Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nobody Likes You When You're 43

It's a shame because it hasn't always been like this. But we've seen the same thing happen to Tim Wakefield that we saw happen to Griffey and to Nomar before our eyes: He was young when we were all kids, and he isn't anymore. In fact, he's quite old. Hell, he's not even 43 anymore. He turned 44 this month.

He's also no longer a formidable major league baseball player. And it's been this way for over thirteen months now. I think we were all happy when the guy got his All-Star appearance last year, and especially because he deserved it. He caught lightning in a bottle, just like he had on various occasions throughout his career. At the beginning of this season, it seemed like Matsuzaka was DL'ed just so that this guy could have a position in the rotation. And he vocalized it pretty clearly: He wanted to be a starter. Who can blame him? I know Pat can't, but that's probably mostly because a starter is only called upon once every five days.

But let's not get it twisted anymore. That starter role he wanted and then kinda lost? He's played his way out of it by now. Doesn't really deserve it back. The spot starts where he's had that opportunity? Hasn't done enough to regain even consideration for the role. The way he's pitched is consistent with the role he's in now. And it's too bad, because you don't want to see a player like that be relegated to that kind of role. But right now he's about as useful as Timlin. And yes, I understand the nature of the knuckleball and how sometimes Wakefield can go on a tear like he did the first half of last year. But as he gets older, the length or probability of such a tear decreases.

Sorry, Wakefield. Maybe this April you deserved a shot, especially after last year. However, that is no longer the case.

This obviously brings up the next issue: Is it time to say goodbye? Is it time for the Red Sox to strongly urge that the player retires? In past years, with his low-cost contract, the Red Sox got at least decent production at small dollars. But now, moving forward, the team might be getting negative production at small dollars. They don't have a spot for him where he wants to pitch - only the role that he's taking right now. Hate to say it, but it's another Old Yeller situation. His string of usefulness on this team might be finished.

I want the guy to get those remaining fourteen wins to tie the Red Sox' all-time record as much as the next guy. But that might take until he's fifty. Maybe for the rest of this punt season (by the way, Pedroia maybe getting shut down?), Matsuzaka should stay "sore" and Wakefield should get his reps as a "thank you" for fifteen years of service. In 2011, however, it looks like it's time to move to the next chapter.

5 comments:

The GM said...

Also, stay tuned next week. Aside from whatever happens this weekend, I feel like we're going to end up talking about the Red Sox' rain out controversy and whether MLB umpires, who straight-up JD out for five months of the year and make $120,000, deserve a vacation in the middle of the season giving guys like Dan Bellino a job in the bigs so he could f*** up like he did last night.

Enjoy yo weekend.

Anonymous said...

DV

As much as Wakefield struggled earlier this season and toward the end of last year, the thing that I found to be nearly as frustrating as his inability to get people out was his attitude about not being a starter.

At no point in his career has he been as good as Clay Buchholz has been this year. And yet that's the guy the Sox were supposed to bump in favor of Wakefield? Certainly Wakefield's contributions to the Red Sox over the years have been important, but he's not beyond reproach by any means--his career ERA+ is 107 (and that's largely due to a 165 in '95 and a 162 in '02. Outside of those two seasons he's basically an average/below average pitcher). For him to be indignant about a supporting role is silly, especially at this stage in his career.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

In a region full of Wakefield guys, you have never been one, and I admire that. You cited 95 and 02, but you have to put the majority of 09 in there too. At some point, as you said, Wakefield has to stop being Tim Patrick Wakefield and open his eyes at what he is - exactly what you said.

After last year, he at least had a case. And a decent one. He no longer has a case. It's questionable whether he has a case to be on the roster in the first place.

TimC said...

What you write is very true, Gunn, but you can't fault Wakefield for being ticked off when Theo consistently hands out bad FA contracts (and as an extension, playing time) to players such as JD that really do not deserve it. Why should his position be one determined by merit while others are determined by factors such as salary and tenure? Plus, Beckett sucks.

If the Sox do get knocked out of the running officially, it might be time to call off the press and bring in the JV guys. Sadly, Wakefield is very much among them.

jason said...

So I glance at the posts currently displaying on the homepage and notice that there is only one PF post on there and 5 GM posts, this is probably similiar to the workload that Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright (not lately)find theirselves with.