• The John Lackey Question

    Posted by on November 15th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    Could the Yankees use John Lackey next season? Well, first, look at this leader board via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia -

    2005-2009
    GAMES STARTED >= 130
    INNINGS PITCHED >= 900
    Sorted by RSAA

    RSAA                           RSAA      GS       IP     
    1    Roy Halladay                167      147   1072     
    2    Johan Santana               164      159   1085.1   
    3    Brandon Webb                140      135    931     
    4    C.C. Sabathia               138      162   1113.1   
    5    Dan Haren                   118      168   1108     
    6    Roy Oswalt                  114      161   1064.1   
    7    John Lackey                 103      150    990.1   
    8    Carlos Zambrano             101      158   1011.2   
    9    Mark Buehrle                 90      162   1073.2   
    10   Felix Hernandez              86      138    905     
    11   Jake Peavy                   81      139    904     
    12   Andy Pettitte                70      167   1050.2   
    13   Josh Beckett                 68      151    970.2   
    14   Cliff Lee                    60      146    955     
    15   Aaron Harang                 58      156   1024.1   
    T16  Derek Lowe                   49      169   1045     
    T16  A.J. Burnett                 49      145    938.2   
    18   Bronson Arroyo               48      168   1077     
    19   Javier Vazquez               45      162   1062.2   
    20   Jon Garland                  40      161   1041.1   
    21   Kevin Millwood               33      155    947     
    22   Doug Davis                   25      162    968     
    23   Barry Zito                   18      167   1018     
    24   Joe Blanton                  13      162   1018.2   
    25   Jamie Moyer                  -5      156    969     
    26   Jason Marquis               -11      159    976     
    27   Jeff Suppan                 -21      159    930.1   
    28   Livan Hernandez             -79      164   1030.1  
    

    Clearly, Lackey is a talent – and he’ll be just 31-years old next season. For me, the key with Lackey is something that Jayson Stark pointed out two months ago:

    The Angels’ ace will be entering his age-31 season. He has the ninth-best ERA in baseball over the last five seasons (and second-best, behind Roy Halladay, among pitchers who have worked only in the AL). And he’s heading for his sixth straight winning season. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t scare some teams, after spending more than 100 days on the disabled list the last two years with forearm and triceps issues. “He’s the best name on the list,” one exec said. “But if Anaheim shies away from this guy or doesn’t make a serious attempt to sign him, I’d have concerns. They know him better than everyone else. So that would send out some serious red flags for me.”

    I agree with that last part. If the Angels are “all in” on Lackey this off-season, then the Yankees should make themselves a player in this game too. Just sit back, see what kind of years and numbers Anaheim/LA floats his way and make the call from there.

    Comments on The John Lackey Question

    1. YankCrank
      November 15th, 2009 | 2:16 pm

      Just like these numbers show, over the last five years Lackey has been pretty damn good.

      But if we sign him we won’t be paying a contract for the Lackey of the last five years, we’ll be getting the Lackey who is older, less durable and entering his decline years. We already have one of those committed to $17+ million a year named A.J. Burnett. It would be irresponsible to commit another large contract to a pitcher around the same age with very similar durability problems.

      Save your money for next year. Let Joba and Hughes start, bring back Pettitte, Mitre and Gaudin, pick up a Justin Duchscherer, maybe let Aceves go into spring training as a starter…we have plenty of options other than adding another big contract for another aging pitcher.

    2. Scout
      November 15th, 2009 | 3:00 pm

      The Angels offered Lackey a three-year extension during the season, so they clearly think he has a good deal left in the tank. Now that he’s hit free agency, though, nothing less than four years is likely to get the job done. And since Minaya is now desparate to do things to hold onto his job (always a danger in skewing the FA market), I expect the Mets to be all in on Lackey. Other teams such as Seattle and Texas show signs of interest, too. At a certain point, the Angels will likely back away from a bidding war with a NY franchise. Do we interpret that as a signal that they have doubts about him? Or is it a budget decision that they cannot commit so much to one player?

      If you look at Lackey’s numbers, there has been no performance decline — when he has been healthy enough to pitch. I would be perfectly happy with him for 180 innings per year, plus his play-off contribution. He is AL tested, too. At age 31, I think he’ll give another three quality seasons. If the Yankees have to pay for an additional year when he’s lost something, well, that is pretty standard when it comes to free agents, and the Yankees are the one team that can best afford it.

      At this point, though, we the fans have spoken and chosen sides. The Yankees have yet to show their hand, if they have even decided. I see no indication yet that Cashman is the least bit interested in Lackey.

    3. GDH
      November 15th, 2009 | 5:09 pm

      YankCrank wrote:

      But if we sign him we won’t be paying a contract for the Lackey of the last five years, we’ll be getting the Lackey who is older, less durable and entering his decline years. We already have one of those committed to $17+ million a year named A.J. Burnett. It would be irresponsible to commit another large contract to a pitcher around the same age with very similar durability problems.

      I am often wrong and never in doubt – but that said, for me, there’s something about Lackey that just isn’t right for the Yankees, and I hope they don’t sign him. Primarily because of YankCrank’s point but there’s more. We have 2 roster spots, CC & AJ tied up for 5+ years. Although CC is less of a risk, the risk is there. We’d be tempting fate to go back to that well and bank on Lackey in the 2nd half of his days in MLB.

      This is a wait-and-see year and it will pay off to be conservative. Lackey’s the only established arm in the FA market. Last year AJ Burnett was not, and he still had at least 2 teams willing to give him 5 years, so it stands to reason that Lackey will get 5 years. Let Lackey go, and see what happens.

      Rich Harden has the most upside, and threw 140 innings last year before he ran out of gas. He has the potential to pitch to a #3 or higher if he stays healthy, and IIRC he’s got a good record against Boston. A 2-3 year deal with incentives could get that done.

      There’s nothing wrong with a 1-2-3 of CC, Burnett and Andy, as shown in Steve’s analysis (at least using RSAA). You add Harden at #4 and Joba/Hughes at 5, with Ace & Gaudin waiting in the wings. Not bad.

      For this to really work, we’ll need offense – bring Matsui back for a year or so to DH and then decide on Damon based on Snot Boras’ handling of that one. Damon does not believe in hometown discounts – in order to land him again we’ll have to have the best offer, and for some strange reason I don’t think we will.

    4. jdg
      November 16th, 2009 | 3:42 am

      Generally, the single most important addition to a team is a number 1 dominating elite starter. Right now, the Yankees have one in CC. Burnett is one on many days. Both Joba and Phil Hughes have the potential in the near future. If Wang recovers from injury, he’s close to that. And Pettit last year was one of the best number three pitchers in Baseball and a post season beast, for the most part. With that depth, the Yankees would be wise to invest in young players with a huge upside, like Aroldis Chapman. They would also be wise to save bullets for Felix Hernandez who will almost certainly be a Free Agent in a couple of years. Ditto for Joe Mauer.

      The fact is, in this economy, the Yankees are one of the few teams who can be buyers. That means lots of teams will be sellers. So, this is the time to hunt for steals, not pay top of the market prices for players whose best years are behind them. This advice applies not just to Lackey but to Roy Halladay, where he’ll want CC money and the Blue Jays will want a load of talent for him, the absolute worst of both worlds.

      There are going to be big opportunities for the Yankees to radically upgrade their outfield and possibly their catching depth, which already wasn’t bad. They can probably find a great reliever or two, and perhaps a bargain number two pitcher, you know, someone like Wang. Those are the kind of wise moves that will give them depth and allow them to bring up yet another young player who surprises.

    5. clintfsu813
      November 16th, 2009 | 9:17 am

      Rich Harden has the most upside, and threw 140 innings last year before he ran out of gas. He has the potential to pitch to a #3 or higher if he stays healthy, and IIRC he’s got a good record against Boston. A 2-3 year deal with incentives could get that done

      I’m glad someone brought up Harden. Nomaas thinks we should sign him..any other thoughts on him?

    6. YankCrank
      November 16th, 2009 | 10:14 am

      clintfsu813 wrote:

      I’m glad someone brought up Harden. Nomaas thinks we should sign him..any other thoughts on him?

      It’s an interesting question. I, like most people, love Harden’s pure talent and “stuff.” There’s no doubt that when he’s healthy he’s very hard to hit.

      Two small knocks on him. The first doesn’t need much explanation: His health record is shit. He’s surpassed 150 IP only once in his seven years career. The second is he just had a terrible year where his ERA rose over 2 runs from the previous year and he gave up a very 2006-Josh-Beckett-like 23 home runs. Both are totally not in line with his career norm, which could be a result of having an off year, but in no way is that encouraging.

      Idk, tough call.

    7. GDH
      November 16th, 2009 | 10:35 am

      @ YankCrank:
      It’s a tough call, because outside of Lackey, there’s not much there. We must bring Andy back, and hopefully not linger over that like last year. Who else – Contreras? Bautista? Garland? Mulder? For most of the FA pitchers, I’ll take my chances on Hughes and Joba.

      Chapman could be good, but he’s going to cost, and there are signs that he’s overconfident, lacks control, and relies too much on the fastball. He’s a kid, and played all his ball in Cuba. Far from a sure thing.

      Harden’s an option, only because in a truly mediocre market, he has the most upside.

    8. Raf
      November 16th, 2009 | 12:43 pm

      GDH wrote:

      Chapman could be good, but he’s going to cost, and there are signs that he’s overconfident, lacks control, and relies too much on the fastball. He’s a kid, and played all his ball in Cuba. Far from a sure thing.

      There are few “sure things” with pitching. Having said that, Chapman isn’t ready for MLB. He’ll need a couple of years.

    9. November 18th, 2009 | 9:17 pm

      [...] Lackey or an ERA under 3.00, however, he has been one of the most effective pitchers in baseball since 2005. Plus, a free agent deal for Lackey would probably cost less (financially) than an extension for [...]

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