Home Baseball Trading Joe Kelly and Allen Craig for John Lackey is a good deal

Trading Joe Kelly and Allen Craig for John Lackey is a good deal

by Jeremy Karp

The Cardinals made big news yesterday announcing they had acquired All-star pitcher Justin Masterson in a trade that sent James Ramsey to the Indians.

Today, they made another big move, trading away two well known names.

The Cardinals have traded OF Allen Craig and SP Joe Kelly to the Red Sox for another All-star pitcher, John Lackey.

In the deal, the Red Sox also sent cash considerations to the Cardinals, as well as Minor League lefty Corey Littrell, a fifth-round pick by Boston in last year’s First Player draft.

Lackey, 35, has been in the league since 2002. In the 1999 MLB draft, he was drafted in the second round (68th overall) by the Anaheim Angels. He has a career record of 146-113, with a 4.03 ERA. He also has 1,735 career strikeouts throughout his long career, and made the AL All-star team in 2007, the same year he had the lowest ERA in the AL.

The arrival to the Cardinals marks his first stint in the National League.

Lackey is also the only pitcher to win a World series’ clinching game with two different teams (Angels, Red Sox).

The trade has been met with mixed reactions: many aren’t so hot on the idea of Kelly and Craig leaving the Cardinals. But there are many reasons why it was a trade that has strong payoff for the Cardinals. Here are three main reasons:

First, Lackey will only be making $500,000 next year. For a veteran pitcher of his caliber, if he stays healthy, that is a steal.

Second, despite Craig being beloved throughout Cardinal Nation, and despite showing in the past how good of a player he is, it’s no secret he’s been struggling ever since the World Series last year.

Craig, 30, had three straight strong seasons for the Cardinals, going a combined .312 with an .863 OPS in 328 games from 2011-2013. He played However, he’s had a rough season with an average at a mere .237 despite hitting seven home runs and 44 RBI’s, and a .638 OPS. He also has three years and $25 million left on his contract. With Oscar Taveras being groomed to become the next big star, and taking Craig’s place in right field, the time was right to let him go.

Third, while Kelly isn’t a bad pitcher, he has never pitched more than 100 innings in a season, something Lackey has done five times. Splitting the 2013 season between starting and relieving, Kelly played a part in the NL Pennant-winning Cardinals, going 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 37 games overall. In his 15 starts last season, Kelly was 9-3 with a 2.28 ERA. Despite that, he is not known for going deep into games, rarely making it to the seventh inning or longer. He, like Craig, has had his fair share of injury issues that has hurt his performance this season as well.

Dealing for Lackey works out well into the Cardinals favor, and their depth in their entire system (majors and minors) is their advantage. In the past two days, GM John Mozeliak has traded two outfielders and a pitcher for two All-star pitchers. The rotation is becoming more loaded with talent, and will be even stronger once young-star Michael Wacha returns from injury.

People will still question why the Cardinals haven’t added a bat, but with the young talent they have, it’s better to develop the stars than trade them all away. Matt Adams has been on an absolute roll since his return from injury, and veteran catcher A.J Pierzynski has performed quite well since his tenure with the Cardinals began as well.

One thing is for sure: the NL pennant race is looking more intense each passing day. With teams such as Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and San Francisco, and Los Angeles among others, it will be a fun ride till the end of the season.

Craig and Kelly had good tenures with St. Louis, and will still be remembered in Cardinal Nation in future years.

Once a Cardinal…always a Cardinal.


(Photo credit: Boston Herald)

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Bill McCloud July 31, 2014 - 13:32

I agree that this is a good deal for the Cardinals, and probably a good deal for Craig and Kelly. For the Cardinals, they get a proven Post Season Pitcher, that eats up innings, and most importantly, Oscar can now relax and start to feel like he belongs in the lineup for STL. I look for Taveras to tear the baseball up for the rest of the season, knowing that he won’t be looking over his shoulder on every at bat.

Bill McCloud July 31, 2014 - 13:33

And by the way Masterson is going to be a SUPERSTAR in the NL, and I hope that the Cardinals keep him around for a long time, to have him learn the “Cardinal way” from Waino!!!

JoJoViolet July 31, 2014 - 14:05

Mark my word, this will be a trade the Cards will regret for years. Adding Lackey doesn’t mean a thing when we can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I have been a Cards fan my whole life, saw my first game in Sportsman Park in ’64 (yeah, Busch I but everybody still called it Sportsmans Park), been to hundreds of games and watch almost every game and i don’t think i’ve ever been so upset over a trade.

mfp July 31, 2014 - 17:37

relax, jojo…allen craig is done, he’ll never hit .250 again….he was the lead cant-hit-the-broad-side-of-a-barn player–and joe kelly wasnt exactly bob gibson…so yeah, take it easy–this isnt brock-for-broglio, but it isnt steve carlton for rick wise, either

JoJoViolet July 31, 2014 - 19:49

Wow, Craig has had nothing but success in his entire professional career with a .291 lifetime avg in the majors and a .308 in the minors and you think he’ll never hit .250 again. What an idjet. Come back when you’re old enough to undetstand the game, we’ll talk then.

mfp August 1, 2014 - 21:58

i’ve played and watched baseball for almost 60 yrs…i know done when i see it…craig is done….he had two good years and one career year, and now his batspeed is about that of tom brunanski…but you were probably a big brunanski fan too, huh?
what you should really be whining about is the fact that mo didnt go after giancarlo stanton with craig, kelly and whoever else they wanted

Mick Lite August 1, 2014 - 22:03

Miami told every team that asked, that Stanton was not available.

mfp August 1, 2014 - 22:17

that’s a real shame…no ballplayer that good should have to play in FL

JoJoViolet August 1, 2014 - 22:13

Well, i guess you know best since i’ve only been playing and watching baseball fo 50 yrs not 60 yrs. We will see. My take is that Lester and/or Lackey will resign with Boston after this year (Lackey’s good faith agreement means nothing) and then we’ll look like idjits. Craig may never hit .300/30/100 but he’ll be solid bat.

dave July 31, 2014 - 20:39

It was a good move we can use that 25.5 mill savings from Craig towards a big bat, Craig I think will do better in boston.now oscar can play and get comfortable and Craig can get a fresh start.

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