Ramble On Sports

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Posts Tagged ‘John Lackey’

Red Sox make crucial mistake in parting ways with Francona

Posted by bdowd625 on October 1, 2011

We’re going to miss you, Tito.

I’ll start out by saying that I don’t think Terry Francona was always the best in-game manager. Some of his decisions on the field left me scratching my head, whether it be the insertion of a pinch runner for Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh inning or his extra-long leash when it came to leaving tiring starting pitchers in the game. But I think every fan feels that way about their manager at one point or another, and second-guessing is a part of the job that Francona has always understood.

With that in mind, I think the Boston Red Sox made a monumental mistake yesterday when they parted ways with Francona after eight very successful seasons. Francona’s greatest strength has always been his ability to protect his players in a rabid sports town, a quality I think many of the Red Sox took for granted after a while. Plain and simple, Boston took advantage of its manager this year, as high-priced prima donnas like Carl Crawford, John Lackey and, yes, even my boy Josh Beckett drove the team into the ground. Sure, Francona should share some of the blame for the team’s historic September collapse – no one gets a free pass in that regard – but it was evident that many of the Red Sox had given up on him and the season.

And so Francona became the fall guy yesterday after bringing Beantown not one, but two World Series titles in his tenure. He said his players were tuning him out and that he couldn’t get the team to move together in one direction. It’s a shame it had to come to this after all Francona has done here, but that’s how it works with these millionaire crybabies. You can’t fire 25 players, but you can fire the manager. Boston’s new leader certainly has his work cut out for himself – whomever it may be – and I find it hard to believe he’ll handle these players half as well as Francona did in his eight-year run. We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, though, I want to thank Francona for all his hard work. He gave this fan base a reason to believe when we thought that elusive championship would never come. I can confidently say his place in Red Sox history is safe.

And now, with the Red Sox season over, I leave you with an excerpt from an essay by A. Bartlett Giamatti, former commissioner of Major League Baseball. If this doesn’t perfectly sum up the beauty of baseball then nothing does.

“The Green Fields of the Mind”

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the
spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer,
filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come,
it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to
buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive,
and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains
and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

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Five keys to the second half for the Boston Red Sox

Posted by bdowd625 on July 15, 2010

With tonight’s game against the Texas Rangers marking the unofficial start of the second half of the Major League Baseball season, it’s time to examine the state of your Boston Red Sox. Here are five keys for the Sox moving forward as they try to earn a berth in the postseason.

Health – How much longer can the Sox stay in the playoff race with the current cast of scrubs on the field? Not very. That’s not taking anything away from the Daniel Navas or the Darnell McDonalds of the world. They’ve done a hell of a job filling in while the list of the Walking Wounded continues to grow. But let’s be serious here – Boston desperately needs Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeremy Hermida, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Manny Del… (nevermind, scratch that last one) to come back. Otherwise, the five-game deficit they’re currently staring at in the AL East is about to get a lot bigger.

John Lackey – There’s been a lot of bashing of Boston’s newest right-hander on this site and for good reason. The Sox dumped a truckload of money in his front yard this offseason and he’s earned about $3.75 of it. (And I still haven’t received any naughty cell phone pics from his wife. Damn it all.) I remember when facing Lackey in the playoffs seemed like a real challenge. What an idiot I was. Let’s see if Lackey can bring his ERA down into single-digit territory in the second half.

David Ortiz – Big Papi had a pretty good first half. It wasn’t great, but it was certainly a lot better than 2008 and 2009. Fresh off a victory in the Home Run Derby, Ortiz is back to his jovial self, a very good sign if you’re a Sox fan. Let’s just hope he can put up the same production down the homestretch and avoid a similar fate as some other recent Derby winners. Bobby Abreu comes to mind specifically. He hit something like 43 home runs in his appearance a few years back and has hit about five since. Good times.

Adrian Beltre – Please stay away from our outfielders in the second half. And try to keep swinging that same hot bat. Signed, Red Sox fans everywhere.

Daniel Bard – Forget about Jonathan Papelbon – Daniel Bard is the key to Boston’s bullpen. Terry Francona – or, as BK1015 likes to call him, This Manager – has burned nearly all the tread off Bard’s tires with an ungodly amount of appearances in the first half. Bard is entering new territory in the innings pitched category and his performance might suffer as a result. With an already depleted and unimpressive bullpen, that has to be a little bit worrisome.

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This is just bad baseball, plain and simple

Posted by bdowd625 on May 10, 2010

Even when the Red Sox win – which is about once a week this season – it’s ugly as sin. Take tonight for example. John Lackey pitches like hot garbage and earns the victory. The offense, if you can even call it that, bailed out another poor starting performance, the exact opposite of what the Boston brass told us would happen this season.

The Sox are back above .500 by the slimmest of margins, which means they’ll probably drop the next four games and slide down the slope once again. I really tried to be optimistic coming into this season – even if I didn’t buy half the bullshit the front office was selling – but it’s becoming abundantly clear that this team doesn’t do anything well. When it pitches, it doesn’t hit and when it hits, it pitches like its throwing with the wrong arm. Kind of like Johnny Damon does. Clown.

But I digress. The Sox just aren’t fun to watch anymore and that’s a damn shame. The worst part is, I don’t think it’ll be turning around any time soon.

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Lackey laughs all the way to the bank

Posted by Bill Koch on December 15, 2009

John Lackey?
Really?
All of this excitement over John Lackey?
The Boston Red Sox generated all of this buzz by overpaying for a No. 3 starter who masquerades as an ace?
Please. Boston just ignored all of its alleged cutting-edge statistical analysis and signed a pitcher to a bloated contract who, according to the numbers that the organization values so highly, is on the decline. The Red Sox did this at the expense of upgrading their offense, basically waving goodbye to Jason Bay and a chance to get into the Matt Holliday sweepstakes, and are heading into the 2010 season at least two bats short of a line-up that can realistically challenge the New York Yankees.
Lackey is ready to put pen to paper on a five-year, $85-million contract sometime soon, this year’s top prize in a very average free agent pitching crop headed to Boston. He brings with him a handful of red flags that should be waving before too long and sticking the Red Sox with more dead money on their payroll, cash that it can’t afford while John Henry’s personal financial empire is in the tank and Boston’s revenue stream stagnates in its ancient ballpark.
Lackey’s been on the slide since 2007, when he won a career-high 19 games and posted a career-low 3.01 ERA. That season was the last in a run of five years where Lackey made at least 32 starts and threw a low total of 198.1 innings in 2004. That number climbed to a career-high 224 in 2007.
What followed was Lackey’s inevitable decline as he turned 30. He’s spent significant time on the disabled list each of the past two seasons, starting a total of 51 games, and his WHIP has risen in each season to its worst levels since his 1.33 in 2005. His Ks/9 innings has dropped every season since a career-best 8.6 in 2005 – it was just 7.1 last year – and he’s allegedly supposed to be a power pitcher. To put that in some perspective, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s career Ks/9 innings total is 8.5 in three seasons. Do you view Dice-K as a power arm? Didn’t think so – and neither is Lackey anymore. He’s a two-pitch guy with a dying fastball.
Lackey also struggles to go deep into games and will sap the strength from Boston’s bullpen, with opponents crushing him at a .316 clip on pitches 76-90 of his outings last year and hammering him to the tune of a 1.34 WHIP on pitches 91-105. Even in his best year, 2007, Lackey relied on the Angels’ strong bullpen (K-Rod, Scot Shields, Justin Speier, Darren Oliver) to routinely get him out of jams in the late innings – his WHIP on pitches 76-90 was an astronomical 1.58. That makes Lackey a five- or six-inning guy at best with Dice-K and Tim Wakefield already in the rotation. Hope Boston’s middle relievers have very good insurance policies on their shoulders and elbows.
Even more damning for Lackey are some of the names who pop up as statistical comparisons for his career to this point on http://www.baseball-reference.com. I’ll throw a couple of them out there just for fun – Kevin Millwood, Matt Morris – before I get real serious with a couple you Red Sox fans might know – Bartolo Colon and Brad Penny. You paying either one of those overweight, out of shape, No. 5-starter wanna-bes $85 million to come back here? I didn’t think so.
You can make the argument that Boston is trying to go the pitching-and-defense route by signing Lackey and making it public yesterday that they’re turning up the heat on a Josh Beckett extension. A rotation of Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey and Dice-K is enough to make people happy on paper. Don’t be naïve enough to think it’ll last much past 2010. The fact that Boston is publicizing the Beckett talks and said nothing about being a player for Lackey should tell you something. The Red Sox are laying the groundwork to let Beckett walk, already planting the first seeds of what is sure to be a growing public relations war as spring training approaches. They’ll paint Beckett as the greedy bad guy for not accepting whatever their offer is, just like they did with Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez and all the rest – not that Boston should have broken the bank to bring those players back. That’s not what I’m saying. I just don’t think the Red Sox should have to use the lemmings who make up their Red Sox Nation to kick those guys in the ass on the way out of town, and Beckett could be next. We’ll be left with Lackey – and we’ll be unimpressed.

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‘Tis the offseason

Posted by bdowd625 on December 14, 2009

The Red Sox finally made a splash today, livening up a boring offseason by signing starting pitcher John Lackey and versatile outfielder Mike Cameron to five- and two-year deals, respectively. I know Boston fans were getting a little antsy, so this should feed the monster for a little while. Now to break down the moves.

Let’s start first with Lackey. Here are his career stats. Lackey burst onto the scene in 2002, when, as a rookie, he helped the Angels beat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. In his eight-year career he has compiled 102 wins and a 3.81 ERA. There’s no denying the guy has good stuff and will bolster the Sox’ rotation, which is now one of the best in baseball. But he’s also battled through injuries of late and has an ERA over five in his career at Fenway Park. Plus the guy flat out said he hated playing there after the 2008 playoffs, when the Sox bitched the Angels around for the 57th time since the turn of the century. This signing could go either way. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pitch well for the first few years and then break down toward the back end of the contract. Again, though, this move makes Boston’s rotation arguably the best in baseball. And all it cost them was money.

Now to Cameron. Here are his stats. The Cameron signing is intriguing to me. Personally, I like the guy. From all accounts he plays his ass off and is generally a good guy. But by losing Jason Bay – which is pretty much a mortal lock now – the Sox are saying goodbye to some serious offensive production. Not to say that Cameron is a slouch with the bat – he hit 24 homers and drove in 70 runs last season – but this move, in addition to signing Lackey, shows that the Sox are going to be about pitching and defense. That philosophy works in the playoffs, but Boston is going to have to score runs first to get there. Either that or win a lot of 2-1 games in 2010.

As for the remaining moves the Sox could make, Clay Buchholz could be packaged with a few other top prospects to pick up the power bat they so desperately need. Maybe Miguel Cabrera or Adrian Gonzalez. Should the Sox go the Gonzalez route, they’ll have to give up quite a bit to get him. Jed Hoyer, former assistant GM for the Sox and current Padres GM, simply won’t throw away his best player without getting something big in return. He knows Boston’s farm system inside and out and he won’t allow the Sox to pull off a major heist like that on his watch.

Today’s signings went a long way in getting everyone in New England excited about baseball again. But make no mistake about it, the Red Sox aren’t done yet. And if they are, the product on the field won’t be nearly as explosive as in years past.

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Lackey to the Sox?

Posted by bdowd625 on December 14, 2009

Several media outlets are reporting at this hour that John Lackey has taken a physical with the Red Sox and may soon become the team’s newest starting pitcher. Check out Ken Rosenthal’s story for more.

I’m curious to see what people think about this signing if it goes through. Lackey adds another great arm to an already deep Sox rotation, but he is 31 and is rumored to be getting A.J. Burnett money. That’s pretty steep, but good starting pitching does win championships.

What are your thoughts? Leave them here.

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