John Lackey, bless his soul, is a pariah in New England.
For the Padres, this shouts opportunity.
Play nice and offer to help the Red Sox rid themselves of the 33-year-old stinkbomb of a pitcher.
Lest you think this blog ingested silly pills, a Padres official tells me the idea of exploring a Lackey deal "is not farfetched at all."
For starters, every Red Sox fan I know would celebrate if Lackey is sent to the Better Coast, more so if he's deposited near Alcatraz or off the coast of Tijuana. The righty not only had a 6.41 ERA last season, he is still owed $45.75 million over the next three years, and if the Boston press is to be believed, Lackey was one of the clubhouse skunks who fouled the team's chemistry.
Clearly Lackey must leave Boston, and clearly the best place for him to revive his career is San Diego.
Petco National Park would pump him full of confidence, as would the absence of Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays hitters.
Bud Black and Lackey are chums, Pepe Negro having nurtured him in Anaheim when Lackey was pitching the Angels to a World Series title and inducing the gullible Sox seven years later to sign him to a five-year deal for $82.5 million.
But this trade isn't really about Lackey and the 4.40 ERA and 170 innings he'd give the Padres.
It's about the wealthy, farm-rich Sox sweetening the pot so that the deal benefits San Diego. Here's how:
One, pay most of Lackey's $15.25 million salary each of the next three years, plus the filthy $500,000 assignment bonus that a trade would trigger.
Two, take on second baseman Orlando Hudson and his ridiculous $7.5 million guarantee OK'd by his former agent, Jeff Moorad. (So what if he'd be blocked by Pedroia? Let the Sox sort it out.)
Three, send the Padres a young big leaguer or a good prospect, or two. The amount of Lackey's salary assumed by the Padres would depend on the quality of the young talent.
And if the Smartest Man in Baseball isn't willing to satisfy them, the Padres can walk. Let Lucchino and others within The Matrix contemplate the sights and sounds of Red Sox fans, after a winter of marinating in vinegar, booing Lackey even before he reprises his home ERA of 6.65 and slug rate allowed of .487. Veteran pitchers who want to pitch for the Padres tend to be in ample supply, another reason the Padres can move on if the Sox don't meet their price.