Maybe Roy wasn't available to the Sox. Maybe Bay said privately to Theo that there was no way he would come back to Boston. Maybe we'll never know exactly the reasoning behind all these things. But what we should know as Sox fans is that with these types of moves, you are getting less than you are led to believe.
I've heard the Boston spin that Lackey has post-season experience and that he has 500-less innings on his arm than Halladay. Let's face it, though. He ain't Halladay. I don't even think he's Sabathia or Beckett.
The Sox will reportedly be paying $17MM/year for a guy who will fit into the top 3 in your rotation, but isn't an ace. Will the Sox be formidable with Beckett, Lester, and Lackey? Absolutely. There will probably not be many extended losing streaks. And the Sox might be banking on the "just get to the playoffs" where pitching wins scenario. Would those three in the playoffs be difficult? Again, absolutely.
However, (and I am not falling back into the pre-2004 mind frame here, just reality), there is a team in the Bronx through which other teams must go. I hate to say it but Sabathia is better than any of the Sox top pitchers (Lackey included). Burnett proved he is a strong post-season guy. And Pettitte is ridiculous (and mostly untouchable) in the post-season. Add to this the Yankees lineup, and the Sox are up against it before they start.
This is compounded by their current roster. They've agreed to a contract with Cameron, which pretty much rules out Bay. In Cameron, they've acquired a veteran who is on the wrong side of 35. So here's the projected lineup:
While on paper it isn't bad, there are lots of questions marks and an astounding lack of run producers (especially for the last 4 names in the lineup). It is clear the Sox are focusing on strong pitching and defense, a philosophy that did not work out well for them in the past. In the AL you need pitching, defense, AND offense.
They, of course, might be moving Lowell (if he passes his physical). They aren't getting a guy that will help this year. My overall feeling is that they signed Lackey for beyond this year, not necessarily to make the big splash. By losing Bay and signing Lackey, I feel like the Sox will be as competitive as last year. They will be competitive against good pitching as they'll be able to matchup well up and down the rotation. However, they won't score (much like last year) against good pitching.
Most writers are saying "maybe this isn't a bridge year after all". I disagree.