Troubling Signs from Lackey in Boston

Sometimes a team signs a player because they covet him. This is the case with Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, as we discussed yesterday. Other times a team signs a player because he fits into the team’s roster building strategy. The Sox signed John Lackey this off-season because he was the best available pitcher and therefore fit into the pitching and defense schematic. The plan seemed sound. The Red Sox would attack the league with four good to great starters — plus wild card Daisuke Matsuzaka — and back them up with good to great defense at nearly every position. As evidenced by the team’s record and place in the standings, the plan failed. Lackey has certainly played a part in its unraveling.

Signing Lackey seemed like a sound decision at the time. After gaining fame for his World Series Game 7 start in 2002 he went on to pitch five straight seasons with at least 198.1 innings, and in the last three he kept his ERA at 3.56 or below and his FIP in about the same range. He did miss the starts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but pitched well upon his returns, notching 163.1 and 176.1 innings with decent ERAs. In 2009 he had a 3.83 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 3.92 xFIP, which were all pretty close to his career averages. The Sox knew they weren’t getting an ace, but they figured that with a superb defense behind him he could perhaps outperform his peripherals.

In August Matthew described Lackey’s struggles against lefties, a factor that certainly contributed to his poor season. Also contributing is his poor work on the road. In 93 innings away from Fenway Park Lackey has a 4.55 ERA, 4.30 FIP, and 4.71 xFIP, compared to a 4.36 ERA, 3.54 FIP, and 4.08 xFIP at home. Overall his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up, both at career worsts, and his BABIP, .327, is the highest since 2005. His swinging strike rate is down almost two percentage points from last season and for the first time since 2004 it sits below league average. That can be traced to his O-Swing%, which, while slightly higher than last year, is much worse when compared to the league average. I could continue, but suffice it to say that Lackey has declined in many ways this season.

When looking at baseball players there is an urge to find comparisons. We see this on Baseball Reference pages in two forms, one a general comparison and another comparison to players of the same age. Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA formula uses comparable players when computing its projections. And, of course, there’s always the “he’s a young/a poor man’s/the next” player comparison. For the most part we see these comparisons between players with similar skill sets. But with Lackey the most useful comparison might not be someone who shares his size and pitch repertoire, but rather one who has experienced similar career numbers. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the best comparison to Lackey might be A.J. Burnett.

At first it might seem silly to compare the two. Lackey hasn’t thrown fewer than 163.1 innings since 2002 and he has very good control. Burnett has spent plenty of time on the DL since his debut in 1999 and generally has terrible control. Yet as Tommy Bennet showed in December, they had similar career rate stats when they signed similar five-year, $82.5 million contracts. Burnett actually came in a notch above, a 3.81 career FIP against Lackey’s 3.90. Burnett also came out ahead when Bennett compared the weighted averages of their three years before signing long-term contracts, but the two are still close.

Both Burnett and Lackey experienced similar changes with their new clubs. In 2009 Burnett saw his strikeout rate drop, his walk rate jump, and his home run rate increase by a decent amount. A BABIP dip, which put him closer to his career average, helped stave off a disastrous season. Lackey saw the same dip in strikeout rate and spike in walk rate, though with BABIP and home run rate he experienced the opposite effect. Lackey’s ERA has jumped, though his FIP isn’t that much higher than last year. Burnett’s FIP increased significantly, but his ERA remained consistent with his career average. Where both pitchers experienced an increase is in xFIP.

Save for his injury shortened 2003 season, Burnett had never experienced an xFIP over 3.75 — and even then it came in 2002. When he made the move to the Yankees it jumped to 4.29. Since 2004 Lackey has kept his xFIP around 4.00, but in his first year with Boston it has increased to a career high 4.39. Lackey can only hope that, because his xFIP didn’t increase to the same degree that Burnett’s did, that he doesn’t experience a similar sophomore season in Boston as Burnett did in New York. This year Burnett’s xFIP has further increased to 4.60, which matches his FIP and is a bit below his 5.13 ERA.

Lackey does have a few things going for him that might help him avoid the same fate as Burnett. He’s almost two years younger, so we might not see his stuff decline in the same we we have seen from Burnett. He also has historically displayed more control, so if that comes back next season he should be back in form. Burnett might have had his worst season control-wise in 2009, but his control wasn’t that good in previous seasons. But considering the similarities between the two, it has to give Boston a scare that Lackey has performed so poorly in the first year of his contract.




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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

82 Responses to “Troubling Signs from Lackey in Boston”

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  1. Joe says:

    Lackey’s peripherals look really good since the beginning of August though. His K rate skyrocketed, and his walks went down.

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  2. brendan says:

    “Overall his strikeout rate is up and his walk rate is down, both at career worsts,…” should it be strikeouts down and walks up?

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  3. Locke says:

    “As evidenced by the team’s record and place in the standings, the plan failed.”

    Boy, if that’s a misleading statement I don’t know what is.

    What’s much, much closer to the truth is that Boston constructed a great team top to bottom, and despite being ravaged throughout the season by a 99th percentile amount of injuries to talented players, they still managed to post the third best record in baseball for a good portion of the season. They’ve since thrown in the towel, but labeling the PLAN a failure… well that’s simply ignorant.

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    • Joe Pawlikowski says:

      I said the plan failed, which it did. I could have gone into the good process/bad result nature of why the plan failed, but that’s not relevant to the post. It might make a good one for a later date, though.

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      • melvin emmanuel says:

        “I said the plan failed, which it did.”

        Like Locke, I too have an issue with the statement. The plan you described in the sentence prior to saying it failed reads, “The plan seemed sound. The Red Sox would attack the league with four good to great starters — plus wild card Daisuke Matsuzaka — and back them up with good to great defense at nearly every position.”

        Considering they played 90% of the season without their planned LF, 70% of the season without their planned CF, 50% of the season without their planned 2B, 40% of the season without their planned 1B, 30% of their season without their planned #2 starter, and 25% of the season without their panned #5 season, you’re still comfortable with the statement, “the plan failed?”

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      • Joe Pawlikowski says:

        Oh, how original. A Yankees-Red Sox remark.

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      • Locke says:

        A mere suggestion that your obstinence may be fueled by outside factors…

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      • Danmay says:

        The plan did fail – You are correct about that regardless of the reason for the failure, but then why bother saying it at all. This is a minor quibble to be sure. It doesn’t actually take anything away from the article that you wrote, but it also adds nothing. Then again, I’m not a writer and I didn’t have to write an intro.

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      • asdf says:

        Actually, since the plan never came to fruition and wasn’t fully presented, it can’t be said to have failed.

        In other words, injuries do not equal failure….just bad luck.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        “In other words, injuries do not equal failure….just bad luck.”

        Unless you’re the 2009 Mets.

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      • pele says:

        typing the red sox offseason plan failed = brainfart

        continuing to argue that statement after 73 people show you why you are wrong = stupidity or stubbornness, both terrible attributes if you want to write about baseball.

        i feel somewhat confident that had the red sox been dealt a normal distribution of injuries based on player age etc. that the team would probably have the best record in baseball.

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      • Joe Pawlikowski says:

        In a way, pele, you’re right. I shouldn’t have continued to defend the statement. I should have pointed out that it’s one line in the entire article, and it doesn’t directly relate to the point at hand.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        The more I read the following the less I’m convinced the main audience of fangraphs is above 12. Come on y’all. This has little to do with the article.

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      • melvin emmanuel says:

        My echo and bunnymen – you’re right, and someone else pointed out that it doesn’t take away from the main argument.

        But what if Joe said, “the plan failed, and the Red Sox, with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball, couldn’t withstand the injuries.” Should we overlook the incorrect statement, “one of the smallest payrolls in baseball,” just because it has little to do with the overall argument?

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    • Joe says:

      I agree. If the Yankees lost Cano, Tex, Pettitte, Gardner, Posada, Granderson, CC for a stint, and a few others, then their “plan” would have failed too.

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      • Dan says:

        The Red Sox plan didn’t fail. They were unable to execute it.

        Injuries have been the major let down. Not the players.. well besides Lackey.

        So yes, having Lackey be a major part of the execution of that plan failed.

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      • Locke says:

        Hahah yep.

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      • alskor says:

        He didn’t knock the plan! All he said was it didn’t work… since they’re 7 games out of a playoff spot with what? 17 to go? its pretty obvious this wasn’t a success. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good plan (joe doesn’t remark on that)… just that – FOR WHATEVER REASONS – it failed. You can’t argue this. They MIGHT win 90 games… 87 or so perhaps more realistic. This was clearly not the expectation Epstein et al had for this season, so its pretty clear the plan they made did not work out. Sometimes plans fail due to poor planning… other times they fail because of injury, bad luck, poor execution, bad umpiring, etc… The author did not comment here what he thought the reason was for the failure. He basically said “things didn’t work out as they expected.”

        As for Lackey… I think much of his performance and stats this year are illusory. For reasons that aren’t clear to me he had absolutely no curve ball or command of his curve for most of the season (especially the first half). The duece has returned for him recently with much better results as a consequence. This may be mechanical or injury related… though the case could be made (as Joe touches on above) that he is in decline. he posted the worst pitch value for his curve of his career in 2009 (4.2) before this season’s horror show (-5.7 – and much worse IIRC before this recent stretch, but I’m not privy to monthly splits on pitch values). Without his (formerly) best pitch the Lackey we saw in the first half is what we might expect from the repertoire he had at that time (if slightly unlucky as well). His usual plus command of above average stuff became very suddenly a flattened out breaking pitch he had no command of and couldn’t throw for strikes and a fastball he was afraid to spot since no one was fooled by the breaking pitch anymore. He had nothing batters would chase so stopped throwing his fastball for strikes – one of his strengths in the past. IMHO, this is overwhelmingly the source of his problems this year… but it doesn’t particularly change Joe’s prognosis/conclusion despite the promising finish to his 2010. I’m troubled by this contract, but felt it was a worthwhile risk at the time and am still optimistic he can return to 85% of his previous form for the bulk of his remaining deal.

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      • Locke says:

        “The plan seemed sound. [IMPLYING IT WASN'T] ……………… the plan failed.”

        You can argue whatever you want. It’s just semantics. He chose to phrase his intro in a very specific manner, one that is very misleading.

        The Red Sox front office put their team in a position to win a lot of games this year. They plan was not only sound, it was probably a top 3 (top 5 at worst) roster in the MLB on day 1 of the season. The Bosox didn’s fail because of the plan. They failed for outside reasons. He chose not to elucidate any of that, leaving the very misleading first paragraph to read as if the Red Sox botched the season before it started.

        Simply… not very well narrated.

        Or he’s a Yanks fan.

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      • melvin emmanuel says:

        “He didn’t knock the plan! All he said was it didn’t work… since they’re 7 games out of a playoff spot with what?”

        I know you’re a Sox fan, but 7 games out in a division with the two best teams in baseball, and Toronto, which would likely have finished near the top of the West or Central, with a lineup that often included the names Kalish, Hall, Nava, Cash, and Lowrie, is a failed plan? Both you and Joe are implying that the plan implemented by Theo failed based on their current record. Based on the definition of plan – A set of intended actions, through which one expects to achieve a goal, can you say that Theo’s intended actions were to include those above names in his lineup this year?

        I know this has nothing to do with the overall article, just a one-liner that probably should’ve been excluded or included more info.

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    • Evan Kirkwood says:

      The Sox have a .556 winning percentage. Their starters have the 3rd best xFIP in the AL. Even after losing almost all of their positional starters for extended periods of time, they’ve still posted a positive UZR. I think that could be listed as a successful plan (seeing as how their plan accomplished its goals), even BEFORE accounting for the fact that they’ve been decimated by key injuries.

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    • NEPP says:

      Maybe he means they should have invested more money in their medical staff?

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  4. Dan Hoban says:

    I admire Fangraphs and Joe is a well-informed writer. But he also co-produces a Yankees fan blog that regularly takes cracks at the Red Sox.

    While Lackey is a good subject, is a Yankees fan and Red Sox hater the most objective person to tackle this topic? If nothing else, there should be full disclosure of Joe’s bias.

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    • Joe Pawlikowski says:

      I appreciate the compliment Dan, but I personally do not take cracks at the Red Sox. And even if I do make an occasional remark, it doesn’t affect my work at FanGraphs.

      To full disclosure, this appears on all of my articles:
      Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

      And finally, no one had problems with bias yesterday when I wrote an optimistic case for Josh Beckett. But all the sudden I hate the Sox on a day I’m critical of one of their players. So maybe there’s bias in the comments, too.

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      • Dan says:

        Well, the phrasing just brings up a subject matter for a whole new article.

        Did the plan really fail? Considering what bad luck they did have and the still great record they put up, did their team of pitching and defense exceed expectations?

        If they’re plan allowed them to outperform expectations despite injuries, well then we have a discussion on our hands. Despite the Red Sox most likely not making the playoffs that doesn’t matter.

        Case and point, 2010 Toronto Blue Jays. Their offense plans this season was, quite simply, to hit balls hard. They have CRUSHED the ball all season long. The plan worked. Despite being in 4th place in the AL.

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      • Locke says:

        If you actually mean it when you say that the Red Sox’s preseason plan was flawed, and that they could’ve changed the outcome of their season in hindsight by making different strategic moves before the season started, then I take everything back.

        In your article you simply connect the dots and say “They lost, therefore the plan failed” when in fact the plan was good, and they got unlucky to suffer so many injuries.

        If there was any site on the internet that could admit to luck having an appreciable factor on our lives, I thought it was fangraphs.

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      • Cliff Lee's Changeup says:

        yes the plan failed. they went into the season with one of the oldest teams in the league, older then both the Yankees and Rays. Older players are more at risk then younger ones for health related problems. They also relied on players like Dice-k and Beckett with injury histories. The front office, if Theo is the brilliant mind he is painted as (and I think he is a good GM) then he certainly was aware that injuries could derail his team. Low and behold the team has been savaged by injuries. Not all Theo’s fault, but what if he decided to go for younger players and rely on pitching that was less injury prone? Its too late to say now.

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      • Rich says:

        “I appreciate the compliment Dan, but I personally do not take cracks at the Red Sox. And even if I do make an occasional remark, it doesn’t affect my work at FanGraphs.”

        Clearly, a lot of us disagree.

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    • quincy0191 says:

      It says he writes for a Yankees blog at the end of the post.

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    • alskor says:

      He handled the Beckett piece pretty well yesterday… no one seemed to have objections to his treatment there.

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      • melvin emmanuel says:

        Alskor, I usually fall on your side of the argument, just not this time. I don’t know if it’s internet writer sticking up for internet writer, but why cloud the argument by pointing out this Beckett piece yesterday? Did he incorrectly state that the Sox had a plan in place and if failed in that article as well?

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    • Mark says:

      In Joe’s defence I cant remember reading anything over at RAB where he takes a pop at the Red Sox, and there are plenty of commenters who do. He always seems to take a reasoned approach to his writing.

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  5. Obligatory Sox Fan says:

    You guys are crazy. The article is un-biased.

    Like a lot of sox fans, I’m hoping that when the season is over, someone here at fangraphs will post a eulogy for the lost 2010 Sox season. They can confirm our feelings that this season was lost due to random injuries, and not from lack of talent in the front office or field.

    In the mean time we need to suck it up, and not jump on everyone who doesn’t offer consolation. The plan failed. Lackey was part of why. End of story.

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  6. quincy0191 says:

    Normally I don’t pick on this stuff, but this is just a poorly written article from a grammatical standpoint. Lots of comma issues, among other things, made it considerably more difficult to read than it should have been.

    In any case, I don’t know why the Red Sox thought they were getting even a good pitcher when they weren’t. Lackey has never been an ace (except perhaps in 2007), he’s hovered around solid for a few years, but his strikeout numbers haven’t ever been good enough to think he’s going to produce the kind of results you’d expect from another A.J. Burnett contract. Even Burnett was fantastic for a few seasons in Toronto, and thinking he’d get better when he didn’t have to face the Yankees 18 times a season anymore is pretty good reasoning. Lackey pitched in the lackluster AL West on the only good team that division had for seven years, and it’s not surprising to see he’s struggling now that he has to pitch in a hitter’s park and face two of the most potent offenses in the majors on a regular basis. This contract was a bust from the start given Lackey’s career stats; I still don’t understand why everyone treated him like such a prize last offseason. I get that he was the best starter available, but did that really seduce people into thinking that he would be the best starter on a team with a record over .500?

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  7. Greg says:

    Is there any evidence, outside of the echo chamber, that the Sox went into the offseason with a “pitching and defense schematic?” Beltre and Cameron were signed for their short contracts (1 and 2 years) as much as for their UZRs.

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    • yougotrondo'd says:

      Exactly…they didn’t decide that 2010 would be the pitching and defense year, they just happened to aquire multiple players at good value who happened to play good defense. If they decided they were going strictly pitching and defense, they would have re-signed Alex Gonzalez. The Red Sox never put together an overall plan, they aquire the best overall team they can within their budget…they are too smart to focus on one aspect of the game while assembling their roster. The media dubbed it a pitching and defense team, even though they had the most potent offense in the MLB for a good chunk of the year, despite the injuries. This team was not the Seattle Mariners by any stretch.

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    • Jonathan says:

      I don’t have a link on hand, but Epstein was certainly quoted as touting run prevention. I recall it being all over the boston.com Extra Bases blog. I’ll have to watch for some links later.

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    • frank says:

      Exactly. I don’t get why people think this was some concerted effort when it seems like the best WAR value for the buck just happened to be pitching and defense. (And as you stated a manageable contract length was also a factor)

      Wasn’t Gonzalez a better defensive option than Scutaro? If run prevention was the plan Theo would have just resigned Gonzalez instead of going after Suctaro (who also was a Type A guy)?

      I saw the pitching and defense as mostly lip service to fans and a nice tag line for the media so they would understand the value in the Cameron and Beltre signings and give some cover for letting Bay go (which was the right move).

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      • Jonathan says:

        As I recall, the logic behind Scutaro over Gonzalez was as follows:

        Gonzalez signed pretty much as soon as he was able to. The Sox told him they wanted to explore the market, he was not inclined to wait around and took the first fair deal he was offered. The Sox didn’t decide against Gonzalez, per se, he was just no longer available.

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  8. Nick V says:

    Seems to me like “the plan” succeeded. The Sox will have won a bunch of games despite crippling injuries to their best players throughout the year. Not sure how you can fault the team’s plan. That was a very weird addition to an otherwise thoughtful post. Delete the first paragraph, and you should have nothing but praise for this piece. Locke and others basically have it right, other than the bias stuff which doesn’t interest me…

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  9. yougotrondo'd says:

    I don’t think the article was biased as a whole. But while I was reading the line about the plan failing, I gotta admit I thought it seemed strange and thought the writer was a Yankee fan. I read the Beckett article as well, and it was very unbiased. However, people usually don’t know their biases and I think that little shot at the Red Sox wouldn’t have occured if he writer was a fan of, say, the Minnesota Twins. Its not a big deal, but both the writer and the commentors come off as overly sensitive on this issue.

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  10. Nikolai Volkoff says:

    Can’t wait for “whacky” lackey, and the headcase headhunter josh beckett to impode the rest of their contracts. throw in the ridiculously overhyped and overpaid dice-k and from an outsiders point of view, only lester and bucholz are worth anything in the rotation. you’re ###### when clay’s arm starts to hurt.

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    • Locke says:

      This guy is definitely not a Yankees fan.

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      • nmh says:

        Don’t these weak comments belong on Dirt Dogs? How brainless is it to center your analytical argument on fandom? Better yet, how do you continue to argue for impartiality when you yourself are so clearly biased?

        I am a Red Sox fan, but this isn’t a site I visit to have my ego stroked. Maybe you could just follow Sean McAdam’s twitter.

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      • Locke says:

        It was a joke. This dude above us is hilarious. I was having some fun.

        Whoooosh……over your head

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    • Iron Shiek says:

      Come out and see Nikolai and I battle the British Bulldogs at the Hartford Civic Center this Saturday night!!

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  11. Bobby Analog says:

    The plan to win by means of run prevention didn’t fail. The Red Sox were able to prevent as many runs as they planned to. Unfortunately, scoring more runs than they prevented was never a part of their plan; that is why they’re currently in third.

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    • alskor says:

      Eh… the OF defense (especially early in the year with McDonald and Hermida) really wasn’t great – especially compared to going in thinking they had two CFers (Cameron and Ellsbury) and a plus defensive RF in Drew. The poor OF defense really did hurt the pitching staff… a decent amount of flyball pitchers and relievers on that team.

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      • melvin emmanuel says:

        As someone who’s attending over 30 games this year, alskor’s dead on with this point. The OF defense was atrocious. Unfortunately, we never got to see the full plan in action, which is a shame because a three team race for two spots in one division with multiple games in Sept would’ve been some fun baseball to watch. It’s pretty cleat that all three teams were 95+ win teams.

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    • Evan Kirkwood says:

      “Unfortunately, scoring more runs than they prevented was never a part of their plan; that is why they’re currently in third.”

      http://www.fangraphs.com/teams.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&type=1&season=2010&month=0

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  12. I Bring Nothing to the Table says:

    An amused observation more than anything, only eight of these comments even reference Lackey.

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    • sleepingcobra says:

      Even better: every article here having to do with a Red Sock or a Yankee has to contain, on average, 2 extra paragraphs of apologetics in order to stem the tide of howling East Coast Baseball Beowulfs.

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    • melvin emmanuel says:

      What’s to argue about? Most seem to agree that the Lackey stuff was dead on, and great piece. The one liner proclaiming a failed plan obviously has flaws and a good number of us are pointing that out. I for one don’t think it has anything to do with Sox vs Yanks bias.

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      • I Bring Nothing to the Table says:

        Merely an observation that this thread would have about a dozen comments right now had one largely irrelevant line in the introductory paragraph been omitted. Nothing more.

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    • this guy says:

      The cause is stupidity.

      These morons think taking a single facet of a message out of context is worth noting. They don’t really have anything to say.

      They are the product of the garbage that comes out of the TV everyday, particularly in politics. They never learned how to think, so it’s “monkey see, monkey do”.

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  13. Nom Chompsky says:

    Man, if only his criticism of a Red Sox player consisted primarily of comparison with a current Yankees player, this whole “bias” thing would be a non-issue.

    A boy can dream, can’t he?

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    • Locke says:

      Admittedly, we weren’t critiquing the article itself, just the intro where his NY bias is blatantly on display. But your snark is noted for being mediocre and off topic. Thanks.

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      • Nom Chompsky says:

        Off-topic? The entirety of my comment relates to the issue at hand. Whether or not you like the content is immaterial.

        Your proof of his “blatant” NY bias is nothing more than a tail-chasing semantic argument; how he frames plans failing vis a vis not being executed isn’t indication of any bias (and is far more derailing than anything that I said).

        But your condescension is noted for being misplaced and full of logical holes. Danke.

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      • Locke says:

        Congrats on saying literally nothing in 200 words or less.

        Your comment was offtopic because we were debating one very narrow aspect of his article. The critique of Lackey and comparison to Burnett is actually a pretty good one. We’ve said that. You still fail to follow the simple lines of logic and discussion, and for that, you should feel proud of yourself.

        In conclusion:

        intro paragraph: NY bias leads writer to make subtle but inflammatory remark about Redsox organization. The validity of this claim is the discussion at hand, at least as reflected in most of the comments. The pro-bias side has made many salient points, whereas the not-bias side has struggled to defend the notion that the Red Sox were anything but the victim of bad luck. This is the discussion. Welcome to it.

        rest of article: good.

        you: lost and thinking highly of himself.

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      • I Bring Nothing to the Table says:

        What was that line about arguing on the internet and the Special Olympics?

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      • Locke says:

        Apt handle.

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      • I Bring Nothing to the Table says:

        With a valid point.

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      • Nom Chompsky says:

        Sigh.

        Apparently I have to spell my argument out very clearly:

        You are taking needless offense to semantic choice and creating bias where there is none. The content of Joe’s previous work, and indeed of this post itself (i.e., Yankee criticism), indicate that he isn’t biased against the Red Sox.

        Full stop.

        P.S.: You should read the posts you reply to.

        “While Lackey is a good subject, is a Yankees fan and Red Sox hater the most objective person to tackle this topic? If nothing else, there should be full disclosure of Joe’s bias.”

        Certainly sounds like it’s implying an anti-Red Sox bias vis-a-vis the body of the post.

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      • Locke says:

        Oh, I read your posts. You think that because he drew a parallel to a bad Yankee pitcher in the body of his article he is therefore completely unable to posses any sort of bias against the Red Sox. That logic is soooo airtight.

        Since you’re disconnected with reality to the degree that you assume the author of this post is completely immune from any sort of bias, based purely on the reasoning that he is able to craft a coherent comparison between two under performing pitchers, one of whom is on his team, and one of whom is on his rival’s team… we are done here.

        Next time think about what you are actually saying before you type it. Clearly we’re having a little fun going back and forth here, but your argument literally makes no sense. It’s like saying “But how could the priest take advantage of those littlle boys when he acts so holy during church every Sunday?” Guess what? The world is dynamic. Pawl can show his bias in one paragraph, then seem totally unbias for the rest of the article. It’s called reading comprehension. You sound like a 5 year old stomping his feet plugging his ears saying NO BIAS NO BIAS LOOK HIS ARTICLE IS GOOD.

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  14. Eric M. Van says:

    Here’s a Lackey comment!

    Before the ASB he had a 5.46 Component ERA (using my version of BaseRuns on his full stat line), a 4.72 True ERA, and a 4.31 Win-Equivalent ERA (converting WPA on a start-by-start basis). His ability to strand runners and pitch to the score were so consistent that I was actually wondering whether if it was more than luck.

    Since the ASB he has a 3.62 Component, 4.03 True, and 4.44 Win-Equivalent, which means he’s accomplished the feat of improving his K rate by 56% (.134 to .210), his BB rate by 37% (.091 to .057), his BABIP from .331 to .315, and keeping his HR / Contact rate constant — while being *less* valuable to the team. His inability to pitch out of jams and pitch to the score has been so striking that in his last start I successfully predicted he’d cough up his 2-0 lead if he gave up a leadoff hit in the 7th — and he had a 6 2 0 0 0 5, GDP line at that point. Again, I’m wondering whether it’s more than luck, and (not for the first time) whether more players exhibit such streaks of clutch and un-clutch performance than would be expected by chance, even if only a small percentage of them end up with a net surplus or deficit.

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    • Steve says:

      As long as we’re playing the Small Sample Game….Since the ASB:

      ERA vs. “Major League Offenses” – 5.00
      ERA vs. “the Mariners” – 1.13

      I don’t know how to get FIP’s for splits like this, but the bottom line is that he’s been as mediocre as ever, it’s just that his numbers are propped up by 2 starts against the Mariners who have one of the worst offenses of the last 20 years.

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      • IBNttT says:

        vs. Major League offenses: 3.62 FIP, 3.73 xFIP
        vs. the Mariners: 1.85 FIP, 2.96 xFIP

        Overall: 3.26 FIP, 3.57 xFIP

        Average OPS+ of teams faced: 96

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  15. this guy says:

    “Signing Lackey seemed like a sound decision at the time.”

    Actually, not it didn’t. Plenty of people saw his collapse coming, including me. You have no idea how to evaluate pitching, that’s why you didn’t see it.

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    • Jonathan says:

      Those same people who saw Lackey’s collapse coming are the same people who said Beltre couldn’t possibly bounce back from his offensive woes in Seattle and say that Drew is worthless because he “lacks heart.”

      Statistically speaking, Lackey was expected to have some regression, but a full on implosion was not in line with his career numbers. You’re on the wrong site, sir.

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    • Jason B says:

      “Plenty of people saw his collapse coming, including me. You have no idea how to evaluate pitching, that’s why you didn’t see it.”

      Well at least you don’t think highly of yourself or anything…

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  16. Steve says:

    Hey, at least if Lackey is done as an elite pitcher, he still has his boyish good-looks to fall back on.

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  17. Ross says:

    Joe Pawl writes for a Yankee fan site, whose commenters take shots at the Red Sox, so clearly Joe is a Yankee shill.

    Joe Pawl writes for Fangraphs, whose commenters (judging from this thread) are a bunch of whiney Red Sox fans. So clearly Joe is a….. ?????

    ????

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  18. Michael says:

    Here’s something else that’s troubling:

    http://praiseball.wordpress.com/tag/joe-pawlikowski/

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  19. Mr Punch says:

    I’m a lifelong Sox fan, and I think the plan in question – pitching and defense – did fail.What succeeded, except as derailed by injuries, was the reconstruction of the batting order and the bench. If they’d been healthy – and BTW it wasn’t mostly the old guys who got hurt – they would have had by far the best offense in baseball. (They had a decent offense with the 1-2-3-4 hitters out.)

    The worst part of it is that the offense was a one-year fix, whereas they’re stuck with Beckett and Lackey for years.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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