career worst)….. .898 OPS Against (again, a career worst)…..2 to 1 Strikeout to Walk Ratio…..tOPS+ 148 (once again, the worst of his career)
Nine starts and the meager innings within them are clearly not the greatest indicator of what a pitcher might do in the future, but when you are about to dump $70 to $80+ million into a guy you’d better know for sure.
The flip side to this Lackey coin is while pitching in Boston for the Angels he had to face…you guessed it….Boston. Those nine starts are spread out over 7 seasons. Nobody is going to have great, or even good numbers against the likes of Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Johnny Damon and the lot in any kind of sampling, let alone a small one. Perhaps pitching in Boston for Boston will remedy the negatives from his past starts as a Halo.
Let’s assume Theo and the boys no what they are doing and bring Mr. Lackey into the fold. What does that mean to the current and future Red Sox roster?
Josh Beckett will be a free agent after the 2010 season. It would appear that he would be on his way out after this season if Lackey signs. They would be hard pressed to give Beckett the kind of money he will want (the kind of money Lackey will be getting) if Boston does give Lackey a big money deal (somehow, I can’t help but think the Red Sox are wishing they had drank the Jonestown Kool Aid instead of putting all that money into Dice K a few years back).
The other hurler left hanging by this signing is Clay Bucholz. Perhaps Boston does want to keep Beckett after another year. With Lackey, Lester, Dice K and Beckett does this finally make Bucholz expendable enough to go after an Adrian Gonzalez? Is Lars Anderson and Bucholz for Gonzalez to much or not enough to acquire an elite talent?
Although not yet official, Lackey to Boston is a power move that could equal the balance of power with the Yankees, or quite possibly create more headaches than it could possibly be worth.