Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Red Sox Add Lackey & Cameron

The Boston Red Sox will be holding press conferences today to introduce two free agent signings.

Pitcher John Lackey has signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Sox (identical to what A.J. Burnett got with the Yankees last year.) Veteran outfielder Mike Cameron has also signed a two-year deal worth $15.5 million.

Lackey has pitched his entire major league career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In eight seasons with the Halos, Lackey won 101 games. His best season was in 2007 when he went 19-9 with a league leading 3.01 ERA. Lackey has vast experience pitching in the post-season. He won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series and has appeared in the post-season with the Angels five more times including this past season.

Yet I have mixed feelings about this deal. It is interesting that the Red Sox were unwilling to give their best offensive player Jason Bay $75 million over five years but are willing to give $82.5 million over five years to a good pitcher but not a great pitcher. Lackey thinks he's an ace but he's not one. He will be number three in the starting rotation behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.

What concerns me is that Lackey began both the 2008 and 2009 seasons on the DL due to arm trouble. To be fair, Lackey has pitched reasonably well when healthy. He went 12-5 in '08 and 11-8 in '09. But he also started fewer than 30 games and pitched less than 200 innings. That might work for the Sox in 2010 but suppose they lose Beckett to free agency after this season. Lackey will be expected to pick up the slack. It's unclear to me if Lackey can pitch 200 innings year after year.

Lackey also hasn't pitched well in Fenway Park. Granted, he did take a no-hitter into the 9th inning in 2008 but that has been the exception rather than the rule. That's not to say that Lackey can't make adjustments but it could prove to be a difficult first season for him here. But Red Sox Nation expects results. If Lackey doesn't deliver immediately that could present a problem for his long term future.

As the Red Sox learned this season you can never have enough starting pitching. But is signing John Lackey really worth losing Jason Bay? What if Bay signs with the Yankees?

The addition of Mike Cameron will soften the blow of losing Bay. Cameron isn't the offensive force that Bay is but he is an upgrade defensively. He has mostly played centerfield and has won three Gold Gloves for his outfield work. But with Jacoby Ellsbury in center, Cameron will play left field.

Cameron does turn 37 next month. But he is in excellent shape. He could be to the Sox in 2010 what Raul Ibanez was to the Phillies in 2009. Although Cameron has a modest .250 lifetime batting average and he strikes out a lot he consistently hits 20-25 home runs a season and drives in between 75-85 runs. Cameron once hit four home runs in a game while a member of the Seattle Mariners back in 2002. In 15 big league seasons, Cameron has played for the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Still, I wish the Sox had made a more vigorous effort to re-sign Bay. It could come back to haunt us if he ends up wearing Yankee pinstripes.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

A deal that make sense. Thanks for the update. Good luck to Cameron. By the way, Premio Foods is one great company who has free goodies and recipes to cool sports fans out there. Enjoy!