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The Nats want Lackey, but why would he want them?

Nov 18, 2009, 8:50 AM EDT

Last year the Washington Nationals were in on Mark Teixeira. No one figured they’d get him, but because the guy is from the mid-Atlantic area, there was at least a reason not to openly guffaw at their courtship of the guy. He could have gotten homesick. There was at least a non-zero chance that he’d be interested, even if was a chance that was only microscopically above zero.

But John Lackey?  MLB.com’s Bill Ladson says that the Nats are interested, the idea being that a guy like Lackey could anchor the staff and serve as a mentor to Stephen Strasburg and the other young Nats’ pitchers. Here’s Mike Rizzo’s explanation of how the Nationals can convince a guy like Lackey to come to what has been futility central for the past few years:

You
have to show the veteran pitcher what the plan is, our plan for
success, how we are built to perform at this level at this given time . . . We think with the additions of an Adam Dunn, a Josh Willingham and
Nyjer Morgan, it’s going to attract some veteran players. These guys
know what we are doing here. It’s all over the league where we are at
and what we are trying to do. I think they can see this is the
beginning of a good, exciting ballclub.

If I’m John Lackey’s agent and they trot out Adam Dunn I say “John, you sign there and you’ll have the absolute worst defensive player in baseball in left or at first.”  If they trot out Josh Willingham I say “John, they were openly shopping him last week, so even if he floats your boat, don’t count on him.” If they trot out Nyjer Morgan I’d say “Man, those socks look good, don’t they?  Morgan is sharp. No reason to turn down the Yankees and Red Sox, but he is sharp.”

I agree that brighter days are in the Nats’ future, but there’s zero chance Lackey will buy what Mike Rizzo is selling. There’s nothing in his history or public statements that suggests he’d be interested in assuming some Obi-Wan role on a team like the Nats. This is probably his last shot at a big free agent deal, and he’s going to use it to land somewhere that provides him both money and a guarantee of winning, and Washington ain’t that place.   

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Nov 18, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    Remember Lackey’s reactions when the Angels made errors in the playoffs behind him? He might turn into Reggie Jackson in Naked Gun and pull the gun from under 3rd base and shoot ‘em all.
    I must kill…the team…

  2. dcfan-1212450 - Nov 18, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    If the Nats get Lackey, it proves Lackey is a true merc, only in it for the money. Lackey is to high profile for the Nats. We need veteran pitchers yes, but guys who may have flown under the raday. Marquis comes to mind, but even he wont sign. The Rays tried this once, and couldnt sign anyone until they won. The Nats are in the same boat. We got Dunn, who is an excellent hitter, because no one else wanted to pay his salary for a really bad defender. Nyjer Morgan is pretty good, and he likes being a star in Washington. Josh Willingham is an excellent trade bait because he cost nothing and can get us what we really need, pitching, but our asking price has been to high, and i expect him to be a Nat this season as well. Offense was never the Nats problem. So for Lackey to join us, we must out bid the next highest team by a lot, and Lackey needs to be a money grubbing jerk. Which both seem unlikely and bad for the Nats anyways…

  3. Old Gator - Nov 18, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    If a paternal figure is what the Gnats are looking for, they should be falling all over themselves to sign Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. These guys will not only teach the Gnats’ exciting young prospects how to hang on when you are long past usefulness, but they will give the team at least two or three innings per start, and dig holes of no more than four or five runs for their exciting young hitting prospects to fill in for them before the exciting young pitching prospects in their bullpen trot in to open up a few more sinkholes.

  4. GBS - Nov 18, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    Granted, if I were John Lackey, I doubt I’d sign with the Nats, either. But to automatically label a player a “money grubbing jerk” if he wants to optimize his earning potential and set up his descendants forever is the same typical jealous commentary fans have thrown at players for decades.

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