John Lackey gave Pat Neshek a Babe Ruth autographed ball for his jersey number

John-Lackey-CardinalsJohn Lackey has worn jersey No. 41 throughout his entire career, and it is obviously very important to him. When the veteran right-hander was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals from the Boston Red Sox, he had to negotiate in order to keep No. 41. Cards reliever Pat Neshek drove a pretty hard bargain.

On Wednesday, Neshek tweeted a photo of an authentic Babe Ruth autographed baseball and thanked Lackey for the gift. Considering the nature of the exchange, I’d be more inclined to call it a form of payment than a gift.

Baseballs that have been signed by The Babe sell for anywhere between $3,000 to $50,000, depending on the condition. When you consider what some other professional athletes have paid to keep their jersey numbers, Lackey didn’t do all that horribly. Plus, he’s making north of $15 million this season. If Big Hoss wants another autographed Ruth baseball, he’ll just go out and buy one.

H/T Hardball Talk

John Lackey traded to Cardinals for Allen Craig, Joe Kelly

John-Lackey-beer-drinking-reports-retardedJust nine months removed from winning a world championship, the Boston Red Sox are now selling off all of the assets that got them there. Shortly after Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes were sent to the Oakland A’s in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, the Red Sox traded John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals.

According to Peter Gammons, the Cardinals are sending 26-year-old starting pitcher Joe Kelly and 30-year-old outfielder Allen Craig to Boston.

On the surface, it looks like the Red Sox are having a fire sale. They have now traded Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, Lester and Lackey — all important pieces in Boston’s improbable World Series run. But in reality the Red Sox are simply changing their approach in hopes of contending again next season.

We all know what Cespedes is capable of. While he is 28 and merely a .250 hitter with pop at this point, he could be the righthanded power hitter that the Red Sox desperately need in the middle of their lineup. His numbers could also skyrocket if he uses the Green Monster to his advantage. Cespedes is also an above-average fielder with a tremendous arm.

Craig became a full-time player for St. Louis in 2012 and hit .307 with 22 homers and 92 RBI that season. He followed it up with a .315/13/97 line in 2013 and is on pace for around 90 RBI again this season, despite a low average of .237. In Kelly, the Red Sox are getting a young starter who went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 15 starts last season. Kelly is struggling a bit this year, but he has obvious potential.

If the Red Sox were looking to rebuild to contend again five years from now, they would have demanded top prospects for Lester and Lackey. Instead, they have acquired proven MLB players who could help round out their roster in 2015. On the flip side, the A’s and Cardinals have added important pieces that could help in the postseason this year. I don’t think anyone got hosed in either deal.

John Lackey brings up Nelson Cruz’s PED use after Cruz shells him

John-Lackey-beer-drinking-reports-retardedNelson Cruz had a huge night for the Baltimore Orioles in their 7-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night. Cruz went 5-for-5 including a homer, single and double of Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey. When Lackey was asked about Cruz’s performance after the game, he conveniently hinted at Cruz’s history of performance-enhancing drug use.

“I’m not going to comment on him,” Lackey said, via ESPN.com. “I’ve got nothing to say about him. There are some things I’d like to say, but I’m not going to. You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff.”

Nice try, John, but you already said plenty. Players who have never cheated have every right to feel bitter toward Cruz in the wake of his 50-game suspension last season. The 34-year-old slugger accepted his punishment and served the ban, but that doesn’t mean everyone is forced to forgive him.

That said, Lackey made himself look bad by pulling the “yeah, but he’s a cheater” card after Cruz teed off on him. Had Cruz gone 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Lackey, we all know there would have been no mention of his involvement with Biogenesis.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was later asked about Lackey’s comments on ESPN Radio’s “Mike Lupica Show.”

“There’s so many insinuations, quite frankly, about people in every club. You usually don’t hear those comments after a shutout or something,” Showalter said. I mean [Lackey's] doing really well. He’s up throwing 93, 95 again and he’s got one of the top ERAs in the American League, which with the DH means all of baseball. He’s a good pitcher, so God bless him. He was good yesterday.”

Lackey has always been outspoken about PED use. Last year, he said Alex Rodriguez should not be allowed to play while he appealed his 211-game suspension. This time around, Lackey’s comments just reeked of sour grapes.

John Lackey reaction to being pulled: You gotta be sh—in me (GIF)

Some things never change with John Lackey.

John LackeyThe Boston Red Sox pitcher had a shutout going against the Detroit Tigers in Game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday and was pulled with two outs in the seventh. What was unusual is that Lackey had just gotten an out and not really in trouble when he was pulled.

“C’mon man, you gotta be shi–in me,” Lackey could be seen saying.

Lackey had only allowed four hits and no walks while striking out eight in 6.2 innings. He had thrown 97 pitches when he was pulled. Red Sox manager John Farrell went to Craig Breslow to get the lefty-lefty matchup for Alex Avila, who blasted a huge 2-run home run in Game 2. Breslow walked Avila and got Omar Infante out to end the inning.

Those with good memories may recall that Lackey had a similar reaction in Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox when he was still with the Los Angeles Angels. Lackey was throwing a shutout in Game 1 against the Sox and allowed a hit to start out the 8th. He threw a wild pitch, then got Casey Kotchman to ground out. With lefty Jacoby Ellsbury coming up, manager Mike Scioscia did the same thing Farrell did and pulled Lackey for lefty Darren Oliver. The move paid off — Oliver held the Sox scoreless the rest of the game, and the Angels won 5-0 and swept the series.

GIF via @CorkGaines

John Lackey: Alex Rodriguez should not be playing

John-Lackey-beer-drinking-reports-retardedThe Boston Red Sox are beginning a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Friday night at Fenway Park. John Lackey is scheduled to pitch for Boston on Saturday, but he is not looking forward to facing Alex Rodriguez. It’s not that he fears the Yankees slugger — he just doesn’t think he deserves to be playing in the wake of a 211-game suspension.

“I’ve got a problem with it. You bet I do,” Lackey told the Boston Globe on Thursday, via ESPNBoston.com. “How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right … It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him.”

Like any other player, A-Rod is entitled to an appeal. He chose not to accept his suspension like the other 12 players who were involved with Biogenesis, which was his right under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players like this Tampa Bay Rays slugger feel that the appeal process should be quicker, which is a legitimate gripe.

Lackey also admitted Rodriguez has been a topic of conversation in the Red Sox clubhouse.

[Related: Former MLB reliever feels cheated by players implicated in Biogenesis]

“Sure, we talk about it,” he said. “But talking to the media about it is a little bit different. People have strong feelings. He took me deep the first time I faced him as a rookie, and he admitted to doing stuff back then. There are a lot of things I want back from him.”

I can see both sides of the argument. You like to stick with the “innocent until proven guilty” thing as much as possible, but Rodriguez is directly affecting the outcome of games as long as he plays. Should he be found guilty and once again outed as a performance-enhancing drug user, plenty of people will feel cheated. The quicker the matter is resolved, the better off everyone will be. Just don’t count on a resolution coming before the end of the season.

John Lackey reportedly double-fisting Bud Lights in the Red Sox clubhouse

You didn’t really think the Red Sox players would make a major life change and quit drinking altogether just because they collapsed last September, did you? Before the season, Bobby Valentine announced that alcohol was no longer permitted in the Red Sox clubhouse. Terry Francona said what we were all thinking when he categorized the rule change as nothing but a PR move, and in reality that’s probably accurate. No alcohol allowed in the clubhouse simply means you’re going to be in big trouble if you let the media see you. Apparently the policy only applies to Fenway Park.

According to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, John Lackey was spotted carrying a couple beers through the visitor’s clubhouse in Cleveland following Boston’s most recent loss on Thursday.

Lackey was so busted up after the latest defeat that he was strutting around the clubhouse with a can of Bud Light in each hand, or what is known as “double-fisting” on every college campus in the history of mankind.

We all know how Lackey felt about the “retarded overreaction” from the media last season. Haggerty also mentioned that the alcohol ban did indeed only apply to the Fenway clubhouse. Is it possible Lackey had one beer for himself and was bringing the other to a teammate? Yes. Is Lackey pitching this season? No. Were the two Bud Lights the right-hander was carrying the reason the Red Sox are currently 55-58 and 11 games out of first place in the AL East? No.

The point is you would think the players would have learned their lesson. Unless they enjoyed the firestorm of backlash they got from the media throughout the entire offseason, you would think they’d save the drinking until after the reporters have cleared out.

H/T Hardball Talk
Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

John Lackey says the overreaction to the Red Sox drinking beer is ‘retarded’

The beer and fried chicken controversy that came to light after Boston’s collapse in September of 2011 is not going to go away until the team starts lighting it up. Even then, the stench will linger. Despite the fact that an entirely fresh season is set to begin in just over a week, John Lackey found himself having to answer questions about the mistakes the Red Sox made last season in an interview with the Boston Globe that was published on Tuesday. Lackey, who will miss all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, could have been a bit more thoughtful with his choice in wording.

“Guys having a beer after their start has been going on for the last 100 years,’’ Lackey told Dan Shaughnessy after making it clear that he wished they didn’t have to talk about it. “This is retarded. It’s not like we were sitting up there doing it every night. It’s not even close to what people think.’’

As we all know, the Sox hurlers were doing a bit more than simply having a beer after a start. We can understand why Lackey is frustrated with having to deal with missing an entire season and still answering questions about what went on last year, but the way he phrased it is regrettable. I am certainly guilty of having used the word “retarded” in an inappropriate context before, but I’m not a professional athlete with a microphone in front of me. Don’t expect an apology anytime soon, but Lackey certainly could have come up with a better term to express his frustration with a situation that just won’t go away.

H/T Big League Stew
Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE