Dec
03

How serious are the Yankees about Lackey?

By

Roy Halladay has the headlines right now. Every major national outlet features a story about him on their MLB page. SI.com even has an homage to Halladay titled “The Race for Roy.” We’ve written about him just a few times over the last two weeks. When the best pitcher in baseball hits the trade market, he’s bound to capture our attention for a while. Eventually, though, the Halladay trade rumors will die down. Next up on the list of players connected to the Yankees could be John Lackey.

Though he’s taken a backseat to Halladay so far this off-season, Lackey is the best starting pitcher on the market. There are others with as much talent — Rich Harden, Erik Bedard, and Ben Sheets at their best can be as good, even better than Lackey, but they’re not as sure a bet as Lackey. Even tough he’s missed time the past two seasons, he’s still managed to pitch over 160 innings in each. Good innings, too. Even in a depressed free agent market he’ll get paid.

By not offering arbitration to any of their free agents, the Yankees have, like last winter, kept free the most possible payroll. This might have been a move related to the individual players — i.e., they thought that there was a good chance the player would accept and they didn’t want to pay the player an amount determined by an arbiter. But it might be that they want available payroll so they can replace one of their departing free agents with a new, younger player. Lackey makes plenty of sense in this regard. Adding him to the Yankees rotation could solidify it for 2010 and beyond.

If the Yankees do seek Lackey’s services, they’ll face plenty of competition. The rumors might be light now, but at the right price the Red Sox, Phillies, Mariners, Rangers, Brewers, and of course the Angels could be interested. It’s tough to say how high any of them will go, but it’s a good bet that, if they’re interested, the Yankees would be near the top of that pack. As they showed with A.J. Burnett last winter, they don’t like being outbid.

Jon Heyman talked up the Yanks’ interest in Lackey a month ago.1 “Word is that the Yankees probably will be willing to repeat A.J. Burnett’s $82.5 million, five-year contract for Lackey,” he wrote. Whose word that is I don’t know, but it sounds reasonable enough. Lackey’s stuff might not be as imposing as Burnett’s, but he’s generally been healthier, has comparable ERAs, and has better control than Burnett. If this were two years ago, Lackey might see $100 million. But in this market, I’ll buy that a five-year, ~$80 million deal is the best he’ll do.

Assuming they structure a potential deal the same as Burnett’s, the 2010 payroll would be $186.8 million, plus arbitration raises to Melky Cabrera, Brian Bruney, Chad Gaudin, and maybe Sergio Mitre, plus a left fielder and a DH, plus possibly Andy Pettitte, plus roughly half a million dollars for every other player to fill out the roster. In other words, if the Yankees are truly interested in Lackey, they’ll have to commit to a higher payroll in 2010, something they’ve hinted isn’t likely. Not only that, but as we’ve discussed, it would mean a commitment to keep payroll above $200 million for most of Lackey’s deal.

Lackey’s most obvious destination remains the Angels. They have only $77 million committed to 2010 payroll, though they do owe first-year arbitration raises to six players, including Erick Aybar, Jered Weaver, and Joe Saunders. Even so, their rotation would be severely weakened without Lackey. Since they stand to lose the most, I think they’ll make a serious run to bring him back. If they can spend $18.5 million per season on Torii Hunter, they can do something similar for John Lackey.

When the off-season began, I didn’t think the Yankees would be too serious about Lackey. He’s the best free agent pitcher, sure, but with the Yankees payroll commitments and the risky nature of giving pitchers long-term contracts — and especially after doing it twice last off-season — I didn’t think the Yankees would do it again. After they declined to offer arbitration to any of their free agents, though, I’m beginning to wonder. Lackey would cost them only money, rather than money and prospects, and he would fit in perfectly behind A.J. Burnett in the rotation.

I wouldn’t count on the Yankees signing John Lackey. They have plenty already committed to the 2010 payroll and still have a few holes to fill. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a serious run, nor would I be disappointed if they signed him. Paying your top three pitchers almost $60 million per season isn’t ideal, but if they’re quality pitchers and the team is winning, I doubt they’ll mind much.


1And Lackey isn’t even a Boras client. (Up)

Categories : Hot Stove League

95 Comments»

  1. Drew says:

    Give me your poor Pettitte.

    I’m straight.

  2. Crazy Eyes Killa says:

    I think a short term commitment like Harden would prob. be a better idea. I also rather get Holliday if were trying to add someone in that price range.

    • Evil Empire says:

      Agreed. Holliday is the guy to get if the Yankees were to raise payroll and commit to having a $200M+ salary the next 5 years. He’s worth the extra $2M annual or so compared to what Lackey would make in my opinion.

      I’m all for Rich Harden as well, but I feel torn because I also want to see both Chamberlain and Hughes in the rotation. But fuck it, Hughes would become extremely valuable depth and he’d get his 150 innings in somehow.

      • Chris says:

        How are Holliday (the LF) and Lackey (the P) connected?

        • They’re connected because they’d both be large, 15+ AAV contracts.

          If we’re going to give out only one large contract this winter, for payroll and budget reasons, that large contract should go to Holliday and not Lackey. Holliday fills a bigger short-term and long-term need, and is the better bet to continue to meet his payroll value over the length of that contract than Lackey is.

          My main preference is to noy give out a big deal, but if we do give out a big deal, I’d rather give that big deal to Holliday rather than Lackey. He’s the better player.

  3. brockdc says:

    Based on their respective injury histories, I don’t think having a guy like Sheets or Harden on the pitching staff would preclude wither Hughes or Joba from logging their requisite innings.

    Plus, A.J.’s about due for a DL stint pretty soon.

    • Evil Empire says:

      Plus it wouldn’t hurt to give Andy an extra day off every once in a while.

      • brockdc says:

        Assuming he comes back.

        But, yeah, the beauty of having a guy like Harden or Sheets on a team like the Yankees is that anything they give you beyond 140 IP at this point is pure gravy. Most teams can’t absorb that degree of uncertainty in their rotation. Thankfully, the Yanks can.

        • Mattchu12 says:

          I think it’s worth signing one or the other just because of the reward factor. One of them get’s healthy, watch out. I’d like to see us sign one of Harden, Sheets, or Bedard as well as bringing back the Wanger. They probably don’t even break camp in the rotation since i’m betting we will see Sabathia-Burnett-Pettitte-Hughes-Joba in the rotation come opening day, so imagine the depth of two top of the rotation pitchers like Harden, Sheets, Bedard, or Wang on your roster.

    • JobaJr says:

      I like the idea of Sheets… Harden, not so much.

  4. Mattchu12 says:

    If I’m in the hot seat, I have to at least talk to John Lackey about coming to the Bronx. He sat in the other dug out when the Yankees clinched the World Series berth that lead to a 27th championship, it will be in the back of his mind. I make a fair offer, 4 years and 68 million dollars, and remind him that the Yankees are primed to make another run at the World Series next year and look good for many years to come.

    Then go out and resign Pettitte and Matsui to one year deals, Damon to a two year deal, and wait to see what he says. My bet is that he looks around and realizes that the Red Sox have to spend some coin on either Matt Holliday or Jason Bay as well as filling the whole at shortstop (or second base if Pedroia moves to shortstop, btw, we should look at Jeter to 2B and Cano to SS after 2010, but that isn’t the point of my post). Plus the Red Sox look great on the pitching front, so he’s got no leverage.

    The Angels just let Vlad Guerrero and Chone Figgins walk, and resigning Lackey is going to obviously be in the 15+ range, so will the Angels bring back another hitter? They didn’t step up when they had a shot at Mark Teixeira, and instead they took what turned out to be a smart flier on Bobby Abreu instead. Chances of that kind of success happening again? I don’t like it.

    I think he might bite the bullet and go where he can win now and get a decent pay day. To me, that is in New York. His out-burst about coming out of the game in Anaheim right before we blew it yet again tells me how passionate this guy is, winning might be higher priority than money.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      btw, we should look at Jeter to 2B and Cano to SS after 2010

      OK, I thought my post was the craziest so far. I was wrong. Apologies.

      • Mattchu12 says:

        Hey, I don’t think it’s THAT crazy. Cano with a shortstop’s arm, improved defense this year, always had good range, I don’t see why it’s any less legit than Pedoria moving to shortstop in 2010. Besides, who doesn’t think it would be crazy to offer Jeter a long term deal at a substantial rate to play shortstop at thirty six years old?

        I’m willing to bet that Cano, with work, can be as good if not better than Jeter at shortstop defensively speaking. And it wouldn’t be insane to offer Jeter a semi-long term deal (3 to 4 years) at a substantial rate (15-20 million) to play second base, where his age and defense is going to be much less of a problem.

        • JMK aka The Overshare says:

          First problem is convincing Jeter to move to 2nd. That’s not even factoring the shit-storm of media stories/criticism. Second problem is thinking Cano can play SS. He hasn’t played it since 2002.

          His UZR numbers this year: -5.2 at a less demanding position. He’s had one good defensive season in his MLB career; he posted a UZR of 11.1 in 2007. Otherwise, he hasn’t done better than -3.1 UZR/150 (2006). 2007 appears to be the outlier here, not the norm.

          Also, look at his range factor: -2.5 this year. He fools people sometimes because he makes spectacular plays. He also sees a lot of balls just get away from him. His range really isn’t all that great. His arm, while good, isn’t great for SS, at least probably not enough to offset how limited his range would be there. Factor in all the other adjustments he’d have to make while you’re at it.

          I don’t think he’d play well at SS, I don’t think Jeter would move and I don’t think the Yankees would welcome the PR disaster that would ensue.

          • Mattchu12 says:

            I agree, convincing Jeter to move would be crazy hard. And maybe it turns out that Cano doesn’t play well at shortstop. All I’m saying is that we should at least take a look at the option and see if it has any merit. Look at how the Red Sox have struggled to fill the whole left by Nomar, I don’t want that to be us.

            And I think it starts with people like Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Joe Torre, guys that Jeter respects and listens to. You get them to explain that it’s going to be a tough sell to the front office, a front office that let Bernie Williams go and almost let Pettitte go last year, that a thirty six year old shortstop is a good investment.

            You have Cano do the same kind of workouts and drill that Cap did during this last offseason, get him in a great physical state. Get him from work in during Spring Training when the games don’t really matter, just to see how he holds up.

            If all goes well, you reopen the discussion with Cap come winter of 2010. It’s just a thought I’ve had in my head for a while, I’m not saying it would work.

            • A.D. says:

              Cano was already moved off SS as a 19 year old in A ball because he wasn’t that good, now that he’s in the majors he’s not going to suddenly be able to stick there.

              At this point its more likely that a 40 year old Jeter is a better or as good a SS as a 31 year old Cano.

    • Drew says:

      You know what else will be in the back of Lackey’s mind?

      A better offer.

      • Mattchu12 says:

        From who?

        I just pointed out why the Red Sox would probably be out, they need to spend money on left field and shortstop/second base. Plus they have what could be the best rotation in baseball next season with Lester-Beckett-Matsuzaka-Buchholz-Wakfield.

        Lackey didn’t want to talk extension with the Angels because he wanted to see what they did for the rest of the club, and barring a move to get Holliday and/or Bay, I see nothing but things getting worse. And if they do get one of Holliday and/or Bay, they are going to have to fight and claw to get one of them at a very high rate, meaning that I don’t think we’ll see an offer that would top the solid 4 year, 68 million (17 million per year) offer i suggested.

        That leaves the Rangers and Brewers as candidates in my mind, as the Mariners won’t go that high and the Phillies seem pretty well set from where I’m sitting. Who is going to top 17 million per year for four years?

  5. JMK aka The Overshare says:

    Craziest idea so far: Sign Harden or Sheets (along with Andy) and do a six-man rotation. One inevitably gets injured and meep, five days rest!

  6. carl says:

    Sign Lackey for AAA depth

  7. The Artist says:

    I think the team that signs Lackey will wind up regretting the move. I’ve never thought he was the type of pitcher that would hold up well, and given his drop in velocity in recent years and the fact he’s been banged up the past few seasons, my suspicions have only grown larger. He’s already reinvented himself as a pitcher, and there’s only so much reinventing you can do.

    • THE KID says:

      Plus his demeanor & body language when things don’t go his way or his team doesn’t hit behind him, errors or relievers give up his lead is disturbing.

      There’s a fine line between being a “bull dog” and being selfish…and I think he crosses it.

    • Mike says:

      Yeah . but lets sign Sheets or Harden who’s arms and elbows are about to fall off .

      Besides .. seems like he reinvented himself quite nicely against the Yankees in the playoffs !!

      Can we we seriously stop nit picking . God.. one poster below is talking about his body language and his demeanor.??? i mean really ??

      • Raf says:

        are Sheets or Harden going to cost $15M+ for the next 4 to 5 years? dont compare two different options that are not similar at all

    • Chris says:

      given his drop in velocity in recent years

      What velocity drop? We only have Pitch f/x data back through 2007, but since that time he’s been pretty steady.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/pitch.....8;pitch=FA

  8. pat says:

    I’m down with signing Lackey if part of the deal includes reconstructive face surgery.

  9. Jake H says:

    I don’t see this. While Lackey is good next year’s FA crop of SP is awesome. I would roll the dice with Joba and Hughes. Joba showed that he can be close to league average and if Hughes falls they should have enough depth to take up that spot. With this offense they need just good pitching to make the playoffs.

  10. Grover says:

    Stay in on the Halladay sweepstakes and resign Pettite and Wang. Lackey has too many question marks to commit to more than one year at a time.

  11. Mike says:

    Its so funny to read people on hear tearing Lackey to shreds.

    Did we not see what the guy did to us in the Playoffs ?? Lackey owned us for the past 5 years .

    Signing Lackey would quite those who don’t want to give up prospects for Halladay. and quite those who want some pitching.

    Signing Sheets or Harden is a Risk. Did anyone see what the Red Sox did last year ? They signed two injury proned . past there prime pitchers. How did that work for them ?? Like the owner of the article said . Lackey is the sure bet and fits perfectly behind Burnett.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      past there prime pitchers
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research

      Well it’s fairly obvious you never looked up the pitchers you mentioned aboove jiust based on that comment.

    • My response:

      We already have 5 starting pitchers in the rotation. CC-AJ-Andy-Joba-Hughes.

      If Andy comes back, as expected, there’s just no room for Lackey in the rotation. Pass.

      If Andy doesn’t come back, maybe I’d be willing to add Lackey. But, if Lackey wants 4 or 5 years (which he does), we’d be better off adding Sheets or Harden for that 5th spot in the rotation, because they offer less risk on shorter/cheaper contracts.

      • Bo says:

        How is their no room?

        You just move Joba or Hughes to the pen and solidfy that area.

        • Taking Chamberlain and Hughes out of the rotation leaves a bigger hole there than the hole that would be patched up by one of them in the bullpen.

          Just so you can’t use the line you love to use: it’s obviously very good to have a great bullpen, but the starting rotation is much more important. Both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain add more value to the Yankees as starters than they would as relievers.

        • Colombo says:

          Wow…that was fast. Joba and Hughes are starters for the 97392647825640126th time.

    • Like the owner of the article said . Lackey is the sure bet and fits perfectly behind Burnett.

      The owner of the article also said


      If the Yankees are truly interested in Lackey, they’ll have to commit to a higher payroll in 2010, something they’ve hinted isn’t likely. Not only that, but as we’ve discussed, it would mean a commitment to keep payroll above $200 million for most of Lackey’s deal.

      and

      I didn’t think the Yankees would be too serious about Lackey. He’s the best free agent pitcher, sure, but with the Yankees payroll commitments and the risky nature of giving pitchers long-term contracts — and especially after doing it twice last off-season — I didn’t think the Yankees would do it again.

      and

      I wouldn’t count on the Yankees signing John Lackey. They have plenty already committed to the 2010 payroll and still have a few holes to fill.

      He said all those things too.

  12. Boogie Down says:

    I think most of Cashman’s moves this winter will be trying to bring back a couple of our guys, bringing in a utility guy, maybe a bullpen arm at the right price, and disrupting any signings the Red Sox will attempt to make by running up the prices on them.

  13. Unless Pettitte retires, they shouldn’t give Lackey a second thought. Pass, please.

  14. Rob in CT says:

    I agree with those who prefer Holliday. Sign Holliday, bring back Pettitte, try to get one of the upside projects (Sheets, Harden, Bedard) on an incentive-laden deal, and sign a DH (any of Matsui, Johnson or Thome would do just fine, IMO).

    That’s my plan A. Plan B brings back Damon on a short-term deal (if possible). Otherwise the same (leaves more flexibility for in-season upgrading).

    Plan C is Mike Cameron for LF instead of Damon, otherwise the same. I could easily flip-flop on plans B and C, depending on how much I believe in Damon’s defensive decline and how much faith I have in Cameron’s ability to defy age.

    Plan D might involve Lackey.

    Halladay only if it doesn’t require Joba, Hughes or Montero. If they would take a package headlined by Jackson (unlikely), then I’m very interested. Otherwise, pass.

  15. JohnC says:

    What are the odds the Yanks would try to sign both Cuban FA pitchers, Chapman and Arguelles?

  16. Steve S says:

    I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with Lackey if they hadn’t committed so much to AJ and I actually like AJ now. Having said that, they do have the ability to dictate the market and as much as this is not representative on paper, CC, Tex and AJ demonstrated last year that this might actually be a fun place to play. They may be able to get Lackey on a reasonable deal (both length and $) so I don’t think we speculate as to how much the payroll would increase. I think $80M (and the reasoning behind it) might be accurate but we just dont know. I don’t buy the payroll claims by Cash because he said the same thing last year right before Tex. I realize its completely different players. However, at this point John Lackey might fit this team perfectly. The Yankees’ weakness, if they have any, is the lack of the perverbial number 2 starter. Its not a desperate “need” but I think AJ’s 2009 gave us exactly what we can expect for next year.
    As for the rest of the rotation, Pettitte, Joba and Hughes, they can fluctuate but we shouldn’t really anticipate next year to be the year where they are top of the rotation starters.

    And finally, Lackey could give the Yankees some negotiating power come 2011 (winter of 2010) if CC decides to opt out. It is something they need to consider. The hope is that Joba or Phil can develop into an ace. Well if that doesn’t happen then CC has a lot of leverage at that point. However, if Joba and Phil are good solid starters, and you still have Burnett and Lackey, then CC walking hurts, but it doesnt have the same effect.

    • Steve S says:

      Sorry winter of 2011

      • MattG says:

        Its debatable that the Yankees would need negotiating power, as CC already has accepted NY, and the Yankees can pay him more than anyone else, but if they do, King Felix provides all the bargaining power the Yankees need there…provided he hits the market.

        • Steve S says:

          Thats a pretty big gamble, hoping that Felix is a free agent and hoping that you can sign him. I don’t have a doubt that CC likes NY now, however, if he simply replicates last year the next two years, he will opt out only because it makes sense. Arod ended up benefiting financially from the whole ordeal, if CC gets another ring on his finger, he could own this place.

  17. MattG says:

    I know this is the hot stove, NY and the Yankees, so we have to talk about something, but I am saying right now that the Yankees will not be awarding any multi-year contracts this off-season. Well, maybe a two-year deal, but that’s it. They will keep their draft pick this year, and all their payroll flexibility, and set the market in Hot Stove ’10.

    If it were 2010 now, Lackey might not even be a top-5 FA pitcher.

  18. Bo says:

    They think of Pettitte as a back end starter. Not as a #3. Don’t forget he dealt with shoulder problems last yr and isnt getting younger. Him coming back wont preclude them from trying to get better in the rotation. Whether it be Lackey or Halladay. Let’s not make the mistake again of assuming two young pitchers can hold down spots in the rotation. Dont forget the mistakes of the past.

    • Let’s not make the mistake again of assuming two young pitchers can hold down spots in the rotation. Dont forget the mistakes of the past.

      Let’s also not pretend like

      A) Nothing at all has changed between 2008 and 2010 (it has)
      B) There’s no difference between 2008 Hughes and Kennedy and 2010 Joba and Hughes (there’s a huge difference)

    • Mike Pop says:

      Dont forget the mistakes of the past.

      Cashman won’t. In fact, he will remember the good ideas of the past. Ala not trading Hughes/Joba/w/e for Santana and wait for a better opportunity to come along. But he will remember mistakes of the past, like signing Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright, etc.

      Waiting a year to see if Hughes/Joba can develop more as starting pitchers in the way to go here. No need for Lackey or Halladay this year. Let’s keep our chips in our stack, and wait for a better opportunity to go ‘all in’. Like they did this past offseason. When the right moment comes.

      /bad analogy and using opportunity every opportunity I had.

  19. A.D. says:

    The only likely way the Yankees sign Lackey (or trade for Halladay) is if the bottom falls out of the market for either. If we find its late Jan/early Feb and Lackey isn’t getting all these offers that are expected, essentially what happened to Abreu last year (but to a much lesser degree). Then the Yanks can swoop in with a deal they like.

    • JohnC says:

      Pettite is the key. If he retires, then I can see the Yanks going harder after Lackey, or Halladay. If Andy returns, then the need lessens. I think they should try and sign a Sheets or Bedard and go for a future stud like Chapman.

  20. MattG says:

    I see Halladay, with no extension, before Lackey.

    The Yankees are not going to give up any of Hughes/Chamberlain/Montero, but the Red Sox are not going to give up Buchholz. Once the Jays actually come to grips with that, they can get down to picking the better package of Bard/Jackson/Bowden/McCallister/Anderson/Kennedy. The Yankees can top the Red Sox if they want.

    Do you think any other teams would be in on Halladay without an extension? $16M is a fair, but large, commitment. Do you think Halladay would accept a trade without an extension?

  21. Mattchu12 says:

    How about Joel Pineiro? That guy had a crazy good ground ball rate, and I’d love to give him a shot. I think he would come at a decent price, and give us some more reliable depth. There are guys on the trade market as well, like Javier Vazquez and Roy Oswalt would be pretty interesting.

    Either way, I think we need to resign both Wang and Pettitte. And go into Spring Training with at least six starting pitcher candidates. Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte seem like locks. Hughes is a pretty close to sure thing. And then that final spot being taken by a veteran we can count on to eat some innings at a decent ERA somewhere between 3.50 and 4.50 like Pineiro, Vazquez, Oswalt, or a big fish like Lackey or Halladay.

    As the year went on, the idea that maybe Joba needs to return to AAA became more and more reasonable. He needs to regain his confidence, which we saw when he returned to the bullpen. He needs to work on being more efficient and more aggressive in the strike zone. All of which would be more than easy enough to achieve at AAA, and then bring him up after two months assuming he wasn’t horrific. I want him to be a starter, but right now, I think unless he gets his confidence back as a starter (which I’ve rarely seen since 2008) and get’s more efficient, he is going to force himself back into the bullpen.

    • How about Joel Pineiro? That guy had a crazy good ground ball rate, and I’d love to give him a shot. I think he would come at a decent price, and give us some more reliable depth. There are guys on the trade market as well, like Javier Vazquez and Roy Oswalt would be pretty interesting

      Absolutely not.

      As the year went on, the idea that maybe Joba needs to return to AAA became more and more reasonable. He needs to regain his confidence, which we saw when he returned to the bullpen. He needs to work on being more efficient and more aggressive in the strike zone. All of which would be more than easy enough to achieve at AAA, and then bring him up after two months assuming he wasn’t horrific. I want him to be a starter, but right now, I think unless he gets his confidence back as a starter (which I’ve rarely seen since 2008) and get’s more efficient, he is going to force himself back into the bullpen.

      The Joba-to-the-Minors ship has long since sailed. It wouldn’t accomplish anything. Letting him blow away dudes in AAA would build confidence but it would teach him nothing. Despite the shaky results, the 2009 season for Joba Chamberlain was a success because a) he was healthy all year and b) learned how to pitch a full season at the Major League level. There’s no need to send him back to the minors at this point.

      • Mattchu12 says:

        Well, if you’re talking about trotting out there every fifth day, that is more or less true, he did learn that. And yes, he was healthy. But to me, the 2009 season was almost a failure because he was nothing like the Joba Chamberlain that we kept hearing about. He walked four batters per nine innings, had a 4.82 FIP, and didn’t seem to have anything but his slider or fastball. In a turn of event from what was one of the highest WPA’s on the team in 2008, Joba had almost as bad of a WPA as Chien-Ming Wang.

        Other than Wang, nobody walked more batters per nine innings. His off the plate stuff was even farther off the plate this year, and teams were making contact on nearly 60% of his pitches.

        Wasn’t part of the big reason why he is so much better as a starter is because he had this great control, and that he had four good pitches? The fact remains that in other than short stints, this Joba Chamberlain was anything but Ace Material. And at 24 years old, I don’t think it is beyond the realm of possibilities that he can go to AAA and hone his craft and start pitching more like the Joba Chamberlain of 2008.

        • Through 110 innings, Chamberlain was fine. I believe he had an ERA around 3.6 and his FIP was reasonable. He tired after that, as it should’ve been expected, and that skewed his season.

          Going to AAA won’t help him hone his craft. It will have him facing inferior competition that he will dominate. He won’t learn anything by dominating prospects and career minor leaguers. It’s better to keep training him “on the job,” so to speak. That way, he learns from his mistakes against real hitters and can better adjust. The league clearly made adjustments to him and now he has to adjust back.

          Playing arm-chair pitching coach, I think he fell in love with his slider a little too much and threw it in unfavorable counts. He needs to establish his fastball first before loving his breaking pitches. In AAA, he’ll be able to throw his slider, which the undisciplined hitters there won’t be able to lay off. AAA is no longer an option for Chamberlain.

          • Mattchu12 says:

            Well, I can certainly agree with some of that. Especially with him playing arm-chair pitching coach. I just feel like if it was anybody not named Joba Chamberlain, we’d be way harder on him. When Hughes first came up and wasn’t lights up, people kept yammering on about how he needed to be at AAA honing his craft and learning how to use his pitches more efficiently and effectively despite absolutely owning the competition at AAA.

            Joba needs to learn to use his pitches more efficiently and effectively, by throwing his fastball like you said early in the count before getting to the breaking stuff. Part of that is kind of like in Spring Training when you throw something because you need to iron on the kinks or get used to it, and I believe Joba could do that at AAA. But he may lack the mental toughness to force himself to work on that, and therefore just do as you said, throw his slider early and often to get guys out. Wasting the entire point of being there.

            So, I agree and disagree at the same time, if that makes sense?

            • I agree with you on what he needs to do, but I disagree that he should be doing it at AAA. He should be doing it at the Major League level because it’s the only way he’ll truly learn.

              • Mattchu12 says:

                The only reason I think he might need to do it at AAA is because from what I’ve been seeing, he just gets beat down because he refuses to do just that.

                He either goes to his slider because he knows that it’s his out-pitch and can fool batters in the eighth inning, or he throws a fastball just outside of the strike-zone because once again batters swing at that pitch in the eighth inning.

                But MLB hitters don’t swing at that pitch early in the game and it goes for a ball. Then he tries to cover it up by throwing a closer slider, which leads to more balls. Which leads to walks, which leads to high pitch counts, and then often times it leads to the need to throw a fastball or one of his lesser breaking pitches over the plate, which get knocked in for hits.

                So then he loses confidence in his other breaking pitches, and so he’s going with only his fastball and slider. And because he is worn out, his fastball is coming in straight and getting slapped around. He just doesn’t seem to learn, and has made these mistakes up and down the schedule.

                • Reggie C. says:

                  Joba’s got to learn to attack ML lineups with an effective FB. If the slider is going to work, hitters have got to be afraid of the FB. Even with a subpar FB, Joba would put away AAA hitters with relative ease.

                  We know he’s got arm strength, so imo, better conditioning is key; hopefully Joba makes it a priority.

    • MatyRuggz says:

      We forget that Joba’s 2009 season was the first time he was a full-time starting pitcher since he was in college. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to see a gradual but measurable upward curve in regard to his pitching over the next 2-3 seasons. Be patient, and good things will come.

  22. Rose says:

    If we do sign John Lackey to a long term deal (say 5 years)…

    2013 (4 years from now because I wanted to include AJ)

    Derek Jeter – 39 (Est. $20M)
    Alex Rodriguez – 37 ($28M)
    Mark Teixeira – 33 (not bad) ($20?)
    Robinson Cano – 30 (pretty good) ($15M)
    AJ Burnett – 36 ($16.5M)
    CC Sabathia – 32 (not bad) ($23M)
    Mariano Rivera – 43 (still throwing his magic) (Est. $15M)
    John Lackey – 34 (Est. $16.5M)

    That’s $154M already guaranteed for the year 2013…with everybody but Cano, Teixeira, and Sabathia under the age of 34. Yikes!

  23. Bo says:

    While I think they’d love to have lackey I think are more prone to sign Chapman and a short deal pitcher like Harden or Sheets or Bedard. Combined they’d be cheaper than lackey plus they get to add a legit young kid with boundless potential.

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