Are Lackey, Bay Cause For Worry?

Leave it to some who follow the Red Sox and Mets to worry prematurely about their big acquisitions, John Lackey and Jason Bay.

In the case of Lackey, he probably quieted some of the criticism with his seven innings against the Angels Wednesday night, allowing just one run. Meanwhile, Bay's struggles haven't yet abated.  Should either fan base be worried? Did the Red Sox waste $82.5MM on Lackey, and the Mets blow $66MM on Bay?  There's certainly not enough evidence to think so, and the guess here is that in the short-term, neither team will be sorry.

Let's start with Lackey. In his first 37 innings, he's pitched to a decent 3.89 ERA, and really, that reflects one poor start. Take that start out, and he has five quality starts in five outings, with a 2.14 ERA. He's gone seven innings in each of his last three starts.  The only thing that could cause concern is that he's struck out just 21 in those 37 innings. That is a rate of just 5.1 per nine innings, well off of his pace from last season, when he fanned 7.1 per nine.  But take a look at Lackey's first six starts from 2009. He posted a 6.61 ERA, and even his strikeout rate was just 5.2 per nine. It then jumped to a robust 7.5 per nine over his final 21 starts, along with a 3.23 ERA in those contests.

So it is entirely too soon to worry about Lackey. But what about Bay?

The numbers have been pretty ugly so far. Bay is hitting just .238/.345/.376 in his first 119 plate appearances as a Met. And it isn't like he's been particularly hit-unlucky, with a .338 batting average on balls in play in 2010, above his career BABIP of .327.  He's walking and striking out about as much as he did in 2009, and is actually hitting more line drives this year than last year.  So is it simply that Bay lost all of his power? Unlikely. It simply appears this streaky hitter is in a slump.

It went less noticed last year because of his strong start, but Bay had a remarkably similar period in his 2009 season. From June 3 to July 31, 2009, Bay hit .214/.349/.341, with just four home runs in 212 plate appearances over that time.  However, he balanced that out with 222 plate appearances from the start of the season to June 2 hitting .286/.410/.632, and finished the season from August 1 on with 204 plate appearances of .301/.392/.631 hitting.

Most likely, Mets fans will feel awfully silly about Bay fretting once he goes on this type of extended tear. And fortunately for the Mets, the concerns about his defense have largely proven to be unfounded so far, with Bay hovering right around average in left field.

In short, there are things for both the Red Sox and Mets to worry about. But John Lackey and Jason Bay aren't it.


39 Responses to Are Lackey, Bay Cause For Worry? Leave a Reply

  1. BravesRed 5 years ago

    Lackey has proven he can come back from having a horrible beginning of the season, while Bay has only proven that he gets worse throughout the season.

    • ilikebaseball 5 years ago

      Really?

      “From June 3 to July 31, 2009, Bay hit .214/.349/.341, with just four home runs in 212 plate appearances over that time. However, he balanced that out with 222 plate appearances from the start of the season to June 2 hitting .286/.410/.632, and finished the season from August 1 on with 204 plate appearances of .301/.392/.631 hitting.”

      Sounds like he was really good, then really bad, then really good again. So I think he has proven that he can pull himself out of a slump midseason.

      • BravesRed 5 years ago

        Instead of just looking at last years numbers, look at them all, minus 2005 which was the exception on that. He started the season decent and went down hill from there. So, before you criticize my statement, do your research better.

        • ilikebaseball 5 years ago

          That wasn’t an attempt to criticize your statement, I was merely disagreeing with you. I don’t doubt that he has had a tendency to do that, but you said he has “only proven that he has gotten worse throughout the season.” Last year’s numbers prove that statement false.

  2. JimmyD34 5 years ago

    Lackey’s been pretty much as advertised so far, the only people worrying about him are the irrational talk radio crowd. As for Bay; he’ll start hitting, but if I’m a Met fan I worry about how those legs are going to hold up in in 2-4 years. He can’t hide at DH…

    • East Coast Bias 5 years ago

      But it’s only four years. Why has this become such a big deal. People talk of it as if it were an eight year contract or something. You can’t decline THAT much in four years, not at his age, imo. The worse I see happening is Mets get 2 good years, and 2 average years out of Bay. Why do people treat the longevity of his contract more severely than it actually is? He isn’t a pitcher, you know…

      • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

        Really you cant decline much in 4 years? Well ask Alfonso Soriano and cubs about how long it took him decline not very long but i think bays knees wont be a problem till year 3 he needs to learn first base

        • East Coast Bias 5 years ago

          One example. I’m sure there are a few more, but the majority of players do not decline to the extent people are suggesting Bay will. Pitchers are a different story, but position players hold up relatively well minus a few exceptions.

          (Soriano’s been helping my fantasy team lately though! heh)

          • nhsox 5 years ago

            David Ortiz and Mike Lowell saw their games decline rapidly too.

          • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

            im agreeing you on the bay thing i think he will be fine for a couple years

  3. Fangaffes 5 years ago

    Who’s worried about Lackey? Only talk radio idiots who freak out at every loss.

    And Mets fans should relax. Bay is incredibly streaky – or at least he was during his time in Boston.

  4. BoSoxSam 5 years ago

    Lackey has been exactly what we expected this year, with one bad start. That’s still been more consistent than Beckett or Lester, who only just started to consistently throw well. And Bay will pick it up, as Fangaffes said, he was particularly streaky last year for Boston, and that’s all that’s happening here.

    To Doc 3234: Definitely, these two contracts have huge risks in the fact that they are pretty long contracts for two guys with injury concerns. Both of them, if the injury they’re trying to avoid never happens, they’ll likely be consistently good for the entirety of the contract. I don’t see either of them making too huge of a drop-off just because of growing older; I don’t think they have that kind of build. But yeah. If Lackey hurts his elbow in a year or two, he’ll be a huge albatross for the rest of that contract, and same with Bay and knees. It’s scarier with Bay, I would think, just because you can’t move him to DH if you can see the knees affecting him, which makes it a lot harder to avoid injury. Lackey is hurt or not; with a pitcher you don’t get much of a chance to try and avoid anything 😛 But with Bay, on an AL team I could see him being productive offensively for that whole contract; on an NL team though, his knees might blow out sooner, and then the Mets are gonna be stuck paying him money to sit on the DL.

    • Actually, if I remember correctly, if he gets hurt, the contract can be voided/ended by the Red Sox, right? I think that this accounts for the final two years of his contract. It was definitely an injury clause in favor of the Red Sox with minimum buyout.

      • BoSoxSam 5 years ago

        Good point. What I remember hearing was something along lines of if he gets a major injury to that elbow specifically, they get the last year of his contract for minimum wage. Although I may not be completely accurate on that….but yes, the Red Sox clearly are serious about getting injury protection, as we saw Bay leave them for that exact reason.

        • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

          you are exactly right if he gets injured and its with his elbow and goes on the disabled list for it and misses certain amount of days which i belivie its 30 then the last year is minimum wage

  5. 04Forever 5 years ago

    im not worried about lackey or anything else for that matter, they are playing on par to what they should have been now at this point. i think its funny theo is getting mad at the players when he himself was stupid enough to say “bridge year” out loud to boston media. beltre, hermida, scutaro and lackey all are playing good or better then they should as of today, the losses were just some bad luck, untimely missed opportunities punctuated by Ortiz and injury. i dont get why fair weathers are saying its over, sure the division is stronger, but if you think the rays will stay in first and toronto is going to finish 3rd and the sox first, your out of your head. its all coming together now, their tearing it up now, to bad so isnt everyone in the easy except for baltimore

    • AL East is a beast…

    • the biggest patsy in their division, baltimore, just swept them though. Boston just isn’t playing very well right now, plain and simple. They have all the pieces in place to do so, and they just are not as of right now. If they come around, they could get back in the race obviously, but getting swept by the O’s isn’t easy, and it says something about how well you are playing.

      • 04Forever 5 years ago

        they won four in a row and scored 11 times last night, i dont know what your reading or if your watching the games or not

    • johnsilver 5 years ago

      I’ll agree with ya here on this one.. it is not going to be a pennant year and the only way can see them getting a WC spot is if they play it smart and use these new 1 year rentals correctly, just dump off Ortiz now, let Lowell have the DH spot now FT until Ells/Cameron come back and then split it with hermida, who has always ripped RH pitching.

      Boston has no time to let ortiz kill them to even see if he will ever even get his swing back, while lowell is going 4-4, then sitting 2 games, then ortiz plays the next day and strands 8 base runners.

      Play with what they have, let the youngsters get another year underneath them in the system and play for another patch year via FA next year. Dunn, maybe Berkman will be available on the cheap next year for a good power bat and there will be plenty of salary available if they decide to retain Martinez while the excellent crop of catching prospects get another year closer.

  6. aap212 5 years ago

    I worried about the Bay signing the second it happened, so I don’t think worrying about it now qualifies as premature.

  7. bomberj11 5 years ago

    I worry about both signings for both teams. That’s a very lengthy commitment your making.

  8. teach1999 5 years ago

    Bay is a puzzle right now. Few if any have made the connection which I tend to believe: He struggled last year during his contract negotiations. Looking at the dates, it mostly matches up and he only recovered when the contract issues were tabled until after the season was over.

    I was at Lackey’s bad start but I not worried about him, he’s a horse.

  9. Honestly, I think that this is an exercise in knee-jerk reactions.

    I mean, we’re a few weeks into deals that last four or five years, and we’re already talking about whether it’s time to be concerned or not? It’s certainly worth discussing the merits of their contracts and such, but it’s awfully early to even consider coming to any sort of conclusion.

  10. Mickeyblue 5 years ago

    That people ever thought the Lackey signing was a good one still boggles me b/c he is not a 17Mil per year pitcher IMO and never has been. When people were saying it was one of the best and some saying the best signing of the offseason I felt like I was the only one who thought it was a bad deal, I’m glad my favorite team didn’t dump that much cash into a 2nd starter at best and 3rd on half the teams. I guess 17mil in Boston is like 10 mil for most other clubs is why people liked the deal but if any non-big market team signed him I think it would have been one of the worst 5 deals in baseball.

    As far as Bay he just doesn’t have the physical makeup to be a consistant player and is more in the class of Ryan Ludwick and Brad Hawpe than a Matt Holliday or Andre Eithier but isn’t as good defensively as a Ludwick. This past year’s free agent class was really bare and probably the lowest quality I can remember in recent years. Holliday is really the only of the 3 big names I see really turning it around and Lackey will probably fall in line w/ his career norm which wasn’t worth the money to begin with giving a 3.75-4 ERA and possibly low-mid 4 pitching at Fenway is pretty much what should have been expected. The Angels might be w/o him this year but I feel they came out winners and I would much rather have Pinerio at 2/15 over Lackey at 5/82.5 b/c the difference in production doesn’t warrant the 68mil difference in cost even though Lackey is the superior pitcher although not even close to 68mil better. He’s basically a younger Kevin Millwood

    • astern05 5 years ago

      So far Lackey has been $10 million better than Piniero (the difference between the annual values of their contracts).

  11. Trious 5 years ago

    Who is really that surprised with Bay? He was never THAT GREAT and there is a reason so few actually bid for him

  12. 04Forever 5 years ago

    people are starting to worry though, i dont know if your from boston but if you were youd hear people already saying the years over for us. were 6.5 back yeah, but we arent kansas city either, we play the yankees next in fenway, if we start chipping away at them we are right back in it again. tampa and new york will slow down, unless you think they are both going to somehow win 100+ games this year

  13. BoSoxSam 5 years ago

    True. Heck, I would call it the Soriano/Wells/Lee syndrome 😛 Those guys got paid like they were A-Rods cousin and, while Lee has at least been productive, are nowhere near worth their contracts. Yeah, free agency has been running amuck lately, and you always get years like this where the FA class isn’t great, which means the only half-decent guys might get overpaid. You are right on the ball, that because of weaker FA classes, average guys are getting way more years then they are worth. Maybe we’ll see things begin to change; already a couple guys, Damon, or Ben Sheets, for example, had to dramatically change their expectations this year. When we get to the point where guys like Holliday, Bay and Lackey also have to see their expectations go down, we might start seeing some more reasonable contracts.

  14. Vmmercan 5 years ago

    Burnett has a ring in year one and a 1.99 ERA so far in year two.

    I vote the Lowe syndrome instead

  15. East Coast Bias 5 years ago

    hahaaha I think he meant sox fourth.

  16. East Coast Bias 5 years ago

    I’m not betting on the breakdown, but I can see the yanks and rays totaling 200 or more wins together. 103/97 something like that…?

  17. johnsilver 5 years ago

    I would not say that lackey’s career is behind him, not after watching all of his games this year. he has looked pretty good to me and has been hitting 92mph at the 80-90 pitch count, which is as hard as he throws and is as nasty with his off speed as always. the Anaheim game broadcast on MLB nationally was a prime example that he seems to be just as sharp as always.

    Bay, if you are a mets fan, will make you sick, then happy for long periods of time. That guy will go into prolonged slumps for weeks at a time where he will chase ANY off speed pitch, no matter how far it is out of the strike zone and then, he will go in a streak where he will rip anything and carry the team for a week or 2 by himself. Mets fans had better just hope that he can hold up playing in that huge OF that they have with no DH spot for him over the course of that 5 years.

  18. Vmmercan 5 years ago

    Thank you, unfortunately I can’t say the same to you.

    Burnett had a 4.04 ERA yes, .03 less than in his walk year. In other words, the Yankees knew what they were paying for and he delivered just that.

    And really? You’re gonna use the 13-9 as a main point? He was 13-3 when the Yankees scored three runs or more so what difference does the caliber of team make?

    And you want to criticize selective stats?

    He had a 5.27 ERA, yes, but why don’t we review each start?

    First start: Yankees up 1-0 in the series, facing a pivotal game two in Minnesota, Burnett pitches six innings of one run ball and gets a NO DECISION in a game the Yankees later win thanks to A-Rod.

    Second start: Yankees win a pivotal game two against LA to secure a 2-0 series lead and take allll of the pressure off in LA. Burnett again gets a no-decision despite pitching well enough to win, then the team wins anyway…Thanks to A-Rod

    Third start: With the Yankees up 3-1 in the series in LA in a must win for the Angels, Burnett allows four runs in the first inning, settles down, leaves with a lead and then the bullpen blows it in the eighth. Yankees lose and win in Game Six at home instead.

    Fourth start: Yankees DOWN 1-0 in a must-win at home and Burnett dominates the Phillies, earns the win and the Yankees go on to win the next two games to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. If New York loses that start, at best they’re down 3-2 headed back to New York.

    Fifth start: Burnett is terrible, Yankees, up 3-1, lose game five in a must win for the Phillies in Philadelphia (with Cliff Lee opposing him) after the Yankees took the first two anyway. Then they win at home in Game Six again.

    So you tell me, is the 5.27 ERA the most important stat, or is the fact the only two games Burnett wasn’t great in were both with the series 3-1 and the Yankees on the road, while he dominated all three more important games?

  19. Vmmercan 5 years ago

    Oh and by the way, he makes 16.5 in 2010, not 18

  20. Vmmercan 5 years ago

    Well its impossible to argue if you can’t read. 13-3 when yanks score three runs. Not much grey area

  21. Vmmercan 5 years ago

    Well its impossible to argue if you can’t read. 13-3 when yanks score three runs. Not much grey area

  22. johnsilver 5 years ago

    Understand your point a little with regards to high salary, but Boston IS a high market team that can afford to pay those premium salaries and absorb the cost a little more, than say the Rangers, Angels or another team like the Twins that could use his services.

    to compare him with Schmidt, who was 3 years older than Lackey when he got his huge contract with the LAD, or Silva, who was never really worth anything to begin with is a bit of a stretch however. Lackey is also playoff proven and has been in many post season games, where Schmidt was buried in Pittsburgh and SF for the majority of his career.

    Zito may be a better example, but we know that he really set the example of overpaid contracts for years given out.

  23. johnsilver 5 years ago

    Understand your point a little with regards to high salary, but Boston IS a high market team that can afford to pay those premium salaries and absorb the cost a little more, than say the Rangers, Angels or another team like the Twins that could use his services.

    to compare him with Schmidt, who was 3 years older than Lackey when he got his huge contract with the LAD, or Silva, who was never really worth anything to begin with is a bit of a stretch however. Lackey is also playoff proven and has been in many post season games, where Schmidt was buried in Pittsburgh and SF for the majority of his career.

    Zito may be a better example, but we know that he really set the example of overpaid contracts for years given out.

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