October 20, 2011
With recent reports of drinking beer in the clubhouse and dugout during games this past season, the Boston Red Sox trio of Jon Lester(notes), Josh Beckett(notes) and John Lackey(notes) is badly stained going into next year. Perhaps irrevocably so. The red "B" on their baseball caps may as well be a scarlet letter.
At least one of these guys has to go. Getting rid of all three is highly unlikely. Lester and Beckett are the staff's top pitchers. Not only would trading them leave the starting rotation severely short-handed, but the Red Sox will never get full value in return.
But it looks like Boston may be able to break up this gang. Best of all, they may be able to get rid of the pitcher who's given them the worst performance.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the San Diego Padres have discussed the possibility of taking Lackey off the Red Sox's hands. But as you might expect with the thrifty Padres, Boston would have to eat most of Lackey's contract to make a trade happen.
Lackey, 32, is owed $45.75 million dollars on the remaining three years of his deal. That's a lot of chowder to chow down. But to get rid of Lackey and blow up what sounds like a toxic atmosphere among the team, the Red Sox could be willing to eat that cost.
Given Lackey's 12-12 record and 6.41 ERA, the team was probably looking at trading him anyway, even if the revelations of a clubhouse beer brigade had never been reported.
What's in this for the Padres? Manager Bud Black was Lackey's pitching coach when both were with the Los Angeles Angels, so the two have a previous working relationship. Petco Park's larger dimensions would also provide some relief for a fly-ball pitcher like Lackey, who served up 12 home runs in Fenway Park this year.
One detail the Padres might want to iron out before acquiring Lackey, however, would be the team's policy regarding fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse.