John Lackey. Did anybody ever have a goofier Red Sox career than him?Any member of the media in particular, Shank?
Lackey seemed like a perfectly happy guy in the eight years he pitched for the Angels. He was an innings-eater and early in his career demonstrated that he was not afraid of the big stage. When he was a 24-year-old rookie, Lackey pitched and won the seventh game of the World Series against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Joe Maddon was the Angels bench coach. LA’s manager-for-life Mike Scioscia gave Lackey the ball for 12 postseason starts in eight years.
And then the trouble started. Instead of staying in California or going home to Texas (his warm-up music Saturday was Garth Brooks’s “Friends in Low Places), Lackey played out his contract with the Angels, hit the free agent market, and was seduced by Red Sox millions, signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal.
At Fenway he made fast friends with Josh Beckett, Lester, and Clay Buchholz, but Fenway was never a good fit for the tall Texan.
The first thing that didn’t fit was Lackey’s habit of showing up his teammates when they didn’t make a play behind him. To a man, the teammates said it did not bother them, but it looked bad and Boston fans and media were unforgiving. Lackey went 14-11 in his first season playing for Francona.
Lackey has simply got to go. He’s coming off the worst season by a starting pitcher in more than a century of Red Sox baseball, and he’s regularly shown up his teammates and his manager. Bookend all that with his TMZ personal issues and his place in the biscuit brigade and you’ve got a local pariah on a par with none other. The Red Sox are on the hook for three more years to the tune of $45.5 million, but they simply cannot bring him back. Even if they had to eat most of the money. Or all the money.