Both Lackey and Boston are Winners

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My Take on the Lackey Signing

After hearing that John Lackey had signed with Boston for 5 years and around $82 million, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to do some research.  I’ve watched Lackey pitch and I’ve heard a lot about his supposed health issues, but I had never really done any digging into his stats.  Here is what I found and why I think this was a great signing by the BoSox:


Some notables (both good and bad):

  • Lead the AL in ERA, Shutouts, and ERA+ in 2007
  •  Finished 3rd in the Cy-Young balloting in 2007
  • Has not made 30 starts in a season since 2007
  • From 2003-2007 he averaged over 200 IP/season
  • Has pitched at least 160 innings every year since 2003


His durability has been called into question this offseason with the nagging arm injuries over the past 2 years, but I don’t see it being an issue.  In 2008 and 2009 he had his lowest IP totals since 2003, but still managed 163 1/3, and 176 1/3 respectively.  I would pencil him in for at least 180 next year if he has to miss a few starts, 220 if he can make the full 33-34 starts.  This will definitely help the Boston bullpen. 


For comparison’s sake, A.J. Burnett signed the same type of deal last year.  I like looking at 162 game averages for comparisons because I feel it helps to throw out the really great years and the really bad years and you are left with somewhat of an idea of what you can expect over the length of a five-year deal. 


162-Game Averages (34 Starts):

Burnett: 14-12, 3.84 ERA, 219 IP, 3 CG, 1 SO, 204 K, 110 ERA+, 1.3 WHIP, 2.22 K/BB

Lackey: 15-10, 3.81 ERA, 219 IP, 2 CG, 1 SO, 175 K, 117 ERA+, 1.3 WHIP, 2.72 K/BB

The only difference that I can see is that Burnett is a bit more of a strikeout pitcher, but also tends to walk more batters.  Also, Burnett was almost exactly one year older when he signed his contract than Lackey will be next season.  The market obviously hasn’t changed much in regards to starting pitching from last year.


The Rotation:

This becomes a huge strength for the Red Sox and I’d be afraid to face them in a short postseason series (assuming everyone stays healthy).  With Beckett the probable ace followed by two very solid pitchers in Jon Lester and John Lackey, perhaps it’s time to start thinking up nicknames (J-Crew?), perhaps not.  Looking at the seasonal averages of the top 3 (Age that player will be next season-years left on contract):


Beckett (30-1): 16-10, 3.79 ERA, 210 IP, 1 CG, 1 SO, 200 K, 117 ERA+, 1.22 WHIP, 3.12 K/BB

Lackey (31-5): 15-10, 3.81 ERA, 219 IP, 2 CG, 1 SO, 175 K, 117 ERA+, 1.3 WHIP, 2.72 K/BB

Lester (26-4):   16-6, 3.66 ERA, 207 IP, 1 CG, 1 SO, 181 K, 128 ERA+, 1.34 WHIP, 2.39 K/BB


That’s a pretty solid top 3.  Once again, assuming everyone stays healthy and with what Boston has been doing to shore up their defense (See Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron additions and Mike Lowell subtractions) I would put my money on Boston being a definite threat next year.  Of course, they could set themselves up to be dangerous for years to come with a Beckett extension, but that’s an issue for another post.


All in all, I think this move is going to work out great for the Red Sox in 2010 and John Lackey’s financial future.