Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Notice: John Patrick Lackey

"Honestly, I think it [the extent to which he sucked in 2010] was overblown. I'd won 14 games only once in my life. I led the team in quality starts. Whatever."

Less than a month ago, we talked about how Ian Patrick Kennedy has turned himself into a nice little league-average pitcher while on this blog the middle name "Patrick" was given to anyone who was in suck-denial. Lackey was given the "Patrick" moniker in August after getting blown up against the Yankees while saying he was getting "nickel and dimed" by a bunch of cheap hits. Please. You're from Texas, bro. So is Josh Beckett, who has pretty much admitted that he was awful last year and once said that good pitches don't get hit. At least Beckett had balls.

The connection with Kennedy here is that Kennedy is a slightly above league-average pitcher (ERA+ last year was 111) making $403,000. Lackey was a slightly below league-average pitcher (ERA+ was 99) making $17.8 million.

I'm not even going to go there regarding the fact that a guy who signed an $85 million contract only exceeded 14 wins once. Not even going to go there.

But yes, John, you were just unlucky. The fact that (going back to Sunday night's post) you signed your contract and ate about a dozen too many steak dinners, showing up fat and sucking last year is just bad luck. The fact that you gave up almost one and a half hits or walks during every inning you pitched is just because they found holes on dribblers. The fact that all those hits and walks came in bunches are just because you gave up a bunch of broken-bat dribblers being beaten out by speedsters.

I mean, Lackey pitched 215 innings last year, something that makes fanboys (including the usually-reliable Pete Abraham) excited. It's sad that Abraham is drinking the freaking Kool-Aid. A news flash here: Pitching 150 good innings is better than 215 bad innings. But if you pitch that many innings, it probably means that your sample size is big enough for your hideous underperformance to NOT be a fluke. Disgusting.

I've read the sabermetric stuff. I know Lackey's FIP was 3.85, suggesting he was not as bad as his ERA would suggest. But he's leaving too many at-bats up to defense, striking out fewer and walking more. But as we learned in 2008 in my Coco Crisp Is A Hall of Famer Crusade, you can cherry-pick stats to back up anything.

But enough about that. I want to make the point that I like John Lackey, and I like the fact that he cares (at least during the regular season) about winning baseball games. But now it's time to start earning your money. Start winning. No more excuses. No more about this "bulldogging through games" crap. First time John Lackey gets his doors blown off and then steps to the podium saying "oh yeah, that seven runs on nine hits is really more like three runs on four hits," let's just say How Youz Doin Baseball is going to be a very entertaining website to read for a day or two. When you suck, you suck. Time for accountability. And time to not suck.


Anonymous said...


If I got into some really great shape I could go out and throw 250 innings every year full of 75 MPH fastballs. And I'd have an ERA of 15.00. Is that good? I don't think so. Being an "innings eater" is only valuable the 12-15 times each year when the team is getting blown out and you don't want to use Danny Bard for the fourth time in five days. And you don't need to pay 85 million dollars for that type of pitcher.

Also--by just about any metric 2010 was a terrible year for him. He gave up the most hits of his career and had the highest WHIP. His ERA and ERA+ were the highest he'd had in six years. His K/9 and K/BB rates were his worst since his rookie year. And his ERA+ was below league average. There's really no way you can massage those stats into being a good season. And they might be considered decent for a guy like Michael Bowden or Julian Tavarez. Except that John Lackey was the highest paid player on the team. Unacceptable. The guy needs to be more accountable.

--the Gunn

The GM said...


First of all, what's Nick Swisher's ERA right now?

Also, how can you be accountable for something that's not your fault? Lackey, at times last year, was scoring an 8 on the scale from 1-Ortiz on blaming all his problems on something else.

Patrick said...

one other thing from a sabermetric standpoint, while his fip was 3.85, xfip takes it a step further by factoring in any luck (or lack thereof) a pitcher experienced with home runs against, and when you factor that in lackey's xfip was 4.32, just below his actual era of 4.40. so while he was a little lucky from a sabermetric standpoint, it wasn't significant at all.

and as you guys are all pointing out, there's not much else, if anything, you can point to regarding him being unlucky. maybe his line drive % being 2% below his career average, which is good. but that just means two less line drives out of every 100 balls in play, which isn't wildly significant.

i agree with what you guys are saying. lackey gets nickel and dimed a lot because he's a nickel and dime kind of pitcher. he's not a dominant, swing and miss, make a lineup look silly kind of pitcher. he has pretty good stuff and pretty good pitchability, meaning he knows how to make pitches when he needs to. but as he gets older it stands to reason that a nickel and dime pitcher is going to get nickel and dimed more and more, as their stuff declines. especially moving to a much tougher offensive division. i definitely see lackey pitching better overall this year as he adjusts, but not by a ton. high 3's, low 4's era, and a guy that good lineups can get to in a big game.

Anonymous said...


I feel the same way. And that's why I'm concerned that he's the highest paid pitcher on the staff and stands to be until his contract is up in four years. Unless he somehow becomes a better pitcher than he has ever been at any point in his career, I don't know if the investment in him can be justified.

--the Gunn