(Originally posted on 4SportBoston.com )
In two moves shocking to both the fans in Boston and Major League Baseball alike, the Red Sox inked starting pitcher John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million deal. This evening, the Sox made a second splash of the day with a two-year, $15.5 million deal.
What direction is this team heading in?
Despite everything that we have come to know as Boston Red Sox fans, we will now have to cheer on the dumb-faced Lackey that we were groomed to hate. Just look at the work of our friend Fitzy over at Townie News from this past October:
(See video on 4SportBoston.com )
Hilarious, I know. But now we are rooting for this guy. Fitzy better hurry up and make this one up to the Lack-man.
Strangely enough, what we know of Lackey is not good and that is because he was facing the Sox. Lackey is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA in nine starts with the Angels in Fenway Park. Not great stats to come into your new home park with but the rest of his career says much more.
Lackey was the Ace in LA, a team not much known for their pitching power but nonetheless. I highly suggest you take a look at his stats here on baseball-prospectus.com and come to your own conclusion as to how he will fair here in the future.
All I know is that signing Lackey gives us three Aces at the front of the rotation (Josh Beckett and John Lester obviously—HEY! "The ThreeJs!" - we'll work on the name) and supposedly Dice-K is already at API in Arizona training and in the best shape of his career. Not to mention that the Sox are still holding onto both Buchholz and the newly re-signed Tim Wakefield.
Of course, the foremost speculations by fans and writers alike are that Clay will be shipped off somewhere for the likes of a Miguel Cabrera or Adrian Gonzalez.
The main thing to remember is that it could happen tonight, on July 31, or anywhere in between and Theo and the Red Sox brass may be looking for patience and support along the way. Two things that Boston is not necessarily well known for when it comes to our sports teams of late.
Rumors this evening in the fan-land of Boston have started to include the possibility of shopping Jacoby Ellsbury along with Buchholz now that the Sox have acquired Mike Cameron.
The devotion to this team and it's players has become borderline institutional. But can you blame us for being jaded after this short off season. We have watched JayBay hit the ground running and witnessed the Sox try to trade off Lowell despite a bad thumb (and something about World Series MVP in 2007).
Defense is the key in 2009 after seeing their defensive numbers going from second in the league in 2007 to second worst in 2008.
Assuming we are keeping an outfield of Cameron, Ellsbury, and JD Drew, things are looking pretty decent in that aspect for 2009. The infield is still looking for answers with the uncertainty around Lowell leaving YOUUUUUK at either corner.
YOUUUUK is a perennial Gold Glove candidate along with Pedroia, and new additions Marco Scutaro and (last season) Victor Martinez are certainly going to be positive additions on both sides of the ball.
The only real unanswered question remaining is the other hot corner representative. The Sox have been rumored to be in the hunt for San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez but is it really a good first move for Jed Hoyer to move the Padre's main attraction before tickets even go on sale? Probably not.
Talks have been all media driven on Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers but there is always an option there. Personally, I have always had a little bit of a man-crush on Aubrey Huff who is an unspoken free agent from Detroit this offseason. I know most of you will fight me forever on that but hey, he will fill the hole better than Casey Kotchman.
Other current hot corner options for the Red Sox include:
Free agent Garrett Atkins (former Rockies 3B - 30 years old): the Sox were rumored to be close to a deal for him before the deadline in 2008.
Free agent Adrian Beltre (former Mariners 3B - 30 years old): sketchy statistics at best. I certainly hope the Sox don't go here.
Free agent Hank Blalock (former Rangers 1B - 29 years old): I am just throwing it out there.
Free agent Russell Branyon (former Mariners 1B - 33 years old): 31 homers last season.
Rest of the numbers not great but an option.
Free agent Joe Crede (former Twins 1B - 31 years old)
Free agent Aaron Boo... oh, nevermind.
No matter what move is or isn't made, this team has catapulted exponentially on the defensive side of the ball.
Initially, I had questioned some of these moves but as I write this, I am literally getting more and more excited for February to come and pitchers and catchers to report. I can't wait to find out what numbers these guys are getting, at least then I know I can buy a Lackey shirt and have it stay in style for at least five years.