Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surprise! John Lackey "needs" Tommy John

So there's your answer, Red Sox Nation.  While we've all been wishing for Theo to take John Lackey with him to Chicago, new GM Ben Cherington and the front office had their own plan in mind.  It was obvious to everyone that Lackey simply could not spend 2012 in a Red Sox uniform, especially once you added the allegations (and then confessions) of drinking and general gametime shenanigans to a moribund record that spoke for itself.

So John Lackey, like Daisuke Matsuzaka before him, will disappear onto the disabled list for the foreseeable future, while the Red Sox staff looks to clean up their act - and their collective reputation.  It is a rather neat solution, though it won't save John Henry and Co. any money.  I'm guessing they shopped him around, saw absolutely no one was biting, and decided to relegate the big righty to baseball purgatory.

I know many of you had worked out elaborate trade scenarios for getting rid of Lackey, and some had genuine merit for all parties involved, but you can't really be surprised that no other team wanted to take a chance on the overpaid hurler.  Lackey just turned thirty-three, he has a body type that doesn't age well (even before the now infamous weight gain of 2011), and he hasn't performed at a particularly high level in over two years.

Add to all of this the fact that he is owed more than $45 million for the next three years (a huge sum for a pitcher who has never logged a season ERA lower than 3.01, and that just once - his career ERA is over 4), and Lackey is a pitching pariah, without even tackling the allegations that he was one of the ringleaders of the *ahem* unprofessional behavior in the clubhouse this season.

All of these factors make for the perfect equation for the baseball cynic: banishment to pitcher hell.  Of course, Lackey has had documented elbow trouble, something the Sox brass were aware of when they signed him, which is why the team option for 2015 will now be at the Major League minimum (this vested with the news of Tommy John surgery).

This seems like a win-win for fans.  We've all been screaming to get him gone, and this will certainly see him out of sight for an extended period of time; the money is a bummer, but the Sox would have been eating most of the contract even if they had managed to scrounge a trade partner.  If the surgery is particularly successful, perhaps Lackey will return in 18 months better than we've seen him, and hopefully having eaten a large serving of humble pie (and very little actual pie).

And if not? Well, I'm sure management can come up with another creative solution for the John Lackey problem when the time comes. For now, it's out of sight, out of mind. Hasta luego, Lackey... I won't be missing you.

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