John Lackey has never exactly been Mr. Endearing when he’s opined to the media. He showed why that is again after Saturday’s loss to the Orioles in which he surrendered nine runs on 13 hits over five innings. The right-hander allowed three home runs, including one to 28-year-old rookie catcher Caleb Joseph. It was Joseph’s fifth consecutive game with a home run, and his blast went a reported 383 out to left-center at Camden Yards.
After the game, Lackey called Joseph’s long ball a “Baltimore home run”, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports. Ostensibly, Lackey means that Camden Yards’ dimensions favor hitters — and it does, but that is hardly an excuse for his performance. According to Statcorner.com, Camden Yards is very slightly above-average for right-handed hitters when it comes to hitting home runs. The park plays much better for left-handed hitters to hit home runs.
The Cardinals picked up the hot-tempered Lackey along with minor league pitcher Corey Littrell at the trade deadline from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly. In 23 starts overall this season, Lackey has a 3.98 ERA with a 123/34 K/BB ratio in 149 1/3 innings.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.