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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Red Sox - Signed Lackey

Boston Red Sox - Signed P John Lackey to a 5-year, $85 million contract.

This one is pretty similar to the Burnett signing last year, both for the financial terms and the quality of the pitcher.  As with Burnett, there are serious risks involved.  Lackey hasn’t been completely healthy in either of the last two season and his strikeout rate, close to 9 in his breakout season, has been slowly sliding and is now around 7 per 9 innings.  Now, it’s normal for strikeout rate to slowly decline for pitchers, but it’s usually compensated for by an improved walk rate and compensating enough to keep the pitcher from being easier to hit.  Lackey has gotten a bit easier to hit, however.

However, as long as the expectations aren’t unrealistic (Lackey’s not someone who should go into seasons as one of the Cy Young favorites), the Red Sox shouldn’t be too disappointed with the results.

ZiPS Projection - John Lackey
————————————————————————————————-
        W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA   ERA+
————————————————————————————————-
2010     13   9 30 30 194.2 197   87 21 55 151 4.02   113  
2011     12   9 29 29 187.0 191   87 22 55 146 4.19   109
2012     11   9 28 28 180.0 184   84 21 53 140 4.20   108
2013     11   9 28 28 179.2 185   85 21 53 139 4.26   107
2014     10   9 26 26 168.0 175   82 21 51 130 4.39   104  
————————————————————————————————-
Top Comps:  Mike Mussina, Bret Saberhagen, Aaron Harang

ERA
Top 1/3 56%
Mid 1/3 41%
Bot 1/3 3%

ERA+        BB
>150   3%

<1.5 1%
>

140   7%

<2.0 12%
>

130   15%

<2.5 51%
>

120   34%

<3.0 87%
>

110   56%

<3.5 98%
>

100   81%

<4.0 100%
>

90   97%
>80   100%  HR
>70   100%  <0.7 16%
<1.0 61%
K/9 <1.3 89%
>9     1%    <1.6 99%
>8     10%
>7     49%
>6     89%

(Based on Projected IP)

Dan Szymborski Posted: December 15, 2009 at 05:32 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Willie Mayspedes Posted: December 15, 2009 at 05:53 PM (#3413393)
If he gives up one less HR in 2011 he could go for some sort of Adam Dunn HR consistency streak.
   2. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 15, 2009 at 06:00 PM (#3413408)
Lackey for 5/85 or Halladay for 5/100? I still think the Phils done good even considereing the prospects they lost.
   3. karlmagnus Posted: December 15, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3413504)
Lackey's better than Burnett, but the Red Sox are now pitching-heavy. Still, that's a good problem to have, particularly with Beckett possibly gone and Wake near retirement, and if they can upgrade the hitting in '11 they may be really strong then. Prefer this deal to Cameron, unless Cameron hits at a 115 OPS+ rather than 99.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: December 15, 2009 at 07:01 PM (#3413561)
as long as the expectations aren't unrealistic

Unrealistic Red Sox fans? Unpossible.
   5. Mattbert Posted: December 15, 2009 at 08:32 PM (#3413720)
Wow, that's profoundly uninspiring for $17M per.
   6. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: December 15, 2009 at 09:41 PM (#3413877)
As it should be.
   7. Hugh Jorgan Posted: December 15, 2009 at 11:49 PM (#3414084)
Wow, that's profoundly uninspiring for $17M per.

yep, 17M just ain't what it used to be...

However, since he's taking the innings from the previous #5 guy AND the Sox have plenty of cash, it's a solid(though as quoted above, somewhat uninspiring move)
   8. heyyoo Posted: December 16, 2009 at 06:54 PM (#3414921)
This won't end well. Pitcher contracts of this length and amount seldom do, especially when given to guys in their 30's. But this could get ugly pretty quick. This might turn out to be Theo's biggest misstep.
   9. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 17, 2009 at 11:33 PM (#3416404)
Zips looks really pessimistic with regard to Lackey. He's coming off five straight season of being better than his 2010 projection.
   10. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: December 18, 2009 at 12:01 AM (#3416417)
Wow, that's profoundly uninspiring for $17M per.
You guys have been living too well for too long.
   11. puck Posted: December 18, 2009 at 12:16 AM (#3416431)
That's projection's also uninspiring considering Marquis was projected for 184.1 innings and an ERA+ of 107.
   12. BarrettsHiddenBall Posted: December 18, 2009 at 12:24 AM (#3416438)
But this could get ugly pretty quick. This might turn out to be Theo's biggest misstep.

Do you see Lackey as a strong candidate for injury/collapse or are you just speaking generally about long term deals for pitchers?

Somewhat related, Epstein's take on the injury issue was one of the more interesting parts of yesterday's presser:
It’s a part of every time you sign a pitcher. It’s a big part of the research. Trust me, we’ve done a lot of due diligence. If you look back at April 2008 was triceps issue, soft tissue, that certainly has resolved itself. And doing our research on what happened this last April, it was probably a little bit of a rush through Spring Training to get ready, and we think that John’s spring routine, it’s something we’ve already talked about, maybe it can be handled a little differently to resolve that. But when he came back he didn’t miss a start. He’s been, outside of those two episodes, extraordinarily durable throughout his entire career and is someone who obviously finished strong last year. The last image of John Lackey is him demanding the ball on the field of Yankee Stadium. So he’s somebody that we strongly believe is healthy. Trust me, we put him through quite a physical over the last 48 hours, and he’s someone we trust to take the ball every fifth day.

The first bolded bit is about as close to throwing the Angels training staff under the bus as you can get without throwing the Angels training staff under the bus. The second bolded bit is probably just trying to give journalists a nice mental image, but (as a Sox fan) I hope it didn't actually figure too strongly in the decision to sign Lackey.
   13. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 18, 2009 at 12:40 AM (#3416451)
That's projection's also uninspiring considering Marquis was projected for 184.1 innings and an ERA+ of 107.

Yeah, but that ERA+ projection drops in the AL to 101.
   14. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 18, 2009 at 12:40 AM (#3416452)
Because only a stupid team would want players with drive and desire, in case that actually matters.
   15. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: December 18, 2009 at 12:49 AM (#3416462)
The first bolded bit is about as close to throwing the Angels training staff under the bus as you can get without throwing the Angels training staff under the bus.


I don't know, I think even the training staff would probably agree that in retrospect, he rushed a little bit. I think they addressed it pretty nicely, all in the imperfect tense, not pointing any fingers, just saying they'd do things differently, which is what the Angels trainers would probably do too if Lackey was in LA.
   16. BarrettsHiddenBall Posted: December 18, 2009 at 01:14 AM (#3416475)
Because only a stupid team would want players with drive and desire, in case that actually matters.

No, because only a stupid team gives a pitcher a five year $82.5m contract based on the guy's last start.
   17. BarrettsHiddenBall Posted: December 18, 2009 at 01:18 AM (#3416476)
I don't know, I think even the training staff would probably agree that in retrospect, he rushed a little bit. I think they addressed it pretty nicely, all in the imperfect tense, not pointing any fingers, just saying they'd do things differently, which is what the Angels trainers would probably do too if Lackey was in LA.

I'll admit that with Passions, Guiding Light, and soon As the World Turns going off the air, I'm a bit starved for drama and might be injecting it where it doesn't belong. But the main function of the imperfect tense is to make judgments without technically making judgments.
   18. Hugh Jorgan Posted: December 18, 2009 at 01:38 AM (#3416487)
No, because only a stupid team gives a pitcher a five year $82.5m contract based on the guy's last start.

Are you implying Theo and the Sox did this? Surely you can't be so narrowminded as to have this opinion of the Boston FO, regardless of whether you are a fan or not. Their track record over the past 7 seasons is impressive and the results speak for themselves.
   19. BarrettsHiddenBall Posted: December 18, 2009 at 02:28 AM (#3416525)
[18] I take it you missed the part where I said that Epstein was "probably just giving journalists a nice mental image".
   20. Hugh Jorgan Posted: December 18, 2009 at 03:46 AM (#3416550)
I take it you missed the part where I said that Epstein was "probably just giving journalists a nice mental image".

Must have, sorry.
   21. Halofan Posted: December 19, 2009 at 02:27 AM (#3417370)
Enjoy your mental image, Theo, but Lackey demanded the ball on the mound of ANGELS STADIUM in a game against the Yankees.
   22. The Voice of America Posted: December 19, 2009 at 03:10 AM (#3417383)
Enjoy your mental image, Theo, but Lackey demanded the ball on the mound of ANGELS STADIUM in a game against the Yankees.


Yeah, that changes everything.
   23. Famous Original Joe C Posted: December 19, 2009 at 03:48 AM (#3417393)
Enjoy your mental image, Theo, but Lackey demanded the ball on the mound of ANGELS STADIUM in a game against the Yankees.

Don't you have someone's address to leak?
   24. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: December 19, 2009 at 03:55 AM (#3417398)
Is there ever going to be a TO on the Randy Wolf signing?
   25. heyyoo Posted: December 20, 2009 at 07:05 AM (#3418033)
Do you see Lackey as a strong candidate for injury/collapse

Somewhat strong. Obviously not overwhelmingly strong.

or are you just speaking generally about long term deals for pitchers?

Yeah, that too.

Lackey is a good but not great pitcher with injury issues each of the last two seasons. Certainly Boston did their due diligence and they have all the information. But I can't shake the feeling that Lackey is actually in the early stages of decline, and he is still an injury risk in the immediate future.

His K rate graph is not encouraging, especially pitching in a tougher ballpark and in a tougher division more often. He'll probably walk a few more guys and give up a few more homers. If he doesn't counterbalance that with more K's or more ground balls, he's likely to struggle more than most would expect. I don't see anything in his profile that would lead me to believe he will increase either his K's or his GB rate going forward.
   26. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: January 08, 2010 at 06:42 PM (#3431933)
It'll be interesting to see what Lackey does with the improved Red Sox OF and Beltre behind him....if healthy, this could be a very good year indeed.
   27. BobbyS Posted: January 26, 2010 at 09:47 PM (#3447008)
Still a little surprised to see him drop off so quickly. His 2009 was pretty close to his 2008, and he's only 31.

His BABIP actually showed worse luck this year, his FIP was significantly better (back toward/under his career #), and he brought the HRs back down. His ERA+ was just a point lower than in 2008. Just seems odd that it's going to drop 5 or 6 points from 2009 and drop beneath his career average already.

Is this one worth rechecking as well (Like the Hawpe one)? Although, i can see this as much more realistic than that instance. I can see how people feel he's in for a decline, but wondered if the numbers really calculated as such.. due to what... slightly lower K rate (very slightly), and slightly higher BB rate?

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