Double Southpaws Can Only Help / The Pen is Not Mightier, Wakefield Says

After the 2005 season, the Red Sox are going to have two outstanding free agents with possible replacements waiting in the wings – John Halama and Alan Embree. Those replacements are Lenny DiNardo, the Red Sox’s Rule 5 draft pick prior to 2004, and Mark Malaska, claimed off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays prior to 2004.
I am especially high on DiNardo, a 26-year old from Miami who was selected from the Mets. In 2004, he played in every level of the system, the reasoning being that he was injured, first with a blister than with another injury when rehabbing from the blister that went under the radar.
He had a 0.00 ERA in three innings for both the GCL Red Sox and a 9.53 ERA in 6 IP for Portland and three innings again for Pawtucket, scoreless. He pitched the most at the major league level, a 4.23 ERA in 28 innings. I’ve been a fan of DiNardo since seeing him, I think he is a diamond in the rough, a very capable lefty reliever who can also start even though his future is as a reliever in the majors. To me, his throwing motion is free and easy, and I think he could be crucial to the Red Sox in 2006 and beyond. I would tab him the primary lefty in 2006 assuming Embree and Halama depart and the Red Sox decide to go within the organization.
The second lefty reliever we could go with who is also quite qualified is Mark Malaska.
Malaska split time between Pawtucket and Boston. Used primarily as a reliever, the 27 year old threw up a 2.81 ERA for Tampa in 2003 in limited time. For Boston, he had a 4.50 ERA in 20 IP and a 4.21 ERA for Pawtucket in 36 IP. Malaska to me can be very good, but I’m less of a fan of his windup, I don’t think it’s smooth enough and he seems to have lost effectiveness. I watched him in spring training tonight where the Red Sox beat the Reds on a three-run ninth inning (started by Jeff Bailey – monster HR – with George Lombard and Tim Hummel providing the other runs). Malaska hurled two innings and I was less than impressed.
Malaska was wild and when he missed, he missed by quite a bit. If Malaska can settle down and provide solid relief for Pawtucket, then he could become the second lefty in the future. However, his future is a lot more doubtful to me and it is more than likely 2006 will see Embree, Halama or another free agent brought in to pair with DiNardo. The Red Sox are relatively high on DiNardo, and if DiNardo can turn in a solid season for Pawtucket, would not only get a relief spot but could spot start also.
Either way the Red Sox have two promising lefty candidates from in the organization (although acquired from other teams) to replace their lefties in the bullpen. I’m doubtful as to if any other team can say that. We also, of course, have Abe Alvarez plus a plethora of other lefties, but these two are the closest to the majors.
Also, the two lefties will certainly see some time out in the bullpen this year, and if they can produce, should help make our team even better. Obviously. Because no matter how hopeful we are, there always seems to be a player or two that just absolutely bombs. If it’s Embree, Halama, or even Mantei, we have obscene depth at pitching, just like every other position, this year. It’s a great thing to have.
Tony Massarotti yesterday ran with a story we are familiar with – Tim Wakefield and his potential move back to the bullpen. More disturbing comments from Wakefield which we are not used to at all.

“I don’t have any plans of stepping down or going to the bullpen when Wade Miller is healthy,” Wakefield said yesterday at City of Palms Park, where he pitched two scoreless innings in the Red Sox’ 17-0 victory over Northeastern. “That’s just my personal opinion. You’d have to ask (manager Terry Francona) what he thinks.”

As said before in this space, Bronson Arroyo should definitely start over Wakefield, but these comments make it a) more likely Arroyo will get the shaft, b) Wakefield won’t go down without a fight and … c) could leave the Red Sox?
Reading this Ian Browne article left me a lot less confident Wakefield would stay with the Red Sox should he become a reliever.

“I’d like to [sign an extension], but I don’t want to talk about it,” said Wakefield. “We’ll see what happens towards the end of the year.”
Shortly after his flawless tuneup (two innings, no hits, no walks, three strikeouts) against Northeastern University was over, Wakefield was asked what it would mean to play the rest of his career for the Red Sox.
“Everything,” said Wakefield [Yeah, Nomar and Pedro really wanted to re-sign too, didn’t they? – Ev]. “They said publicly that they want me, too. We’ll see what happens.”

Inspiring, isn’t it?
Peter Gammons has the story:

Lowe’s teammate in Boston, Mike Myers, says he has an off day and is flying in to Boston for the ring ceremony at Fenway Park. “I’m really excited about being there. I will never forget that parade. People holding up pictures of their dead parents and grandparents and yelling, ‘thank you.’ I had tears in my eyes. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Informed about Myers’ decision, Lowe said, “I have the day off, and I want to be there so badly I may fly in from L.A. for the ceremony and fly back. To be there when those rings are handed out would be unbelievable.”

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