Saturday, February 23, 2013

In Defense of John Lackey

This is one of those player defense posts I never thought I'd write, but when retrospect hits, I'm pretty sure I'll be glad that I published this piece.

Yes, this post is titled "In Defense of John Lackey".  And, to be sure that we're all clear on the subject here, I am defending John Lackey's 2011 season.  The worst season suffered by a starting pitcher in the American League for as long as anyone can remember.

Why would anyone defend Lackey's wretched, horrible 2011 campaign?  Because of what Tito revealed in his book with Shaughnessy.
In 2011, Lackey was officially the worst starting pitcher in Red Sox history for a single season (28 starts, 6.41 ERA).  He was a pariah to most fans.  Sports talk show hosts in Boston made an issue of Lackey showing up his teammates and his manager.  [But... Shaughnessy doesn't add a "but" here, or transition to a new paragraph. What retard edited this book?]  Francona and Sox players continued to support the big Texan, but Lackey made things hard on everyone.  His pitching elbow was throbbing...
OK, here's the kicker that Shaughnessy adds in paraenthesis:
(he underwent Tommy John surgery after the season)
After burying the lead, Shaughnessy continues:
...[Lackey's] marriage was over, and he just wanted to get away from everything.  
Let's dissect this, which will be easy because the points here are quite simple.  On top of Lackey's personal life falling apart, which causes enough mental stress, Lackey needed surgery.  Ergo, even if Lackey was one half of the world's best marriage and his wife gave birth to magical fucking unicorns, he needed Tommy John surgery.  He spent much of 2011 pitching while injured -- period.  Lackey had Tommy John surgery at the end of 2011, but he probably needed such surgery in the middle of 2011.  That was the primary reason why Lackey sucked.

So, why didn't Lackey get the surgical procedure that he needed?  Let's go back to the Francona book:
"He was going through a lot," said Francona.  "His stuff had backed up, and every mistake he made on the mound, goddamn did he pay for it.  Ho could give up two-out runs with the best of'em.  He'd get two guys out and then make a mistake.  He probably didn't help his cause with the media.  He was kind of surly.
We all know what happens when you're surly to the ultra-sensitive Boston media... Anyways, continuing:
But he wasn't like that around us.  He was hurting at the end, and we gave him every chance to go on the disabled list, but he talked us out of it.  I think he just wanted to win so bad, and he couldn't believe what was happening.
Well, the Red Sox fanbase fucking hated what was happening.  Is that Lackey's fault?  One could say yes, pointing to the fact that Lackey always talked the team out of getting thrown on the disabled list.

But what backing did Tito have?

Fact is, from this reading, we know -- for a fact -- that Lackey was injured in 2011.  And, obviously, it affected his performance on the mound.   Given the news reports out right now about the questionably legal actions performed by the Red Sox medical staff, shouldn't fans and the media delve further and ask why the medical staff didn't give Tito the leverage he needed to place Lackey on the disabled list in 2011?  Since Lackey was pitching -- obvious to everyone on the Red Sox -- with an injury.

I thought the ultimate objective of a baseball team was to win games.  If the Red Sox, between the medical staff and front office, didn't make an effort to remove an obviously injured pitcher from the rotation in 2011, then what -- exactly -- were they trying to accomplish?

In the end, the Red Sox missed making the playoffs by a game while leaving one of their prized free agents out there, injured, to feel the full wrath of the media and the fanbase.   Again, were the Red Sox focused on winning?  And if that wasn't the objective of the organization, then what was?

I wasn't the biggest Lackey fan when he was signed, and I'm still not a huge fan of his now.  But, you know what?  Lackey is here, and he's a Red Sox player.  I'll cheer for him when he pitches, and those cheers will be magnified after seeing just how much this organization fucked him over in 2011.  The rest of us owe Lackey the same respect.  His determination to stay in the game proves that he wants to win, and I think we need to give him the benefit of the doubt this season.

Lackey is healthy.came into camp thinner and obviously in better shape, and he wants to win games for us.  I feel like nobody else will say it, but I will: Lackey is going to have a good season in 2013.  Just watch.

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