Are the Redsox Leaving the Knuckleball in Bard's Wake?

Dave DeVitoContributor IDecember 29, 2008

Doesn’t it seem like perhaps Tim Wakefield is going to be the fully paid, odd man out in this year's Redsox team?


The recent re-acquisition of Josh Bard appears to be the Sox way of saying “Thanks Tim, we want you here, even if it is as a glorified bench coach”. As a long time Sox, clearly the team does not want Wake going elsewhere and he’s certainly not going to retire after having had his 09 option picked up days after the end of last season.


That said, Josh Bard is the only catcher in the majors the Redsox know for a fact can’t catch Wakefield’s dancing knuckleball with any consistency. His 06’ tenure with the Sox was a costly 2-month disaster that led to the infamous mid-season Doug Mirabelli police escort to Fenway and the loss of Cla Meredith in the process.


Clearly, an otherwise successful Bard would never have signed up with the Sox if there were even a minuscule chance that he would be made to look so foolish again behind the dish. Especially since his numbers exploded after the trade to the Padres. The Redsox presumably have to have made him a closed-door promise that he was the future of the team, but that begs the question, where does Tek fit in?


Actually, Jason Varitek has handled Wakefield quite nicely on the rare occasion that he has been behind the plate with him on the mound. In fact, the team always angles Wake’s starts as giving Tek a “day off."


But are the Sox really going to pay Scott Boras’ prices for what would amount to a celebrity backup catcher for their perennial backbone?


It seems unlikely. This leaves the option of not re-signing Jason Varitek. Very few people see that as likely, including Boras and Varitek. But something has to give. It seems that the easiest way to alleviate the situation is to relegate Wake to the pen and split the catching duties.


In doing that, it takes away the only true advantage of having Wake on the roster: the number of innings that he pitches.


The harsh reality is that most of Wakefield’s productive innings take place in June through August or in domes. His cold weather numbers have not been all that convincing traditionally and in the past few seasons his numbers are hurt by the lack of having a catcher with any power behind him. Basically, when Wakefield has pitched, he has, in essence, been backed up by an eight-man lineup.


All of this makes the signing of Bard, one that invokes more of a series of questions rather than answers.


There is no doubt from an offensive standpoint this is a colossal upgrade.


But it is curious that along with this signing comes the acquisition of another pitcher in Brad Penny. It would seem as if there is a subtle message being sent for the future of the greatest knuckleballer to ever don the Sox uniform.


Either way… Thanks Tim!