Today in a Globe article about Tim Wakefield, he states:
He assumes he will be a starter again this season, though a healthy Wade Miller seemingly would leave manager Terry Francona with a choice of bumping Wakefield or Bronson Arroyo from the rotation. Wakefield has been down that road before; he spent four seasons as a swingman, working mostly out of the pen, before Grady Little gave him the ball back for good on a full-time basis in August 2002, when he went 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA down the stretch.
He doesn’t want a repeat of that scenario this season, nor does he believes he deserves one.
“I know the situation with Wade Miller, too,” he said. “I don’t see any reason why I should be the guy who goes to the bullpen.
“It’s either me or Bronson. I think Bronson’s the more likely candidate for that. He’s more of situational type of guy. He can come in and get righties out better than lefties out. I can get both guys out.
“At his age , he might be a little more resilient than I am right now. I could probably pitch every day, too, but he’s shown in the past that he can pitch back-to-back days — two innings, two innings, then get the day off.”
As much as I love you, Tim, this is the wrong idea. Tim is actually the best suited to move to the bullpen, not Arroyo. Last year, Arroyo went 10-9 with a 4.03 ERA, and Wakefield went 12-10 with a 4.87 ERA. Ever since Little started him consistently again, his ERA has been in the 4’s while in the two previous years working as a spot starter, he logged 3.90 and 2.81 ERAs. (It is here I play devil’s advocate and note that as a spot starter before that for the three years previous to the low ERAs I just noted, his ERA was over 5.00 and was in the 4.00’s as a starter previous to those 5+ ERA spot starting days.)
However, it’s different now than it was three-eight years ago. Now, we have Bronson Arroyo who by all standards is projected to have an even better year than this past one. How can you justify starting Wakefield over Arroyo here?
Not only that, but Wakefield is more suited to relieving than Arroyo. What Wakefield does not realize is he is the more resilient one, whether it be physically or mentally. Francona can call on him to go four long then have no qualms about bringing him back the next day for two innings. He’d have those qualms about Arroyo because he would use Arroyo more as a set-up man than a longman, and a longman is what we consistently need.
Not only that but it then creates matchups for Wakefield that favor us. Instead of throwing him every five days and getting burned (for example, against the Orioles in Camden Park with strong wind gusts blowing to left-field) we then bring him in situations that dictate his success.
And one thing about this new regime that was not in the old – they lean on statistics and numbers to do that. They don’t go by gut feeling, they go by cold and hard facts. So I find Wakefield having a hard time repeating those 5.48 ERA days.
And may I add another not only that, but comment, but hey – is Schilling, Wells, Clement, Miller, and Arroyo going to each make 33 starts? No! Wakefield could quite easily get 15 games started.
The point here is to find the best recipe for success, and I have a hard time believing the best recipe is Wakefield starting and Arroyo relieving.
Now, the ramifications. Wakefield seems a bit more outspoken than he has in the past, so if Miller is good enough to crack the rotation at the beginning of the year (all signs point to that he won’t, but he’s making amazing progress so it’s certainly possible. I forsee him arriving at the beginning of May, though) we will hear about it from Wakefield. He’ll certainly move to the bullpen, but he won’t like it.
So what could happen? He could threaten to leave via free agency. Certainly possible, but there are two huge instances working against him.
1) The Red Sox are the only organization that appreciates what Wakefield does.
Think about it. Who else holds knuckleballers in high commodity? Who else would suffer through a 5.48 ERA season (granted, old ownership, but still) and not hesitate to bring him back? Why does Lucchino openly commend Wakefield and speak about how important it is to retain him?
If Wakefield goes out on the open market, might there be nibbles of interest? Absolutely, but nowhere near the job security/innings the Red Sox would give him. In addition, are they going to give a 39-year old a multi-year contract that the Red Sox are speaking to him about it? Somehow I say no.
2) Wakefield wants to remain a lifetime Red Sox.
Pretty explanatory, and might be hard for him to don another uniform, not withstanding reason one above. He’s even mentioned in the Globe article the fact that he wants to finish a lifetime Red Sox — and he’s not even a lifetime Red Sox!. He’s a Pirate and a Red Sox. I’m reminded of something Nomar said when he showed up to spring training last year. I made mention of this here (which earned me my first insult – uppity ingrate) when I said:
Winter 2004/Spring 2004 – Nomar says he considers himself having been traded, so he