John Lackey And Chone Figgins: Two Moves Tony Reagins Got Right


Angels fans don’t have Tony Reagins to kick around anymore. With Fernando Rodney and (hopefully) Jeff Mathis being let go in the off season – Vernon Wells could find himself as the lone Halo target at the proverbial shooting range. Much has been written about the failures of Reagins during his tenure as Angels GM – namely the Kazmir / Wells trades –  the Rodney signing, letting Darren Oliver walk and an overall failure to assert himself as the true leader on all things pertaining to Angels personnel decisions. What many have failed to give Reagins credit for is a few key signings, that he did not make,  that have panned out nicely for the Halos. Whether Reagins was truly unable to offer up the money to match some of the  free agent deals signed by these expiring Angels players is something we will likely never know. What is known however is that by not signing two widely adored Angels (John Lackey and Chone Figgins) – Tony did the right thing. Sometimes the best move is the one you don’t make (see Napoli – Wells Trade) and the decision to let Lackey and Figgins walk falls right in line with that theory.

Lets take a closer look:

Chone Figgins

The year was 2009. Lady Gaga had just dropped her debut single , Tiger Woods was channeling his inner Wilt Chamberlain and Chone Figgins spurned a “modest”contract offer from the Angels and signed a 4 year $36 million dollar deal the Seattle Mariners. While many Angels fans were livid that the spark plug utility man turned everyday 3rd basemen was leaving town and they were no longer able to “get figgy with it” Tony Reagins and the Angels quietly forged on  as the Angels planned to give the everyday lead off role to Erick Aybar while Macier Izturis would take over the third base duties. Figgins coming off another dismal October was seen as expendable to Angels management who felt Aybar could morph into an equally as dynamic lead off hitter and Maicer Izturis’ steady glove and bat could fill in if Aybar should falter. While the Angels were wrong to assume Aybar could capably fill the lead off role (time has shown he doesn’t have  the on base chops) hindsight has shown they were 100% correct in letting Figgins (31 at the time) walk. In his two season in Seattle Figgins has produced the following numbers:

  • 2010: .259/.340 with 42 stolen bases and 62 runs scored
  • 2011: .188/.241 with 11 stolen bases and 24 runs scored

* slugging omitted from slash line for role accuracy

Figgins has produced the above goodies all while being paid a whopping $9.5 million dollars. Figgy has not looked like himself in Seattle. He even tried to dish out an ass whooping to former manager Don Wakamatsu. The Angels have still yet to permanently solve their dilemma at third base but to date both Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo have provided more value than Figgins for a combined total of around $6 million. This is one Reagins got right.

John Lackey

The year is still 2009. The Hangover had everyone headed to Vegas to see just how wild they could get,  my Oregon State Beavers faced the Oregon Ducks in the Civil War with the Rose Bowl on the line , and John Lackey signed a mega deal to leave So Cal and head to the Boston Red Sox. While the Beavers blowing a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row was painful for me, Lackey going to Boston may have hurt even more. Sure the contract –  5 years and $82.5 million dollars was ridiculous but like many Halo fans I saw Lackey as somewhat of an ace and held a special place for that goofy Texas grin thanks to his exploits in the 2002 World Series. Plus you never want someone to leave and head to Boston or New York right? Tony Reagins however saw through the nostalgia – Choosing not to offer big money to the big right hander but instead allowing Jered Weaver to ascend to ace status. The results have been shocking. Weaver has morphed into one of the best pitchers in all of baseball leading the majors in strikeouts in 2010 and posting an 18 win 2.41 ERA season in 2011.  Lackey meanwhile has been a huge disappointment as is probably Public Enemy No. 1 in Boston. Over the last two seasons Lackey has produced the following.

  • 2010: 4.42 ERA , 1.42 WHIP, .277 BAA , 3.01 BB/9
  • 2011: 6.41 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, .308 BAA, 3.15 BB/9

With today’s announcement that Lackey will indeed miss the 2012 season his future is uncertain. What is certain however is that Tony Reagins made the right call on this move as well. Lackey was only truly ace like in one season of his career (2007 , 19 Wins 3.01 ERA) yet was being valued and coveted as a potential front line starter. The elbow issue that will now give the Red Sox some contract relief was also a large red flag. Reagins was right to pass on Lackey as he was with Figgins. I’m sure Tony will highlight these two strategic decisions during any future interview he may have. Sometimes its the moves you don’t make. Unfortunately for Reagins its the moves he did make that mattered most.