Boston Red Sox: Would John Lackey be Curt Schilling lite?


Would a return of John Lackey be Curt Schilling lite?

The Boston Red Sox fans, the media, and management are vaguely familiar with John Lackey since Lackey spent four-plus seasons in Boston toiling for around $15 Million a season. I doubt if any livable wage discussions center on the fiscally downtrodden of baseball.

Lackey had two careers in Boston that had a demarcation line that separated them and that line also appears as a scar since Lackey went under the scalpel and had some wing repair that cost a season. Prior to being on the DL list, there was another list in which Lackey found himself – the failure list. In 2011, the record was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA and leading the league in the all impressive hit batter category with 19.

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The wolves were howling about Lackey, especially when the Beer and Chicken (now capitalized) surfaced to further add to fans ire and a bonehead decision to sign and overweight and nonperforming lump. A late season team meltdown of epic proportions only added some extra fossil fuel to the flames and that was that. Lackey, enduring personal, professional and now medical issues, was faced with a grim reality and the response was a splendid example of taking the initiative, responsibility, and accountability to turn it around.

Lackey reported to camp in 2013 in pristine shape. A new motor (elbow) was in place and the pitchometer was reset to zero. The Red Sox won it all and Lackey – despite a 10-13 record, was a key ingredient in the team rebound.

The rest is history as Lackey was vanquished with his low-end contract to St. Louis and now is a free agent after a 13-10 season with a 2.77 ERA with the Cards. Lackey also tossed 218 innings and that lessened the strain on the Cards bullpen. Now, at age 37, the right-hander is on the market. A dependable 200+ innings eater who keeps you in the game.

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Curt Schilling was also 37-years-old when he started his first season in Boston. Schilling was certainly an ace and that status is probably not associated with Lackey unless you go back ten or so years for a season or two in whatever the Angels called themselves at the time. There are, however, similarities. A professional demeanor, a fierce competitive nature, eating up innings, excellent playoff reputation with some damn good pitching tossed in.

Lackey would be an interesting addition to a staff that is actually not that bad without an ace. The real issue for me is the potential downside that a Lackey signing would have to the development of the sudden plethora of young pitchers. That may change based on trades, injuries (Joe Kelly worries me), regression of performance and the multitude of sundry issues that plague pitchers.

For the Red Sox, a look at Lackey is a no harm situation. The market should be lean in years for a pitcher of his age. And you cannot discount 200+ innings on a team that has a wretched bullpen – unless the Craig Kimbrel signing causes a domino effect of quality – just don’t count on that.

Lackey is no Schilling, but, just maybe he is Schilling lite – and excellent, but somewhat less facsimile.