On December 16, 2009, John Lackey signed a five-year, $83 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. Prior to joining the Red Sox, Lackey had spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and came up through the Angels farm system.
Lackey played a pivotal role in the Angels’ first and only World Series championship. He started Game 7 of the 2002 World Series and became the first rookie to start and win a Game 7 since 1909.
I have never forgotten Lackey’s performance and the Angels’ 2002 World Series victory remains my favorite baseball memory.
He went on to pitch eight great seasons in Anaheim and, in my opinion, left the Angels as the fifth-best pitcher in team history.
Despite his years of success with the Angels, Lackey reportedly turned down a $72 million extension in 2009 to test the free agent market.
When he signed with the Red Sox, I was crushed.
The Angels and Red Sox had faced each other in the ALDS three straight years and the Red Sox beat up on the Angels most of those years.
Now he was going to sign with the enemy?
When I watched Lackey hold up his new Red Sox jersey at the press conference, I was both hurt and frustrated. Why didn’t the Angels just pony up the extra $11 million to bring back their ace?
Fast forward a year and a half and the decision not to sign Lackey looks brilliant.
On Thursday afternoon, the Angels crushed Lackey and beat the Red Sox 11-0. Lackey gave up 10 hits, allowed eight runs and barely got through four innings.
In his last five years with the Angels, Lackey’s ERA was below 3.85 each season. Since signing with the Red Sox, he has been a shell of his old self.
In 2010, Lackey had a career-high in WHIP (1.42) and his worst ERA since 2004 (4.40). He has been even worse this year. Following his most recent appearance against the Angels, his 2011 ERA ballooned to 5.65.
While I miss seeing Lackey in an Angels uniform and will always have fond memories of his time in Anaheim, I am incredibly happy the Halos refused to match the Red Sox's offer.
The Angels now have two aces in Jered Weaver and Dan Haren while the Red Sox have John Lackey and his $83 million contract.
You take your pick, but I think the Angels made the right call.