He said last week everything in his life sucks, but he did not want to elaborate. We all just assumed he was talking about his personal life because he didn't have to tell us about his professional life. We could see for ourselves every five days. On the mound this season, John Lackey was a bigger mess than bin Laden's bedroom, and to say he sucked would be to sugarcoat things.

When Lackey signed an $82.5 million deal with the Sox before last season, he was supposed to be one of the best pitchers in the American League. Instead he turned out to be the worst. Not one of the worst. Not among the worst. The worst, according to the numbers.

George Carlin had a joke that went something like this: "Just think: Somewhere out there is the world's worst doctor .?.?. and someone is waiting for an appointment with him."

Well, somewhere out there is the AL's worst pitcher .?.?. and the Red Sox placed him on the 15-day disabled list yesterday.

Before heading to the DL with an alleged elbow strain, Lackey had lost his past three starts. His ERA is 8.01, his WHIP 1.81. All his numbers this season look like something you'd wipe off the bottom of your shoe, and with 33/4 seasons left on his contract, the question becomes: What can the Red Sox do with him now?

They can't drop him in the order, like Carl Crawford. They can't send him to Triple A like some rookie. They can hide him on the DL for two weeks, but then what? They probably can't put him in the bullpen. He has exactly one regular-season relief appearance in his 10-year career, an inning for the Angels in 2004. And it's hard to believe his confidence would improve in the role of $16?million mop-up man.

Lackey was the Sox' No.?2 starter at the beginning of the season, a spot he earned with a strong spring, but he got shelled in Texas in his first outing. He had two straight solid performances on the West Coast in April, but he has hit a new low in May. This month he's allowed 19 hits, eight walks and 17 earned runs in 102/3 innings. His past two starts were so profoundly bad that everyone assumed his problems extended well beyond the ballpark.