On December 14, 2009, the Boston Red Sox made one of the worst moves in franchise history, signing John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Lackey has been nothing less than a headache in Boston since then with a 26-23 record and an ERA of 5.26. In 15 of his 28 starts last season, he didn't pitch more than six innings and also gave up at least five earned runs 10 times.
It is obvious that GM Ben Cherington needs to do his best to trade Lackey away during this offseason, despite his unappealing contract. He is a parasite to the team, complaining almost every time that now ex-manager Terry Francona came out to the mound to replace him.
Reports show that Lackey and other pitchers were occasionally drinking alcohol during games. Clearly this guy doesn't care about anyone but himself. If he did, he would have been on the top step supporting his teammates.
It won't be any easy task to move a guy who will be making $15.25 million in each of the next three years but it should be on the top of Cherington's "to-do list." Here are some players who could be traded for John Lackey in a "Our Trash for Your Trash" deal.
Carlos Zambrano is clearly one of the more emotional pitchers in baseball. On several occasions he has fought his own teammates, destroyed Gatorade containers and been ejected over his 11-year career. After letting up five home runs in an August game against the Braves earlier this season, he threw intentionally at Chipper Jones and was ejected. He cleaned out his locker after that game and told the Cubs that he was retiring. Big Z later explained that he was very emotional after the game and he wasn't serious about his retirement, but he still didn't pitch again in 2011.
Zambrano is currently under contract with the Cubs through 2012 and has a vesting option for 2013 depending on Cy Young votes. He is scheduled to make $18 million next season which is a ton for a guy who can't keep his cool on the mound.
With Theo Epstein signing a deal with the Cubs it will be interesting to see what he decides to do with Zambrano. I'm sure that Boston officials have thought about sending John Lackey along with Epstein in the deal and receiving Zambrano in return, but only time will tell if this actually happens.
After going 102-63, being named to three All-Star games, and winning a Cy Young Award in his seven seasons in Oakland, the San Francisco Giants took a huge risk in signing Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126 million mega-contract.
In his first five seasons in San Francisco he has yet to have a winning season. He is 43-61 in those years with a 4.55 ERA, a full run higher than when he was in Oakland. In 2008, Zito lead the league with 17 losses. Once known for his unhittable curveball, Zito has been more than easy to hit as of late. He only pitched in 13 games this season due to injuries and I'm sure that Giants officials are still wishing they could have that day back when they signed him.
He has earned $80 million of his contract thus far which turns out to be $1.86 million per win, more than four times Madison Bumgarner's (13 wins in 2011) contract for the entire season. He is expected to earn $19 million in 2012 and then $20 million in 2013. Zito also has a team option for 2014 for $18 million which will absolutely not be picked up. In a trade to Boston, the Red Sox would have to hope that Zito can return from injuries and pitch a season better than Lackey would have.
Jake Peavy was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Chicago White Sox before the 2009 trade deadline. He was great in San Diego leading the league in wins in 2007 and ERA in 2004 and 2007. He won the Cy Young in 2007 and was named to the All-Star game twice. Peavy then signed a three-year, $52 million deal with the White Sox in 2009. Since then he hasn't been close to the Peavy we all saw in San Diego.
In his three first season for the White Sox he has only pitched in 39 games and collected a 17-13 record. His 4.49 ERA is well over a run higher than when he pitched for the Padres, something that may have to do with them being a National League team. He finished the 2011 season at 7-7 with a 4.79 ERA despite a shoulder injury which kept him out of almost all of 2010. Peavy hopes to bounce back with a strong 2012 season which could leave him in the running for AL Comeback Player of the Year.
He is expected to make $17 million next season and has a $22 million team option for 2013 which will probably be declined unless his number this upcoming season are spectacular. A trade to Boston isn't totally out of the picture although it is more likely for the Red Sox to go after many of the other White Sox pitchers.
After an eight-year stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, Brett Myers signed with the Houston Astros for the start of the 2010 season. Myers had a good year with a 14-8 record and an ERA just over 3.00. The main problem with Myers' 2011 season was that he gave up 31 home runs, tied for the third most in the majors with our next trade candidate. His 7-14 record and 4.46 ERA was bad enough to have the Astros finish with the worst record in baseball.
Myers can eat up a lot of innings but he needs to control his pitches better. He has given up over 50 home runs in just two seasons in Houston which is truly incredible. He was decent as a starter with the Phillies finishing his tenure with a 73-63 record, and could put up those same numbers with a team that has more offense than the Astros.
He was placed on waivers during last season and it seems that the Astros could move him given the right opportunity. They really like his veteran leadership in the clubhouse which could be replaced with Lackey's experience.
Brett Myers is set to make $11 million next season and has a $10 million vesting option for 2013.
The New York Yankees are slowly finding out what a big mistake they made by signing AJ Burnett to a five-year, $82 million contract in 2009, the same contract that John Lackey received from Boston. Since signing with the Yankees he has only led the league in things you wouldn't want to see such as walks, hit by pitches and wild pitches.
He is 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA in his first three years in New York. I'm sure Yankees fans are hoping that he gets traded, especially after the August he had this past season where he allowed 30 earned runs over 22.1 innings in just five starts.
Burnett holds the same kind of mentality that Lackey does; he hates to be taken out of the game when he feels that he can keep going. AJ Burnett has done some questionable things when manager Joe Girardi has come to get him. Even though he had a solid performance in his one postseason start, it's clear that Yankees' fans want him out of New York.
It is a toss-up of which AJ you are going to get every time he steps on the mound. He can pitch eight innings of solid baseball or he might not find his way out of the third inning; you just never know.
Trades aren't usually made between the Red Sox and the Yankees but this one is a possibility, especially since Lackey and Burnett have identical contracts. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and Yankees GM Brian Cashman (pending his contract is renewed) would just have to evaluate who they think would be better for the next two seasons, and base their decision on that.
Jeremy Guthrie is just another pitcher on the long list of players who have talent but are just on terrible teams. I don't think that anyone could argue that it is fun to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles. Since joining Baltimore in 2007, Guthrie has led the league in losses with 17 in 2009 and 2011. He is arbitration eligible this season and projects to be making over $8 million in 2012 mainly because he has pitched over 200 innings in each of the last three years.
In 2011 he only got 3.88 runs of support from his Orioles offense while Baltimore scored an average of 4.37 runs per game. Boston averaged 5.4 runs per game which could result in more wins for Guthrie. It would be tough for the Orioles to take on Lackey's contract so a lot of cash would be necessary in the deal. A move to Boston could turn around a tarnished career for Jeremy Guthrie.