The Bottom Line - A Boston Red Sox blog

2011 Red Sox Prediction Results: John Lackey

Written by Rob Munstis | 16 November 2011

Every year we poll the fans and collect their predictions for the upcoming baseball season. Fans do their best to predict what kind of stats all the key Red Sox players will post and once the season ends we see who came close. The fans with the most accurate predictions win free swag from Bottom Line Apparel...

Daisuke Matsuzaka hit the DL in mid-May with a 3-3 record and a 5.30 ERA after 7 starts. He never came back... which is a bummer, because we had a good amount of predictions logged for Dice-K. The averages worked out to be 27 GS, 170 IP, 12 W, 8L, 4.04 ERA, 146 Ks and 76 free passes.

Given how everything went down, those kind of numbers from our 5th starter would have been amazing!

But I digress...

Next up? John Lackey.


Before the season started, we looked at how the improved patience of the hitters in the AL East versus the AL West may have been a key factor in Lackey's mediocre performance in 2010. I suggested that an improved curveball and less fastballs might help...

Lackey did throw fewer fastballs, but opted to increase his use of the slider by 50% and throw the curve a little less. A -7.2 value on the curve would explain his lack of confidence in that pitch, but his fastball was twice as bad as it was in 2010 (-9.6 / -23.4), so the question is: Has Lackey simply lost it or did he just lose his head in 2011 due to personal problems?

Bottom Line:
Lackey will spend 2012 on the DL recovering from Tommy John Surgery (and eating fried chicken), so we'll have to wait another year to see if he'll ever finish a season under 4.00 again. Don't get your hopes up. Here's the chart showing Lackey's actual 2011 stats in red, my predictions in italics and the fan predictions.


As you can see, many expected another mediocre season from Lackey, but no one predicted an ERA over 6.00 and most of us hoped for at least 150 Ks. Other than the wins and losses, no one came close, so we can't award a free t-shirt, but if we had to pick a winner for this round, it would be redsoxtalk.

Stay tuned for more results as the Hot Stove heats up this winter...

ps. Don't forget to click over and check out all of our t-shirts at Bottom Line Apparel. Boston sports fan t-shirt with a pop culture twist!  
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Red Sox "Beer-gate" must have Carl Crawford smiling

Written by Rob Munstis | 19 October 2011

The latest chapter in The Ugliest Post-Season in Red Sox History began today with official statements from John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Terry Francona... all denying that beer was consumed in the dugout during games.

You can get all the details at Extra Bases...

Personally, I've had enough of the "statements." Lackey, Beckett and Lester need to take a line from the Britney Spears: How to Recover from a Meltdown handbook and disappear for a few months. Shut up, hit the gym and show up in March ready to show off your six pack in a music video... and not ready to drink a six pack in a music video.

But instead, these guys keep talking to media, pointing fingers and digging themselves into deeper holes. And while I read the the latest from these knuckleheads this morning, a funny thought occurred to me: Carl Crawford has gotta be loving this.

Crawford signed 7-year, $142 million deal with Boston last winter. He collected a $6 million bonus, paid in $1 million incruments over the course of the season and finished the season with $14 million...

... and a .255 batting average.

In April, Crawford was whipping boy while the Red Sox lost their first six games and 10 of their first 12. On May 1st, the Sox were 12-15 and 5 games back in the AL East and Crawford was hitting .155, while bouncing around the lineup. He seemed to find his groove in May, hitting .304 though 119 at-bats, but he finished the rest of the season looking lost and frustrated... a far cry from the player we though we were getting.

So when the shit hit the fan in September, Crawford was already an after thought. John Lackey was killing out bullpen every 5th day, Josh Beckett's belly and cheeks were growing as fast as his ERA and Jon "The Golden Boy" Lester was falling apart when we needed him most.

When the Sox finally blew it in that final game in Baltimore, it was the pitching staff that took the heat... and then the wheels came off. Crawford said all the right things after that game while Adrian Gonzalez blamed ESPN and the schedule at the locker next to him. Then the front office axed Francona and the media jumped at the chance to air his dirty laundry. Mixed in with that laundry were reports of a clubhouse turned Animal House, starring Lackey, Beckett and Lester and the awkward resignation of GM Theo Epstein.

Andy just like that... nobody is talking about Carl Crawford and his 142 million dollars.

Bottom Line: Crawford obviously read Britney's handbook. He admitted to under-performing in 2011 and vouched to play better in 2012. Then he went home. Now we're learning that Carl walked into a shit storm so big that even David Ortiz wants out of Boston... and that has many fans sympathizing with Crawford.

And that must have C.C. smiling... just a little bit.

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Lackey's formula for success: Offense

Written by Rob Munstis | 24 August 2011

John Lackey entered last night game in Texas with a 2-4 record and a 7.00+ ERA against the Rangers, dating back to the start of 2008.

Needless to say, I wasn't expecting a gem.

Well, we didn't get one, but we did get a classic John Lackey outing: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

... and 11 runs of offense.

At this point in the season, you have to admit that Lackey battles through each and every outing. You may not like his antics on the mound or his 5.98 ERA, but he fights to get through 6+ innings and he generally keeps the Red Sox in the game... but that's because the Red Sox are a Top 3 offense in the MLB.

Lackey has essentially shaved two points off his ERA since July 1st (7.47/5.98), but don't let that or his 12-9 record fool you... he's pitching better, but not well.

He's 7-2 in his last 10 starts, but he's tallied just 2 Quality Starts (6.0+ IP, 3 or less ER) and the offense has scored 7.2 RPG over that span. That's enabled the Red Sox to overcome his 5.02 ERA and his 7.8 hits per game during this stretch of "improvement" from Lackey. The Sox even scored big in two of his three "non-wins," but took losses anyway (7-9 vs TOR on 7/4, 6-9 loss vs CLE on 8/1) thanks to the two worst outings of Lackey's last ten.

Bottom Line: The pitching match-up from last night (Lackey v Matt Harrison) could very well be a matchup we see in the playoffs... but I don't trust Lackey to hold the Rangers to 4 runs or less again.

Maybe I'm being to negative. Maybe I should just be happy that we have a great offense. You tell me...

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Who's your No. 3 starter: Lackey or Bedard?

Written by Rob Munstis | 18 August 2011


So... Erik Bedard has three starts in the books now since coming to Boston at the trade deadline:

August 4 vs CLE - 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, ND
August 9 @ MIN - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, ND
August 16 vs TAM - 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER (3 R), 0 BB, 6 K, L

Not great, but he's kept the Red Sox in those games. Against Cleveland, the bullpen let him down (side note: I'm soooo done with the Franklin Morales Experiment). In Minnesota, the bullpen held up and David Ortiz earned the Sox a win... but Bedard got the ND. And last time out, Jeff Neimann blanked a patchwork lineup for a complete game shutout... Bedard never had a shot at the W.

In short, Bedard has been consistent. I'd like to see him go 6 or 7 innings, but he doesn't walk batters (all 4 of his BBs came in one bad inning), he holds the opponent under 3 runs and he fans 5+ per start. If he keeps pitching like that, the Red Sox should win those games.

John Lackey, on the other hand, has been consistent in a different way. He's 6-2 in his last 9 starts and he's averaged 6 innings per try, but he's allowed 71 hits over 52.2 IPs and opponents are hitting .312 against him. The walks are down and Ks are steady, but he's relied on 6.7 RPG from the offense over that span...

Come playoff time, if he allows the Yankees or Rangers to hit over .300 against him, 6.7 runs may not be enough... especially since he'll be pitching in their house, not Fenway.

Bottom Line: Both guys have pitched okay against mediocre teams this month, but I don't feel great about either guy in a playoff game... and let's not even talk about a potential Game 7! That said, we'll need one of them to rise to the occasion in October. Lackey has postseason experience, but hasn't exactly blown anyone away in October... and with legit off-the-field issues messing with his head, I just don't trust him to get the job done.

Bedard has passed the "eye test," even if he hasn't collected a win yet. If I had to pick my No. 3 starter right now... and it surprises me to say this... I'd go with Bedard.

Who would you pick?

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How to keep Ortiz AND Papelbon: Incentives

Written by Rob Munstis | 10 August 2011


I heard some chatter on 98.5 The Sports Hub yesterday about David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon. The questions was: Should the Red Sox offer both players a multi-year deal after this season?

Papelbon's ERA and walk totals spiked in 2010, but he's on pace for his 6th straight season with 35+ saves and that puts him in an elite group of closers... just in time for a new contract. Ortiz had a disappointing year in 2009, hitting just .238, but he finished with 28 HRs and 99 RBI. Last year he proved the doubters wrong with a .270/32/102 season and he's looked even better this year...

In short, but players have consistently delivered for the Red Sox during thier time here in Boston, but the Sox just signed Lackey, Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez to huge contracts, putting them in a tough spot going forward.

The Sox have the money to do whatever they want, but they've always done well balancing their long term deals with small money contract for the younger players they have under control. Moving forward they'll need to keep that balance and that may mean they have to let one of both of these important players walk next season.

But I have an idea... offer them both contract with performance incentives, like they did with Bobby Jenks' contract. Take Papelon: The main concern here is that he won't be able to sustain his 35 save pace as he gets older. You don't want to wake up in 2014 and be paying Papelbon $15M to be Daniel Bard's set up man because he lost his mojo. The solution? Offer Paps a contract that's heavy up front, but incentive based on the back end. This would work similarly to the 7-year deal Marc Savard signed with the Bruins in 2009:

Savard's deal paid him $7 million for each of the first two seasons of the extension, $6.5 million the third season and $5 million the fourth season. But it dropped to $1.5 million for the 2014-15 season and $525,000 for each of the final two years of the deal.

The Sox could offer Paps something like this: $15M for 2012 and 2013 (Mariano Rivera money), $10M in 2014 and 2015 with incentives for saves and innings pitched and maybe two more years at $6M or $8M with similar incentives. That's still a ton of money for a closer, but the Sox would be paying him a proper salary for his remaining prime years while setting themselves up for the future.

After waiting years for his big pay day, it's hard to imagine Papelbon taking a deal like this, but there are many angles to consider. The Sox don't want Papelbon signing with the Yankees (one of the few teams capable of paying him what he wants) but they just signed Rivera to a 2 year deal through 2012 and he's showing no signs of slowing down. There's also going to be plenty of good closers on the market this offseason including Joe Nathan, Jose Valverde, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, K-Rod and others...

Both of these factoids give the Red Sox leverage. But with all those closers on the move, Paps will be entertaining plenty of offers, which gives him leverage.

Bottom Line: Ortiz is more likely to take an incentive based deal, much like Varitek did as he got older. The Sox could simply take JD Drew's money and give it to Ortiz... say, 2 years and $20 million? But they'll have to get more creative and possibly more aggressive if they want to keep Papelbon.

Who do you guys think is more important to the future of the Red Sox?


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Josh Beckett is getting hosed by his offense

Written by Rob Munstis

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