Lackey to Boston very Interesting (and Confusing)…

by ThomasWayne

By now this report is everywhere (I originally heard it on ESPN, my pal Walsh caught it on 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.

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34 Responses to “Lackey to Boston very Interesting (and Confusing)…”

  1. Jim Says:

    “…don’t take physicals for the helluva it, so consider Lackey to Beantown an almost done deal.”

    My thoughts exactly. Assuming the medicals check out, it is possible that Lackey gives the Angel’s a last shot.

    Lackey in the rotation certainly provides options whether its a trade for AG, insurance against Beckett leaving or simply going into next year trying to win with dominant pitching. It also provides PR cover if they pass on Bay and Holiday.

  2. Raul Says:

    From (Jerry Crasnick and Jayson Stark)

    “Entering the offseason, it was believed that Lackey would use A.J. Burnett’s five-year, $82.5 million contract with the New York Yankees as a benchmark, but industry estimates of his potential haul have ranged from $60 million to $100 million.”

    So apparently these writers think a difference of….The San Diego Padres… is a reasonable piece of inside information.

  3. Raul Says:

    Halladay traded to Philadelphia……Cliff Lee goes to Seattle.

    I guess Seattle’s motive is…….draft pick consideration when Lee becomes a free agent

  4. hossrex Says:

    Huh. 5 years 85 million.

    I can’t find any of the old articles… which is a shame… because that’s pretty darn close to what I predicted, although the Red Sox thing was a surprise to me. I was starting to think like Chuck, that he’d stay in Anaheim.

  5. Shawn Says:

    Boston I think is just trying to get as much as possible to try and have a chance against the powerhouse Yankees. It will be interesting to see how he does in Fenway.

  6. Chuck Says:

    “I was starting to think like Chuck”

    See, it really is never too late…

  7. Chuck Says:

    Fast forward to 2012.

    In yet another comparison to the Yankees’ fiasco several years ago with Carl Pavano, the Red Sox’ John Lackey was shelled again this evening….

  8. AdamWhite Says:


    I’m surprised as well. I think they overpaid in terms of annual salary, especially given the length of the deal. I would have been more comfortable with a two-year, $38M deal. And even then I wouldn’t have done it.

    I think a Lackey signing signals the end of Beckett’s tenure in Boston. I think the Sox believe in Lester, and locking him up and extending Beckett, along with Lackey, would put too many of Boston’s financial eggs in one basket (starting pitching). In 4 years with Boston, Beckett’s ERA+ has been 95, 145, 115 and 122. Just not enought to warrant the likely contract size.

    Interestingly, Lackey and Beckett both have a career ERA+ of 117.

  9. Jim Says:

    I’m not sure I understand all the machinations in Philly to get Doc. Yes he’s an upgrade over Lee, but not a substantial one and IIRC Lee has been healthier through his career than Doc.

    Yeah the headline for the 2012 season will be that Baltimore cruises to the AL East title when the Yanks and RS find 4/5ths of each teams starting rotation on the DL for most of the season.

  10. Jim Says:

    Adam: You’re right, Beckett is likely gone unless he settles for a cheaper contract. In reality Josh has had one dominant year in Boston 2007, in 2006 he struggled in adapting to the AL and 08 and 09 he suffered from injuries and inconsistency.

  11. hossrex Says:

    I think the biggest news of 2010 will be how surprised all the moron sports writers are going to be when the Mariners are actually good with King Felix, Cliff Lee, Ichiro, Chone Figgens, Jarod Washburn, Eric Bedard, and Ken Griffey Jr (if used properly as a pinch hitter, and to give a corner outfielder a day off).

    Next year Seattle will shatter the illusion of depth the Angels have had for the last few years.

    Then they’ll be steamrolled by the Yankees in the ALDS.

  12. Chuck Says:

    Where is Bowie Kuhn when you need him?

    Is Toronto trying to challenge the ‘62 Mets?

    What a joke.

  13. Chuck Says:

    **Breaking News**

    The Toronto Blue Jays today traded Vernon Wells and the remaining 70 million on his contract to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp for a Benihana’s franchise to be built in the Skydome Mall.

    When asked how the deal would improve the Jays franchise, GM Alex Anthropolous answered, “they’ll eat better.”

  14. AdamWhite Says:


    I don’t see it with the Mariners. I like the headaches a Ichiro/Figgins combo will create for opponents in terms of on-base percentage and speed. But after that, I don’t see much, if anything, from their offense.

    Pythagorean had them at 75-87 last year. Even with Lee, I see them as a .500 team.

  15. AdamWhite Says:


    You better believe that Toronto would do that trade with the Carp. They would allow someone to take him for free.

  16. James Kunz Says:

    Getting rid of Lee is apparently because long-term negotiations failed.

  17. Chuck Says:

    True enough, Adam, but what’s going to happen when the restaurant’s payroll is higher than the Jays’?

  18. hossrex Says:

    Have you taken a look at the potential starting rotation for the Mariners?

    Felix Hernandez 2009 ERA+ 174
    Jarrod Washburn 2009 ERA+ 169
    Eric Bedard 2009 ERA+ 154
    Cliff Lee 2009 ERA+ 131
    Ryan Rowland-Smith 2009 ERA+ 116

    The pen?

    David Aardsma 2009 ERA+ 172
    Sean White 2009 ERA+ 155
    Mark Lowe 2009 ERA+ 133

    Each of the starters made at least 15 starts, and each reliever pitched at least 60 innings. If everyone can stay healthy, how many runs will they need to score?

    The Yankees only had one pitcher with an ERA+ better than any of the Mariner starters, and CC’s ERA+ was only better than Ryan Rowland-Smith. How much did the Yanks pay for that staff?

    If the Mariners could have gotten 30 starts out of each of Bedard, Smith, and Washburn, their pythagorian sure as hell would have been better than 75-87. Let’s not mistake a team of guys who missed time for whatever reason, with a team that isn’t good at baseball.

    Will the M’s stay healthy? Who knows. Ichiro is sure due for a major injury. But that’s the trick. Think the ‘05 White Sox were really all that great? They all just managed to stay healthy.

  19. Terry Says:

    hossrex posted:
    Think the ‘05 White Sox were really all that great? They all just managed to stay healthy.

    The 05 White won WITHOUT thier best hitter- Frank Thomas-(who played 34 games)- and their best relief pitcher- Dustin Hermanson, who hurting too much to contribute, at the end of the season. Scott Podsednik was playing hurt as well, which is why he could not seem to steal a base, in the second half of the season.

  20. AdamWhite Says:


    Bedard is always hurt; he’s pitched in 30 games combined in 2008 and 2009. And isn’t he a free agent?

    Washburn has a career ERA+ of 109. His ERA+ in Seattle has been 95, 101, 90 and 164 (though for all of 2009 his ERA+ was 116). He had a flukey good 2009, and I would expect his ERA+ will normalize around 100 to 110.

  21. Raul Says:

    I think the general point Hossrex is making is that the Seattle Mariners have an opportunity to be legitimate contenders in the AL West next season.

    To this point, the Athletics, Rangers and Angels haven’t really done much to improve significantly next year.

  22. AdamWhite Says:


    Point taken. But is the goal to beat the A’s, Rangers and Angels, or is to get to the World Series? The team they’ve constructed cannot advance in the playoffs, unless something very flukey happens. I’m not saying they need to build a team that WILL win in the playoffs, but they need one that has a CHANCE of winning in the playoffs. Lopez/Branyan being the big run producers means you have no chance against good pitching.

  23. Raul Says:

    I can’t argue with that, Adam.

    All I can say is….baby steps…

  24. Chuck Says:

    “I think the general point Hossrex is making is that the Seattle Mariners have an opportunity to be legitimate contenders in the AL West next season”

    That race is over. Might be the first time in history a team clinched it’s division before Christmas.

  25. hossrex Says:

    Adam White: “is the goal to beat the A’s, Rangers and Angels, or is to get to the World Series? The team they’ve constructed cannot advance in the playoffs, unless something very flukey happens.”

    Which is exactly what I said. They’re going to be surprisingly good, and the level of talent in the AL West (even in Anaheim) is far lower than it even appears.

    I could argue however that given the nature of post season baseball, simply making the playoffs means you have a legitimate chance to win it all. Can you imagine if Bedard can keep it together next year? A post season rotation of King Felix, Cliff Lee, and Eric Bedard? I think that team has a VERY good change of winning some post season baseball games.

    I still think they’re going to have a difficult time in the ALDS against the Yankees, and more specifically Yankee stadium. That park is going to turn any pitcher into nearly Chan Ho Park levels of mediocrity, and while I think they’ll score more runs than people are anticipating, I don’t think they have the RIGHT type of hitters to take advantage of the park (I’m dubious of the “park factors” attached to Yankee stadium for 2009. I don’t have a clue how those are figured, but I can’t imagine they represented what was happening there last year).

    The M’s will drop the first two games at Yankee stadium in the first round of the 2010 post season (with each game being slug fests that Seattle just couldn’t keep up with), and lose game 3 in Seattle because they basically gave up in the 7th inning of game 2.

    What could possibly keep Seattle out of the playoffs next year? The Angels lost their two best players, and when Vladi signs elsewhere (while admittedly not really an impact player lately) what do they have left?

    Oakland? I’m not sure I could name an everyday player on Oakland off the top of my head.

    Texas? They’re too busy running clearance sales on thousands of boxes of #3 Arod jerseys they haven’t gotten rid of yet (a vain attempt to recoup SOME loss on that hilarious signing).

    Seattle will finish 92-60. Who’s going over and who’s going under?

  26. Jeff Says:

    Under. They had a pythag of 75 wins last year and they’re not 17 wins better all of a sudden. Erik Bedard is more likely to be hurt than healthy. They’ll of course win most games Felix and Lee pitch, and get crushed in games the bottom of the rotation pitches. Their offense is worse today than it was last year. If they sign Bay and Branyan, maybe they’ll be good.

  27. Chuck Says:

    “Seattle will finish 92-60. Who’s going over and who’s going under”

    Going to be close, Rex.

    They’re going to get some offense before the season starts and the NL West might be as competetive as your softball league.

    I’ll take the over, but not much, probably 95 wins max. And win the division by double digits.

  28. Raul Says:

    92-60 is a 152 game season.

  29. BillWellman Says:

    “92-60 is a 152 game season.”

    And that’s why I’m going over…I predict that they’ll play 160 or more games.

  30. hossrex Says:

    Raul: “92-60 is a 152 game season.”



    I was… ummmm… expecting an impromptu work stoppage sometime in June. Yeah.

    Dang it.

  31. Raul Says:

    I’m sure it was a typo and Hoss meant to type 70.

  32. Vic Says:

    who cares about his stats in Fenway!!! He won’t be facing them. Take a look at his stats against the Yankees and rethink this ????

  33. Shawn Says:

    “who cares about his stats in Fenway!!! He won’t be facing them. Take a look at his stats against the Yankees and rethink this ????”

    Every ballpark is different. Every pitcher will tell you, even every mound is different in every park. I’m pretty sure he was referring to the park conditions not the lineup. Not every pitcher is Pedro Martinez and can be god in a stadium with the green monster and a short porch in left.

    In the regular season Lackey faced the Yankees once, but not in Yankee stadium. He did pretty good: 7 IP, 6 Hits, 2 Runs, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.

    In the postseason Game 1 AT new Yankee Stadium his line was: 5 1/3 IP, 9 Hits, 4 runs, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. Not exactly steller.

    In game 6 NOT in Yankee stadium, he did much better: 6 2/3 IP, 6 Hits, 3 runs, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.

    It’s only 3 starts, but the only one IN Yankee stadium, was not good.

    He will be pitching IN Fenway a lot, and IN new Yankee Stadium a lot, two hitters parks, which he has not been all that great in. But who knows, baseball is a funny sport maybe he’ll be amazing, but I doubt it.

  34. hossrex Says:

    The comedy of the situation will be around the All-Star break (where sample sizes start to add up to actually represent something worth talking about), when John Lackey will have a perfectly typical John Lackey type year, and yet hack sports writers will write countless articles about how terrible he is.

    If John Lackey comes up for free agency in 2008, or 2010, no way in hell he gets 5 years 85 million dollars. However in 2009 the demand was high, and the supply was low… so he gets a contract that guarantees his grand children will be playing gold plated Playstations.

    That’s why the fangraphs WAR/dollar value stat is utter tripe. If economics were as simple as punching numbers into a calculator, no one would ever lose money in the stock market.

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