Lackey has averaged 3 WAR over the last 2 years (2 and then 3.9). Do we think that number is more relevant than a 4-year average for a pitcher on the wrong side of 30? You say expecting 4 wins is irresponsible, so I’m guessing the main reason you stick with 4 when you turn to the money is that he’s the best SP available and teams will bid each other up (and some teams don’t know what they are doing). If we go with 3, then $13.5M a year is more reasonable and Lackey might have to take $50M over 4 years (with the discount). I would say Boston is willing to pay more per win because of the level of competition they face, but then last offseason they went with cheap depth to supplement the same 5 starters they have now, so maybe not. At least Lackey’s an AL guy, as opposed to Penny and Smoltz.
It’s usually not a good idea to limit yourself to the last two years. Also, Lackey’s HR/FB in 2008 (his 2 win season) was ridiculously high, so he in reality pitched far better than a 2 win pitcher. It’s my belief that his “true talent,” as it were, is closer to a 4 or 5 win pitcher because of this, but of course this is where opinion and interpretation work their way into these sorts of analyses.
When I say expecting 4 wins is irresponsible, I’m more referring to expecting 4 wins in each year of the contract. Due to pitcher attrition it’s very very hard to expect that.
I agree that they won’t want to go more than 3 years (if they’ll even go to 3), but they need good innings from somewhere and can’t count on Daisuke (59 IP in 2009), Wakefield (129 IP and getting older), and Buchholz (92 IP and not likely to be pushed beyond 150 in 2010, if that high). Lackey, even with his injuries, has thrown at least 163 innings in each of the last 7 years. He’s worth looking at and may want to pitch for a contender. Of course, the main need for the Sox is on defense, where Bay+Ellsbury+Lowell+Lugo/Lowrie didn’t work. They could sign Bay to split time between LF and DH until Ortiz (the main offensive problem in ’09) is gone and maybe trade for DeJesus (mentioned in another post) to be their starting LF. Or sign Holliday for LF, let Bay walk, and hope that Ortiz is better in 2010. And why can’t this team find a SS?
What about the Mets and Lackey? They need a real starter, and the switch to the NL should be good for him.
“[Lackey’s] worth looking at and may want to pitch for a contender.”
The Angels have won the AL West 5 of the last 6 seasons (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009) and won the World Series as the Wild-Card in 2002. He doesn’t need to move to the AL East to pitch for a contender.