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.
Free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas is drawing interest from at least four clubs, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Friday. The Brewers are the presumed frontrunners to land the infielder, but Heyman adds that the Angels may take the inside edge as Moustakas hails from the San Fernando Valley and has invested in charity efforts in California over the last year. The Phillies and Padres, on the other hand, have been involved to a lesser degree as they’re both thought to be in hot pursuit of fellow free agent third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado, though their interest in the veteran Moustakas could ramp right back up should they lose out on Machado in the weeks to come.
Moustakas, 30, declined a $15 million mutual option with the Brewers at the end of the 2018 season, and like many others left on the market, has yet to find a landing spot in advance of spring training. While he’s several years removed from his last All-Star performance, he ran a decent campaign with the Royals and Brewers last year, slashing a combined .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs, a .774 OPS, and 2.4 fWAR across 635 plate appearances.
He certainly appears to be a fit in Anaheim, where he could supplant Zack Cozart at the hot corner and balance out the Angels’ right-heavy lineup alongside Kole Calhoun, Justin Bour, and Tommy La Stella. Even if the Angels have serious interest in the third baseman, however, they’re likely to wait and see what kind of contract Machado (and the as-yet unsigned Bryce Harper) fetches before extending any serious offers of their own. They’re far from the only club to use the four-time All-Star as a litmus test this offseason, which has only fueled a growing unrest among MLB players who believe that more serious action — such as a midseason walk-out or a league-wide strike — will need to be taken over the next few months.