Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Not Just a Lackey, but no Halladay

Maybe Roy wasn't available to the Sox. Maybe Bay said privately to Theo that there was no way he would come back to Boston. Maybe we'll never know exactly the reasoning behind all these things. But what we should know as Sox fans is that with these types of moves, you are getting less than you are led to believe.

I've heard the Boston spin that Lackey has post-season experience and that he has 500-less innings on his arm than Halladay. Let's face it, though. He ain't Halladay. I don't even think he's Sabathia or Beckett.

The Sox will reportedly be paying $17MM/year for a guy who will fit into the top 3 in your rotation, but isn't an ace. Will the Sox be formidable with Beckett, Lester, and Lackey? Absolutely. There will probably not be many extended losing streaks. And the Sox might be banking on the "just get to the playoffs" where pitching wins scenario. Would those three in the playoffs be difficult? Again, absolutely.

However, (and I am not falling back into the pre-2004 mind frame here, just reality), there is a team in the Bronx through which other teams must go. I hate to say it but Sabathia is better than any of the Sox top pitchers (Lackey included). Burnett proved he is a strong post-season guy. And Pettitte is ridiculous (and mostly untouchable) in the post-season. Add to this the Yankees lineup, and the Sox are up against it before they start.

This is compounded by their current roster. They've agreed to a contract with Cameron, which pretty much rules out Bay. In Cameron, they've acquired a veteran who is on the wrong side of 35. So here's the projected lineup:


While on paper it isn't bad, there are lots of questions marks and an astounding lack of run producers (especially for the last 4 names in the lineup). It is clear the Sox are focusing on strong pitching and defense, a philosophy that did not work out well for them in the past. In the AL you need pitching, defense, AND offense.

They, of course, might be moving Lowell (if he passes his physical). They aren't getting a guy that will help this year. My overall feeling is that they signed Lackey for beyond this year, not necessarily to make the big splash. By losing Bay and signing Lackey, I feel like the Sox will be as competitive as last year. They will be competitive against good pitching as they'll be able to matchup well up and down the rotation. However, they won't score (much like last year) against good pitching.

Most writers are saying "maybe this isn't a bridge year after all". I disagree.


  1. My first reaction to Grieve's disappointment is one of surprise. I actually like the moves. I'll get to them in a minute. But my second reaction is.... they may not even be close to being finished. Now that they have 1, 2, 3 in the rotation, maybe they will feel better moving Bucholz for an Adrian Gonzalez. So, while they are better today than they were a week ago, they could get even better.

    As for Lackey, to say the guy is not an ace, seems a pretty harsh assessment for a guy with a career ERA below 4 and ERA+ of 1.17, both almost exactly the same as Beckett. And has won the ROY and game 7 of a WS. His team has made the postseason the last 3 years and he has taken the ball in game 1 every year. So if he is not an ace, then I'm not sure who is.

    As for Cameron vs. Bay, yes its a drop off. But I think we all recognized Bay as a good, not great hitter. The sox put their value on him and decided to move on. the offense will be the least powerful in recent memory, but they seem to be valuing one less run given up the same (or more) than a run scored. Cameron on defense will give them one of the top two OF in the AL (only SEA can think about claiming to be better). Plus, the Sox can still get better in the middle of next season. If Papi continues to slide, then they will have no problem releasing him or benching him.

    Sure, the Yankees on paper look better. Their lineup IS great. But it is also old even with Granderson added. Posada (38), Arod (34), Jeter (36), Damon (he'll be back, 36), Pettitte (38). Add in Burnett's injury history and one or more of these guys is likely to go down. Their 3, 4, 5 starters are an old guy and a bunch of question marks. Sure, they will get better also. But, it really is a matter of just getting to the playoffs.

    And for the record, I do think that the Sox could not have gotten Halladay. And if they had, they would have had to send players and $$.

    So I am encouraged. A week ago they were talking about bridges (and half of Boston was probably ready to jump off the Tobin or the Zakim). Two weeks ago, I was even saying they may take a step back and transition. But you don't spend $85MM if that is your plan.

    X-Mas will be a little more enjoyable. And maybe, just maybe, we'll be unwrapping an even bigger gift X-Mas morning (Gonzalez?) or next October.

  2. This seems about right. Rob Neyer on Theo on Bay:

    "Jason, obviously, in a year and a half here, did an outstanding job for us," Epstein said.

    "That's a trade we would make again any day of the week. Whichever team does sign him, they're getting a quality person and a quality player."


    To get Bay, we traded Manny Ramirez, who we couldn't stand, and a couple of young players who haven't done anything in the year-and-a-half since. For us, he played like a $15 million player while we payed him about half that. So, yeah: We would do it again.

    We just didn't want to pay him $16 million in 2012 for being a $12 million player. If he wants to come back and play for $12 million, we'll try to figure something out. But yeah, he's definitely gone. And quite frankly, we couldn't be more relieved.

    You're welcome.

    Longo's take. The Sox put their price on Bay, were willing to add a bit more to it because frankly, they can afford to over pay a bit. And then when Bay wanted 1.5X, the Sox moved on.

    Sure was weird seing Lackey in a Sox uni and talking as part of the nation....

  3. The thing is that Cameron is not that good. He's always been over-valued in my opinion. He doesn't drive in runs and strikes out a ton. Right now the starting outfield is Ellsbury, Drew, and Cameron. Now that Lowell is back, there is a lot more salary hanging around. I don't see them making a huge move right now (hopefully I am wrong). Ultimately, the ideal would be that the market for Bay isn't as big as anticipated and the Sox can resign him. Then they could still potentially flip Ellsbury and others to San Diego for Gonzalez.

    By Lackey "not being an ace", I mean that he, despite his large salary, will never be the #1 on this team. If Beckett leaves, Lester becomes that guy. I agree that they probably couldn't have gotten Halladay, but (and maybe it is just being in the Boston area) don't try to sell Lackey as just as good or better.

    Daisuke is like Smoltz or Penny (with way more upside), and Lackey is better than all of these guys. So their starting rotation already is much better (if Beckett stays healthy and Lackey stays healthy...both of them tend to do DL stints).

    I happen to think this lineup is going to be really bad especially against good pitching. Today's bottom of the lineup looks like this:


    Doesn't really matter about how you order them. There is NO production there.

    The top of the lineup is:


    That's better, but if Ortiz reverts to his early last year this team is in big trouble.

  4. I hear you a bit on Cameron. But it gives them some flexibility. Now they have a CF in case they want/need to include Elsbury in a deal.

    Overall we should be pleased - we were worried that their starting pitching acquisitions would be the low risk/high reward guys.

    I think the "ace" comments are splitting hairs a little bit. I think Lackey is an ace. Whether he is the number 1 or the number 3, the fact is, his old team made the playoffs the last three years and he took the ball in game 1 of the playoffs. Who knows if Beckett is even here in 2011. In 2004, Schilling was widely considered the number 2 starter in deference to Pedro who had been there longer and made more $$. At the end of the day, who cares. They have a great 1-2-3 and we are not worrying about whether Harden, Sheets or Bedard can be healthy for a whole season.

    And as far as the lineup. The projections today are very likely to change between now and Aug 15. Other deals await. If Papi sucks again this year, we know Theo will move on.

    I'm optimistic. And they aren't even done yet.

  5. Here is an interesting link from MLBTraderumors.com. It's a summary of Peter Gammon's take on the Sox off-season.

    "Wouldn't it be ironic, don't you think..." if Bay ended back with the Sox?! It's no secret that Wilpon lost a ton of money thanks to Maddoff and there are a couple of pundits that are anticipating a sale of the Mets.

    Of course, no one really knows what is going and today's NY Times mentions the fact that Bay is cool on the Mets because of their park and manager situation.

    Having Bay back, would be a lot like a "fly in my Chardonnay". I'd probably still drink it, but I wouldn't enjoy as much.

  6. You drink Chardonnay?

  7. Only when it rains on my wedding day.

    Happy New Year GYS!