You know when you let someone go and you realize it was a mistake, but it may be too late to change your mind? The discarded loved one feels jaded at being jilted and refuses to forgive your faulty heart strings. You sit and remember the good times, but the bad times were what made you do it in the first place. All that you can do now is lament.
That’s what the Boston Red Sox may be doing this offseason, as news came out that they have an interest in luring free agent starting pitcher John Lackey back to the waiting arms of Boston:
The key word is luring, as Lackey was the one who was jilted by the Red Sox after winning the 2013 World Series only to trade him and a number of players during the horrendous 2014 season. The Texas-native was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for young pitcher Joe Kelly and first baseman Allen Craig.
It wasn’t any better in 2015; in fact, it was arguably worse.
The 37-year-old Lackey played four years in Boston, earning a 47-43 record and a 4.46 ERA, missing the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery. His comeback made a huge impact, as Lackey started two games in the World Series, posting a 2.57 ERA, allowing four runs in 14 innings. He struck out 11 batters to only three walks. Before the trade, Lackey was 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA, working long innings to do what he could to help the club.
For his efforts, the team sent him to St. Louis for a pitcher who impressed them as an opponent in that same World Series. However, when Kelly got to the Red Sox it was a different story. Kelly went 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA before being injured for the rest of the 2014 season. In 2015, he went 10-6, but only because of an incredible eight-game winning streak in the second half of the year. Kelly’s start of the year was nothing short of a disaster, being sent down to the minors to try to recover a semblance of his game and no realistic hope in sight. A miracle may have happened after the All-Star Game, but many members of Red Sox Nation have been skeptical ever since.
Craig didn’t even have that kind of a miracle, twiddling his thumbs in the minors in search of his own game and finding a whole lot of nothing, so far.
Lackey, on the other hand, found the fountain of youth in St. Louis. In 2015, he went 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA in 218 innings, the most that he’s pitched since 2010. He struck out 175 batters to only 53 walks.
Being 37, Lackey won’t be looking for top-ace money in the free agent market, but he’s not going to short-change himself, either. Especially not to the team that thought he was expendable in the future. Likely he will retire with the next club that he signs with, which makes any man start to think about his legacy. Does Lackey want that to be with the team who dropped him to save money on the team’s payroll for two players whom have yet to show why they were proper compensation for a solid MLB starting pitcher?
The Cardinals may feel that they need to re-sign Lackey to keep a nucleus in their own starting rotation. The Chicago Cubs will be wanting to pay some big money for another pitcher, after getting beat out by the New York Mets’ rotation in the National League Championship Series, this year. The Texas Rangers almost beat the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series, but Toronto’s bats proved the difference against their own pitchers. The Los Angeles Dodgers may be losing one of their star pitchers, Zack Greinke, and they have deep pockets to replace him. And, the Arizona Diamondbacks may just be desperate enough to pay a ton to stop being so terrible, lately.
The offers could be much more than Lackey’s numbers on the mound would suggest, making him an expensive pitcher to add to the Red Sox. Even if Boston were able to overcome the jaded emotions that Lackey might feel towards the club, the Red Sox would have to spend a great deal on a pitcher who is still not considered an ace that many experts feel that they need.
So, Boston: what would you do if you were running the team? What would you feel if you were Lackey?