Should We Be Disturbed By Tim Wakefield's Interview in the Herald?

Jeffrey BrownAnalyst IJanuary 28, 2010

KANSAS CITY, KS - SEPTEMBER 21:  Pitcher Tim Wakefield #49 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the game on September 21, 2009 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Red Sox 12-9. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed to read several of the remarks Tim Wakefield made in an interview that was published in today’s edition of the Boston Herald .

Whatever happened to putting the team first?

I know the knuckleballer must be disappointed that most pundits project him to be the sixth starter (or swingman) for the 2010 Red Sox pitching staff… myself included. But so what? Our opinion doesn’t really matter one iota.

In my opinion, when asked about the speculation, Wakefield should have simply responded: “these things have a way of working themselves out.” Instead, he unfortunately came across as a bit too concerned about himself and a bit too unconcerned about the ballclub. Apparently, his desire to set the franchise’s career ‘wins’ record should come before the team’s win-loss record.

The Red Sox have a rotation that has at least three aces, and could have as many as five depending on how Buchholz and Matsuzaka pitch (certainly, both have ace ’stuff’). Meanwhile, Wakefield hasn’t proven he can get through the end of the regular season since 2007.

And while I know he made the all-star team for the first time in his career last season, I also know he made only four starts while compiling a 6.00 ERA after the Mid-Summer Classic.

The ballclub could not responsibly rely on him for 200 innings in 2010—he has averaged fewer than 160 IP over the last four seasons—so they went out and signed Lackey. That means Wakefield will almost certainly be relegated to the bullpen this year. But, as I said earlier, these things usually work themselves out.

Yet, in the Herald article, it seems Wakefield’s new favorite word is “I”… not “us” or “team”. And I am sorry, but I find THAT fact to be disturbing.

Here are some excerpts:

“I did make the All-Star team last year. It seems every year, I don’t know why, my name gets brought up like this, and I don’t feel I need to prove myself every day. I don’t know where the rumors are coming from, but I try not to pay attention. I know my role and I know what my approach is going to be when I get to spring training: be a starter and help us win the World Series.”

“Last year I was on my way to pitching 200 innings and then due to circumstances beyond my control—I didn’t hurt my shoulder, I didn’t hurt myself pitching, I hurt my back swinging in interleague—it didn’t happen. I don’t know who is saying I’m only a part-time pitcher, but I think some of their opinions might be based on not knowing how I was feeling. Yesterday’s visit (with the doctors) may have gotten rid of some questions marks they have.”

“Hopefully they respect me enough to give me the ball when we get to spring training as a member of this rotation. I think I’ve earned the right to be a full-time starter and go from there.”

Sorry, Tim, I disagree. Through the years you have certainly EARNED a contract for 2010; but, you will only earn the right to be a full-time starter in 2010 on the field , starting in a couple of weeks.

IF you outpitch Josh Beckett or Clay Buchholz or John Lackey or Jon Lester or Daisuke Matsuzaka, then—and ONLY then—will you have earned a starting role. Otherwise, you will have earned a spot in the bullpen.

Sorry, I am a BIG fan, but THAT is how I see it.

The game is still a team sport. It’s about wins and losses. Personal records are nice, but I’m more interested in seeing the team win a world championship this year than seeing you atop the franchise’s career wins list at season’s end. Sorry, but that's the way I see it.