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John Lackey may not get the six years he wants

Dec 9, 2009, 8:25 AM EDT

John Lackey is reported to want something better in terms of money and years than A.J. Burnett got last winter.  A.J. Burnett got five years and $82 million. That puts Lackey’s demand in the six-year range, with total dollars approaching $100 million.

Guess what: he ain’t gettin’ that from the Angels, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times.  GM Tony Reagins:  “There is a point where it doesn’t make sense. You can jeopardize your organization moving forward when you
consider the dollars a player might command.”

How about the Mets?  As was reported the other day, the Mets aren’t interested in going six years, either.  There is some suggestion this morning that there is still some internal debate about this in the Mets hotel suite, but even that is characterized thusly: “Lackey currently is the only free-agent starter the Mets would consider going beyond three years on.”

The problem with that phrasing is two-fold: (1) it ends with a preposition — it should read “Lackey is the only free-agent starter for whom the Mets would consider going beyond three years”; and (2) there’s a big difference between “willing to go beyond three years” and “willing to give a 31 year-old starter who is a notch below the usual cream of the free agent crop six years and $100 million.”

  1. BC - Dec 9, 2009 at 9:07 AM

    Don’t do it, Mets! You’re not going to win next year anyway. Spend your money on Holliday or save it for next year.

  2. YANKEES1996 - Dec 9, 2009 at 10:16 AM

    John Lackey is not worth 6 years 100 million dollars, he 31 years old and is known for lack of control issues. I could see someone offering him a contract for 3 or 4 years at 80 to 85 million with the last year of the contract being a team option situation with a modest buyout. He is not a Sabathia caliber pitcher and he is only regarded as an ace because he pitches for the Angels, he is a good 3rd or 4th starter. I would like to see the Yanks go after him but after the Granderson trade I really don’t want to see the Yankees get used and abused and overpay a guy like Lackey. The deal we suffered through with Carl Pavano should still be fresh in the old memory.

  3. Roger - Dec 9, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    Honestly, anyone paying over 12 mill a year for Lackey is getting ripped. A four year max contract is enough. But there are plenty of teams out there that can’t wait to get ripped. Mets have a payroll now of over 120 mill a year with nothing to show for it. Sign Lackey and they can add to their ineptitude. Check Lackey’s record. He is nothing more than an average pitcher.

  4. themarksmith - Dec 9, 2009 at 11:02 AM

    All the talk about Lackey’s potential contract seems to have created a nice little backlash against the pitcher. From 2005-2007, he was worth 5-6 wins a season. Last season, he was still worth 4 wins while missing a month, making him the 10th most valuable pitcher in the AL last season. A month more, and he may have been worth closer to 5 wins (7th). His 3 K/BB is pretty good, he gets a good amount of ground balls (1.28 GB/FB), and was actually a bit unlucky last season. His FIPs are all around the mid-3′s (except 2008). Yes, he has pitched in the AL West and probably isn’t a top-10 pitcher in the majors, but he is an ace for most teams. Most importantly, he’s significantly better than AJ Burnett, and it’s not ridiculous that he wants to be compensated as such. Is he worth 6/$100 MM? No, but the free-agent market rarely has given a player only what they are worth. It’s a case of improving player valuations, proper budget considerations, and free-agents expecting previous trends to continue.
    As for the preposition thing, I realize that it is a grammar rule, but can someone tell me why? It is really so bad to have a preposition at the end of a sentence?

  5. BC - Dec 9, 2009 at 11:46 AM

    A preposition is a lousy word to end a sentence with.

  6. Andy L - Dec 9, 2009 at 12:06 PM

    David Foster Wallace, in his essay “Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage” proposes that ending a sentence in a preposition is an antiquated rule with no real advantage for better usage, and its application leads to awkward phrasing. He (and other grammarians) recommend dropping the rule altogether.

  7. Andy - Dec 9, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    If a team really looked they could get a pitcher with this kind of record for much less than 15 mill per year and give him less than a six year contract. The GMs and scouts that do their homework are the ones that field the best teams. Every year we read about these big free agent signings only to see the teams that make them go belly-up. Bad scouting and bad decision making by team GMs are what cost games won. Throwing money at problems doesn’t always give a team the desired result.

  8. themarksmith - Dec 9, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    Andy,
    If DFW said so, then it should be done. It really is too bad that the man took his own life. Anyway, the preposition rule really does make for some confusing sentences, and I’ve never understood why it existed. Anyone know the history of the rule?

  9. HaloFan - Dec 9, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    I’m an English teacher.
    Traditional definition: “A preposition describes a relationship between a noun or a pronoun following the preposition and another word in the sentence.”
    Traditionally, a preposition cannot end a sentence since it is merely a word that links a noun or pronoun *following it* to another word in the sentence. If no words were to follow it, then no linking could take place.
    It stems from the fact that English is built upon the conventions and rules of Latin. This translation issue is the origin of the usage rules for prepositions.
    However, most modern grammarians agree that this no longer need be the case. A basic Google search will provide countless articles from noted grammar experts declaring the traditional definition to be dead.
    I teach my students to avoid using prepositions at the end of a sentence when possible, but not to the point of making their compositions unnecessarily awkward and contrived. When in doubt, let your ear be the guide.

  10. JG - Dec 9, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    John Lackey’s pitching stats for 2009 were only marginally better than Jon Garland’s. And AJ Burnett’s 2009 pitching stats are comparable to Garland’s. So how much should Jon get paid next year.

  11. themarksmith - Dec 9, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    HaloFan,
    Thanks for the explanation. I figured that there was a reason for it. Things like that tend to have an original reason that makes a lot of sense, but after a number of years, either the reason no longer applies or there’s a translational (cultural or language) issue that makes the rule no longer necessary. Again, I appreciate the information.
    JG,
    What exactly is the similarity between Garland and Lackey? Lackey strikes out 2.3 more per 9, walks fewer hitters, gets at least as many groundballs, gives up fewer homers, and has FIPs a whole run lower.

  12. JG - Dec 9, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    Garland/11-13 record, 4.01 ERA, 33 GS, 204 innings pitched. Lackey/11-8 record, 3.83 ERA, 27 GS, 176.1 innings pitched. Seems pretty similar to me. Garland had more innings pitched and more games started. FIP, you mean VIP. An ERA of 3.83 is not star material and pitching just 176.1 innings in a year with 27 games started does not inspire awe.

  13. Andy L - Dec 9, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    HAhahahah JG
    The reason they seem so similar is because all you’re looking at is record, ERA, GS (?) and IP. Then you call out themarksmith for looking at way WAY more relevant stats – like Ks, BBs, GB/FB ratio, and HR allowed. Not even mentioning FIP. If you don’t see how these stats are much more of an indicator of what may happen next year than the really basic ones you cited…I don’t think I can help you.

  14. JG - Dec 9, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    The only thing in baseball that matters is winning, not some made up bull, new wave statistics. Way more relevant stats, you gotta be kidding. Winning is winning, everything else is extraneous.

  15. HaloFan - Dec 9, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Because we all know that whoever was on the mound with the lead in the sixth inning is the only important contributor to that victory. If you’re looking to evaluate a team, wins are a pretty good indicator. If you’re looking to evaluate individual players and their performances, wins are just about the worst metric possible. But hey, if you don’t have the time to dig into those “new-wave” statistics, by all means, give Jon Garland a call instead of John Lackey. You’re team will do just as well, right? Surprising that you’ve figured that out, but none of the other GMs have.

  16. Andy L - Dec 9, 2009 at 5:19 PM

    I do enjoy that somehow pitcher strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed are “new wave” statistics.

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