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Lackey couldn't get off the mound fast enough this season.
Raise your hand if you knew that John Lackey was the highest paid player on the Red Sox.
Anyone? What do you mean he's only Boston's fourth best starter? Isn't this the same guy who finished third in Cy Young voting in 2007 (behind CC Sabathia and a certain Texan teammate)?
All jokes aside, Lackey has been a colossal disappointment.
After spending the first eight seasons of his promising career with the Angels, Lackey signed a five-year deal with the Red Sox in the offseason for $82.5 million. In 2010 he will collect $18.7 million of that salary.
The next highest paid player on the roster? J.D. Drew, at $14 million—a bargain in comparison.
Boston made a surprise move when they signed Lackey, especially considering they needed hitters far more than they needed pitchers. But nobody could argue against the prospect of more pitching, and the idea of having a three-studded monster at the front of the rotation (with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester) certainly appealed to Red Sox fans.
That monster never materialized though, as Lackey struggled to pitch consistently.
In 29 stars Lackey is only 12-10 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.458 WHIP. Even more distressing are his strikeout numbers, which have dropped to 6.3/9 IP (the lowest mark of his career).
Lackey wasn't downright bad. He made several very good starts, including an eight-inning performance against the Seattle Mariners last month when he struck out 10 and only gave up two earned runs. But rather than continue his stellar pitching, Lackey crapped the bed and gave up five runs in 6.1 innings in his next start against the Tampa Bay Rays.
For comparison, in 2009 Lackey had a 3.83 ERA and struck out batters at a rate of 7.1/9 IP. He made $10 million that year.
The pay raise in 2010 was unwarranted for a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 (he's 31 now). Now, the Red Sox are stuck with him.