|Lackey off-base with comments|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on May 05, 2010
John Lackey fired at his old team, saying the Angels have been hypocritical in their treatment of previous players, according to this Mark Saxon report for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
"It's different. The way they preach the team game and giving it up for the team. That's a little suspect," Lackey said. "You're supposed to give it up for the team. When the time comes, they might not want to give it up for you. But I totally knew that was a possibility. I was prepared for that. That's the nature of the game today."
The Angels, as Lackey says, do push a "team-first" approach, something manager Mike Scioscia has been excellent at cultivating. But, as Lackey goes on to say, the Angels may not do enough to retain free agents.
This comes one year and a few months after they reportedly offered former first baseman Mark Teixeira eight years and $160 million to remain with the team. It also comes after they reportedly offered Lackey four years and $60 million, as mentioned within Saxon's report.
You can understand their reluctance to offer more money to Teixeira. They had superstar-in-waiting Kendry Morales waiting to take over at first and that should be enough sign player of Teixeira's caliber. Lackey's injury history -- he started the 2008 and 2009 seasons on the disabled list -- made him a questionable long-term signing. (Derek Lowe, not as good of a pitcher as Lackey but certainly more durable, is already seen as a wasted contract two years into his four-year, $60 million deal.)
The players the Angels have let go haven't been perfect. This is one of the reasons the Angels are such a successful team. Vladimir Guerrero looked awful last season, but he's been on a hot streak so far this season. It's certainly difficult to blame the Angels for not bringing him back, especially at the $5.5 million he received from the Rangers. Chone Figgins signed a four-year deal with the Mariners, but he hasn't had four great seasons -- much less in a row -- in his career.
As for the bullpen parts let go, like Francisco Rodriguez and Darren Oliver, the San Diego Padres are proving you don't need to spend money on big guys to have a solid bullpen. Let's not forget: Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon are failed starters, Joakim Soria was a Rule V pick, and Joe Nathan a throw-in in a trade. Bullpen pieces come into the spotlight for a few good seasons and then flame out, whether from overuse, the league catching up with them or their luck regressing to the mean.
What Lackey says last is most telling: Free agency has just become the nature of the game. And because of that, players have evolved into commodities. If players like Adrian Beltre weren't getting nearly eight-digit salaries annually, would Moneyball have been created? Would teams have to look to certain things -- on-base percentage or defense or whatever is the next chic cheap way to win -- to gain an advantage and use players who fit that model?
Imagine a system where the highest-paid players earned between $2 and 4 million annually with revenue being the same. In that system, owners wouldn't have to worry about bringing back a fan favorite or an injury-plagued but talented pitcher. One or two mistakes won't kill a team. Heck, five, six, seven mistakes wouldn't kill a team.
But because of the system in place, the system that made him a very wealthy player because it pays Lackey more than $15 million a season, that's why teams like the Angels "might not want to give it up to you." If Lackey truly wanted the Angels to "to give it up to" him, he would've signed for a little bit less. You know, the fabled hometown discount.
But he didn't. He took advantage -- as is his full right to do so -- of the free agent marketplace. He makes his decisions, and the Angels make theirs. Too bad Lackey doesn't like it. The Angels probably didn't either, and you don't hear them complaining about it.