|A note of clarification on John Lackey’s salary and the luxury tax threshold||11.13.13 at 12:45 pm ET|
In the aftermath of this look at the Red Sox’ current payroll commitments for 2014, there has been widespread curiosity on one front: Why is John Lackey listed as a $16.5 million salary for luxury tax purposes?
The right-hander is entering the final season of his five-year, $82.5 million contract. But because he missed all of 2012 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, a vesting team option at the major league minimum ($500,000 plus a cost of living adjustment from 2014 to 2015) for 2014 was triggered. So, with that option in place, does it alter the way that Lackey’s 2014 average annual value is calculated for luxury tax purposes?
Simple answer: No.
Even if the Sox exercised Lackey’s 2015 option today, it wouldn’t impact how his AAV is determined in any year of the contract prior to the option. He’d still represent a $16.5 million player for the purposes of 2014 payroll, and he’d still represent approximately a $500,000 player for the purposes of 2015 payroll.
The implications are twofold: First, Lackey represents, at least as of now, the most expensive player on the Sox’ roster in the coming year, and secondly, he represents a potentially game-changing member of the roster for 2015 if he remains healthy and effective while pitching at the major league minimum. If, for instance, the Sox wanted to sign Jon Lester to a long-term deal that would take effect starting in 2015 (something that the team is expected to explore this spring), the payroll flexibility afforded by Lackey could play a significant role in giving the Sox the flexibility to do so while staying well within the luxury tax threshold.
|David Ross on M&M: ‘Can’t wait to celebrate with my guys tomorrow on the duck boats’||11.01.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
With the 2013 World Series championship in the books, Red Sox catcher David Ross joined Mut & Merloni to talk about his experiences with the team and how he’s handling the success.
“I’ve done a ton of interviews and some media stuff. It doesn’t really sink in when you’re doing it,” Ross said. “But last night I fell asleep — I put my kids down at about 9:30, which is way earlier than I’ve been going to bed. So 1:30 rolled around and I rolled over and my mind started racing, what all had happened. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned for about 30 minutes.
“Finally I just got up, flipped on the TV, and MLB was recapping the whole thing. I just started to watch it. I was smiling one minute, I had tears in my eyes the next, and happy. Just watching the whole thing, it was really, really cool. I think it’s setting in at some points in the day. But I can’t imagine it right now, so far, just, we’re world champs. I just can’t wait to celebrate with my guys tomorrow on the duck boats.”
Ross was one of the team’s key offseason signing following the disaster of 2012. Ross, who previously played for the Sox in 2008, said every player had a clean slate to start the 2013 season.
“When I came in to spring training, and the new guys, the thing that I liked the most is that there were some guys still with a little bit of a bitter taste in their mouth from the year before, just hearing some comments,” Ross said. “The core that was here was so talented to begin with with. One, the pitching staff, that’s part of the reason I signed here, the pitching staff was so talented. And the core group with David [Ortiz], Ells [Jacoby Ellsbury] and Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], those guys in the lineup are just really, really talented players.
“The one thing I think about the new guys that came in that people like is we weren’t judging anybody from anything in the past. I was almost numb to what went on here before. I’d been in the National League and didn’t know much about it. I just remembered the good times in ’08, and that’s what I wanted to get back to, that’s what I was familiar with. And that’s what John [Farrell] was familiar with.
“I don’t think we judged anybody from the outset. I don’t think anybody had any preconceived notions of this player or that player. We wanted to form some bond and talk baseball and go out and compete together. We just grew and grew and grew together as far as our personalities and how much we like being around each other.”
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about the team’s World Series championship.
With the 2012 Red Sox finishing last, expectations were low heading into this season. But as the team proved itself to be a contender, Lucchino said the goals were adjusted.
“There was a kind of buzz about the team that developed all along, throughout the season, and came to a fever pitch at around the postseason time,” Lucchino said. “It was almost like we caught a wave right at the right time. I think the fans, and certainly, I speak for myself, I did realize how important it was to get to the World Series. That’s always the special measurement of a team, getting to the World Series. But sure, I would have been terribly disappointed had we not won, because as the team played, our expectations grew. And our sense of how historic this might be, because of the worst-to-first concept that was at its heart, they also grew.”
Lucchino said he’ll “remember the personality and maturity of the team,” but the front office can’t spend too much time reliving the success of 2013 as “the preparations for 2014 have already begun.”
Looking at expectations for next season, Lucchino said the hope is to make it to the postseason and see what happens from there.
“Our goal from the beginning is to be playing October baseball, so I’d be disappointed if we weren’t playing in October next year,” Lucchino said. “But I know how hard it is for some of the things to come together. I’m constantly talking about randomness and unpredictability of baseball. You could add to that the randomness and unpredictability of the health of our players.
“So many things have to come together so well to win it all. To win in such a magical way, as we did this year in such an appealing way, you can’t expect that every year. But what we can expect every year is to field a team that’s worthy of the fans’ support, a phrase we come back to all the time. So I will be disappointed if we’re not playing in October next year, absolutely.”
Discussions about next season’s roster were taking place even before this year’s title was secured.
“We try to celebrate, we try to remember that we’ve got to be in the moment, celebrate this moment, because we’ve all been in baseball a very long time and we know how rare these moments are,” Lucchino said. “But we must balance the future. I will tell you that on Wednesday, the day of Game 6, we had a couple-hour meeting that afternoon that was all about the topic [of pending free agents].
“It’s important that Ben Cherington, who did just an absolutely extraordinary job this year, that he keep one eye especially on the issues that develop immediately after the World Series. The World Series conclusion is the trigger date for a number of options and qualifying offers and a bunch of things that happen quickly thereafter. So as much as you try to stay in the moment and enjoy the moment, there is a responsibility to look forward. And Ben never loses track of that.”
|John Lackey on hat tip to fans: ‘It was my appreciation back to them’||10.31.13 at 4:01 am ET|
It took a while, but it seems as though John Lackey and the fans of Boston have finally mended fences.
The proof that the relationship had officially been healed came as Lackey approached the home side’s dugout Wednesday night, having just been pulled from what would be the Red Sox’ World Series-clinching victory.
Just moments before entering into an embrace with fellow starter Clay Buchholz, Lackey took his hat off his head and tipped it to the fans, who had already burst into a raucous round of applause, saluting Game 6’s winning pitcher.
“It was nice. It was my appreciation back to them, thanks for understanding what I’ve gone through, I guess,” said Lackey, who allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings.
He later admitted, “It’s been tough. There were a lot of times that weren’t a whole lot of fun.”
This was not one of those times.
Lackey punctuated a successful postseason run by becoming the first player to start and win the clinching game of a World Series for two different teams, having already claimed the victory in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Angels.
“I’m a huge baseball fan, I love this game, to do anything in this game to be the first guy, that’s pretty damn cool,” he said.
Lackey got hot at just the right time in the postseason, having allowed just four runs over his last three starts (19 2/3 innings). His final ERA in playoffs was 2.33.
Between the regular season and the postseason, Lackey finished his first season back from Tommy John surgery having made 33 starts, notching a 3.43 ERA over 215 1/3 innings.
“Lack, he’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever been around,” Buchholz said. “I’m sure everybody can notice that whenever Skip [John Farrell] tries to take the ball from him. I’ve gotten to know him really good over the past couple of years. The reason they signed him was for what he did tonight. Just because he wasn’t healthy the first couple of years here, it says a lot for him to go out there hurt and pitch through it and not pitch at all last year and come back and have the season he had this year, that’s a winner.”
|Buster Olney on M&M: ‘I don’t understand the logic’ of pitching to David Ortiz||10.30.13 at 1:55 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview Game 6 of the World Series, and recount Game 5 as well.
The Red Sox and Cardinals meet on Wednesday at Fenway Park with Boston one game away from winning the Fall Classic after Monday’s 3-1 win. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright opted to pitch to David Ortiz, and like he’s been doing all postseason, Ortiz made the opposition pay, this time with three hits, including an RBI double in the first inning, to up his World Series average to .733.
“This is like choosing between, do we want to let the other team give the ball to Michael Jordan or Will Perdue, right? Because Ortiz is that good, and he’s basically getting hits at the same rate that Michael Jordan hits jump shots,” Olney said, adding: “I don’t understand the logic of pitching to him.”
After St. Louis’ loss, Wainwright revealed that it was his decision, and not manager Mike Matheny’s to pitch to Ortiz.
“You understand why Matheny has trust in Wainwright,” Olney said. “But I think you have to take it out of the hands, especially when you’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the world, probably the best defensive catcher in the world, because both those guys, their instinct is, ‘We’re going to solve this problem. I’m going to find a way to get David Ortiz out.’ ”
Michael Wacha and John Lackey face off for the second time in the series on Wednesday. Wacha beat Lackey in Game 2, 4-2. In that game, the rookie threw 65 fastballs, 39 changeups and 10 curveballs. Seven of those changeups induced swinging misses, the highest number of whiffs among the three pitches, according to brooksbaseball.net.
“That, to me, is going to be the interesting adjustment, to see if the Red Sox find something where they will use that piece of information, because that was such an effective way for Wacha to pitch in the first time that he faced them,” Olney said. “That’s the pitch to me, the inside changeup, that I think you might see the Red Sox hitters stalk a little bit.”
If the Red Sox lose Game 6, they’ll likely look to Jake Peavy in Game 7, although Felix Doubront’s performance this postseason has at least made the Game 7 starter a debate.
“A week ago, Felix Doubront was basically forgotten, now he’s their second most important reliever coming in,” Olney said. “I think [Doubront] has more value coming out of the bullpen.”
|Eleven years after first World Series triumph, John Lackey in position to make history||at 12:11 pm ET|
When the Red Sox signed John Lackey after the 2009 season, the team imagined a scenario in which it had a postseason-tested rotation like none other. At the time, with Lackey, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester on their roster — three different pitchers who had earned the victory in a World Series-clinching contest prior to their 25th birthdays — the team could claim an unmatched ensemble of pitchers who had contributed to October triumph.
It took a long time for either the Sox or Lackey to be in position for such a vision to come to fruition, with the team changing in numerous ways since his signing (including the departure of Beckett). But now, in Lackey’s fourth season in Boston, 11 years and two days removed from his winning performance over the Giants in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, Lackey has an opportunity to once again play a pivotal role in a potential clincher, just as he did in permitting one run in five innings in Game 7 as a 24-year-old. The right-hander will get the ball for Game 6 on Wednesday night, with an opportunity to pitch his team to a title.
Lackey, however, is hardly playing highlights of the 2002 World Series on loop.
“I was a rookie. We had a pretty veteran team… Our bullpen was probably our main strength on that team. I was trying to get five or six innings and turn it over to those guys. My job was just basically not to screw it up,” Lackey recounted on Tuesday. “That was a long time ago, man. I don’t think that’s going to play much into [Game 6]. I think most of those guys in that game aren’t even playing anymore.”
Indeed, of the 28 other players in that Game 7, only one (Francisco Rodriguez) played in the big leagues this year. That, in turn, underscores the rarity of what Lackey is trying to accomplish. Read the rest of this entry »
|Ken Rosenthal on D&C: ‘I just don’t see the logic’ in St. Louis pitching to David Ortiz||at 9:47 am ET|
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to preview Game 6 of the World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals.
The teams face off Wednesday night at Fenway Park with Boston one game away from clinching the series. Game 7 would be home as well for the Red Sox.
“I wouldn’t get worried about them getting ahead of themselves. They understand what’s going on here,” Rosenthal said. “Everybody who plays or follows baseball understands that winning a clinching game is not easy, and that the St. Louis Cardinals are awfully good, they’ve won two straight on several occasions this year. And it could happen here.”
John Lackey and Michael Wacha take the mound, and the most intriguing storyline in this matchup is how Wacha will approach the scorching David Ortiz. Boston’s DH has gone 11-for-15 (.733) in the first five games with two home runs, one coming against Wacha in Game 2. St. Louis walked him four times, just once intentionally.
“I just don’t see the logic in what the Cardinals have done here, and I would expect that it would change,” said Rosenthal. “I can’t imagine they’re going to keep going after him the way they are.”
The Cardinals faced a bit of bad luck on Tuesday when their flight to Boston was delayed for over seven hours.
“If I’m them, I’m embracing this whole back-to-the-wall thing, embracing the, ‘Look at this, we couldn’t even get our flight on time, no one believes in us,’ the typical clichéd stuff that unfortunately often works, and I go from there” Rosenthal said. “ ‘I’m the Red Sox in 2004 against the Yankees,’ in my head.”
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