I’ve seen a lot of whisperings of the Mariners having interest in John Lackey. I honestly don’t know how I feel about that. So I decided to compare him against other pitchers connected to the Mariners this off-season both via rumors.

Also, the reason I used the numbers I did is because it’s always important to look at the “right” numbers when evaluating pitchers. Dave Cameron did an AMAZING job on this post a few years ago and I highly encourage anyone looking to understand the evaluation of a  pitcher to read it.

And to the comparisons…

John Lackey – 31 – Free Agent

John Lackey has been affected by two different pitching arm injuries the last two years. However even with the arm injuries he has still been amazing. I don’t know if I consider him an “Ace” but as a #2 guy he is very good. Take a look at this post on fan graphs by Dave Cameron.


Aaron Harang – 31 – Cincinnati Reds

Harang has been on the trade block for most likely all of last year. He even passed through waivers. He is worth the contract he has 2010:$12.5M, 2011:$12.75M with a$2M buyout( information provided by cots baseball contracts).  He is a more expensive version of Ian Snell with a higher ceiling. He should also come much cheap because of his contract and now that the Reds are looking to ditch payroll I wonder what the Red’s are looking for return compensation.


Justin Duscherer – 32 – Free Agent

‘The Duke’ much like (again) Ian Snell, has been battling depression.  Among a slew of other injuries, when available he is on he is very good. Is he a #2 I think in a perfect world he may have the stuff. As a reclamation project like the one with Chad Cordero, it’s possible that it could pay off in big dividends. He doesn’t get by on his gas and while he does have a great 4-seam fastball he relies on all his pitches and their movement.

Only problem with all that is Duscherer seems to be looking for a pay day and I don’t know if I would give a two or three year contract worth somewhere around 7-8 million to a 32-year-old who has health problems. Just my opinion.


Ben Sheets – 31 – Free Agent

Sheets is absolutely filthy and just looking at the stats you can tell he is far and away the best of this listing and possibly one of the best pitchers in all of the big leagues. That said, he has had a lot of health issues over the year. Not to mention he pulled an Erik Bedard and in August 2008 he tore a muscle in his elbow and has not pitched professional since the end of 2008.

A player of his talent will still require some money and looking back at the contract he had been connected with the Texas Rangers last off-season it was still upwards of 20+ mil over  2 yrs. I would think that it would still be close to the same value.

The year off I don’t think would have hurt Sheets if anything it gave him the opportunity to get health and return this season with a chance to prove himself. Despite his injury rap sheet I would love to get him in a Mariners uniform


Rich Harden – 28 – Free Agent

He has proven he can pitch in the National League, he has proven he can pitch in the American League. The question that we all are curious about is can he stay healthy. Oh yeah, another one of those.  But the point of this session is to regurgitate what you could have read on USS:M take a look at the stats and compare them to John Lackey


Ricky Nolasco – 26 – Florida Marlins

The other young right hander on this list has been one we here at S/M have been preaching about for the past two months. The question is of course “could he sustain his success in the American League?”. It’s a very good question and I’m not here to debate it, here are the stats


As you can see Lackey is just about as good as any pitcher out on the market. Now we have to struggle with what do we deem a worthy contract? I still think Ben Sheets is the guy we target and go hard core after. I don’t have a problem giving the guy a 2-year-deal.  But guys like Lackey are looking to get CC Sabathia-type money. When you can pay a guy 7-9 even 12 million dollars a year in return for what you can get for 20, is that really worth it?

In your realistic dream world who is the Mariners #2? Who do you think they go after? Anyone undervalued that no one is talking about?

Remember despite how much we all like to play MLB 2k9 (actually it sucks and someone really needs to put out a better game), we have to remember that there isn’t much more than 35m$ this year. We can’t sign everyone and while we would all love to be able to go after two of these pitchers, it’s just not in the budget.

Also, should we decide to join in the “Lackey sweepstakes” it’s going to reduce the chances of signing a second player who can be equally effective as well as a third or fourth needed part within our puzzle. There are a lot of moves that need to be made this off-season. using 20 million dollars (over half our available pay-roll) and putting it towards just one player is in bad taste.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be interested in Lackey. I’m just saying we need to be patient and understand that there are other available pitchers out there, and yes some do come with more risk. The higher the risk, the greater the reward!