MLB Free Agents: 5 Reasons the Red Sox Should Not Bring Back Tim Wakefield
Tim Wakefield is the oldest starting pitcher in Major League Baseball (assuming of course that Jamie Moyer does not decide to come back in 2012). The appeal of Wakefield used to be the fact that he was an inning eater on the cheap, at a rolling $4m contract that was pretty much a no-brainer for so many years.
The problem is that Wakefield got old in 2010 but we still brought him back in 2011 to try and get him his 200th win in a Red Sox uniform.
That's all fine and well but it took the man two months and eight starts to finally get that 200th win. The Fenway Faithful will cheer you down the road when you come back to visit Wake but your time has passed.
Here are five reasons why the Red Sox should not bring him back in 2012.
He Is Too Old to Be a Viable Option
The year was 1992. Boyz II Men, Kriss Kross and Sir Mix-a-lot topped the pop music charts.
Aladdin, The Bodyguard and Home Alone 2 were the top grossing films.
And Tim Wakefield was a rookie for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since making his debut for that Pirates team, the Pirates have not had another winning season and Wakefield has racked up 3,226.1 innings pitching in Major League baseball. That puts him first for active pitchers. He has appeared in 627 games.
This is a tremendous amount of wear on a pitcher, albeit an unconventional one. Every other player that was on that 1992 Pirates team alongside Wakefield have gone on to retire.
Players that were All-Stars in 1992 now have sons playing the game: Tony Gwynn, Doug Drabek, and Cecil Fielder to name a few.
He Is No Longer a Solid Starting Pitcher
In 2010, Wakefield posted a record of 4-10 with an ERA of 5.34 in 19 games started for the Sox. His WHIP was 1.350.
In 2011 he posted a record of 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA and a WHIP of 1.358 in 23 games started for the Red Sox.
His production is dipping. While Wakefield has historically been floating around a .500 mark, the three seasons prior to 2010 found him to average a .588 winning percentage. While it wasn't always pretty, he was at least winning a decent amount of games for the Red Sox.
His ERA was also under five. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 Wakefield posted an average ERA of 4.49, which in all honesty is fine for a fifth starter on a Major League ball club. His 2010 and 2011 ERA has gone up, averaging out at 5.23, or almost an entire run more per outing.
While the numbers appear to be minor, Wake does not pass the eyeball test any longer. He is not the innings eater that he once was either. In '10 and '11 he averaged 4 2/3's work in games he appeared in. The three years prior: 6 1/3. His value is clearly dropping.
He Is No Longer a Viable Reliever Either
In 2011, Wakefield was called upon ten times to come out of the bullpen and do some relief work. The Red Sox hoped he could come into games and give them significant innings and bridge the gap from their starters to the closer.
In those ten games Wakefield pitched 18.1 innings of work, on average lasting an inning and a third. His ERA during these appearances was 4.27, while giving up 15 hits and nine runs. He is not the stopper the Sox hoped he could be. The point of bringing in a relief pitcher, or in Wake's case, a long-relief pitcher, is to not give up the lead or the game. In 2011, Wakefield was incapable of doing that.
There Are Younger Options out There
With the emergence of Alfredo Aceves, Wakefield's role is growing smaller by the minute. First things first, Aceves is 16 years Wakefield's junior, and it shows.
While the Red Sox had visions of Wake being able to come in and complete some spot starts then come out of the bullpen when necessary, he was unable to effectively perform those duties in 2010 or 2011.
In that same time, younger players have proven their worth, most notably Alfredo Aceves. In 2011, Aceves appeared in 55 games for the Red Sox, posting a 10-2 record with a 2.61 ERA and a WHIP of 1.105. In short, why would the Red Sox bring Wakefield back when they have a better, younger option already under club control?
He May Be in It for the Wrong Reasons
While Tim Wakefield has generally been considered a team player, comments he made at the end of the 2011 season struck me the wrong way and I don't like the tone.
In an interview with Jon Paul Morosi, Wakefield went on record to say:
“I’ve definitely made up my mind that I definitely want to come back next year,” Wakefield said. “I have another goal in front of me that I’d like to accomplish, and that’s the all-time record for the Red Sox in wins. I’m only seven away. I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record. We’ll see what happens.”
My initial reaction to this quote was, who does he think he is? Wakefield states that the fans deserve to see him take the record for most wins in a Red Sox uniform? At what cost? It took the man 8 attempts to get his 200th career victory. As far as I'm concerned the record can stay with Roger Clemens and Cy Young.
I don't think the Red Sox need a self-serving agenda on their squad in 2012. What they need is unity and a team attitude, all personal attributes have to be swept aside in order for us to move on from the greatest collapse in baseball history.