On Monday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox signed John Lackey to a five-year deal reportedly worth more than the $82.5 million A.J. Burnett got from the New York Yankees last winter. While Lackey is a fine pitcher and a quality guy, the Red Sox made a very questionable move in inking a 31-year-old starter to an expensive five-year contract when they already have Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka signed to expensive deals. While Beckett could leave after the 2010 season and Lackey could be looked at as insurance against that possibility, it’s still a risky move.
Meanwhile, the Lackey deal effectively puts the Sox out of the race for Jason Bay, a guy who has a huge bat and his willing to do the little things to help the team win. Sure getting Bay back isn’t imperative for the Sox, but losing him leaves a big hole they don’t have an immediate answer for. After all, he did lead Boston with 36 home runs and 119 RBI in 2009.
The moves the Red Sox have made since 2006 are starting to remind me of some of the things the New York Yankees did during their championship drought earlier in the decade.
-The Sox inked a big-ticket foreign pitcher with no idea if he’d be able to hold up for several years in Matsuzaka. After a nice sophomore year, Matsuzaka was awful in 2009. He battled injuries and stumbled to a 4-6 record with a 5.76 ERA. Which sounds a lot like what the Yankees did with Jose Contreras.
-The Sox signed J.D. Drew to a ridiculous five-year, $70 million contract at the beginning of the 2007 season. While they did win a World Series with Drew on the roster, they’re now stuck with a 34-year-old guy who has averaged just 18 home runs and 65 RBI over the past three seasons while hitting .276. Awesome. That’s not unlike the Yankees move to sign a 32-year-old Johnny Damon in 2006. Damon has actually done better in his four years in New York, averaging 19 home runs and 74 RBI while hitting .285.
-The Lackey deal is interesting because the guy started just 24 games in 2008 and 27 in 2009. His ERA was higher in 2008 (3.75) and 2009 (3.83) than it was in the previous three seasons. After going 19-9 in 2007, Lackey went 12-5 in 2008 and 11-8 in 2009. While still capable of tossing a gem any time out, at 31 he’s clearly not going to get any better. The Yankees signed a 32-year-old Mike Mussina to a big deal in 2002, and over the next seven years he averaged a 15-9 record with a 3.95 ERA. Solid, but not spectacular. Oh, and the Yankees never won a World Series with Mussina on the roster.
-The Sox made a nice move picking up Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline in 2009. The problem is, Boston gave up a whole lot of young talent to acquire the All-Star catcher. On top of that, Martinez has been pretty adamant that he wants to test the free agent waters after the 2010 season. In 2oo3, the Yankees sent Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to the Expos for Javier Vasquez. Vasquez spent one average year in New York before being shipped to Arizona as part of a package for Randy Johnson.
-Despite having won a World Series with Orlando Cabrera at short, the Red Sox allowed him to leave for Anaheim before the 2005 season. Boston then signed Edgar Renteria to a four-year, $40 million deal. Renteria endured his worst season to that point of his career and was dispatched after the season. That reminds us of the Yankees trading for Kevin Brown. In two years in the Bronx Brown struggled mightily, posting a 14-13 record and a 4.95 ERA before retiring.
-This offseason, the Red Sox have parted ways with guys like Bay, Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez, who were key components to the team. The Yankees also let a few key players get away; Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez come to mind.
None of this is a particularly big deal, it’s just funny because Red Sox fans have always ripped on how the Yankees just bought players and didn’t win by building a team. Well, now that the Sox payroll will be at least $138 million on opening day (and that’s if they don’t sign another player this offseason, which is impossible) and president Larry Lucchino has said the payroll will definitely increase for 2010.