Wakefield’s Exit Brightens an Otherwise Tough Night in Oakland

So here is the good news …..

That was very possibly the last meaningful start Tim Wakefield will ever make for the Boston Red Sox. Finally, our long national nightmare is over!

Pardon the bastardized Gerald Ford quote, but I can’t help but be relieved that the Wakefield era has drawn to a close.

With Beckett and Buchholz returning, there just isn’t any room left for old number forty-nine so unless there is another injury just over the horizon, I wouldn’t expect to see Wake start another game for the Red Sox, at least not a meaningful one. Sure, Francona might throw him a late-season “nostalgia” start if the Sox are eliminated. Something masquerading as a “Thank You Tim Wakefield” day. But for all intents and purposes, last night seems like the end of the line for Timmy. (There is a $1.5-2.0M guarantee for 2011 but that seems ripe to be swallowed.)

And if last night was his final start, it seems appropriate that we got to see a Tim Wakefield classic.  You know, the kind where one brutal inning ruins an otherwise decent outing. Let’s go back to the third last night.

Double, walk, double steal, and a HBP to load the bases. He then goes full to Jack Cust and Cust gets the A’s back in the game with a two-run double. From there, a passed ball cuts the lead to 4-3 and a sacrifice fly ties it at four. Two hits. Four runs. Lead gone. Outside of blowing that four-run led, Wake was fine. In fact, he was pretty good. But that has been the story on Wake for a long time. He’ll give you five solid innings but that sixth is a doozey. Last night was no exception.

So it seems like Wakefield’s time as a starter is all but over. And that begs the following question: is his time in Boston over?  After all, is there any room for him in the Boston bullpen? Nostalgia aside, I think Tim Wakefield has no business being on this roster and that is saying something. But that is not to say a trade or release is imminent. Instead, I figure the Sox will keep old Tim around. Give him three innings of mop-up duty here and another inning there. Anything to spare Wakefield the embarrassment of his release. And all under the guise that he may be needed at some point down the line. Needed for what? Sorry Terry. And sorry Theo. Felix Doubront is now the Sox insurance. The time of Tim has passed.

And with that, here are the final numbers for Timmy: 404 career starts in Boston. 178 up and 158 down. Over sixteen seasons, he had an ERA of 4.39 and an ERA+ of 108. All very presentable. And to cap it all off, he made ~$53M which is a nice take for a failed infielder who was headed out of baseball before he flexed his knuckles.  

And now the bad news …..

Pardon my memory, but wasn’t last night’s game a splitting image of a loss the Sox took down in Tampa right before the break. You know, the one where the Sox jump out to a big early lead, give up the lead and then struggle to do anything against the opposing bullpen. That was the story last night where Wakefield did his thing, the Sox stranded twelve runners, two bases loaded situations produced nothing, Bill Hall continued his slide and the pen couldn’t overcome a terrible balk call. All in all, it was a tough loss to swallow, especially since it came against a punchless team that had no business coming back from a four run deficit.

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